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a Rant – Keeping Reptiles as a Pet not collecting

Bertie the Boa, less then one year old

Reptile husbandry has changed a lot over the period of time I have been keeping snakes. In the early days, it was considered ok to keep them in small racks or rubs as they are known. Underfloor heating often no thermostat and no light.

If you are keeping snakes to breed to sell, or a pet shop and keeping them for a short period before selling them then a rack/rub system makes sense, you can keep a lot of stock in a small area and there are only going to be there a while before sold.

For those of us keeping reptiles as pets then most of us in Europe keep them in large display cabinets. My little corn snake is in a 1m by 0.6m viv and height for climbing.

He has heating from a ceramic heater, a T5 strip light giving UVB all controlled automatically.

Bertie has a 2m by 0.9m viv, a heater in the centre giving background heat and a heater off to one side to give the hot spot, they are on day/night thermostats and for light there is a daylight UV flood that operates noon till tea and white LED for the day time and dark blue LED for the last few hours at night. Eight hours of daylight in the winter slowly rising to fourteen hours in peak summer.

Both my main vivariums are in the main living room, our snakes are part of the family just like our hounds. They have multiple hides, moss boxes for humidity and rocks to bask on, and branches to climb up.

So what’s my rant about?

Well if you do some research you will find that keeping a pet snake is just putting it in a small box with some heating and water and a hide. No enrichment, no where to climb no real light.

Even the better videos on YouTube talk about a box with no height, no UV. They selectively take aspects of the wild lifestyle and say for example a Ball Python just lives in a dark burrow. Yes those in the desert do during the hot season stay underground but recent studies has shown that 70% of their pray is aboral mammals. That 0.5m high rub is not going to allow it to climb. Heating provided by underfloor heat pads for plastic or glass tanks and light bulbs for wooden viv, this is just not good enough.

Most of the internet and the especially YouTube seems about twenty years behind. Luckly at least here in Europe things are moving forward, enrichment, bioactive enclosures etc are taking off. Lets hope that more of keepers on the internet take notice. Things are always going to be a little biased towards rubs and racks, as most of the experts are breeders and are going to be using rack systems, but we need to up are game and give the best life we can to our pets, and not treat them as items to collect. I collect fountain pens not living creatures.

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