Added 1999. Last updated 30 December 2009: added link to Cobras.


I freely confess that I am much less knowledgeable about the keeping of snakes than I am about lizard husbandry. My wife and I do have a charming corn snake, Spike, but that hardly qualifies us as experts. On the other hand, I have helped out in the zoo, read assiduously and spoken to others who do know what they are talking about. What follows, therefore, is a body of information gleaned from others and pointing to websites written by more assured ophidophiles (snake-lovers).

What I said in the introduction to these reptile pages applies especially to snakes, which seem to invoke stronger emotions (normally negative) than lizards. Those of you who know little about snakes may be surprised to know that only 10% of the world's snakes are venomous, and of these, not all are dangerous even when biting (the European adder has a venomous effect roughly the same as a bee sting). Furthermore, snakes are actually valued in the poorer parts of the world for their value as meat, their tendency to keep the crop-eating rodent population down and occasionally their totemic value (as in Indian snake festivals). Would-be snake keepers should nevertheless be strongly advised against buying a snake for its shock, or "cool", value. Not only does this normally lead to a bad choice of snake - large pythons and venomous snakes spring to mind - but the behaviour often exhibited by such collectors tends to alienate the general public from reptile enthusiasts as a whole. In the final analysis, it's also not cool to be placed in intensive care after being envenomated, or strangled to death in your sleep. Such incidents are rare, but they have happened. Being a responsible snake keeper and acting like an adult will prevent it.

What are Snakes?
So you fancy buying a snake?
Level 1 Snakes: for beginners
Level 2 Snakes: more difficult
Level 3 Snakes: for experienced keepers only
Level 4 Snakes: for zoos only

A Brief Guide to Pythons [updated 24 July 2004]
A Brief Guide to Boas
A Brief Guide to Garter & Ribbon Snakes
A Brief Guide to Rat Snakes
A Brief Guide to Kingsnakes and Milksnakes

Giant Snakes - in recent years there has been an upsurge of interest in very large snakes, as well as a few publicised tragedies involving them. This article discusses pros, cons and safety measures.

The Snake Families

The "normal" snakes - colubrids. Something like two-thirds of all snakes, including corn snakes, rat snakes, garter and ribbon snakes, grass snakes and whip snakes, are colubrids, making them one of the largest and most significant families of vertebrates on the planet.

The charismatic and notorious Cobras - a look at the species, and what is and isn't a cobra.

A Look At and Brief Overview of Venomous Snakes

A Brief Guide to File- and Wart Snakes

Other Links

Snake Information - very comprehensive site with plenty of information and links.

Mormel Ltd - amusing but nevertheless informative site dedicated to the keeping of Burmese Pythons, including reasons why you should think twice before buying one.

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