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Venomous snakes as pets



Some people like to live life on the edge doing things like jumping out of planes, racing cars, they swimming with sharks, skiing in avalanche zones, and any number of other dangerous activities. None of these people however are regarded with quite the same level of skepticism that keepers of venomous pet snakes are. Most people aren’t overly comfortable with the idea of snakes being kept as pets anyhow, but add a little venom to the mix and it sends most people over the edge.

Who keeps venomous snakes?
Keeping venomous (hot) snakes isn’t for everyone. It takes a level of awareness, care, and commitment above and beyond what the average hobbiest is willing or able to give. A friend once suggested that keepers of “hots” are fearless. At the time I agreed, but now I know better. A fearless man is an unsafe man and every venomous snake handler I’ve ever met is painfully aware of everything that is happening. They have to be, one wrong assumption can lead to disfiguration, paralysis, or even death.

There can only be two possible answers to who keeps these kinds of snakes. Dedicated people with a great admiration for these amazing creations of God, or idiots. We’ll start with the idiots and why they like to keep venomous snakes as pets. Well, for one they’re idiots and sometimes it doesn’t take anything more than that. Many of them like the ego boost it gives them.

“Hey babe, wanna see my snake? It’s venomous.”

But in some cases people simply don’t know any better. They see an ad for a venomous snake and respond to it. Throw down three of four hundred dollars and walk off with a beautiful little Timber Rattler, a tank, hide, some substrate, and if you’re lucky 10 minutes of instruction on snake handling. While that might suffice in other instances in a case involving venomous snakes it falls woefully short. And that’s why I call people who do that idiots. Because of a complete and total lack of common sense.

On the other side of the coin we have the admirers. These people are exceedingly well versed in their knowledge of venomous snakes, especially those they keep. They’ve done extensive research into every aspect of their care and handling. You’ll often find them teaching others about snakes and in general representing the interest of these creatures in the general community.

Are you ready for a venomous snake?
Assuming you’re not an idiot (of the sort mentioned above) and you are considering venomous snakes as pets you should give it some serious consideration. Personally I would pray over it, but however you choose to contemplate it is fine. Keep it very much in the forefront of your mind. You’re not contemplating a pet, you are contemplating you life, and the lives of those who will come into contact with the snake. If that’s something you’re willing to risk then you really need to evaluate if you’re ready for one from a capability perspective.

I don’t keep venomous snakes because I know I’m not nearly as careful as I should be. I leave tanks open all the time, pick up snakes that are hissing and striking, hold prey in the tank using my hands instead of forceps. In short I’m one of those “idiots” I talked about before. Difference between myself and them is that I know it and am willing to admit it. Being able to admit it probably saved my life because I’ve been offered venomous snakes for three hundred dollars in the past.

I once read that you should only get a venomous snake if you’re willing to die for your job (or hobby). I’ve also read that you should keep the most obnoxious, evil-tempered non-venomous snake you can find for at least three years. Handle it exactly like you would a venomous snake and keep track of each time it struck at you and each time it struck you. After three years count each time it landed a strike as a point for the snake. If at any time during the process you get bit consider yourself dead and start all over again. Extreme? You bet it is, but you’ll think extreme if a venomous snake get a hold of you.

Getting a venomous snake
This isn’t about locating a source for the snake, that’s easy to do, it’s about locating a mentor who will teach you what they know about handling and caring for snakes in general and venomous snakes in particular. A good mentor will tell you when you’re ready to own and care for one of these snakes. More importantly they will tell you honestly when you’re not ready.

But suppose you are ready, then what? First start by making sure everyone else in the house is onboard with the idea. A little bit ago I wrote an article about choosing a snake and the preparation that goes into it. That article was talking of commonly kept non-poisonous snakes. It mentions discussing it with family. For venomous snakes I advise talking not only to family, but also friends and neighbors who could potentially be at risk.

Once you’ve completed that task build a list of hospitals which have anti-venoms for the type of snake you want to get. Contrary to popular belief not all hospitals can administer serum and not all serums are available at those that do. When you have that list of places make sure you keep their phone number handy. They don’t just whip it out of the fridge and give it to you. They need to prepare it so being able to call them before you get to the hospital is essential. Emergency services would normally do this, but when it comes to your life you want to be as careful as possible.

