Heat Lamps – 3 common issues and how to avoid them

When it comes to heating an enclosure, heat lamps are the most popular choice among reptile keepers. They are easy to set up and create a nice hot-spot for your reptile. They are certainly among the most efficient heat sources you can choose for your terrarium.

Heat lamps are the most popular heating device among reptile keepers

Yet, many keepers encounter a number of problems when dealing with heat lamps.

In this post I want to address issues like overheating, dried out air and skin burns on the animal or the keeper himself and how you can avoid them.

1. Overheating

Certainly, the most common issue reptile keepers have with their lamps is overheating. You can recognize this issue quite easily – either you realize that the thermometer in your enclosure show a higher than appropriate temperature or you tried touching the lamp and it was very painful. Either way, this is a very common issue and it can be dangerous for your animal depending on how the lamp is set up. Now, why does almost every heat lamp overheat eventually?

Here’s why:

Skin burns on your pet reptile are not very pretty and should be avoided!

Actually, it is not even the lamp that is overheating but most likely the metal case around it. Unless you chose the wrong intensity on your lamp, it should not get too hot. However, the longer you leave it switched on, the hotter its metal case is going to get and eventually, the case is going to radiate out even more heat along with the lamp.

Now, another reason why your heat lamp is getting so hot could very well be that you have underestimated its power when buying it and got a too strong lamp for your enclosure. This is very common with beginners and you will learn to guess the heat lamp intensity you need for your enclosure eventually. However, if you do not want to buy another lamp or constantly switch the lamp on and off to avoid the metal getting to hot, there is a much simpler solution to your problem – a thermostat!

Thermostats are very useful to control temperature levels!

If you do not know what a thermostat is, click HERE for a simple tutorial on how to use and set up this lifesaving device.

2. Your reptile keeps climbing on the lamp and burns its skin…

This goes along with the problem of overheating and is another very common issue among beginners. There are a number of reasons why this can occur…

As mentioned before, skin burns and other injuries from the heat lamp could be the result of overheating and burning hot metal cases of the lamp. Reptiles are often very curious and do not hesitate to climb around in their enclosures, even occasionally on their heat source.

Here’s how to fix this:

Premier Heat Lamp for Brooders, Lambs and PetsIn most cases, the thermostat will also solve the problem and protect your reptiles from injuries. However, sometimes, the lamp is still getting too hot and posing a threat to your reptiles health. In that scenario, only a protective basket above the heat lamp will do the trick and fully guarantee that your animal is not getting dangerously close to its heat source! Such a basket is very easy to install and can be acquired at your local pet store! You can also buy heat lamps that have protective caps installed already, like seen in the images. You can click HERE to check them out on amazon.com.

 

3. The heat lamp dries out the entire enclosure…

This is probably the most common problem with heat lamps and it is a very annoying one. Heat lamps distribute heat waves that have a tendency to dry the air around the lamp, which is especially problematic if you keep reptiles from more humid regions like South-east Asia or Central Afrika.

Unfortunately, there is really not much you can do about this, except for manually raising the humidity in the enclosure. You can also try to mist the surroundings of the lamp directly to counteract this annoying effect by cooling the surface of the lamp. However, if this issue gets too extreme, there are always other great options to heat your terrarium that do not have this issue.

 

Rattlesnakes – The most feared creatures in North America

Fear or fascination – encounters with rattlesnakes (Crotalus sp. & Sistrurus sp.) are always exciting experiences for the people of northern and central America. Because of their signature feature, their rattle at the end of their tails, they are probably amongst the easiest to identify genus of snakes in the world. And if there is anything that everybody around the world knows about these species, it is that they are all venomous!

Crotalus oreganus

Rattlesnakes belong to the taxonomic family of the Vipers (Viperidae) and belong to the subfamily of Pit Vipers (Crotalinae). They represent the classic image of a Viper, including their long, needle-like fangs folded back into their mouths that deliver the venom to the prey in case of a bite. Most species of Pit Vipers, including rattlesnakes, are highly venomous and carry a mix of toxins that attack the victims blood clotting factors and connective tissues. Unlike the Old World Vipers (Viperinae), the Crotalinae posess an extra organ, the heat pits lying between their eyes and nasal pits, which they use to detect heat waves from their surroundings. This helps them spot their prey by detecting slight differences between the prey animals body heat and the cooler environment, which is especially useful in the dark.

Pit Vipers usually have a large, triangular head covered in irregularly distributed small scales. However, some genera have rather large and symmetrical scales on their forehead. The pupils of Pit Vipers are usually elliptical and are narrowed down to two vertical slashes when exposed to bright daylight. The subfamily of the Crotalinae is distributed all over Asia and the New World, but the highly specialized genus of the rattlesnakes is only found throughout America. If you are interested in learning more about Pit Vipers in general, click HERE.

Crotalus atrox head

Rattlesnakes get their name from their signature rattle, which is made out of loose, connected and hollow scale structures. If the snake shakes its tale rapidly, the scales vibrate and create the rattling sound so many people fear. At birth, a rattlesnake posesses only one individual modified scale at the end of its tale. Everytime the snake sheds its skin, one segment is added to the end of their tale, creating a growing rattle as the snake ages. Sometimes however, the segments can break off during the snakes live, so the length of a snakes rattle is not a sure indicator of its age. This feature has evolved as an advanced warning system for the snake. When confronted, the snake creates a loud and intimidating noise that scares away a potential threat. All venomous snakes are very reluctant to waste their precious and energy consuming venom on an intruder, which is why they want to avoid a bite at all cost.

Most rattlesnakes belong to the genus Crotalus – the was originally adapted from the Greece word for “rattle”. This genus includes about 27 species and several more subspecies, some of which inhabit a large region and are very popular whilst others are restricted to very remote locations. However, three species of rattlesnakes belong to a different genus – the dwarf rattlesnakes Sistrurus. They differ slightly from the original genus in terms of size and scalation. Only one very special species does not have a rattle at the end of its tail – the Santa-Catalina rattlesnake Crotalus catalinensis is restricted to the remote island Santa Catalina in the gulf of California and does permanently only have one rattle segment.

Size and Coloration

Depending on the species, the Crotalus sp. vary largely in terms of size, but are generally massive and very strong for their length so that even smaller species are very impressive snakes. The largest species, the Eastern Diamondback C. adamanteus can grow up to 2.20 m long and weight up to 4 kg. Most species stay in the 60 – 125 cm range and the smallest reach only about 30 – 50 cm in length. The coloration may always be cryptic but varies to a great extent even between members of the same species. Diamondbacks get their name from their prominent diamond-like pattern and the western C. atrox can be recognized quickly by their unmistakable black and white banding across the end of their tail. Other rattlesnakes, like the black-tailed rattlesnake C. molossus have, like their name suggests, a black tail. The tiger rattlesnake C. tigris has unusual cross bands on its back and a close relative, C. pricei has a row of paired spots along its spine. Abnormal coloration, like albinos or melanistic specimens are also known and sometimes even bred in captivity.

