Many people, when they first saw this snake, are surprised that they called it dairy. Indeed, on her skin you rarely see white color, why then such an unusual name? In truth, an ancient legend is to blame.
Once, in one village, cows began to lose milk. Naturally, the locals did not like this course of things, and they began to look for a reason. And then one farmer noticed a snake with a bright red color crawling into the barn daily. With a little thought, he concluded that it was her fault.
Locals nicknamed her - the milk snake. From that day, as soon as the cows stopped giving milk, everyone immediately began to say: "Again, this reptile drank everything." And although scientists have long ago established that snakes are not involved in this phenomenon, they decided not to change their name.
Appearance and habitat
But let us put aside myths and legends and take up the facts. So, the milk snake is a separate species of reptile that lives on the territory of North and Central America. At the same time, they can easily tolerate both the hot air of the prairies and the increased moisture of marshy lands.
At the moment, scientists have recorded 25 subspecies of this reptile. Given this, it is rather difficult to give a general description of the whole species as a whole. Indeed, for example, the Sinaloy milk snake will be very different from the Rutvina snake in both color and size.
Despite this, almost all subspecies of these reptiles have red, yellow and black spots on the body. Only in some they are presented in the form of rings encircling the body, and in others - in the form of separate segments, randomly scattered from head to tail.
What does a milk snake eat?
Like all reptiles, this creature is a predator. Therefore, the basis of her diet are small rodents, insects and lizards. The milk snake prefers to hunt at night, during the day she sleeps. Although if the air temperature drops below average, then it can change its schedule, since the heat will no longer reach it.
If there is a farm nearby, then the snake can switch to a small bird and eggs. At the same time, it’s quite difficult to block her path, because thanks to her size and flexibility she can easily slip into even a small gap. True, she does not always succeed in crawling out, since the food inside the stomach significantly increases her size.
Coral snake and milk snake
It just so happened that this cute reptile has a twin sister - a coral snake. Outwardly, they are very similar, and to distinguish them in the wild is almost impossible, especially if you do not have the necessary knowledge.
But that is not the problem. By its nature, the milk snake is not poisonous, moreover, it has a very narrow bite, which greatly limits its ability to bite. But her sister, on the contrary, has a very toxic poison. After her bite, a person begins dizziness, nausea, fever, and if you do not help him in time, then soon he may have paralysis.
That is why Americans are so careful with milk snakes, because who knows what everything can turn out afterwards.
Many lovers of reptiles as a pet give birth to just the same milk snake. Actually, this is not surprising, because they look pretty cute, and besides, they are not poisonous. How difficult is it to look after such pets?
As experts say, the milk snake is not picky and has a calm character. Therefore, for happiness, she needs only a spacious terrarium, a small pool with water and a source of ultraviolet radiation. Since most modern snakes were bred in captivity, they instantly get used to the company of man.
The hardest time for owners of such pets is during hibernation. The reason for this is the need for temperature control and increased animal care. But for true connoisseurs of snakes, these are mere trifles.
And yet, if a person decided to get himself a milk snake, he should remember a few simple rules. After all, not only the safety of his family, but also the health of the animal itself depends on this.
So what do you need to remember?
- Never leave a snake unattended, otherwise you will have to look for it throughout the house, or even worse - outside.
- Be careful not to let children play with reptiles. If for an adult a snake bite is not terrible, then for a child it will be very painful.
- If the house has small pets, then keep the reptile away from them. After all, this is for you they are favorites, but for her this is another opportunity to reinforce.
- Two dairy snakes should always be kept in separate terrariums. This type of amphibian is famous for cannibalism, and in nature they come together only in the mating season.
Captive radiant snake (Xenopeltis unicolor).
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Radiant snakes rarely breed in captivity, so they mostly come to terrariums from nature. Alas, most imported animals die during the first six months of captivity. Caught in nature, radiant snakes are subject to stresses, which, in combination with inappropriate conditions during transportation and overexposure, is detrimental to many captured snakes. However, animals that survived the move can adapt very well to their new home, provided that they are kept in appropriate conditions and receive the necessary veterinary care.
Requirements for the conditions of detention.
In fact, the successful maintenance of a radiant snake requires only four things: humidity, suitable substrate for digging, temperature appropriate for this species, and loneliness.