Once that’s done setup it’s living quarters. It’s a bad idea in general to bring a snake home and then set everything up for them afterward. It’s downright moronic to do so with a venomous snake. You want to get it into a new home as quickly as possible to avoid traumatizing it. That’s true of any snake but having a mad corn snake is a lot different than having a mad cobra on your hands. Get them settled in as quickly as possible. By having already prepped the tank you will help speed this process along.

Get your other pets ready. Don’t take a chance with your pets around a venomous snake. In fact you should keep them totally out of the area that the snake will be in. I don’t think there’s reason to belabor the point, just be careful!

Bring it home and enjoy it. I’ve already explained what you should do before buying it and if you do those things you’ll be preparing yourself for when you bring it home. If you’re thinking you’ll learn as you go, think again. An improperly kept venomous snake is a lethal animal. That’s something you can never forget.

On a final note before you get a venomous snake double and triple check the local, state, and federal laws where you live regarding keeping of dangerous reptiles. Almost every town and state in the US has taken the time to specify certain laws affecting the keeping, sale, and importation of reptiles.

If you wish to learn more about venomous snakes and their keepers check this link out envenomated.com and venomousreptiles.org

  • SUJAN GHALE

    Hello Administration
    I would like to request for the some problem not the comment. Actually you people are doing great in this project to give information about snake and i had a one request for you. In human life we are fear from snake bite becasue we are die so that so in the seen period of snake we are kill that snake so i would like to know when we are killed that snake what the things are there in snake body which will give a benefit to us means how to take out that venom gland from snake.

    Thank you in Advance for you service

  • PetSnakes

    So what you seem to be asking is after you kill a venomous snake what can you harvest from its dead corpse that can be beneficial to people…

    Short answer is nothing.

    Long answer… I think I’ll turn into an article in the near future.

  • http://PetSnakes.Com Rachel Kennedy

    i want a boa constrictor and a albino monocled cobra please
    really bad.

  • PetSnakes

    Rachel – How much snake experience do you have? Neither one is really a beginner appropriate species, but a monocled cobra is especially not appropriate for a novice snake owner.

  • Kody Mott

    Hmm, I Like this whole article. I have been talking with a Doctor Ray Hunter on aquiring an Eyelash Viper. He has said most of the same things you have mentioned, along with asking if i have ever handled a venomous snake. I have tought myself to handle snakes without getting bitten, like really wild black racers around my house here in Fl. After dealing with those for numerous years, i felt confident in my skills and went herping with another reptile friend and we came upon a Sistrurus Miliarius (Pygmy Rattlesnake) and i attempted to capture it. Luckily I prevailed without a scratch. That was 3years ago when i was about 15. Since then i have cought a few poisonous snakes including a few Corals, Cottonmouths, and a copperhead. I still dont think that i am ready to LIVE with a venomous snake. Experience isnt everything, theres also luck of the draw. I will stick with my pythons, and in the near future a Hypo Sonoma Red Tail Boa.

  • Jay

    I have always been fascinated by snakes combined with a healthy respect for them especially when i came accross them outdoors. i just got my first snake a few months ago, an albino corn, because i definately am a beginner and am planning on a red tail soon but if down the road (years) i do decide to move twoards a more aggressive non-venomous species to practice for a venomous one (not planning on owning aggressive for at least a few years, just asking to research and learn) what would be a good choice to consider? ultimately i would love to have a Timber Rattler, and maby if i gained the knowledge and skill a cobra of some breed during my life but again im in no rush and truthfully too scared of them (venomed) and inexperienced at the moment to have one in my home. Any comparible attituded snakes to research and learn about that are non venomed before i take step and buy something potentially lethal.
    Thanks for the heads up and advice… wouldn’t have thought about finding a similar temepered non venomed snake.

  • PetSnakes

    Jay,

    We don’t tend to encourage owning venomous snakes as pets. Especially for folks who don’t have any experience with snakes in general. That said I’d recommend finding a local herpotological society in your area and finding if anyone in it works with “hots”. You can find a growing list of state by state resources, including herp societies at this link:

    http://pet-snakes.com/pet-snakes-state

  • nick

    drop 300-400 on a timber even with the supplies your crazy

  • jonathanea72

    I live in the sticks in Thailand…i get all sorts on my farm, from rat snakes, to Reticulated Pythons and Burmese Pythons , to Pit Vipers, Monocled Cobra, Indochinese Spitting Cobra, King Cobra and even, Blue Krait (u really don’t want to mess with these) there all really common, except the king cobra “never seen one of these outside a farm!”

