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first venomous snake

Discussion in 'Not So Spineless Wonders' started by LeilaNami, Apr 24, 2008.

  1. LeilaNami

    LeilaNami Arachnoking Old Timer

    I wanted to start with my first venomous snake towards the middle of summer. I wanted one that stays relatively small (3' max). I'll take any suggestions you might give me.
  2. CID143ti

    CID143ti Arachnoknight Old Timer

    Think long and hard to determin if you are willing to take a bite, lose a finger or die. After that scary thought. What do you really want...what kind of snake? Do you have experiance dealing with hots...I know you say this would be your first but have you observed anyone else working with them? Mentors are a great thing. Pick something non leathal and US native that way if you do make mistake it is not likely a death sentance and local hospitals have a better chance helping. Check you local laws you might be restricted. Most people suggest coppers due to the fact they are usually one of the more calm, less toxic than some other choices, and probably could be found locally. They typically do not hook well...they slide off easily...in the field buggin' I usually use long tongs to move them instead of hooks. Make sure that you have all your tools and cages ready well before you acquire the animal. Read up everything you can about their needs, keeping them captivity, and potential dangers, and what to do in case of a invenomation. I know that you only asked about the snake but IMO it's better to hear the other stuff with it.
  3. LeilaNami

    LeilaNami Arachnoking Old Timer

    I'm well aware of the dangers and I am in the process of researching species with venom that isn't going to be fatal. All of my experience has been with coral snakes (which I wouldn't mind having). I do have a mentor that deals a lot of the hots native to Texas. I've been preparing myself for a year before deciding I wanted to start with hots.
  4. loxoscelesfear

    loxoscelesfear Arachnoprince Old Timer

    copperhead, but as stated above, think long and hard about the consquences of a bite. owning a venomous snake not only puts you at risk but everyone living w/ you.
  5. mindlessvw

    mindlessvw Arachnobaron Old Timer

    What experience do you have with snakes in general? Have you spent a great deal of time working with hooks and tongs to perfect your abilities? This is crucial to keeping hots. In addition to that, have you checked your local laws to make sure you are even able to? There are many facctors to look at as well. My suggestion would be to contact a herp society in your area. There is the Texas Herp Society, Austin Herp Society, West Texas Herp Society, and East Texas Herp Society are a few that I would suggest to try to contact. You will be able to find a mentor and learn more than you ever thought possible. Just my .02
  6. LeilaNami

    LeilaNami Arachnoking Old Timer

    Okay. Unfortunately none of them are in my area. They seem to all be in central Texas and I'm in the DFW area. I haven't used the hook much but I know it's essential to learn. Thanks guys.
  7. CID143ti

    CID143ti Arachnoknight Old Timer

    Honestly, it sounds like you have a pretty good start. Probably better than many that jump in. Good luck with corals...if you get one...from what I understand they can be a pain to feed. Most are unwilling to switch from feeding on snakes. I may be mistaken but I think the supplier for antivenom for corals is no longer producing it.
  8. Galapoheros

    Galapoheros ArachnoGod Old Timer

    According to my Peterson field guide, you can find the Southern and Broad-banded Copper in your area all the way north across the Tx border. I tried the Coral snake thing several times and never had any luck with getting them to eat a convenient feeder. Too bad because they are such a cool looking snake:wall: ..they stay buried most of the time too. You might find a Western Pigmy rattlesnake according to the field guide. I've never seen one of those in the wild.
  9. apidaeman

    apidaeman Arachnoknight

    Can't go wrong starting with a pygmy rattlesnake, any pygmy variety will do. So if you make a mistake you'll live without having to admit to anyone you got bit.
    The embarassment of admitting you got bit is usually worse than the bite itself.
  10. Takumaku

    Takumaku Arachnoknight

    I would strongly recommend contacting the local zoos around you that have venomous reptiles and talk to the curator in charge. See if the person will allow you to mentor/volunteer with them. That is how I started and I couldn't think the person enough for giving so much valuable information.