Radiant snakes come from waterlogged habitats (have you ever seen rice checks? Does rice grow almost in a swamp) and, as a result, they need very high humidity to feel good when kept in captivity. I keep my radiant snakes at a humidity of 80-100% all the time. Many radiant snakes suffer from the formation of bubbles on the scales (see photo), it may look like a disease arising from excess moisture, but in fact it is not. I am sure that many breeders, seeing the signs of this disease and deciding that changing the conditions to dry ones, will solve the problem, dry the radiant snakes and thereby destroy them. This disease is a stress-aggravated bacterial infection that is treated with antibiotics and a moist environment.
The second one. Since radiant snakes are burrowing animals, they need a substrate into which they can dig. I use cypress mulch as a substrate, sprinkling it with a layer of 15-20 centimeters, but other substrates such as moss or crushed bark are also quite suitable. I keep the mulch moist but not wet. In the warm corner of the terrarium, the temperature is maintained at 30-31 C, in the cool corner - 24-27 C.
All the radiant snakes that I kept normally took immobilized rodents from the tongs. These snakes are very violently clutching their prey, so take care of your fingers! Radiant snakes strangle prey with the rings of their body, like other snakes, but I swear they are the fastest eaters of all the snakes I have seen, no other species can even compare with the speed with which radiant snakes kill and swallow their prey. This is probably due to the vulnerability of snakes when they are on the surface of the soil at a time when they hunt and absorb their prey. Thus, the quickly absorbing prey snakes were less susceptible to the pressure of predators and passed their genes to the next generation (believe me, I am an environmentalist, what can I do).
There is one thing the new owner should be warned about - these snakes have an absolutely terrible musky smell, really terrible. If the snake doused you with a stream of odorous liquid, get ready to take a shower five times and wash the clothes you were in at the time of the incident five times. (I’ll add from myself that there is a smell and quite nasty, but he didn’t stand next to that stink that ordinary snakes are capable of emitting. - When. perev.) Radiant snakes are easily susceptible to stress, do not pick them up if this is not particularly necessary.
So, success in keeping radiant snakes goes back to four points: keep them in moisture, loose substrate, warm and leave them alone.
I successfully kept a group of 15 radiant snakes according to the specified technique for 4 years. However, even under ideal conditions, radiant snakes (especially recently acquired) can still die. I kept these snakes in an attempt to develop a successful scheme for their breeding in captivity, which would reduce the number of animals caught. Once, in 1997, we managed to get offspring from them, but subsequently this success did not repeat.
1. Availability of feed
Some difficulty can be caused by feeding reptiles. It is important for some that they feed on defrosting, since not everyone is ready to kill rodents and other animals, which then need to be fed to the snake. And it is also convenient to store the pre-thaw or defrost, and those snakes that feed on the pre-killed food are in a more advantageous position than those that are fed only with live feed objects.
Most fauna representatives of this color are dangerous. The milk snake has huge resemblances to a coral aspid - a poisonous specimen of the snake world. But besides the color, these snakes have nothing more in common, since the "milkmen" pose no threat, therefore, you can take them into your hands without fear for your life.
This species originated from the Central and Northern parts of America, so snakes prefer mountainous terrain and can be found at an altitude of up to 3,500 meters. Given these facts, milk snakes are less susceptible to cold than their kings, royal snakes. Today, there are about 25 species of "milkmen": Honduran, ringed, Rutvena, Campbell, Sinoloyskaya and others.
Any of the above representatives will be a worthy decoration for your home. All species have a difference in size and color, so owners of exotic animals prefer different representatives of the milk snake. However, its name "milk" snake found not by chance. In ancient times, Americans grazed cows, and when the animals lost their milk one day, they blamed the snakes for this, because of their bright appearance and frequent meetings with people, milkmen were the best candidates for the role of the perpetrator of this trouble. People thought that snakes drink milk from cows. Therefore, so they began to be called "milk".
The most prominent representatives of the royal snake is the Sinaloy milk snake. Her body is decorated with large coral rings, and a little less white and black colors. Such snakes are very memorable because of their appearance, since not all poisonous snakes can boast of such paints. But the question remains relevant about the need for such colors, if their carrier has no poison at all. “Mimicry” - this is what advanced scientists called this phenomenon, this definition refers to the ability to disguise themselves as poisonous relatives for the implementation of self-defense. That is why the royal milk snake resembles its closest relative the coral aspid, which lives with it at the same latitudes.
What is unusual for milk snakes?
At the first glance at these snakes, the thought immediately comes up, why are they “milky”, because their colors are very bright? The snake has a bright scarlet color, and yellow and black rings encircle the body.
