Snake Care in Temporary Shelters

DIET: Snakes can usually be fed thawed mice every 5 to 10 days depending on age and size, so if frozen mice of appropriate size are not available, you should have time to transfer them to a specialized facility. Most will not eat unfamiliar foods.  
Do not give live rodents to snakes as they may be injured.

HOUSING: Minimum environmental temperature 75 degrees, maximum 85 degrees. Move to indoor climate controlled facility if needed. Use secure wire mesh top for ventilation.
Snakes can be very strong escape artists. Ensure that cage top is extremely secure!
Provide heat lamp when possible at one end of enclosure to allow animal to move to desired temperature up to 95 degrees.
Unchlorinated water must be available at all times in a shallow bowl, tote, or litter box for soaking. Place large flat rocks to enable climbing in and out. Spray twice daily.
Use bedding of newspaper or paper towels, not use wood shavings, corn cob, or cat litter.
Provide branches for climbing and a box or other hiding place.
Never house multiple snakes together unless they were together in their home.

RESTRAINT: Large snakes can injure handlers with bites or squeezing. Avoid handling if possible, wear heavy gloves and place animal into a pillow case to transport.
Use tongs for aggressive or venomous snakes.
Restrain behind the head with one hand, using other hand to support the body.
Wash hands with soap and water before and after handling.
Use two handlers for snakes longer than 5 or 6 feet.

COMMON MEDICAL PROBLEMS:  Cold temperatures cause many problems.
Pneumonia causing bubbling from the nostrils or noticeable breathing.
Dehydration causes wrinkled skin, soak entire body for 20 minutes in warm water.
Constipation, prolapse of rectum, or loss of appetite.

Use bottled water, or tap water should be dechlorinated by standing for 48 hours.

Compiled by Julie Burge, DVM, Burge Bird Services and Burge Bird Rescue, August 2016

Exotic Companion Medicine Handbook for Veterinarians by Cathy Johnson-Delaney, DVM, Diplomat ABVP-Avian
Immediate Intake Care of Small, Unusual & Exotic Pets by Critter Camp Exotic Pet Sanctuary