With the holiday season in full swing you might be tempted to get your kid a pet snake as a gift. Many well meaning parents will get their children a baby ball python, or Corn Snake with the expectation that it will help the child learn responsibility and educate them about snakes.
As well intentioned as you might be we at Pet-Snakes.com encourage you to carefully consider what you are going to do BEFORE you do it. In a previous article about the 3 traits of a good snake owner some important things to look for in a potential snake owner were discussed. In this article we are going to take a look at the person who you are considering giving the snake to.
- Is it a passing fancy?
- Almost all kids want a pet of some kind. Little boys are masters at manipulating unsuspecting mothers into getting them a snake. I myself have done exactly that in the past and the snake paid for it. Obviously you are going to be the best judge of your child and the one to know if it is just a phase they are going through. Sit them down and have a serious talk with them about the responsibilities of snake ownership.
Some key questions to ask the potential new snake owner are:
- Why do you want a snake?
- How will you take care of it?
- Are you willing to feed it mice and rats?
- Will you handle it for 20 to 30 minutes every 3 to 4 days so it doesn’t become aggressive?
You as a parent or guardian of a young child know the answers to those questions better than the child does, but it never hurts to ask. There’s one question you should ask yourself – When my kid gets tired of this snake am I willing to become a surrogate owner for the next 10, 15, 20, or 30 years? Getting a snake is a lot easier than getting rid of a snake.
- Are they capable?
- If you’ve gotten satisfactory answers to the above questions it is time to decide if they are really capable of taking care of a living animal. Some people think of snakes as something you just toss some food in with once a week and that’s all. Nothing could be further from the truth. Pet snakes, like any other pet require daily interaction with people. Moreso than other pets because a snake that isn’t handled will become fearful of people and aggressive. If your child is only capable of handling a few seconds a day of responsibility get them a gold fish.
All animals require a certain level of responsibility when it comes to their care, but snakes are a whole different ball game. A snake requires exacting temperatures, and humidity levels. They often will refuse to eat at all and rarely ever on your terms. Everyday they present new challenges and the person you are going to give the snake to must be capable of meeting those challenges. Financially they can be a burden. Remember the initial cost of the snake might only be $30 or $40 but the upkeep can be incredible. You’ll need a tank/tub, under the tank heaters, hides, substrate, to name just a few things you’ll need to purchase. Then you’ll need to get into thermostats, forceps, frozen rats/mice (perhaps even pigs), and whatever else you might need.
If the person is capable you then need to start considering other people who will have to deal with the snake as well. Sometimes they are the most important people to consider.
- Other people
- A while back I met a man and a woman and they told me a story about how they nearly got divorced and only managed to stay together by hours and hours of marriage counseling. I didn’t get the details of everything but basically the wife had always had snakes as a child and she had hinted around to a friend of hers that she was thinking of getting another one. The husband was away on business and one day the wife was surprised by her friend who had bought her a corn snake. They set it up in the bedroom (beautiful setup judging by the pictures I saw) right next to the bed. She had it for about a week and one day she was at work when her husband got home. There’s no need to bore you with the details but it turns out he hates snakes.
The friend who got the snake who doing a kind deed for the woman, but she neglected to speak with the husband which caused a great deal of strife. So before you get a snake for someone else sit down and talk with everyone who will be involved. If someone is dead-set against the idea don’t get the snake. You’ll only cause problems.
- You’re getting the snake
- If it turns out that everything falls into place it’s great that you are going to get the snake for the person. Like a puppy, or kitten, or any other animal you should set the budget and then let the person who it is being given to pick it out. Trust me they’ll be just as happy knowing about it as they would be if you just surprised them with an entire setup. Most snake people are pretty particular about their setups and that is true even of the newer herpers.