Diamondback rattlesnakes, Crotalus atrox. The diamond shapes and the striped tail are clearly visible

Distribution, Habitat and Behaviour

When you think of rattlesnakes, the hot deserts of south-western USA and central Mexico come to mind. And you can indeed find the majority of Crotalus sp. in these habitats, so in deserts, dry and rocky canyons and bush land. The sidewinder rattlesnake C. cerastes for example is a true inhabitant of the desert and has developed special features for the life on hot sand. But rattlesnakes can be observed in a much greater range of geographical habitats than just the desert. The pacific rattlesnake, C. oreganus, can be found as far north as the south-western borders of Canada and also inhabits a large part of the US. Another great example is th species C. viridis, which inhabits the great plains from southern Canada to northern Mexico. C. horridus can be observed in the large territories of the eastern part of the US where the species inhabits the wast forests. Some rattlesnake species are even exclusively found in moist, foresty mountain regions and the eastern Diamondback usually found in very densly vegetated and moist habitats.

The species crotalus molossus is also exceptionally beautiful

All rattlesnakes are ground dwelling snakes, but some have impressive climbing skills. They generally avoid extreme temperatures and are, during very hot days, usually spotted at night oder dawn when they leave their hiding spots to look for prey. Some species, like C. horridus, inhabiting very cold regions frequently hiberante dents, sometimes in groups of more than a dozen snakes. In most habitats, mating season starts in spring, shortly after hibernation. This can include fights amongs males for female companionship and mating usually lasts for a few hours. Like most Pit Vipers, rattle snakes are ovoviparous and have up to 20 live young. Rattlesnakes mostly have a very timid character and avoid confrontation at all cost, warning potential intruders off with their rattle. Most accidents that occur in the US are because very ignorant people were trying to catch or kill the snakes.

Many rattlesnakes have a beautiful pattern like this!

The prey animals of larger rattlesnake species usually includes, birds, mammals and some species of lizards. Rattlesnakes are ambush predators, so they will often sit in the same spot for days, waiting for their prey to pass. These spots are usually selected because of scent trails from prey animals and when the opportunity arrives, the snake will strike within a slit-second and envenomate the victim before releasing it again. The snake then follows the scared and dying animal and, once the venom has completed its job, consumes it head-first. Despite their potent venom, many smaller specimens and species of rattlesnakes are often preyed upon by predatory birds, badgers, opossums or sometimes even other snakes. Kingsnakes of the genus Lampropeltis seem to have specialized in hunting and overpowering other snakes, including rattlesnakes.

Unfortunately and on top of habitat loss, humans often kill every rattlesnake they come across out of ignorance. Every year, hundreds of Americans participate in rattlesnake-roundups, where the snakes fresh out of hibernation are killed in an extremely cruel and inhumane manner. According to the Humane Society of the United States, this is one of the most cruel public events in the US. It is the result of shier ignorance and cruelty towards these highly misunderstood animals. Rattlesnakes are a highly valuable part of the ecosystem and should be respected as such just like and other animal on this planet!

Venom composition and snakebites

In the event of a bite, the venom produced in a modified salivary gland at the side of the snakes head is squeezed through the hollow fangs of the snake. Rattlesnakes are solenoglyphous, so their fangs are folded back into their mouths in a resting position and can be extended when the snake opens its jaws to deliver a bite. The venom of rattle snakes is to a large part heamotoxic and hemorrhagic. This means that the peptide components of the venom attack blood clotting mechanisms or red blood cells and cause persistent bleeding or clotted up veins and arteries, along with large hemorrhages. This is usually accompanied by a drop or steep rise in blood pressure and eventual cardiac arrest in the victims body. The one exception is the species Crotalus scutulatus & Crotalus durissus with its strong neurotoxic components that attack the victims nervous system.

Some Rattlesnakes, like the Crotalus Durissus, are exceptionally neurotoxic, which is unusual for Vipers

As mentioned earlier, rattlesnakes are very reluctant to waste their precious venom. Restoring the venom yield costs the snake a lot of energy and it has to raise its metabolism by up to 30% for a few days. Therefore, it is no surprise that these snakes are not very aggressive or defensive. Nevertheless, humans seem to get constantly wrapped up in conflicts with these animals and deaths by rattlesnake bite are not uncommon in central and southern America. On the other hand, their venom is full of potential medications and drugs that could save hundreds of lives in the future. A lot of research is going on constantly around venom compositions and the functions of individual proteins to help develop our understanding and potential use of these fascinating substances.

Rattlesnakes and traditions

Rattlesnakes have always had an important role in American history and traditional religion and medicine. For example, the god Quetzalcoatl from the Aztec empire was a rattlesnake with feathers. The Hopi in norther Arizona carry live rattlesnakes during their religious marches and pray for rain and healthy crops. Before and during the American revolution, rattlesnakes were a symbol of the American spirit. The slogan “Don’t step on me!” was used accompanied by an image of a rattlesnake to symbolize that the snake only strikes when provoked.

Actually, it was Benjamin Franklin himself who wrote about the rattlesnake as a noble creature and a symbol of America:

“I recollected that her eye excelled in brightness, that of any other animal, and that she has no eye-lids. She may therefore be esteemed an emblem of vigilance. She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage. As if anxious to prevent all pretensions of quarreling with her, the weapons with which nature has furnished her, she conceals in the roof of her mouth, so that, to those who are unacquainted with her, she appears to be a most defenseless animal; and even when those weapons are shown and extended for her defense, they appear weak and contemptible; but their wounds however small, are decisive and fatal. Conscious of this, she never wounds ’till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of treading on her.”


I hope that you enjoyed this post and that you have learned a little more about these misunderstood animals today!

If you are interested in my Sources, click HERE.

If you want to learn more about Pit Vipers, click HERE.

And if you want to study venomous snakes yourself, check out my post on great literature HERE

The Best Methods to Heat your Terrarium

Reptiles are ectotherm, or coldblooded, which means that they need the energy from the sun and its warmth to get their metabolism and bodily functions going. Unlike mammals, who produce their own body temperature, reptile body heat depends on external sources like the sun, warm rocks, or artificial heating in captivity. Without the heat from its surrounding, a reptile cannot carry out its bodily functions like digestion and other cellular activities. This is why it is crucial for us as reptile keepers to ensure than our animal has the appropriate temperature to live a healthy life!

The body temperature of a snake depends on external heat sources which is why they are often seen sunbathing, like this Green Mamba!

Before you get a pet reptile, you must be absolutely sure where the animal comes from and what temperatures it is confronted with in the wild. Then you should choose and appropriately strong heat source to heat your terrarium and provide the animal with the body temperature it needs.