The thing is that in places where dairy snakes live, milk can be lost in cattle for some reason. American farmers believe that someone is sucking this milk. And the culprit was quickly found - a brightly colored snake, often found on pastures. This is where its name came from.
Interestingly, many city dwellers also think that snakes love milk and lap it from a saucer. If you do not give water to the snake, it will really drink milk, but this will only cause her intestinal upset.
When meeting these snakes, the second question also arises, since they have such a bright color, then they are poisonous? No, this is a manifestation of mimicry, milk snakes, due to their coloring, imitate poisonous coral snakes.
Subspecies of dairy snakes
The milk snake L.t.triangulum is a northern subspecies; it, unlike its relatives, has not a striped color, but a spotted one. Its color is similar to the color of the maize snake. Her back is gray or light brown, and a chain of their red or brown spots with a black edging runs through it.
No less interesting is the subspecies L.t.gaigeae from Panama and Costa Rica. The young have a classic color - red-striped, but six months later and after 7 molts, it becomes velvet black with greenish tints.
The most elegant among the milk snakes are the representatives of the L.t. cambelli subspecies with a contrasting black-red-white color and the representatives of the L.t.sinaloae subspecies with wide scarlet and pepper rings.
Honduran Milk Snakes L. t. hondurensis are less bright in comparison with Mexican, but they are larger. Kids come out of the eggs, reaching a length of 32 centimeters, so they can immediately eat pubescent mice.
These subspecies of dairy snakes are most often found in terrariums. They are best for lovers.
The reptile leads a nocturnal lifestyle. During the day, it rests in an underground shelter or under a pile of stones, and with the onset of dusk creeps out in search of food. From autumn to spring, activity can occur during daylight hours among animals kept in the terrarium.
The Campbell royal snake lives alone and out of the breeding season eschews its fellow tribesmen.
Large individuals are prone to cannibalism and eat smaller relatives. They usually treat a person without aggression. With careful and friendly handling, reptiles are quickly tamed and become tame. The snake swims well and likes to be in the water for a long time if there is a small body of water near its dwelling.
Under natural conditions, from mid-November to the second half of February it hibernates when the ambient temperature drops to 10 ° C. Already in October, she ceases to feed, limiting herself to drinking water. Hibernation begins after the stomach is completely empty. The diet consists of rodents, hatched chicks, frogs, lizards and small snakes.
Conditions of detention
Keeping a Sinaloy milk snake in captivity is not a very difficult task. Complying with a small list of requirements is not difficult. Therefore, this species is recommended for beginners to maintain. However, there is a “but” here: the Sinaloy milk snake is able to get out of the terrarium with a hole where its head can fit. If there is such a hole in the terrarium, then it will certainly run away. This snake is very fond of exploring space, and therefore, after escaping it will be very difficult to find, since it can creep away quite quickly. The choice of a terrarium must be approached with special care.
In addition, contain Sinaloy milk snakes must be one by one.
Terrarium: choose recommended terrarium for terrestrial species, i.e. horizontal type. The size of the terrarium should depend on the size of the lighting devices that will be placed in it, because the luminaire must be at least 40 cm from the floor.Thus, the size of the terrarium excluding the luminaire should be at least 50x40x40 cm for one individual.
Substrate: river pebbles, coarse sand, coconut, or paper can be used as the main substrate. The main thing is that the substrate is always dry, but not dusty. At the warming point, it is necessary to place the sphagnum moss so that the snake can dig into it. In addition, sphagnum will help maintain the humidity level required by the reptile.
Lighting: during the seasons of reptile activity, daylight hours should be 12 hours. Compliance with the daily rhythm is very important for the snake, since the time of its activity falls precisely on the twilight period. The presence in the terrarium of a lamp with a UVB spectrum is a prerequisite.
In order for the snake to feel comfortable in captivity, in winter it must be put into hibernation and brought out closer to spring. To do this, in late autumn - early winter for 2-3 weeks gradually reduce daylight hours and lower night temperatures. When the daylight hours will be 8 hours, the snake needs to stop offering food and turn off the night heating. When the daylight hours are reduced to 4 hours, it is necessary to turn off the daytime heating, and the temperature should be maintained at 15-17 ° C. At this time, the snake needs to be placed in a dark, dry and well-ventilated place. This can be a lightproof cage with sawdust. However, humidity must be maintained at a level of 40-50%, as well as regularly put a drinker. Wintering lasts about 2 months, after which the snake must be taken out of hibernation in the same rhythm. Feed should be offered at 8 hours of light.
