Owning a pet snake does not have to be slippery business. In fact, there are only two main issues to consider if you would like to own a pet reptile or any other unusual pet. If you understand the pet laws in your state and if you understand the unique needs of any given species of snake, you are well on your way to successfully raising a pet snake within the letter of the law.
Pet Snake Laws
Some states do not allow residents to possess certain animals, including snakes. In Alaska, for example, it is against the law to possess reptiles. In others, owning certain species of snakes is against the law. For example, the states of California and New Jersey (to name just a few) do not allow residents to possess coral snakes or cobras. Most states do not allow residents to possess venomous or poisonous snakes, while others do not allow possession of snakes of any kind if they were not owned before 1992 in some states and 1995 in others.
To review the pet snake laws in your state, do not trust the information on any non-government website. Pet laws change frequently, so to make sure you are getting the most recent laws and information, stick to government websites such as the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA, APHIS) at www.aphis.usda.gov.
Whether you live in an apartment or a home, if your state does not allow the possession of snakes, you could be fined and/or arrested. If you own a pet snake and it harms another individual, in addition to being arrested and fined, your pet snake could be euthanized. The victim may also sue for damages.
Caring for a Pet Snake in the Home
There are so many different species of snakes, it would be impossible to list care instructions for each. In general, however, you must purchase an appropriately sized cage. You should base the size of the cage on just how large your snake will grow. Some snakes may grow up to a few feet, while others may grow up to 20 feet or more. You must also create the ideal environment for the snake by researching temperature and humidity requirements for your specific species.
You must also research the dietary needs of your snake. Keep in mind that all snakes eat other live animals such as mice, insects, and worms. This means, you will have to stock these items for your pet or make frequent trips to your local pet store.
Once you have the snakes home prepared and his food pantry well-stocked. You will have to consider safety. Snakes are wild animals, and they can be unpredictable. They are very capable of harming humans and other pets, especially if they feel threatened. You should consider choosing an area of the apartment that can be secured (locked) or that is out of reach for other animals, small children, and even visitors. If the snake manages to escape somehow, a locked room is the perfect protection until you can figure out how to coax it back into its cage.
For more information about pet snakes and the laws in your state, please contact
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) at:
Headquarters Mailing Address:
4700 River Road, Unit 84
Riverdale, MD 20737-1234
Phone: (301) 734-7833
Fax: (301) 734-4978
2150 Centre Ave.
Building B, Mailstop 3W11
Fort Collins, CO 80526-8117
Phone: (970) 494-7478
Fax: (970) 494-7461
920 Main Campus Drive
Raleigh, NC 27606-5210
Phone: (919) 855