In this article, I will show you the best devices you can use to heat your terrarium and how to use them.

Temperature Gradient

In the wild, a reptile or snake is not always confronted with the exact same temperatures. Everywhere around the world, there are some days during the year than are just cooler than others. This means than your animal can deal with a range of temperature variation. After you have found out how large these variations are, you can structure your cage accordingly.

Snake Sunbathing

The best way to give the animal the freedom to choose its own body temperature is by creating a heat or temperature gradient. In the wild a snake can choose between sitting on a warm rock or hiding in a cool shelter and it should have the same opportunities in captivity. You can achieve such a temperature gradient by placing the heat source on one end of the terrarium, which creates a hot spot on one side and a cool region on the other. This way, your pet can choose its own body temperature at need.

Remember than at night, everything cools down, which means than you have to either switch off the heating completely or regulate it with a thermostat, depending on the needs of your pet snake.

Thermostat – the best tool for temperature control

Many heat sources tend to heat up to incredible degrees, which can cause damage to the cage and the animals. Probably the best way to control the optimum temperature values and gradients is using a thermostat!

Thermostats are very useful to control temperature levels!

This simple device can be placed outside your cage with an attached thermometer cable which you can place inside the cage. You can then connect your heat source to the thermostat and place it above the thermometer. On the thermostat, you can enter your desired temperature at the point of the attached thermometer and the device will then switch your heat source on and off at times to ensure that there is always the perfect temperature right on your spot. This way you can create a heat spot that is not too hot and set up a nice temperature gradient in your cage!

 

 

I think thermostats are one of the most essential tools when it comes to heating your cage and you can get yourself one at a cheap price from amazon.com or at your local pet store. SEE My Favorite Model

Heat Lamps

Heat lamps or any kind of infrared light source are probably the most common method to heat a terrarium. And that comes as no big surprise since heat lamps are very effective, convenient and easy to install for anyone. They also come in many levels so you can really choose one for your animals needs!

Heat lamps are very effective and easy-to-install heat sources for your terrarium!

However, I personally do not like heat lamps in every situation. First of all, they dry out the air around them really quickly, which can be a huge problem if you are keeping snakes that are sensible to dehydration and shedding issues. They also get incredibly hot really quickly, which can be dangerous for small arboreal snakes like Green Tree Pythons or Corn Snakes. Anyone who has touched a lamp that has been on for a while knows how dangerous they can be for the skin of the animal. A simple solution to this would be a protective cage or net around the lamp which prevents the animal from reaching it, but that is often spacious and annoying to install.

 

You can also easily switch the light source to get different temperature levels.

Still, heat lamps are a great solution if you are keeping animals who are not extremely sensitive to humidity changes and are not in any danger to climb the lamp, like ground dwelling Ball Pythons. They are especially important for large species who do not even get enough heat from any other heat source out there. After all, heat lamps are very common for a reason – because they do a great job for most animals and in many situations. For small ground species however, there are better solutions out there….

If you are interested in getting a heat lamp or infrared light, click HERE to visit amazon.com, or go to your local pet store!

Heat Panels

One of my favourite tools, especially to heat cages of ground dwelling animals, are heat panels. Heat panels are waterproof mats, usually with a rubber cover, that you can place right beneath your substrate to heat the ground.

Usually, they do not exceed 40° Celsius, which is perfect to create a heat spot on one side of the terrarium and temperatures around 28° Celsius on the other side of the cage. This is the optimum temperature situations for many common snake speices like Ball Pythons, Rat Snakes and others, mostly ground dwelling species. It provides a nice and large area for the snake to heat up in the morning, but it does not dry out the air as much as heat lamps, and there is no risk of it getting too hot at times.

Heat Panels are the perfect solution for ground dwelling reptiles to create a hot spot!

However, for arboreal species like corn snakes, Green Treen Pythons or others, this may not be the right choice, since these animals do not spend much time heating up on the ground and need a heat source from above. There are some panels out there that can be attached to the ceiling, but the far superior solution for this situation is in my opinion the heat cable!

If you do have say a Ball Pythons or some other mostly ground dwelling reptile, this is probably the best solution for you. If you are interested, you can check out my favourite products HERE!, or get one at your local pet store!

Heat Cables

Heat panels are among my favourite solutions for heating cages of small arboreal snakes. Species like Corn Snakes and Green Tree Pythons do not require as much heat as others, but they are mostly arboreal which makes heating a bit complicated. As mentioned above, small snake like this love to climb their heat lamps which can get very hot on the outside just as any lamp after some time does!

Heat Cables are perfect for you if you are keeping small arboreal species!

This is why heat cables are so convenient for this case since they do not heat up so quickly and can be easily attached to the ceiling of your cage to provide a nice heat source from above. Heat cables can be easily fixed in any positions on the top or at the back of your terrarium which makes creating a temperature gradied to easy. They can be conveniently placed along one region in one corner and create a falling gradient towards the diagonal corner with a nice heat spot at the top.

So if your keep small arboreal species, you should definitely consider choosing one of these as your temperature control device! However, if you keep large species than require a lot of heat and over a great space, a heat cable probably won’t be quite right for you.

If you are interested in getting one, HERE is my favourite model and you can check out more on amazon.com, or most likely at your local pet store.


 

I hope than you found this article helpful and than you can now choose your perfect heat source for you pet reptile.

If you have any further questions, let my know by email timmy@snakeinfos.com or leave a comment below!

If you want to know where I get all my knowledge from, visit “My Sources”

 

The best Methods for Humidity Control inside your Terrarium

Most snakes and reptiles live in rather moist and humid areas of the world. Very often, reptile keepers experience difficulty and issues when it comes to keeping the optimum humidity levels inside your cage. It is very important that you keep the humidity levels your pet would also experience in the wild to avoid shedding and dehydration.

Humidity control is and essential point when it comes to keeping your animals skin and tissues healthy. Most reptiles come from exotic locations that may be very different in terms of temperature and humidity percentage in the air. For many keepers, the reality is that those circumstances are not given in their home country, which is why we need to heat and mist our animals cage constantly to give it the surrounding it is used to in the wild.

In this article, I want to introduce you to my favourite techniques and methods when it comes to keeping that optimum air humidity percentage.

To avoid terrible conditions like this, make sure that your animals always get the appropriate humidity inside its cage!

First of all, I want to tell you that humidity control is not as difficult as its is sometimes said to be on forums and other platforms. In fact, most reptiles that are common in the pet trade are not incredibly sensible to dehydration. That is not to say that you should keep an eye on the appropriate humidity, but you usually should worry if your cage is a bit dry once in a while. Many snakes or lizards do not need such a high humidity percentage all the time and they are usually fine on a bit dried out soil as well.

