We’ve had our snake Sid for some time now. Here she is, earlier today:
Sid is a corn snake (Elaphe guttata). We think she’s a ‘she’, based on the morphology of the tail, but don’t know for sure. Corn snakes are great reptiles for beginners – easy to keep, easy to handle, calm and laid-back. We’ve had her since she was hardly more than the thickness of a cheese straw.
But snakes grow, and as they grow, so do their accommodation needs. For some time now Sid has been living in a 3′ vivarium. But when I measured her last (I did this from an intact shed skin) she was 4’8″. Time, then, to order a bigger vivarium, if only so she could stretch her legs. Metaphorically speaking.
That’s when I went to our friendly and knowledgeable reptile specialist, James at Angel Aquatics and Reptiles in North Walsham, and ordered a custom 4′ viv made specially to fit the inglenook to the right of the fireplace, above the aquarium. Crox Minima and I collected it today, and here it is…
You can’t see Sid in this picture as she’s sulking after her house move (she’s in her snake cave, bottom right), but a few hours have passed since then and she’s now slithering around her new deluxe accommodation, tongue flickering, exploring every crevice.
Well, that left us with a vacant 3′ viv, and … you’re way ahead of me. So when Crox Minima and I went to collect the viv, we also came away with a baby royal python (Python regius) in a plastic snake box. He’s called Yentl. I don’t know who came up with the name Yentl for a python. I think it was Mrs Crox. But, anyway, it seemed to suit, and so here he is (he’s definitely a ‘he’).
He’s rather less than a foot long, but as you can see, already very … er … pythonesque.
This wasn’t an impulse purchase.
I first became interested in these beautiful creatures when introduced to one in the lab of Dr J. H. of Toronto. Royal pythons are rather petite, as pythons go, rarely getting above 4′ long, and males tend to be smaller than females, so Sid’s old 3′ viv will be perfect – especially in my new
Here’s a picture of my orifice earlier today. The 3′ viv is to the right, foreground … but as you can see it’s empty, and will be for some time. The effect of transferring a small snake from a small box to a large viv is somewhat overwhelming for the snake, and puts it off eating, which isn’t a good thing for a young serpent. So, until then, Yentl currently lives in the flat plastic box he came in (you can see it, on top of the viv), and he’ll be happy there for two or three months at least, until he’s grown a bit.
In the meantime I’ve got to fix up the viv for a snake that’s a little bit fussier than a corn snake. Pythons don’t mind being handled – but are less placid about it than corn snakes. They also need greater humidity and warmth, so I’ll have to install, as well as the usual heat mat, an infrared light bulb with a thermostat – and a metal cage round the bulb in case the python gets too close and burns itself (not the sharpest knives in the drawer, apparently, compared with corn snakes). And pythons like posh, expensive orchid bark chips (£6.99 for ten litres – that’s the plastic bag on top of the viv) rather than the aspen shavings Sid’s used to, as these retain moisture rather better.
I’m looking forward to feeding time.
At the moment we feed Sid two or three dead mice once a week. We place them in the tank, and she usually consumes them when we’re not watching, though I have filmed the amazing spectacle.
According to James, though, who knows a thing or two about pythons, young Yentl should come out and strike at a dead mouse if dangled in front of him.