Buying venomous snakes
Who keeps venomous snakes? Keeping venomous (hot) snakes isn’t for everyone. It takes a level of awareness, care, and commitment above and beyond what the average hobbiest is willing or able to give. A friend once suggested that keepers of “hots” are fearless. At the time I agreed, but now I know better. A fearless man is an unsafe man and every venomous snake handler I’ve ever met is painfully aware of everything that is happening. They have to be, one wrong assumption can lead to disfiguration, paralysis, or even death.
There can only be two possible answers to who keeps these kinds of snakes. Dedicated people with a great admiration for these amazing creations of God, or idiots. We’ll start with the idiots and why they like to keep venomous snakes as pets. Well, for one they’re idiots and sometimes it doesn’t take anything more than that. Many of them like the ego boost it gives them.
“Hey babe, wanna see my snake? It’s venomous.”
But in some cases people simply don’t know any better. They see an ad for a venomous snake and respond to it. Throw down three of four hundred dollars and walk off with a beautiful little Timber Rattler, a tank, hide, some substrate, and if you’re lucky 10 minutes of instruction on snake handling. While that might suffice in other instances in a case involving venomous snakes it falls woefully short. And that’s why I call people who do that idiots. Because of a complete and total lack of common sense.
On the other side of the coin we have the admirers. These people are exceedingly well versed in their knowledge of venomous snakes, especially those they keep. They’ve done extensive research into every aspect of their care and handling. You’ll often find them teaching others about snakes and in general representing the interest of these creatures in the general community.Are you ready for a venomous snake? Assuming you’re not an idiot (of the sort mentioned above) and you are considering venomous snakes as pets you should give it some serious consideration. Personally I would pray over it, but however you choose to contemplate it is fine. Keep it very much in the forefront of your mind. You’re not contemplating a pet, you are contemplating you life, and the lives of those who will come into contact with the snake. If that’s something you’re willing to risk then you really need to evaluate if you’re ready for one from a capability perspective.
I don’t keep venomous snakes because I know I’m not nearly as careful as I should be. I leave tanks open all the time, pick up snakes that are hissing and striking, hold prey in the tank using my hands instead of forceps. In short I’m one of those “idiots” I talked about before. Difference between myself and them is that I know it and am willing to admit it. Being able to admit it probably saved my life because I’ve been offered venomous snakes for three hundred dollars in the past.
I once read that you should only get a venomous snake if you’re willing to die for your job (or hobby). I’ve also read that you should keep the most obnoxious, evil-tempered non-venomous snake you can find for at least three years. Handle it exactly like you would a venomous snake and keep track of each time it struck at you and each time it struck you. After three years count each time it landed a strike as a point for the snake. If at any time during the process you get bit consider yourself dead and start all over again. Extreme? You bet it is, but you’ll think extreme if a venomous snake get a hold of you.Getting a venomous snake This isn’t about locating a source for the snake, that’s easy to do, it’s about locating a mentor who will teach you what they know about handling and caring for snakes in general and venomous snakes in particular. A good mentor will tell you when you’re ready to own and care for one of these snakes. More importantly they will tell you honestly when you’re not ready.
But suppose you are ready, then what? First start by making sure everyone else in the house is onboard with the idea. A little bit ago I wrote an article about choosing a snake and the preparation that goes into it. That article was talking of commonly kept non-poisonous snakes. It mentions discussing it with family. For venomous snakes I advise talking not only to family, but also friends and neighbors who could potentially be at risk.
Once you’ve completed that task build a list of hospitals which have anti-venoms for the type of snake you want to get. Contrary to popular belief not all hospitals can administer serum and not all serums are available at those that do. When you have that list of places make sure you keep their phone number handy. They don’t just whip it out of the fridge and give it to you. They need to prepare it so being able to call them before you get to the hospital is essential. Emergency services would normally do this, but when it comes to your life you want to be as careful as possible.
Once that’s done setup it’s living quarters. It’s a bad idea in general to bring a snake home and then set everything up for them afterward. It’s downright moronic to do so with a venomous snake. You want to get it into a new home as quickly as possible to avoid traumatizing it. That’s true of any snake but having a mad corn snake is a lot different than having a mad cobra on your hands. Get them settled in as quickly as possible. By having already prepped the tank you will help speed this process along.
Get your other pets ready. Don’t take a chance with your pets around a venomous snake. In fact you should keep them totally out of the area that the snake will be in. I don’t think there’s reason to belabor the point, just be careful!
Bring it home and enjoy it. I’ve already explained what you should do before buying it and if you do those things you’ll be preparing yourself for when you bring it home. If you’re thinking you’ll learn as you go, think again. An improperly kept venomous snake is a lethal animal. That’s something you can never forget.
On a final note before you get a venomous snake double and triple check the local, state, and federal laws where you live regarding keeping of dangerous reptiles. Almost every town and state in the US has taken the time to specify certain laws affecting the keeping, sale, and importation of reptiles.