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Colubrid Care

Just the Basics. We didn't write a book...

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Morphs vs Locality

The term morph generally applies to the animals appearance. It's color, pattern and combinations of those two.

Locality is where the original specimens originated. Some animals from certain areas look different from ones of the same species located somewhere else. 

Some prefer locality specific, others a combination of traits. All in all , most are looking for a .. "look".

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What is a colubrid anyhow?

Colubrids are a large family of snakes, native to most areas of the world. Pretty much if it is not a python, boa or viper.. it's a colubrid. Most are non-venomous, but a few go in the grey area described as "rear fang". These don't have the stereotypical viper type fangs out front, but venom fangs in the back of the mouth. Mostly to help eat frogs and toads. Although they are largely considered not harmful to humans, you should be aware, and some people react harder than others. 

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How many are there?

Hundreds.. thousands.. a lot.

The most common ones kept as pets are : Corn Snakes, Rat Snakes, King Snakes, Milk Snakes, Bull Snakes, and Hognoses. Hognoses are rear fang venomous, although considered harmless to humans. 

There is also a rise in the popularity of some Asian species. We are working on a couple Beauty Snake projects from that side of the world.

Care in Captivity

Please keep in mind there are many, many ways to keep your pet We encourage you to research and learn more all the time.​ Please feel free to look at how we keep our animals in the shop and ask questions. 

Most species of colubrids are easy to care for. Many originate in North America, sometimes in your own backyard! So they don't usually require fancy setups or hard to find supplies.

Size : Most of the ones we traditionally sell start as pencil size babies, and mature at lengths of 3 to 5 feet long. Rather slender in build as a rule. Some rat snakes will grow to 6 or 7 feet. Bull snakes can as well, and are more stout in build.

Housing : Will vary a little by species, but most need a similar set up. A small terrarium to start usually suffices, with a layer of bedding, a hide or two and a water bowl. Keep it simple. You can go extravagant if you like, but it's not the normal starting point.  These guys are generally thinner in build than pythons or boas, and tend to explore more. So make sure their habitat is secure. They will climb more on branches and vines if provided. If they can get their head through a hole, they will escape. 

Bedding will vary a little by species, and just about every commercially available reptile bedding will work. We keep most of our collection on Aspen bedding, and change it monthly. Unless they spill the water bowl or such, then they get changed more often.  Babies especially like to borrow through the bedding, and aspen compacts down well to allow this.

Heat is pretty easy with these. Most species are fine at a higher room temperature, in the upper 70s. A small under tank heater will generally suffice, or a small heat lamp of 50 watts or less above. For about the first year of their life they will generally stay hidden in their enclosures, but after a while can often be found basking in the heat lamps if provided. Hognoses do like it a little warmer, in the low 80s.

UVB Lighting. Long considered to not be necessary, newer research is showing they do benefit from it. Many keepers are now offering UVB light, and at the least it definitely won't hurt.  Something to consider long term.

Water, be sure fresh water is supplies routinely. Some species use it more than others, but all use it. Be sure to supply a bowl they can climb in to if wanted, and leave enough room so they won't swamp the cage when they do.

In general, do some quick research on where the species you choose came from, and use that as a starting point. Most snakes in the wild tend to stay hidden or low in the brush, so keep that in mind for average temperatures etc. If it's 90 degrees outside, they won't be out in that, but hiding from the heat the same way we do on hot days.

Likewise, California Kingsnakes come from higher elevations, where the air tends to be warm and dry. Brooks Kingsnakes come from Florida, where its commonly hot and muggy.  So not all member of a species have the same needs or habit. Our collection of Brooks kings are notorious for going thru more water than the California ones do. I swear the Brooks spill it on purpose to get that muggy air feeling.

Feeding is usually easier with colubrids than with pythons or boas. Ratsnakes and Kingsnakes especially don't seem to care what they will eat. Mice, Rats, Quail, Chicks.. Live, Frozen.. Once established in a happy home they tend to eat anything, any time. Fresh hatched babies can be stubborn to get going, But generally the ones we offer for sale are beyond that point and eating regularly. 

There has been and will continue to be a long debate on whether to feed live or frozen / thawed foods. We feed mostly frozen / thawed ourselves, but there are arguments for both. Do what you think is best, though frozen / thawed is generally considered safer. Less likely to carry parasites, and they don't fight back and harm your pet.

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