    I (like Kody Mott) have years of experiance with hots’ allthogh didnt quite start the same! non the less ppl who say start with a mad constrictor are mad & i have never heard a hot keeper give that advice. not hear, or on US forums. you need to have some one, with experiance train you, it takes a lot of time patiants and jakobs the size of monster truck wheels and if your brain works the way it supposed to, you will forget about it , unless your one of the special group or ppl. Or you can just be lucky and try your chances with hots strait of (if yo do recomend the copper head or White-lipped Pit ViperMOST DEFENTLY NOT ^MONOCLED COBRA^ “THATS ABOUT THE MOST INSANE THING YOU COULD EVER DO), i know a lot who do this but most have scars from there mistakes and it really hurts and does not look prity believe me… .
    PS i kind of wish ppl would stop calling them pets, any real enthusiast would not call them pets, if u want a pet get a corn snake, cat or a golden retriever dog.

  • Christopher

    hi guys,
    I have a South african rock python,a western diamond back rattler,and a green mamba. I’ve gone for courses,and have handled plentyfull snakes…. I was bitten by my puff adder two years ago,it has a strong cytotoxic (tissue distroying) venom yield. I had a full envenomation,and it wasn’t nice at all…. Now trying to handle my other snakes,is difficult,due to the bite I suffered… How can I get rid of that fear?

  • Devan

    i have been wanting 2 get a snake but i dont want the usuall corn snake or somthing of that natur. i live in the backwoods so i see snakes all the time ive caught countless numbers of black rat snakes and rattlers even a couple copperheads. Should i still get a beginner pet snake or can i go for somthing more difficult?

  • PetSnakes

    @Devan – You should start with something simple. First you need to learn how to actually take care of a snake. It’s not as simple as just tossing them in a cage and throwing in a mouse every now and again. Try getting an aggressive non-venomous species to start with and then start counting how many times you get bit by it. Then imagine it’s venomous and that will tell you how often you’ve gotten yourself killed or maimed.

  • Oliver

    I'm in love with Albino Monacled Cobras and I was wondering if you could give me information for feeding, living, and prices. Thank You.

  • http://pet-snakes.com Pet Snakes

    Please contact a reputable breeder. Explain to them what you'd like. I can't imagine anyone would sell you anything because there's no evidence you've handled or had any experience with venomous snakes if you need this kind of very basic information.

  • Sdfg

    What a subjective load of shit. “Creatures of God?”…. [Irony indeed, save it]

    I was looking for an informative, unbiased article, as that makes for good reading in this context.

    Don't go throwing around terms like idiot, when you can't even constructively articulate.

  • Maggs

    I'd just like to add that (generally speaking – not all!) people who want to own a venomous snake tend to be those who want it as a 'show' snake, something they can put in a cage and show off to their friends.
    I don't know the laws in the states, but in Canada you need a zoo license to own/trade/buy/sell venomous snakes. And I know that catching them from the wild in Canada is illegal, though it is done frequently. Our rattlesnakes and hog nosed snakes are being decimated by poachers taking them for the pet trade.

    The fear surrounding snakes is a huge psychological problem in the general population. It is up to snake handlers and owners to be responsible to help alleviate these fears. I can't tell you how many stories I have heard about boas or pythons getting lost in apartment buildings, or turning up in odd places years later, or they have been released and have survived in the wild, wreaking havoc on native species. This is a huge reason why people are afraid of snakes who are unfamiliar with them personally…this is the stuff they hear on the news.

    Now, add in a venomous snake into the equation. Some “idiot's” apartment is searched after he's been reported missing and they discover he has a couple of pet cobras and rattler or two and got bitten trying to feed them…turns out the poor guy just really loved snakes but was totally unaware of how to properly handle one. This is perpetuating the problem! No one wants to hear about his love of the snakes, or how he cared for them. The bottom line is, he was out of line taking in an animal which he was incapable of of properly handling. It's no different owning a lion: you can give it all the care and love you can, but ultimately it doesn't make a good “pet”. It's happier and better off left in the wild.

