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Snakes: Pets for the 'special' household

If you're the average person, this is not the pet you want. Snakes require careful attention and owners with special knowledge to care for them.

Here are a few thoughts to ponder before dashing out to pick up the gear you'll need to bring this pet home. What if your "baby" grows up to weigh twice what you do and refuses to eat anything but live prey? What will your veterinarian say when you introduce "Sliver" as the family pet? And, will your spouse need tranquilizers to cope with its presence at home?

If none of these scenarios present a problem for you, then you can have one of these reptiles -- for $100 to $1,000 -- and for 20 years.


Veterinarian Ron Hines at says the most popular pet snakes in the United States are king snakes, boas and pythons. He suggests king snakes for beginners as they have an even temperament with adults and children and are gentle.

It is never a good idea to catch a snake in the wild and try to tame it. You should get your pet from a store or a breeder. Check out to find snake breeders and to learn the characteristics of the various types of suitable and not-so-suitable pet snakes. At this site, boas start at about $60, king snakes and pythons at $100.

Once you are ready to buy your snake, you'll want to purchase the equipment to create a home. The pad must be kept immaculate and will require some of this paraphernalia: cage carpet ($5 to $12), heat lamp ($9), climbing branch ($4 to $12) and terrarium cave ($30). Cages can be expensive, so check your local newspaper classifieds, a pet store or to find a safe, suitable cage.

Once you have all the gear necessary, the cost of care will remain approximately the same year after year.

According to Tierra Griffiths, spokeswoman for the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, your snake's diet for a year will cost $92. It could be more depending on the type of snake you have, its feeding habit and the region in which you live.

Your pet snake will not need regular exercise or to snuggle with you frequently, but it will still demand your time. A pet this exotic will certainly make your holidays interesting, but have you thought about who will baby-sit when you get the flu or leave town?

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