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Old 18-08-2019, 10:35 AM
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Default Complete newbie confused by conflicting advice

Hi All,

I'm a complete newbie to reptile keeping, having only had cats all my life. I've always wanted reptiles and am now in a position to start. Ideally I'd like a blue tongued skink but I worry that needing a uvb light and food supplements etc might be too much for a complete beginner like me. I've been reading up on snakes and corn snakes look great, particularly granite morph as I'm a geologist, but then I discovered small boas, particularly the Rosy Boa and Kenyan Sand Boa. These both seem very good starter snakes, being docile, slow, having no uvb needs etc. However, the more I read the more confused I get. The Northampton reptile centre produces lots of care sheets and videos and they keep all of their reptiles on coarse beech chips, including their sand boas. This goes directly against what I've read in this forum, particularly the thread on loose substrates and impact which states not to use wood chips.

What do people think? Firstly, are these good snakes for a complete beginner? If so, are coarse beech chips ok?

Here is the sand Boa care sheet I read: https://www.reptilecentre.com/info-k...boa-care-sheet

And a video of a sand Boa living in wood chips: https://youtu.be/bvrx7EM5Hko

Thanks for any help!
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Old 18-08-2019, 11:53 PM
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As long as you get an established defrost unscented feeder then sand boa's are dead easy.
Hot by day, cool by night.
I wouldn't use beech chips, sieved bird sand or play sand is perfect. Aspen is also great.
You could also use a mix of sand and eco earth.
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Old 19-08-2019, 01:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lung View Post
The Northampton reptile centre produces lots of care sheets and videos and they keep all of their reptiles on coarse beech chips, including their sand boas. This goes directly against what I've read in this forum, particularly the thread on loose substrates and impact which states not to use wood chips.
But they also go on to recommend sand.

Quote:
Whilst any loose substrate has the small potential to be accidentally swallowed, we have found this to not be a problem with coarse beech woodchips and that is what we keep our Kenyan sand boas on. It is also very easy to clean. This snake is quite fond of burrowing, if you would like a loose substrate to allow this we would recommend a fine sand.
Snakes have evolved over millions of years based on the habitat they originate from. Most snakes in the wild will end up ingesting dirt, leaf litter, and in the case of a snake that burrows, sand and earth whilst feeding. The issue comes when a snake is kept on an inappropriate substrate that it can't deal with. An 8' boa ingesting a 4mm x 4mm chip of wood will more than likely have no issue in passing it through its digestive tract . A smaller snakes such as a Corn would have more difficulty and it could end up stuck at either end of the tract. The only time it "may" be safe is if the snake is too small to actually swallow the large chipping.

If you want a safe lose substrate that the snake can burrow in, and if ingested presents no problem then look at Megazorb. It's paper based, absorbent and cheap. It has a natural grey colouration, but still looks a tad artificial. If you want a natural substrate then follow others advice and use a mix of play sand and eco earth as Ian suggests.

You also need to take on board that whilst there are people like me who have been keeping and breeding snakes for 30+ years, we all do thing differently, but base our opinions on our own experiences, be them good or bad. It's all part of the learning curve. Provided you offer the snake a means to get warm, a means to cool down, water, a photo-period (again debatable depending on individuals viewpoint) and a decent diet then how you do that is down to you. You may go with suggestions from one caresheet, or a comment on a forum, but until you experience something for your self, and go with what suits. If the consensus is that method X is better than Y from half a dozen post then try method X. If your snake reacts different to it then try method Y , or come up with your own solution and if that works then tell us all about it
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Old 19-08-2019, 02:30 AM
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Corn snakes are great to start with, but when you decide you want to take the next step, which wont take long you'll be in a position of having a snake n a vivarium to replace(waste of money n stress on the snake and yourself) which is pointless.
I look at all animals including reptiles etc as the same. Look at this way, would u keep ya cat in a room everyday of its life when it's meant to roam around?.
If ya answer is yes. Then a pet ain't for you at all.