    If you must own one without mentoring, I would recommend the following.

    Beginner: teaches you how to handle aggressive snakes.

    Coachwhip - nothing is a good trainer than an aggressive Masticophis flagellum.

    Hognose snake - rear fang. Some people are allergic to the venom, while others aren't.


    Mangrove snake - Boiga dendrophila, mildly venomous, rear-fanged
    False Water Cobra - Hydrodynastes gigas, rear-fanged, venon is questionable.


    Copperheads - demeanor is so calm that there have been cases (my sister is one I know of; she didn't know) when the snake can be free handle without provoking a striking response.
  11. mindlessvw

    mindlessvw Arachnobaron Old Timer

    I wouldn't really agree with that. I believe pygmy's are worse than copperheads...
    the pygmy has a 2.80 venom yield
    the copperhead has a 10.9 venom yield
    check out this site. certainly informative

    It is a very good site to keep on hand...
  12. LeilaNami

    LeilaNami Arachnoking Old Timer

    I really like all these snakes. I've got some thinking to do. I'd like one towards the end of summer actually so I've got some time.
  13. harveythefly

    harveythefly Arachnoknight Old Timer

    have you thought about vine snakes? they're rear fanged and they have really neat eyes...kinda kermit the frog looking eyes hehe:)...plus i think they're legal to keep in most states whereas alot of states require permits to keep vipers and elapids...

    just a thought:)

  14. Don&SallysZoo

    Don&SallysZoo Arachnosquire Old Timer

    First off you should also check your local and state laws on keeping venomous. When I kept hots my first two was a Pygmy rattlesnake and a Coperhead. Either one of these makes a fine 1st hot IMO. As long as you respect the animal nothing to worry about. Always keep in locked cage, always using tongs and or hooks when moving, doing cage cleaning, etc. :)
  15. Vinnyg253

    Vinnyg253 Arachnopeon

    Im sure by now the OP has decided on what to do, but for those that might come arcoss this thred because they are thinking about getting a Hot Snake, I'd follow the same course of action I was recomended. I started with water snakes and other small fast species that were known to be ill tempered. Each time I was bitten I doccumented in a journal, over a course of six months I was bitten 17 times. When I went back to my mentor who owned several hots, he explained that each time I was bitten imagine costly hosptial stays upwards of 100,000 dollars or more and that they could last several months these stays. I quickly got the message and decided to rethink my desire. In the end I ended u a False Water Cobra. A rear fangged snake from south america. Their venom is mild and has yet to cause any confrimed deaths. One reason for this is that they cannot deliver venom with thier fangs as they are in the rear of the mouth and are not Hypodermic, they are merely grooved teeth and therefore have to chew on thier prey to envenomate. So If you are bitten you have a good bit of time to remove the snake before it causes real damage. Captive bred FWC's I have found to tollarte handling but can be a bit moody at times. They also have a very aggressive feeding response, so expect a ravenous animal when it comes time to eat.
    All in all I'd recomend staying away from the venomous snakes all together, the risks outweigh the benifets, if you really need to see them, go to your local zoo. And remember, the deadlist snake is the one that just bit you, so please people don't keep them unless you have the experiance and the expertiese, if you have to ask if you are experianced enough to keep one, then most likely you are not.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. CID143ti

    CID143ti Arachnoknight Old Timer


    No disrespect, but if you were learning to work with hots then why did you get bitten so often? It seems to me that you would want to practice the same handling techniques (which should still be the "hands off" approach imo) on the nonvenomous snake that you would with the hot one. Tools are a must. Hands in/near cages with a hot snake are "no-no."

