House snakes: a new addition

Have I done a snake post yet?


Okay, freak-out over. But, it was a little warranted: snakes were my first truly dedicated passion, founded from chance encounters when I was four years old (that's 19 years ago, by the way) and my first personal pet at five (dear, dear Frosty; how I miss thee), and yet, all I have to show on that front so far are a handful of blind snake files up in the Database. Though I am sadly far from being able to really dedicate a large part of my business to rearing reptiles and educating others about them in a hands-on manner thereby, steps are slowly being taken in that direction again

With practice breeding of corn snakes under my belt already (and a post in the future on some special research I've done with that will be made), and a pair of beautiful milk snakes to be possibly added to those breeding ranks with a little help from a local science teacher friend (can't breed in the house, gotta find another location :P ), the foundations are expanding. And, as of today, another Carlton pal was added to the mix. Meet Hobbes:

Yeah, it's blurry. They don't sit still very well :)

Hobbes is a very young African house snake (also known as Cape house snake, brown house snake, Lamprophis fuliginosus or Boaedon fuliginosus, likely subspecies mentalis), a male pretty typical in appearance for the species though I picked him out because he was both a lot more red than the others in the mix and has a very nice stripe on his back. With any luck, at the next expo I can find him a future girlfriend too (an amelanistic -"albino" for those not into the nit-picky pigment mutation name details- would be nice). He'll get to a maximum of probably 2 1/2 feet in length, if that, a relatively small and easy to work with docile animal.

A little better picture :P This species is typically claimed to be recognizable due to those bands running across the eyes along the head, and the brownish color as one of the common names suggest.

African house snakes are found (where else?) in Africa, across nearly the entire continent (according to those who consider it all one species) anywhere where it's on the drier side, from near-deserts to woodlands and grasslands. Females are much larger than males, maxing out sometimes at more than 4 feet in length, and they're typically aggressive feeders. Hence, not a species one usually worries about refusing food, but if you're not careful they might just eat themselves to death, or look at housemates as meals (best to keep separate). As a mostly tropical species too, they don't really have a strict breeding season, and can and will mate and produce eggs any time of the year (another reason to keep them separated; these might be the rabbits of the snake world).

Keeping house snakes is purported to be quite simple, needing a hot spot in an otherwise moderately warm tank and somewhere a little humid for when they're shedding or laying eggs (a box of moss usually suffices) along with the standard clean water dish. Like corn snakes and ball pythons they usually readily take mice as food and are big enough for pinkies when newly hatched, and they mature quickly, reaching breeding age within a year. Unlike corn snakes and pythons, as they're smaller they can be kept in a smaller home, easier to fit with the necessary implements on a sturdy shelf (though that cage had better be secure, as they will roam like corns do), and they don't live for quite as long (10 years or so as opposed to possibly more than 20). For a person who wants something easy to start with and with less risk of a truly lengthy commitment, they're great. Plus, most aren't very nippy so they're good around kids (just avoid grabbing them behind the head). They are active when handled though, so only those who are comfortable working with an energetic reptile should hold them.

Hobbes is the first truly exotic snake for me (the carpet python I care for sometimes doesn't count; I don't fully own her and have no breeding plans for her), and so another stepping stone. Plus, as something that looks a little familiar but also very different from common pet snakes, he's sure to be a great ambassador for animal education among others.