The crucial period comes when the animal is starting to get into shed and replace its old skin. During those days, it is important that you keep the humidity on an appropriate level to ensure the clean replacement of the skin and to avoid any stuck shed. Stuck sheds can lead to dangerous constrictions and necroses in the skin, so you must make sure that the animal has the necessary conditions to shed.

Remember, things such as air conditioners, heat lamps or even seasons can influence the surrounding humidity and you always need to adjust your control methods accordingly. Also, a cage that is permanently wet encourages the growth on bacteria and fungi, so don’t overdo your “humidity control”

Misting

Misting refers to using an aerosol or something similar to spray down the inside of your cage. This will temporarily simulate a rainfall and leave the cage in a wet condition. Over the next couple of hours, the cage will start to dry off and the humidity percentage inside will rise, depending on how much you sprayed. One it has completely dried off, it is time to spray again.

These Spray bottler are perfect for misting your cage once a week.

However, for most reptiles common in the pet trade, this does not have to be done on a daily basis. It is perfectly fine to spray down your cage only once a week if you are keeping a reptile that does not come from tropical areas of the world. That way, it will experience rising humidity levels similar to rainfalls without living in a wet cage all the time.

 

 

It is also a useful extra once your animal gets into shed. You should spray it directly a couple of times to let the skin soak up the water and ensure a clean shed. Otherwise, you do not need to mist regularly, unless your animal is showing signs of dehydration or your country is experiencing an unusual drought.

These are the spray bottles I use – get them now also on amazon.com

You can get yourself just the same spray bottles I use HERE from amazon.com as a useful extra for your reptile husbandry!

Air Humidifiers

Although it is not the most ecological method out there, humidifiers are an incredibly useful tool if you are keeping Green Tree Pythons or other snakes and reptiles that live in very tropical and humid areas around the world. It is sometimes very difficult to keep up the misting if you are keeping multiple animals or are on a busy schedule. Humidifiers will take care of the air inside your cage.

Air Humidifiers like this one can make your life much easier by taking care of the humidity inside your animals cage

However most of us can’t just place one inside the terrarium, which is why I highly recommend using a hose to connect your cage to the humidifier. On most humidifiers, you can set the time and amount of water you want to vaporize into your room. You must first test out how long your model has to run to create the perfect setting inside your cage before you place the animal inside, but after that, you don’t need to take care of it anymore. You can click HERE to see the humidifier I use to keep my cages moist or go to amazon.com to find your favourite model!

Another way would be to place the humidifier outside the cage and keep the entire room humidified. This is perfect if you reptile requires a constant level of around 50% to 70% humidity, but for tropical levels, this won’t be enough. For this purpose, I can only recommend “Vicks Germ Free Warm Mist Humidifiers V790” from amazon.com. SEE IT

Sprinklers

Sprinklers can also be a very useful method if you are keeping reptiles that require high humidity levels and are used to periodic rainfall and tropical climates. However, such devices are often difficult to install and are only really worth the while in large enclosures or outdoor cages. If you have the skill and equipment however, they are perfect for your tropical pets and will be highly attractive. They are also great for simulating periodic rainfalls. If you can program them to activate at a given time they will keep your cage moisture stable and your animal very happy.

Sprinklers are the perfect and aesthetic solution if you want to simulate periodic rainfall or tropical conditions for your pet!

If you are interested in finding the right model for your cage, go to amazon.com to see the available models!

 


I sincerely hope that you found this article very helpful and that you can now choose the right method for your reptile. If you have any further questions, let me know by email.

For questions about my sources, click HERE

 

Green Tree Python (Morelia Viridis) Care – Housing & Humidity

When it comes to keeping Green Tree Pythons (GTP), probably the most crucial aspects for your animals well being are its housing and the humidity inside the cage. GTPs are very sensible to stress and low levels of humidity since they come from very remote locations on the tropical islands of Papua New Guinea.

Here, tropical rainfalls are a common thing and in the vast jungles, the humidity rarely drops below 60°. Also, these small pythons usually inhabit the high canopies and dense rain forests where they have almost no natural predators and are rarely subject to stress. This is why, for the well being of your python, it is very important that you house it in a stress free environment and control the humidity inside its home.

Morelia Viridis resting on a Branch
Morelia Viridis resting on a branch

 

In this article, I am going to show you different methods and housing strategies that are right for you and enable your python to life a happy life!


Housing

Natural Set-ups are important to ensure that your python is stress-free

An important aspect of proper housing is the stress free environment for your animal. It should include features that enable your python to life by its natural habits without having to adapt too much to a new home.

Cage Requirements

When it comes to cage size, the most important things are that it is practical and affordable.

Practical refers to the space in your home and the space the python needs to move freely. Many people state that 60 * 60 * 60 cm (length * depth * height) is an appropriate size for an adult GTP. However, I believe that is just because most commercially available terraria have this size. In my opinion, an adult Green Tree Python should have at least a 90 * 60 * 60 cm sized home! For larger females, 120 cm length is even more appropriate to make sure the animal has enough space to continue its natural habits.

Contrary to popular beliefs, a GTP does not require an exceptionally high cage. It is just as appropriate to have a wide and rectangular cage, since the python does not care how far it is off the ground, but only how much climbing opportunity and space it has in total.

Horizontal Cages are inmost cases more practical for the care of GTPs

By affordable, I mean that you should not buy a cage for which you cannot ensure the appropriate temperature and humidity gradients on your budget. Your python does not require an extra large cage, so as long as you meet the requirements, you do not have to worry. Snakes are sometimes even more relaxed in confined and personal spaces where they feel safe.

Temperature Gradient

In Nature, there is not always a constant temperature and just like us, Green Tree Pythons sometimes feel the need to cool down or warm up. To enable the animal to choose its own temperature, we must ensure that there is a temperature gradient inside the cage. This just means that there should be a heat spot where the animal can warm up on one side, and a cooler region on the other side of the cage. This will create a gradient between the two ends where the animal can choose its own resting spot. In and horizontal cage, such a temperature gradient is much easier to achieve than in a higher cage, which is another reason to stay away from cubic or high terraria.

Heat panels that can be attached to the ceiling are a great option to create a temperature gradient

We achieve this heat gradient by placing the heat source on one end of the cage and not in the middle. The heat source should be either in the form of a heat panel that sticks to the ceiling or an infrared light. For more information on heat sources, visit the page “The Best Methods to Heat your Terrarium” for detailed reviews to find the right heat source for yourself!

Cage Design and Set Up

When it comes to GTP cages, it is very important that we have a natural set up that enables our pythons to climb, hide and rest on branches, just like the would in the wild.

First of all, the set up should include a variety of thick and thin branches arranged both horizontally and vertically to make sure that our python can climb and find nice resting spots.

It is advisable to use natural sticks and branches that are not completely smooth to give the python a natural impression and make shedding easier. Some pythons may experience difficulty shedding if they do not have the rough natural bark to rub against. You can just get some branches from your local forest, dry and wash them, and decorate your terrarium with them. You do not have to worry about parasites if you choose nice and clean branches or sticks!