    W. Smith
  17. Vinnyg253

    Vinnyg253 Arachnopeon

    I used hooks and was very careful, Most of the bites came from multipule strikes, or attempting to grab the head or tail of the snake. Exercises so that if for some reason I needed to IE the snake escape, ect ect...I knew what I was doing and what to expect. I might have been bitten more times than most others would have, but in the end it served its point that my mentor was trying to drive home. If I had purchese the coral cobra like I orginaly wanted, I may not be posting this thread right now.
  18. I have owned venomous snakes for well over a decade and have a bit of experience dealing with hots so I thought I'd throw my 2 cents in here. Now keeping hots can be a hell of an interesting experience, but there is alot of caution involved. And all things need to be considered before geting into this dangerous hobby. And I know its been said over and over but, check your local laws before even attempting to get into this hobby.

    Now I have known quite a few people who at best probably shouldn't even keep anything as bad as a Boiga species much less anything more dangerous. So you must get experience with the handling of Hots and using the proper tools. It takes time to learn how to use a hook, tongs and bagging system. As simple as they look you have to develop a technique that suits you in order to ensure yours and the animals safety. So I would start out getting a pair of tongs and a hook and try them out on some colubrids, perhaps even try something a bit more difficult than a cornsnake as well! Then after a while of getting the hang of that, find some people nearby who own some less toxic hots, Agkistrodon and Crotalus are pretty good trainers I have found. Agkistrodons are a bit more difficult than Crotalus but there is less danger involved with Coppers. After getting that down to where you feel comfortable with it, you need to move up to transferring them. This is a big deal since your animal will need its enclusure cleaned occasionally and this is where most of the danger involved comes from. What I do is buy 5gal clean buckets from Walmart or where ever you can get them, cut, drill or burn a small sight hole in the lid and transfer from their enclosure to the bucket and securely put on the lid. Now I NEVER condone handling your venomous snake in any way except tailing! It is far too dangerous and expensive to risk the chance of a bite no matter what you may see other people doing! It is detrimental to the hobby to be safe with hots. Tailing is when you use your hook or tongs to secure the front end of the snake and gently grasp the animal by the tail. This should only be done by people with alot of experience as snakes are unpredictable. Hots can go from cool and calm to flailing around desperately in a split second!

    Then I'd say the next important step is housing your hot. There are numerous caging companies that make all kind of cages. I suggest one with locks, built in heating, a hot box, and I prefer sliding glass doors, just makes me feel safer personally. These cages are relatively inexpensive, I buy 4ft long x2ft deep x18" high and they cost on average about 250$ shipped. You will normally need to assemble them as well.

    Now choosing your hot is also a very important issue. Now unless you are buying locally or catching your own, the most commonly used shipping method for hot snakes is Delta Dash which runs around 100$ plus a box charge of about 20$ on average just for shipping! So take that into consideration as well. There are far more hot snakes that are on the less toxic side of the spectrum. Here is a short list of some of my favorites.

    Agkistrodon contortrix contortrix
    Agkistrodon c latacinctus
    Agkistrodon c pictigaster
    Tropidolaemus wagleri
    Trimeresurus trigonocephalus

    But in any respect, do some late night studying and find out what you want and what would be best for you to keep up with. Heres a great site for some good information on venoms, mechanics and toxixity scales: http://www.reptileallsorts.com/bites-venom.htm. Hope that helps a bit
  19. kevin91172

    kevin91172 Arachnobaron

    Agkistrodon contortrix contortrix is my first hot 20 years ago and in experience best.calm after even wild caught after it is settled in and great on a hook.
  20. I have some real nice Agkistrodon c latacinctus that are both great on a hook, the southern though is still a little rambunctious even after 3 years and requires the tongs! But Coppers are great beginner hots and all of mine readily accept F/T. I want to find some Crotalus polystictus for my next hot, but they are a little pricey still! Crotalus are usually really good on a hook but there is much more danger involved with them. Especially with a few of them C horridus atricaudatus and C scutulatus for example that have higher levels of neurotoxic properties to their venom.

    On another note, if you like the look but not the dangerous "pointy" end of vipers heres your snake! Macropisthodon, or false vipers are endemic to Asia and can sometimes be obtained here in the US. They are quite interesting snakes and rear fanged as well.
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2010