Content Temperature: in the daytime, the background temperature in the terrarium should be maintained at 28-30 ° C, at night the temperature should drop to 20-21 ° C. An excellent option would be the temperature gradation in the terrarium, so that the reptile itself could choose a comfortable place. To do this, it is enough to organize a heating point, where the temperature reaches 30-32 ° C in the afternoon (in the same place you need to place moss). But do not forget to hang the thermometer on the other side of the terrarium as well to monitor compliance with the background temperature level.
Maintaining humidity: a large and heavy (so that it cannot be knocked over) drinker, in which the snake can not only drink, but if necessary dive (especially during molting) and defecate, will also be an excellent source of evaporation to maintain moisture. Water in the drinker needs to be changed daily. In addition, sphagnum moss and daily spraying with warm water will play the same role.
Decor: two-thirds of the space in the terrarium can be left free, everything else needs to be filled with all kinds of shelters. In this capacity, shelters in the form of rocky rocks, grottoes, stumps, and pieces of tree bark and even parts of broken clay pots can appear. Three walls of the terrarium must be closed by design, especially if the terrarium is in a passable place.
In nature, the Sinaloy milk snake eats large insects, lizards, small rodents, as well as other snakes.
In captivity, the diet of these snakes may well be specially grown! rodents and insects. You need to feed a milk snake no more than once every five days.
Together with the food, it is necessary to add special vitamins and mineral supplements, according to the manufacturer's instructions. Crushed eggshell can be an additional source of calcium. Minerals can also be added to the water that the snake drinks regularly.
The life expectancy of a milk snake at home ranges from an average of 15 to 20 years. Moreover, already at the age of 2 years they have the ability to reproduce. Fertilized females hatched eggs for about 70 days, after which they lay them. Depending on the type of snake - eggs can be from 4 to 8 pieces.
Puberty occurs at the age of 2-3 years. In the wild, the mating season runs from mid-March to early April. In captivity, representatives of this species can mate up to three times a year.
A female ready for mating exudes pheromones, which are produced by the glands located on her skin. It leaves an odorous footprint on the surface of the soil, attracting males. One female is often followed by several applicants. Between them are ritual battles for the right to procreate.
About 45 days after mating, the female lays 4 to 10 eggs in loose, moist soil.
Incubation lasts 60-65 days. The length of the hatched snakes reaches 14-20 cm. Immediately after the birth of the light, they creep in different directions and pass to independent existence. Already in the early stages of development, they have cases of cannibalism, so they are very timid and try to hide immediately when larger brothers appear.
The snake must be safe.
Poisonous snakes are immediately cut off - they are forbidden for beginners to keep them.
The first reptile pets should “forgive mistakes,” because beginners always make mistakes. In fairness, it should be said that experienced specialists also allow them. And poisonous individuals will not forgive you a mistake. Does everyone know how a bite of a poisonous snake ends? If not, then read our special article on Poison Bites on Poisonous Snakes - Poisonous Snakes: The Aftermath of Bites.
4. Source of purchase
It is very important that the view that you are recommended is available in a movable condition. An individual can be born in captivity, but it is better if there are adjustable species in stock. "Naturalists", even the simplest species, according to experts, are more difficult to maintain. Here you will have to apply a lot of other skills besides terrarium. This is distracting and may even disappoint.
For example, a divergent goniosis (or red-tailed snake) can be recommended to a beginner - these snakes are quite simple to maintain, but natural goniosomes are already complex snakes, and it will be difficult for beginners to deal with them.
So, difficult care or simple care depends on whether the snake is adjustable or not.
5. Ability to leave a pet
A very important criterion for choosing a particular type of snake is the ability to leave it unattended or even the presence of the owner for a long time. There are species that require special conditions of detention, they have to maintain many different factors. You won’t just leave such snakes. And I want to leave at least for a week.
It should be such a snake that you can pour water into the drinker and leave for a month. Or ask relatives, neighbors, friends to come periodically and pour water into the drinker. Everything, and on this manipulation must be completed.
There are snakes that dry quickly without watering, without maintaining the necessary moisture, there are those that should eat a lot. Accordingly, this can also be a problem.
6. Errors of care and feeding
And again about the errors. It is important to choose a kind of snake that would "forgive mistakes." It will be very sad and insulting if, for example, the first time you feed improperly, the snake will burp and die. Well did not guess with the size of the feed object! It happens. But it’s a pity if the pet dies.
