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Site updated:
25th June 2016

How I got started in Corn Snake keeping

Well, it was like this...

Snake keeping - or herpetology to give it its proper name - has been a hobby of mine since I bought Shaggy, my first corn snake, a few years ago.

Before that I had seen snakes in zoos, like most people; and I had, many years ago, briefly handled non-venomous snakes that the gully-gully man (snake charmer/magician) in Singapore used to let the children hold for a minute or two, to have their picture taken. But other than that, I had virtually no experience of snakes, never mind knowing how to look after one.

So why on earth did I end up with a snake for a pet? Well, several reasons really; the first being that in the apartment where I live, dogs and cats are not allowed. In any case, a dog would not be a practicable thing for me, much as I love them. A cat wouldn't do either, for much the same reason. Basically, all I could keep would have to be something small that either lives in a cage or tank. Which usually means either small furry animals (eg rats, gerbils, hamsters etc) or birds or fish.

I have kept birds in the past (pretty little zebra finches) - but they are noisy and tend to make a right mess, chucking seed and feathers here and there. I've also kept tropical fish and found that, whilst being an interesting hobby, it is a continual drain on the pocket: there is always something you need to buy for the tank! Rats etc, are OK, but, just as you are building up a good relationship with one, after about three years, they go and die of old age!!! So I didn't really want any of those: so I got to thinking about a snake - corn snakes generally live from 12 to 15 years, about as long as a dog; so I started visiting a local specialist reptile pet shop with more than cursory interest.

After two or three visits the guy running the shop obviously realized that I was interested in buying, because when I asked him about prices of things, I was pleasantly surprised. I'd always imagined that buying, setting up home and keeping a snake would be an expensive business. But he told me I could have a 'starter-kit' for £45.00. (Remember, this was 1995 - a starter kit nowadays would be around £60.00). This included a hatchling corn snake, a vivarium to keep him in, a heating mat, a bag of wood chippings and a non tippable water dish, ie one that a snake couldn't get his nose under and tip over - snakes love getting under things! I had always imagined the price to set up and buy a snake would be well over £100.00.

So after thinking for a few days about what I was about to commit myself to, I decided to buy one! I was shown how to feed him, handle him and given instructions about how often to feed and water him. Thereafter I have been given all the advice I ever needed; the shop is even open on Sundays and I have a phone number I can ring anytime. I have taken my snake back there every so often, so that he may be given a onceover by the guy in the shop. It's reassuring to be told I'm doing things right - he's in the peak of health (the snake, I mean - I don't know about the guy in the shop).

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