You should include natural ranches, and some plant to enable you animal to climb, hide and rest!

Second, your setup should definitely include a variety of either artificial or natural plants as cover for your animal. Most pythons do not like to be exposed during the day and prefer to be lightly covered behind a bush or some artificial leaves. This is important to ensure that your animal is not stressed out by any people walking by its cage. Since green tree pythons are arboreal, they do not necessarily need a hiding place on the ground.

Also, always have a bowl of fresh water in your cage just in case. Most green tree pythons however drink directly from the droplets of water that condense on their skin.

Many Green Tree Pythons preferably drink the water droplets from their scales, so you should also spray your animal directly

Cage maintenance

Fortunately, there won’t be very much to do here. I recommend spot cleaning your cage quickly every day, which just means checking for snake waste or skin and removing it quickly. That way, you only have to replace the entire bedding and clean the entire cage once every six or seven months. Make sure that there is always a bowl filled with fresh water and that the sphagnum-moss is always appropriately moist.


Humidity

This is one of the most crucial aspects, especially for beginners, when it comes to keeping healthy Green Tree Pythons. Since these pythons come from tropical islands, they are used to the moist environment and consequently need great attention in this aspect.

We should ensure that the humidity throughout the day ranges between 65% and 100% and that it changes slightly over the course of the day. This will greatly improve your animals health and help it avoid shedding issues. Also, a dried out individual will automatically more stressed out and nervous, which is why we want to make sure that they are well cared for.

If the widows have fogged up like this, you have reached a perfect level of humidity and can let them dry off now.

It is however, not important to keep track of the exact humidity value and start freaking out when it drops slightly. Instead, we want to simulate the natural conditions these animals experience in the wild. Usually, there are heavy rainfalls in the morning and evening, which means that the humidity drops over the course of the day as the sun dries the forest. We want to simulate this type of event by raising the humidity in the morning, then letting the cage dry over the course of the day and raise it again towards the night.

A great clue are the windows; after your morning mist, they should be completely fogged up and hardly transparent. Until lunchtime, they should dry off and become transparent again and then in the evening, you should mist again, but only about half the amount from the morning. This is roughly the perfect setting and will ensure a great environment for your python!

Methods to ensure a moist environment

There are several great methods to control the humidity inside your cage. These include, but are by far not limited to, spraying by hand, automatic sprayers and humidifiers. Before you choose, you should be aware of your surroundings. Things like air conditioners can dry out a room fairly quickly while natural plants help stabilizing a moist surrounding. All of these methods have both advantages and disadvantages. To see the full description and choose which one is best for you, visit “Humidity Control Methods”!

 


I hope you found this post helpful and enjoyed reading about the care for Morelia Viridis! For more information on this topic, let me know by email what posts you would like to see. For questions on my sources, visit “My Sources”. The main source for this post was “Morelia Viridis – Das Kompendium” by Greg Maxwell, which is also available in english on amazon HERE!

The Old World Vipers – Viperinae

An Introduction to the Viperinae and a closer look at the Gaboon Vipers

Vipers are probably among the most misunderstood animals on this planet. Few other creatures have so many myths and tales ranked around them and are the subject to so many prejudices and misconceptions. Their shape and often astounding colors have fascinated humans for millennia and they continue to be some of the most mythical and fascinating animals on earth. They are often portrayed as vicious, mean and killer creatures when in fact, they are the exact opposite; living remote and hidden lives with no intent get in any sort of confrontation. On this page, I will introduce this fascinating genus of snakes to you, including the classification, venom apparatus, venom composition and a special view on my favourite species of vipers, the gaboon vipers, Bitis gabonica/rhinoceros.

Macrovipera schweizeri
Two beautiful Macrovipera schweizeri resting on a branch

Classification and basic Information

Vipers are separated into 4 main subfamilies, the Viperinae, Crotalinae, Causinae, and Azemiopinae. This page will focus only on the subfamily Viperinae. The other subfamilies will be introduced separately. The Viperinae include 66 species distributed across 12 Genera. Generally, they are short and stout bodies snakes with a characteristic triangular head shape and about 50cm – 120cm in length. Some species however, like the Gabon Viper (Bitis rhinoceros) can reach and impressive length of 2 m. These massive snakes are the largest of all Vipers, they have the longest snake fangs in the world (up to 5 cm when fully grown) and can deliver the largest quantity of venom (500mg) of any snake in the world.

Cerastes Cerastes - horned sand vipers
Cerastes Cerastes – sand vipers, Burried in the sand in ambush position

Old World Vipers are mostly ambush predators, which means that they can sit in the same spot for many days and wait their prey to pass by. Snakes mostly rely on their sense of smell to detect their prey. By regularly tasting the air with their tongue, they will recognize prey approaching, even at night. Once close enough, they will strike at an incredible speed and usually hold their prey in their jaws until it succumbs. Some smaller vipers like most European Vipers (Genus Vipera) will let go of their prey after striking to avoid risking injury. All Vipers can strike at an incredible speed and will can bite, inject venom and release their prey in less than a second. Old World Vipers are seldom seen actively hunting or searching for prey. If a Viper is seen on the move, it may be changing its spot, basking for some energy in the sun, or on the lookout for a mate during mating season. Generally, a viper will flee if it notices a threat, such as humans approaching. However, if confronted it will hiss very loudly, puff its body up to look bigger and strike if the treat does not back off. Some Vipers have such good camouflage that they will trust it to conceal them completely and not move at all. Most accidents happen because people step on the snake they did not even see and get bit, which is neither the snakes, nor the humans fault.

Venom Apparatus

The Viperidae possess the most advanced fang and venom delivery system of all snake species, so-called solenoglyphous fangs. As seen in the image, a Viper can fold their massive fangs back into their mouth. When they strike, they will open their mouth up to 160° wide and unfold their fangs. Like a needle, the fangs are hollow and directly connected to the venom gland to inject their prey with venom. This entire process goes down in less than a second. Sometimes, the animal may even realize that it has been injected with venom until it dies.

Solenoglyphous venom delivery apparatus of vipers

Vipers regularly shed and replace their teeth to in case one is damaged. The teeth are protected by thin lavers of skin which are pulled back when the viper ovens its mouth and unfolds its fangs to inject their prey with deadly venom.

Venom Composition

Roughly 90% of the venoms dry weight is protein, composed of a large variety of enzymes, polypeptide toxins and proteases. The enzymes include hydrolases (proteinases, endo- and exo- peptidases, phosphlipases) hyaluronidase and activators of inhibitors of the preys physiological mechanisms. Almost all venomos contain L – amino acid oxidases, phosophomono- and diesterases, phospolipase A2 and peptidases. Phospholipase A2 are the most wide spread of all snake venom enzymes, attacking mitochondria, red blood cells and leukocytes, peripheral nerve endings and skeletal muscles, causing haemorrhage, necrosis and flacid paralysis in their prey.