So okay, you'd like a snake, something that'll get to know you, you'd be happy handling no matter what size it gets to, as that's ya baby n you've had her from a baby.
Then go with a carpet python.
I brought my baby at just over 7 weeks old n left the vivarium door open 24-7 so her and my dogs would get along. She always went back to her home every night.
Nagini is now 4 years old, is thicker than my awesome arm muscles(seriously God like, though my partner disagrees) and is still a cuddly sweetheart.
She was In a tiny vivarium at the time n people/breeders think that's fine as they make money quick. Whereas they've been caged from a huge area they roam to make some a few quid.
If you take a snake on, think about that.
I built Nagini a custom made, double glazed 6ftx4ftx2ft vivarium with multiple heaters, waterfall and fogger to imitate the jungle and only ever fed her on dead rats(soon to be rabbits) as live ones make them violent.
She has been an amazing part of the as much as my boy Bruno aka dog has been.
I'll send pics of her vivarium over shortly.

Have a good think though as they'll live 30 years plus sweetheart
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Old 19-08-2019, 02:44 AM
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j1EaSxyc
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Old 19-08-2019, 04:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny19841 View Post
I brought my baby at just over 7 weeks old n left the vivarium door open 24-7 so her and my dogs would get along. She always went back to her home every night.
Nagini is now 4 years old, is thicker than my awesome arm muscles(seriously God like, though my partner disagrees) and is still a cuddly sweetheart.
She was In a tiny vivarium at the time n people/breeders think that's fine as they make money quick. Whereas they've been caged from a huge area they roam to make some a few quid.
If you take a snake on, think about that.
I built Nagini a custom made, double glazed 6ftx4ftx2ft vivarium with multiple heaters, waterfall and fogger to imitate the jungle and only ever fed her on dead rats(soon to be rabbits) as live ones make them violent.
She has been an amazing part of the as much as my boy Bruno aka dog has been.
I'll send pics of her vivarium over shortly.

Have a good think though as they'll live 30 years plus sweetheart
Some would say that given the recent bad press concerning escaped snakes that the above is bad advice for a newbie.

Care to update your user profile to include your location as well... so many new posters don't do this.
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Old 19-08-2019, 04:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Danny19841 View Post
I'll send pics of her vivarium over shortly.

Have a good think though as they'll live 30 years plus sweetheart
Posting pictures on RUFK

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Hope that helps - Looking forward to seeing your set up - sounds impressive
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Old 19-08-2019, 04:36 AM
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Well if people dont have the common sense to understand that their reptile is actually wild at heart and leave the doors open until they're fully trained, then they shouldn't be allowed to have one as a pet in the first place.
I do apologise, but has one joined this forum on the understanding that we all have a basic knowledge of reptiles and their intelligence, hence why vivariums come with secure locks with keys.
Didn't realise I'd have to explain the entire cosmos all in detail whilst trying to aid someone to purchasing the ideal snake.

Though thanks for correcting my wrong doing and in future I'll be sure to elaborate on every minute detail
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Old 19-08-2019, 09:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lung View Post
Hi All,

I'm a complete newbie to reptile keeping, having only had cats all my life. I've always wanted reptiles and am now in a position to start. Ideally I'd like a blue tongued skink but I worry that needing a uvb light and food supplements etc might be too much for a complete beginner like me. I've been reading up on snakes and corn snakes look great, particularly granite morph as I'm a geologist, but then I discovered small boas, particularly the Rosy Boa and Kenyan Sand Boa. These both seem very good starter snakes, being docile, slow, having no uvb needs etc. However, the more I read the more confused I get. The Northampton reptile centre produces lots of care sheets and videos and they keep all of their reptiles on coarse beech chips, including their sand boas. This goes directly against what I've read in this forum, particularly the thread on loose substrates and impact which states not to use wood chips.

What do people think? Firstly, are these good snakes for a complete beginner? If so, are coarse beech chips ok?

Here is the sand Boa care sheet I read: https://www.reptilecentre.com/info-k...boa-care-sheet

And a video of a sand Boa living in wood chips: https://youtu.be/bvrx7EM5Hko

Thanks for any help!
Good Morning,

And welcome to the wonderful world of reptiles! There is no going back now, once you get one you will be addicted!

I can totally understand your frustration, so much conflicting advice online and it can be very off putting for a beginner! What i will say is your doing the right thing by doing a lot of research from different resources, even if it is confusing - It's worth it!

