Snakes on a Blog

by Keri K. on July 30, 2009

ball python snakeMy fiancé and I keep a small zoo. We recently purchased our first home, and the resolve to keep it at a steady population level has pretty quickly weakened. We’ve wanted a snake ever since his rescued Burmese Python passed away back when we were in college, although this time I insisted on choosing a smaller species that would not eventually require an entire room for a home.

So, after a visit to local breeder Royal Constrictor Designs, we just brought home a juvenile pastel Ball Python… and a juvenile albino Nelson’s Milk Snake. Garrick has an awesome herp collection – our eight leopard geckos are from him, too. Highly recommended!

milk snake

The most difficult aspect of new snake keeping, I’ve found, is allowing the animals to adjust to their new homes while resisting the urge to bother or handle them. Each snake has his own 18” x 18” x 18” terrarium with a UTH, red bulb, hideout, water bowl, and paper towel substrate. There are also two thermometers in each, and I checked them obsessively until we managed to find the right heat gradient for the two species (I even woke up twice the first night, and couldn’t sleep until I made sure it wasn’t getting too hot again under the ball’s basking spot).

The milk snake is approximately nine months old, so while he’s still skittish, he can tolerate gentle handling. The ball, however, is only about six weeks old, and requires a longer and quieter settling-in period. For the first week, we’ve only gone in to his terrarium to mist, check the temperature, and now… Offer his first frozen/thawed hopper mouse. Balls can be notorious for picky eating, so we were concerned he wouldn’t recognize a pre-killed mouse as food after all the changes of his new home. To our relief and delight, he took it without hesitation. The milk snake gave his fuzzy mouse a dubious stare, so we left him alone with it. It vanished within the hour. Success!

While I have affectionately been referring to my milk snake as “Crabdip” so far, my fiancé hasn’t properly named the ball python (I vetoed “Darth Batman” already). If anyone has better suggestions, let me know.


Keri is a lead catalog designer for Drs. Foster and Smith and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from UW-Stout. She shares a small home with her husband, two Chinese Crested dogs, two cats, two ferrets, several reptiles and amphibians, and 30-some gallons of freshwater planted aquariums. See more articles by Keri K.

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