Echis Carinatus Sochureki. Known for their deadly haemotoxins and necrotic venom.

All Viperid venoms act mostly hemotoxic and haemorrhagic, attacking both the prey clotting mechanism, causing tissue damage and persistent bleeding, or the victims blood pressure, causing the victim to die of shock, stroke or complete cardiac arrest. Although Viperid venoms are relatively weak compared to some elapids, the composition of their venom makes a bite highly uncomfortable and extremely painful.

The Puff adders, bitis arietans, carry some of the most potent haemorrhage-inducing kallikrein enzymes of all snakes

SV Metalloproteases

Snake Venom Metalloproteases (SVMP) are a special type of protein consisting of Metalloprotease, disintegrin-like, and cysteine rich domains that are common in vipers and responsible for potent haemorrhages. They are associated with a wide range of functions but the plesiotypic effect seems to be the induction of haemorrhages. This is the result of proteolytic cleavage of basement membrane components present in capillary vessels, which likely result in the distention of the capillary wall, the disruption of the endothelial cell integrity, and, ultimately, extravasation.

Kallikrein enzymes

These enzymes have evolved from a type of serine proteases and are almost exclusively found in the venoms of viperid snakes. This toxin form contributes to the profound, rapidly developing swellings common after viperid envenomation. They due this mostly by binding to specific amino acid sites in substrates like lysine or arginine, which may alter the function of thrombin, a vital factor when it comes to blood clot formation. Additionally, venom kallikrein enzymes cleave to fibrinogen which is necessary to form a stable clot. By reducing the available fibrinogen for clot formation, haemorrhages are incudes and the victim starts to bleed into vital internal tissues.

Now, I want to introduce you to my personal favourite Viperinae species – the Gaboon Viper

The Gaboon Viper

These huge and beautiful vipers live in the vast forests of both western and eastern Africa. They are viviparous and give birth to roughly 10 – 45 live you snakes. During mating season, males will get really active and engage in combat sparring to increase their chances of mating. Because of their massive size, these snakes can take down prey up to the size of a small antelope, but usually they feed off other small mammals.

Bitis rhinoceros – look closely, it is well camouflaged… did you see the horn on the nose?

Previously, the gaboon vipers were separated into two subspecies. Recently however, the subspecies Bitis gabonica rhinoceros has been assigned full species status, separating the gaboon vipers into Bitis gabonica (eastern gaboon viper) and Bitis rhinoceros (western gaboon viper). The two species are nearly identical, separated by only a few physical features. First of all, the western gaboon vipers, Bitis rhinoceros, grows a few centimeters larger, and with 200cm adults it is the larges known true viper species in the world. Both species are absolutely massive in body size and have a fat, sluggish body and a huge triangular head. Bitis gabonica lacks the rhino-like horns typical for the western species. Both species have a series of triangular body markings which make them perfectly camouflaged in leaf litter and on the forest floor. The exact pattern is almost impossible to describe in words, but it is stunningly perfect camouflage and beautiful in shape.

Some really cute baby gaboon vipers, bitis gabonica, without the horn.

The gaboon vipers are typical ambush predators. The often hide for days in the leaf litter, where they are perfectly camouflaged, and wait for prey to pass. They, they strike with such and incredible force and accuracy that the victims has zero chance of escaping. Because of their size, these massive vipers usually just hold on to their prey and wait until the fast acting and potent hemotoxins and cytotoxins complete their work. These vipers can strike and envenomate the victim in less than half a second and deliver probably the largest quantity of venom of any snake in the world – up to 500mg per bite. Their fangs are also the largest fangs ever recorded of any venomous snake and can get up to 5.5 cm long. Because of their docile and secretive nature, bites are extremely rare and no fatalities have ever been recorded. Their is also good polyvalent antivenom cover for both species. However, a bite from this species must be treated as a medical emergency and can have fatal consequences.

Bitis Gabonica, the Eastern Gaboon viper. Note the lack of horns which tell the difference between the western and the eastern species

 

In my opinion, these are some of the most interesting and fascinating snakes on this planet.

I hope you enjoyed this article and that you learned something about the old-world vipers. For further reading, check out my “venomous snakes” section or read some of my “book reviews”.

 

 

 

 

If you are interested in my sources, click HERE!

Elapidae – Introduction

Elapids – An Introduction to the Family Elapidae and the Genus Naja

The Elapidae are certainly one of the most interesting families of snakes . Some of the most iconic and feared snake species, like the cobras, king cobras and mambas belong to this family. Elapids are generally long and slender snakes and they are all truly venomous. Their head is usually not visibly separated from their body and they are easily mistaken for non-venomous colubrid snakes. In this article, I want to introduce you to this fascinating family of snakes and tell you everything you need to know about them. This will include a detailed description of their classification, venom apparatus and venom composition and toxicity. I will also introduce the most fascinating elapid genus, which are the cobras.

This beautiful naja siamensis, a spitting cobra, belongs to the Elapidae family.
The genus Dendroaspis, the mambas, are also part of the Elapidae

 

Classification and basic Information

The Elapidae are the largest species complex of “true” venomous snakes. By “true” venomous snakes, all non-rear fanged venomous snakes are meant. Of course, rear fanged venomous colubrids are also often highly venomous snakes but they lack a sophisticated venom delivery system which is why they are classified differently. Currently, there are about 325 species and 61 genera recognized in the two families of the sea snakes (Hydrophiidae) and the land-based Elapids (Elapidae). Although they are taxonomically quite different, the Hydrophiidae and Elapidae were originally classified as one family and are very simlilar.

The balck Mamba, Dendroaspis polylepis, is one of the most feared snakes around the world

Elapids are very active snakes and can often be seen hunting for their prey during the day. Compared to viper, they are more defensive, but also more predictable since their active body langue tell you how the snake feels. They may not have such advanced Venom delivery mechanisms like the Viperidae, but they do not need it. Elapids will actively look for prey and sense their presence with the flickering tongue, often ending up chasing their prey. After striking, Elapids usually hold on to their victim and sometimes start swallowing while its still alive. Their fast acting, potent venom makes in impossible for the victim to defend itself.