The truth is (and no one likes to admit this) but we all keep our reptiles slightly differently and we can all argue to death about which is the correct way but we'll never be 100% sure unless we find a way to talk to the animal.

For example, I keep my Sand Boa on a bioactive substrate of sand mixed with eco earth - many will scream 'oh my god, impaction!!!' but i keep an eye on my snakes at all times when feeding and i've had no problems so far. My choice for this substrate was natural enrichment for the snake and ease for me. Originally she (and many of my other snakes) were on Aspen but that severely triggered my asthma & so i made the choice to convert all to bioactive and she absolutley loves burrowing under the sand... sad truth is i hardly ever see her but she's doing really well & so i'm happy to say the sand is staying.

I see no issues with the beech chips, i personally wouldn't use them but if they work for you and your snake then go for it. Of course if you want to be extra cautious and get concerned about impaction then you could always use kitchen roll but from experience I can't see how a burrowing species would make use of this - Each to there own though.

In theory, yes sand boa's are good beginner snakes. However, it's one of those questions that's really hard to answer because there is always an exception to the rule. I've had my sand boa since a hatchling and she's extremely snappy & jumpy & she's showing no signs of calming down but MOST people with pet sand boa's will tell you they are very docile & sweet. There husbandry is super easy & i'd certainly consider this side of keeping them to be 'beginner worthy' - If you do decide to keep on a loose substrate, don't be surprised if you never see him/her, they love burrowing & stay underground for ages.

I can't comment on rosy boa's as i've had no experience with them but i would imagine they are similar to Sand Boas.
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1.1.0 Corn snakes- ripley & Sniv.
0.0.1 Jungle carpet python - Vinnie,
0.0.1 cali king snake-cali (mums),
1.0.0 Hognose - Pinnochio
0.1.0 Royal Python - Daenarys
0.1.0 Sand Boa - Dune
1.0.0 Green Bush Ratsnake - Forest
0.0.1 Amazon Tree Boa - (Soon to be arriving)
0.1.0 Leopard Gecko - Nyx
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Old 19-08-2019, 10:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny19841 View Post
Well if people dont have the common sense to understand that their reptile is actually wild at heart and leave the doors open until they're fully trained, then they shouldn't be allowed to have one as a pet in the first place.
I do apologise, but has one joined this forum on the understanding that we all have a basic knowledge of reptiles and their intelligence, hence why vivariums come with secure locks with keys.
Didn't realise I'd have to explain the entire cosmos all in detail whilst trying to aid someone to purchasing the ideal snake.

Though thanks for correcting my wrong doing and in future I'll be sure to elaborate on every minute detail
Bar a few species, snakes lack the ability to be trained. Retics have shown to have the intelligence to recognise individuals, but that could be more to do with other sensory organs having a lot to do with it.

Most on here respect that fact that even after decades of captive breeding that snakes are still wild animals. In captivity they tolerate human contact and interaction, to various degrees. Even that calm placid boa that has never shown any sign of defence or aggression can strike and bite, and when basic instincts kick in such at feeding times any "training" goes out of the window.

Snakes have two main drives, both in the wild and in captivity. To look for food / water and to look for a mate when the season is such. In order to do both they need to thermoregulate. The fact that you say the snake kept returning to its open vivarium is more down to the fact that was the only heat source it found than returning to its enclosure the same was a dog returns to its basket at night. If the snake roamed and found the warmth of the airing cupboard it would stay there.

As mentioned I've been in this hobby 30+ years. I keep my snakes in as large an enclosure as will physically fit in the space my home permits. They get handled only at the regular vivarium cleaning, inspection after a shed or other action such as egg laying, or if I notice a difference in their normal behaviour. I don't treat them as pets and get them out to sit and watch the TV with me in the same way I do with our German Shepherd. All cages are locked as I'm sure that if they were let out when a hatchling as part of some "training" regime they would be long gone by now and no doubt feature in the local media as another escaped snake news item.

Anyway, now you have some guidelines lets see this amazing trained carpet python and enclosure. Maybe you can elaborate on its behaviour? Does it still exhibit that trait most carpets show of suddenly swing around as if to nail you, but stopping at the last minute ?
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