    My advice? If you want to learn how to properly handle snakes, take a volunteer position with a biological station or at a reptile park and have them train you. I did that for years, before I ever purchased a single snake. And when I did finally get a snake, I bought one that was easy to take care of: a simple milk snake. Just because I can handle vipers and bushmasters doesn't mean I know how to care for one or even would want one in my home. I've never been bitten, because I am careful. And not being an “idiot” showing off how badass my pet is, I've managed to show people that snakes are actually nice creatures. I don't believe in God, but someone sure made a cool animal that deserves more respect than it gets.

  • Guest

    Sadly, there are few laws to limit access to venomous snakes, and there needs to be strict control on who can own one. Why? Because the risks to innocent, unsuspecting people is too great. Think of the anacondas that now have established a foothold in Florida because people dumped them. Or the risks of introducing rattlesnakes into an area that has no history. People adapt their behaviour to their environment. Here in Arizona, we are careful when hiking because we know the risks. To transport that risk to another part of the country is absurd. It also has a terrible effect on the ecosystem, in that it puts a new predator at the top of the food chain.

    Just like we have laws against drinking and driving, we need to control who can own venomous and exotic pets.

  • Caroline

    Wow, not to be too mean, you have alot of “idiots” as mentioned in the article commenting below :)

  • Jonathanea72

    I just dont understand this start with a agresive non hot. Its preposterous, thay are not even nearly the same thing.
    Get a mentor! Don't even think about it until you can meet the basic husbandry and vetanery care for a snake, any snake.
    If you are really into to snakes enough to get a hot, you should have quite a reasonable collection of constrictors and colurbridae snakes. And you should of probably had some experiance breeding.

    These are not beginner snakes they are advanced.
    If you need to ask someone on the net, if you are ready to move on to hots, you are not ready yet.
    Get some experiance with other snakes, i don't mean corn snakes. Try racers, white lipped pythons wommas, the list goes on and on what you can keep before any hots.
    Then once you know the general needs of snakes and how they move (although they all move diferently) you think you can cary out husbandry skills, like maintaning the viv, chainging watter ,maintaining the correct temperature and humidity ,feeding a snake that doesn't want to eat, sexing snakes, getting the remains of shed off of a snake that cant shed properly and separating two snakes. When you can do all that and more in a controlled environment, you might just be ready to go on to colurbridae snakes. Get some experience with those. Then i would go on to hots that are local to you(if their is any), that the local hospital will know how to treat a bit from. Get a wealth of experience there say 10 years as a hobbyist or 5years as a local pro. Then after that you will of said F**k that or I'm hooked and will move on to more or you will be dead.

    All the best and i hope that was a bit useful.
    Regards Jonathanea72

  • http://pet-snakes.com Pet Snakes

    Don’t think anyone would suggest to just get an aggressive snake and then after handling it for a while consider yourself ready for a venomous one.

  • Awfulgoodnesess

    I agree, what a load of bullshit….plus the comments below dont get much better.

  • http://leadnetproreviewbonus.com/leadnetpro-bonuses/ leadnetpro

    The couple is hopeful the pet soon will re-emerge from some makeshift snake lair on the Red Line. “If someone can spot her, either pick her up — she’s used …

  • Lexjex

    I don’t believe that ‘hot’s’ should be kept as pets. First of all a snake’s natural habitat is not someone’s cage for them to be gawked at and antagonized. Seriously….as for the ‘idiots’ mentioned above, I agree there are too many idiots out there who are careless and these types of snakes often escape and become lost, imagine your neighbor’s having to fear for their lives because their neighbor was a jackass and didn’t know how to handle a hot snake. I say leave them where they belong in their own habitats. I read an article once where some jackass out in Cali ordered and received 3 eyelash vipers. He left them in an unsecure box and left for a 3 week vacation. Well his dog pushed the lid off the box and was found dead and the 3 snakes had dissapeared. Imagine walking outside your home to be bitten by someone’s lost eyelash viper? Really? Snakes should not be pets period!! I wish there was a law that banned all snakes from being household pets.

  • Talalsiksek

    you need a poison licence to keep venomous snakes

  • Talalsiksek

    you need a poison licence to keep venomous snakes

  • Matthew Lafferty

    Stop being religious, it’s hard to take what you say seriously when you say “I would pray over it.”