Venom Apparatus

Elapids are front fanged venomous, or proteroglyphous snakes. Proteroglyphous teeth means that their venom fangs are positioned in the front of their mouth and that they are, unlike a viper tooth, fixed and cannot be folded back. This also means that the fangs have to be very short, often no longer than half a centimetre. The fangs are formed like an injection needle with a small hollow duct connected to the venom gland.

proteroglyphous fangs of a green Mamba (Dendroaspis Viridis)

Because of their short teeth, some people often question whether elapids can even pierce the skin of their prey enough for the venom to reach they preys internal system or bite through something like a jacked. The answer is no and yes, Elapids can indeed easily bite through a jacked. Just pierce your jacked with a short needle, it is almost the same and will get almost anywhere. And no, Elapids may not be able to sink their teeth in as deep as Vipers, but they do not need to reach the blood stream or tissue below the skin since their venom composition is different and targets different bodily systems. Sometimes, all it takes is a scratch for the venom to reach exactly the places it has to reach – your lymphatic system just below the skin. You may not even realize that the deadly toxins have entered your body…

Venom Composition

Some elapids on this planet are among the deadliest creatures alive. Why these snakes have developed such incredible potent toxins remain an evolutionary riddle. But we do know quite a lot about the composition and effects of Elapidae envenomation, although we are still just scratching the surface of this research area. For the most part, Elapidae venoms target the nervous system and neuron junctions to efficiently shut down the communication in their victims’ body. Some venoms may include hemotoxic factors, but unlike viper toxins, these snakes almost never cause necrosis, haemorrhages or severe tissue damage.

Possible consequences of Elapidae envenomation

Elapid venom travels at first through the lymphatic system, which is located directly underneath the skin, before it enters the blood stream. Their venom also consist mainly of Enzymes such as Kunitz peptides, Acetylcholine inhibitors (Acetylcholinesterase) and alpha – and  beta – neurotoxic Phospholipases A1 and A2. The largest group is probably made of neurotoxic three-finger peptides, which efficiently shut down the preys’ nervous system. An elapids Victim may die of shock, complete cardiac arrest due to flaccid paralysis or shut down of nervous system.

Neurotoxic Phospholipases A1 and A2

These enzymes induce nerve cell damage by binding irreversibly to the motor nerve terminals of the victims leading to impaired or completely inhibited release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. This depletion of transmission will then quickly lead to the complete degeneration of the nerve terminal, which will induce flaccid paralysis and cardiac arrest in the bite victim. The generation of the terminal occurs in three steps; first, when the enzyme binds to the terminal the release of acetylcholine is stopped. Second, the enzyme induces a sudden overflow of the neurotransmitter which is followed by complete inhibition of the neuromuscular junction.

This beautiful bungarus fasciatus carries one of the most potent neurotoxins in the world – the beta bungarotoxin

Neurotoxic three finger toxins

This complex group of enzymes get their name from their physical structure which resembles a hand with three fingers. This toxin also messes up the release of acetylcholine and other neurotransmitters, but in a slightly different manner. On the one hand, they can bind to the peptide acetylcholinesterase, which is responsible for regulating acetylcholine release, causing a huge overflow of nerve stimulation which leads to spastic paralysis, a condition where the victims’ muscles start twitching uncontrollably. On the other hand, these enzymes may also act as beta-neurotoxic neurotransmitter inhibitors, which leads to similar effects as the phospholipase envenomation.

Oxyuranus microlepidotus, the inland Taipan. These snakes are considered to be the most venomous snakes in the world, known for its strong neurotoxins

Now I want to introduce the three most interesting Elapidae genus in my opinion which are the cobras.

The cobras

Cobras are among the most feared and worth-shipped creatures on earth.  In India and Indonesia they are worth-shipped as gods or holy animals, while they are feared for their hoods and attitude all over the rest of the world. I believe that all together, they are just still very misunderstood and fascinating animals. The genus of true cobras goes by the Latin classification Naja and includes currently 36 species (constantly changing). Contrary to popular believes, the King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) is actually not a true cobra. It is called the King Cobra because it behaves similarly and feeds on other snakes, including other cobras.

Some People just want to admire the beauty of these animals and not show them off!
Naja kaouthia (by Mark Kostich)

The Hood

The cobras hood is iconic all over the world. However, few people actually understand what it means. Cobras hood as a defensive method to avoid biting because venom production is energy consuming. A snake will have to increase it metabolism for up to 20% to refuel their venom gland while your only speed up your about 3% during heavy exercisisng. So, the snakes do not want to waste their precious venom on some stupid attacker, which is why it spreads the skin around its neck to intimidate the opponent. It wants to bring across a message, namely that it is larger that it actually is and fierce and venomous. It wants to intimidate its opponent enough to scare him off without a bite.

Sadly, many snake charmers use this defensive behaviour for showman purposes. Snakes do not have outer ears, which means the animal is completely unaware of the flute music playing but just provoked by the movement of the flute and put in distress. Many snakes are defanged cruelly or get their mouth stitched up to make them harmless. Snake charming is an incredibly cruel activity and does only harm the animal in many ways.

Spitting cobras

In my opinion, spitting cobras are some of the most fascinating animals on this planet. They have developed a completely different defensive strategy which is still and evolutionary mystery. Unlike most other elapids, their fangs have an enlarged and elongated opening which enables them to spray their toxins out of their mouth in a controlled stream. This occurs with incredible accuracy; spitting cobras can hit their opponents’ eyes precisely from up to 5m away, inducing incredible pain and partial blindness which enables the snake to escape. When spitting cobras are confronted, they will first hood like all other cobras and warm their opponent but they are far less tolerant – get too close and you will experience pain like you never have before. Some African spitting cobra species are known for being exceptionally defensive and aware, sometimes not even bothering to hood before they used their incredible defence.

A fascinating naja nigricollis from africa spitting venom

Because they use their venom for such a special purpose, their venom composition has evolved in a slightly different direction. Although they are still mainly neurotoxic, their venom includes some peptide commonly found in vipers which induce cytotoxicity and incredible pain trough severe tissue damage in the eyes of the attacker. It is also evolutionary evidence for the defensive use of venom in snakes.

I hope you enjoyed this short introduction to this fascinating family of snakes. If you are interested in further information on this topic, your should check out my “Venomous Snakes” section or head to the “Venomous Snakes Literature” reviews and get yourself a lot of first hand information and knowledge from experts.

If you are interested in my sources, click HERE!

My Sources

Have you ever wondered where all of this knowledge is from? – Here you can find every source I ever used to create the content on this website!

In my opinion, it is very important that you, the visitors, are sure that everything I publish is trustworthy and scientifically backed up. This is why I have created this page to give you every source I have used to create content on this site so that you can be sure that everything you read here is taken from professionally published work or otherwise personal experience!

Many of my sources are in German, since I am from Switzerland and a native German speaker. However, all works should also be available in an English translation. My favourite publications can be discovered in the Literature Suggestions section of this website!

