The majority of these snakes arise in the areas around the United States although there are a number of species which can be found in other areas of the world. Hatchlings begin at around 22.5cm to 35cm (9 to 14 inches) in length reaching around 60cm (2 feet) within the first 12 months of growth with the eventuality of becoming around 75cm to 150cm (2.5 to 5 feet) in length. This is usually within 5 years. Very few species reach 180cm (6 feet).
Their main diet consists of pink mice and fuzzies for hatchlings although in the wild their main diet would normally consist of frogs and small lizards. As the snake grows, so will the frequency and amount of food given as well as an increase in prey size, from pink mice to eventually small rats and extra large mice.
Heat Source:- This can be either reflector spot lights in green, red or blue, ceramics, tubular heaters or thermostatically controlled heat mats. UV Light Source:-Although there is a lot of controversy regarding the use of UV supplementation with snakes, many herpetologists wouldn’t be without one. It has therefore been included here as a suggestion and the recommended type for snakes until further scientific research proves otherwise is a 2.0% UVB. This should be left on for 8 to 12 hours a day and replaced every 6 months unless otherwise stated by the manufacturer. However, care should be taken if your snake is albino as the light intensity could have a detrimental effect on the snakes eyes. Vitamin D3 supplements should also be kept to a minimum. Housing:- This should consist of a dark wooden vivarium with glass frontage and adequate ventilation. Juveniles would require a small hatchling tub (pen pal, geoflat or even a ventilated sandwich box) which can be housed in a heated vivarium. A pair of adult snakes can live quite happily in a vivarium measuring 90cm long by 45cm deep by 45cm high (36 inches by 18 inches by 18 inches. Thermostat:- An essential part of any vivarium and is required to regulate the internal temperatures of the vivarium and to prevent your pet from becoming too hot or too cold. Wire Mesh Guards:- These should be fitted over all heat sources used in order to prevent thermal burns. Thermometers:- One should be placed at each end of the vivarium in order to give an accurate reading of the temperatures within the vivarium. Never go by the temperature on the thermostat as these are often inaccurate. Hides:- These are essential to prevent stress and allow your pet to hide away from the outside world. Artificial plants, boxes, plant pots, caves etc. all make excellent hides.
These animals require a water container which will allow them to bathe without constriction. This water should be changed daily as this is also the water they drink.
A background temperature of 25 – 26°C (75 – 78°F) should be created with a basking area of one third of the vivarium reaching temperatures of 27 – 28°C (80 – 82°F). At night the temperature may be allowed to drop to 26°C (78°F) although this is not recommended if the snake is suffering any respiratory infections.
These animals have been known to reach ages of around 15 years although snakes living up to 20 years are not uncommon.
This can be anything from newspaper, brown paper or even astro turf. Whatever you use remember that it must be cleaned on a regular basis to prevent contamination from disease. Never feed your snake over substrate that could be ingested. Corn cob and wood chippings should not be used as substrate for this reason.
If you choose to brumate your snake a temperature of 12 – 17°C (52 – 62°F) for a period of 90 days would be satisfactory. Most people tend to do this around the end of October until the end of January. Water should always be available and no food should be given from 2 weeks before the beginning of the brumation period. This is not recommended if your snake is unwell in any way or if your snake has not eaten sufficiently during the year. It is also not recommended for hatchlings.