  • JJH

    Bit discriminative against those with religions, aren’t you, Matt? I take it you are an extreme athiest – just remember that what Hitler did was against those who were known to be religious and be sure you aren’t going near that path… All the same, I wish to be loving, not hating. Know that Jesus loves you. God bless

  • Svtkingcobra

    Its absolutely no joke. Presently owner of an e, and w african gaboon vipers, i can assure the fact that it takes precision in anything you do with these types of animals. 1 slip up and the ride you will be in for aint no laughing matter. be wise, know yourself and your boundries, and dont play with fire

  • John Gulizia

    I keep venomous snakes as pets and it is more hype than anything. Tons of people go to pets shows and buy hot snakes with little or no experience and everything works out fine. Plastic bags and horseback riding kill more people then hot snakes do. People just don’t like the idea of owning a pet snakes and will look for any reason to criticize the activity. In reality, is not that big of a deal, once you spend some time with the snake, domesticate it, and get used to handling it, owning one will become so simple and normalized that you will wonder why you ever hesitated to get one in the first place. The key is that since you know the animal to be hostile you can take the appropriate measure to keeping it. With things like dogs and horses however, an attack can come from out of nowhere. It really is all hype, it’s actually so easy that people looking for adventure are going to be disappointed. And for all you critics out there, remember, if you have to choose between letting your child unpack the groceries, have a puppy, go horseback riding, or get a venomous snake, the activity that would put he in the least amount of danger is getting him the venomous snake (probably because he knows is dangerous, which gives him the advantage).

  • Frank Bergman

    Lexjex this is not true, in states where hots are legal thousands of people go to reptile expos and buy hots and thousands of people keep them and everything is working our just fine. Do accidents happen ? Of course, but they are rare, and that is not a reason to tell someone not to own a hot snake. The accidents you mention of snakes getting out and attacking a neighbor has never been documented. Most hots could not live outside in the winter or most of the year, and even if they could they do not want to attack people. They would probably just slither away and never see any one again, or die. What you are doing is called fear mongering and it shows that you have absolutely zero experience with hot snakes.

  • Markmosley60

    venomous snakes are NOT PETS, them 2 words should never be used together! a pet is something that will show you affection and does not want to kill you.

  • Jacob

    Thanks a lot for this page. It helped me a lot. I was seriously considering getting a venomous snake, prefferably a viper, but now realise i was probobally going to become one of those ‘idiots’. I enjoy owning snakes i can handle and really appreciate up close and as personally as you can and I dont think that would be possible with a snake that i know could kill me when its in a bad mood. Best to carry on loving and appreciating these marvelous creatures from a distance.

  • monroe

    If you do own a hot their is one smart thing to do and that is get the antivenom for the particualar snake you get. i have a few hots and i buy antivenom at antivenomandvaccine.com it is the only place i can find to buy it. It is not always cheap though about 100 dollers a vial and i needed six.

  • http://pet-snakes.com Pet Snakes

    I definitely agree. There should be some kind of certification process, BUT on the other hand I believe in the freedom of a person to be stupid. Even stupid to the point of death. Now I’m certainly not saying that owning a hot makes you stupid, but rather owning a hot with no experience or training in how to handle and care for them is pretty stupid.

  • Dtm31583

    I think its a free country and yes I have and will keep snakes :)

  • Lizard Lover

    I am not too fond with people with no experience with keeping reptiles in general keeping hots. I known a guy a while back that kept a cape cobra. He had a family in the house, small children, pets, all of that. The only thing that I see he did wrong is that he had no experience with reptiles. Never kept one and just woke up one morning and decided to get a cobra. He prepared it properly, did his research, did all the things he was supposed to. But about a month later the cobra escaped his cage, killed one of their dogs when the dog got too close, and bit him when he was trying to put it back. Now he didnt know what to do if it escape, and he thought his cage was sufficent. Truth is, just because you have screening and a brick over the top of the cage doesnt mean it will hold ANY snake. Luckily, we had antivenom so he didnt die, but his arm was amputated because he thought it gave him a dry bite and waited too long to seek out emergency services. I am just saying you should have some sort of expirience before buying a hot snake. If you are truely anxious to get a hot, get one like a western hognose. Great temperment, mild venom that isnt really dangerous, easy to care for, all that great stuff beginners love. Just dont get a truely dangerous hot before you have had some expierience.

  • http://pet-snakes.com Pet Snakes

    Excellent advise.

  • Rachel kennedy

    People should keep a damn cobra

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