Therefore, choose a type of snake that can be kept in a very wide range of permissible humidity, permissible temperatures. That is, if the snake is not comfortable with the temperature, then she could survive this mistake of yours until you find out more precisely how many degrees you need to set in the terrarium. Or if you gave her the wrong feed object, then she burped, but nothing bad happened.
Such a snake species as a boa constrictor or common boa is very vulnerable to food “bugs”. If you do not guess with the food object, then the snake spits up. A perfectly healthy boa constrictor can burp and after that it becomes a completely sick boa. He has a bunch of all kinds of sores, organs are planted. Then comes the burp from the fact that there was the first burp, then the third burp, and then the snake simply dies in inept hands. This is the biggest drawback of the boa constrictor.
Small types of snakes. Tortilla, patterned, etc., growing 1 m or slightly more. These are ideal snakes for keeping them in captivity, a lot of information on them, they have a good appetite, they are extremely easy to care for in all its aspects.
Why is 8th place? They have a drawback: small size. With adults 1 meter and a little more problems will not be, but when caring for newborns, novice terrariums will face many problems, starting from refusing food. Naturally, a beginner may begin to panic, he will begin to commit chaotic wrong actions that can kill even the most persistent snake. In this regard, the same maize or other snake is a problem pet as the first snake.
Carpet pythons (Morelia spilota). We also include amethyst python, Austrian and New Guinean carpet python. There is no problem with the content, these snakes are quite simple, forgive many mistakes (with the same feed). They easily pass to pre-initiation, are kept at room temperature (+ warm-up point during the day), grow a decent size, and in the newborn state they are also quite large so that there are no difficulties with them. They are able to starve for a long time, giving the owner the opportunity to find some kind of solution. They are flexible, they sit well on hands, tenacious and photogenic. Cons: carpet pythons and generally any morelia do not like sudden temperature jumps. This is not about smooth temperature drops (sometimes quite low) - they calmly tolerate this, but about sharp jumps such as drafts and other things. They can lead to unfortunate consequences, as the respiratory diseases of Morelia bend even with proper treatment.
If you contain Morelia, then playing with temperatures is not recommended! Stop your choice on some tropical form of carpet python, keep it in greenhouse conditions and watch only for this.
Otherwise, there are no difficulties with the content of this snake, therefore it is 1 place higher than snakes.
Tiger pythons. Grow to a significant size. But growth can be controlled in captivity, for which it is necessary to discuss its feeding with experienced keepers. In general, the advice of professionals you will really need in the case of the tiger python. Just like that, "crazy", to get it will not work. The well-known and most important drawback is the difficulty in feeding.
Royal pythons. Simple snakes in every way. Another plus is a large number of morphs (color variations within the same species). It is always very interesting. By the way, tortoiseshells also have a lot of color variations, and this adds some excitement if, for example, you decide to engage in species selection.
Royal pythons have one single drawback - difficulties in establishing feeding. Some time after you pick it up from the keeper, the pet may refuse to eat, but sooner or later the royal pythons begin to eat. Your task is to offer different foods weekly and be patient.
There are cases when snakes refused food for about a year. Some pythons who eat well can also suddenly start to fast. There is nothing to worry about. Just make sure that their conditions are correct and wait for the python to start eating again.
Large subspecies of royal snakes. There are even fewer problems with them than with the reptiles listed above. Newborn individuals, such as Honduran snakes, are easy to feed. Almost from birth, they feed on large fodder objects; they can overpower even newborn rat pups. Large subspecies of royal snakes also start well on defrosting.
Madagascar boas (Acrantophis and Sanzinia). It is worth noting the following species: two earthen Madagascar boas - Madagascar boas Dumeril (Acrantophis dumerili) and Acrantophis madagascariensis and two - wood species of boas. In the maintenance and care of them they have no equal. All of these species are born large, eat well, are unpretentious. They can starve, withstand any room temperature. These types are compact, with them there will be no problems in terms of finding housing. And they are pretty enough.
All large types of snakes. Some have flaws in the form of aggression, but they can not cause significant injuries. This includes any thin-tailed snake species, any obsolete. The care is the same as for maize snakes, but from the newborn to the adult they are easy to maintain - they sit on their hands, are large enough, they eat everything from an early age, there is a lot of information about them. These are beautiful snakes that are interesting to watch. A classic terrarium that will decorate the apartment will suit them.