My Sources:

  • “Venomous Reptiles and their Toxins”, Bryan G. Fry, Oxford University Press 2015
  • “Old World Vipers”, Tony Phelps, Edition Chimaira 2004
  • “How Snakes Work – Structure, Function and Behaviour of the World’s Snakes”, Harvey B. Lillywhite, Oxford University Press 2014
  • “Giftschangen im Terrarium” , Ludwig Trutnau, Ulmer Verlag 1998 (Available in English)
  • “Python Regius – Das Kompendium”, Kevin McCurley, Edition Chimaira 2011 (Available in English)
  • “Morelia Viridis – Das Kompendium”, Greg Maxwell, Edition Chimaira 2005 (Available in English)
  • “Venomous Snakes of Africa”, Gernot Vogel & Maik Dobiey, Edition Chimaira 2007
  • “Venomous Snakes of Asia”, Gernot Vogel, Edition Chimaira 2006
  • “Schlangen Europas”, Guido Kreiner, Edition Chimaira 2007 (Available in English)
  • “Venomous Snakes of Europe, Northern, Central and Western Asia”, Gernot Vogel & Patrik David, Edition Chimaira 2006
  • “A Complete Guide to the Snakes of Southern Africa”, Johan Marais, StruikNature 2004
  • “Sachkundenachweis für Giftschlangen”, Roger Aeberhard, Snakeparadise 2017 (Not available in English)
  • “Klapperschlangen”, Reptilia Nr. 66 Aug/Sep 2007 (Not available in English)
  • “Morelia” Reptilia Nr. 118 Apr/May 2016 (Not available in English)
  • “Kobras” Reptilia Nr. 89 June/July 2011 (Not available in English)
  • “Australische Pythons” Reptilia Nr. 79 Oct/Nov 2009 (Not available in English)
  • “Königspythons” Reptilia Nr. 104 June/July 2014 (Not available in English)
  • “Europäische Vipern” Elaphe Nr. 47 May/June 2014 (Not available in English)

 

If you have further questions about the sources, feel free to contact me directly or leave a comment below!

I hold a Swiss licence for keeping venomous snakes in a private collection with registernr. 08/0025

 

The Book every Ball Python Keeper should read

My Literature Suggestions – Ball Pythons

For many people out there looking for a first pet snake, Ball Pythons are one of the best options. I myself also started my journey with a baby Ball Python I named Pepper. The most important thing for anyone starting to keep snakes is getting enough reliable information and knowledge on the species you want to keep. In this article I will introduce you to my two absolute favourite works on Ball Pythons (Python Regius). These books cover everything you need to successfully keep and even breed your python with detail and helpful tips. So, here are in my opinion the best books on Ball Python care and husbandry.


The Complete Ball Python, A Comprehensive Guide to Care, Breeding, and Genetic Mutations, by Kevin McCurley – review

 

  • English and German available
  • Care, Breeding and Genetic Mutations
  • Very Detailed
  • By extremely experienced Ball Python breeder kevin McCurley
  • More than 300 pages
  • Color images and descriptions
  • Price: $52.50 on Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

“The Complete Ball Python” by Kevin McCurley is probably the most comprehensive book in the species Python Regius by one of the most decorated breeders out there. It covers everything from basic husbandry to breeding and genetic mutations with much detail and necessary information.

It addresses all relevant information when it comes to Ball Python husbandry, including heating, humidity, housing and common problems and issues. It also dedicates a chapter to common diseases and health issues, which includes solutions and tips for encountering problems like incomplete shedding or much more severe issues like parasitic activity.

Secondly, it is probably the most complete guide to breeding this wonderful species you can get. Not only does it present all the relevant information and procedures very detailed, it also includes a great chapter on genetic mutations that will help everyone understand why some Pythons have such special colors.

In my opinion, it is an absolute must for every Ball Python keeper or future Python keeper out there. You will find every bit of necessary information about Python Regius in this work and it may even be the only book you need to successfully keep this species. If you like Ball Pythons and want to get one, or already have one and often encounter issues, get yours HERE now.


Python Regius – Atlas of Color Morphs, Keeping and Breeding, by Stefan Broghammer – review

  • English and German available
  • Color images
  • 356 pages
  • By experienced German Ball Python breeder Stefan Broghammer
  • Price: $97.50 on Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Python Regius” by Stefan Broghammer is, as the name suggests, an Atlas on all the different color morphs and a complete guide to breeding Ball Pythons.

Like McCurleyy book, it is one of the most complete guides on Ball Pythons care out there. It is filled with great tips and helpful tricks you can only perfect with such great experience as Stefan Broghammer. He is definitely also one of the most decorated and experienced Pythons breeders in the world, which makes this book a great and trustworthy source of information.

It is also especially dedicated to the breeding aspect of Python Regius, including great and effective breeding and hatching procedures. Its price results from the incredible amount of colored images and detailed analysis of all the recently discovered color morphs and their genetic background.

If you are a Ball Python fan and you like great images and color morphs, then this atlas is an absolute must have and you should get one HERE now.


I personally cannot decide which one of these works is the better one. There are only slight differences and both are incredibly complete and detailed. The one by Stefan Brohammer may include more color images and Morph descriptions, which lead to the higher price, but Kevin McCurley provides a just as valuable guide to the care and breeding of this great species.

My Literature Suggestions – Venomous Snakes

On this list, you will find my personal favourite Book and Literature List on Venomous Snake. I have been fascinated by these creatures for many years and have read a great and wide range of different types of Literature and Book on the topic. Here, I will introduce you to my personal favourites that I think every snake lover or venomous snakes enthusiast should have read or studied. Of course, keep in mind that books cannot make you en expert on a topic and along with reading books and literature, I suggest getting practical experiences with the animals you are interested in. I personally think that captive care of an animal you are fascinated about is the perfect way to study the animal and get to know it.


 

Now lets start with some Books that will Give you a great overview of the classification of venomous snakes and great basic knowledge about these misunderstood animals.

Venomous Snakes: Snakes in the Terrarium (Vol 2) by Ludwig Trutnau – Review

  • Completely revised and expanded edition
  • Includes 171 species accounts
  • Detailed description of each species
  • Focuses on captive care of venomous snakes
  • 129 color pictures
  • Published in 2004
  • 340 Pages
  • Price: $97.99 on Amazon.com

 

Ludwig Trutnau’s “Venomous Snakes: Snakes in the Terrarium” has been considered the classical work on venomous snake husbandry in German-speaking countries for years, and is now finally available in English.

This book is an absolute must have for any venomous snake enthusiast. However, one should be careful about the Latin classification of the species portrayed. Since the book was published in 2004, it does not follow the most recent classification details. Also, the book does not offer any taxonomic keys and contains little taxonomic information and knowledge. Basic information is provided in the beginning of each species description, including aspects like appearance and distribution, but it is kept rather short. There is hardly any information on the biology of the discussed taxa. Nevertheless, it includes the full description of more than 150 species of venomous snakes, including behaviour, reproduction, captivity and other aspects of their lives. It is truly fantastic and gives any enthusiast a great insight into the world of venomous snakes. In fact, some taxonomic revisions in recent years have been updated in the English version and were outdated in the original German edition.

The book is written specifically for herpetoculturists, and therefore focuses on captive husbandry techniques and propagation data for each of the species. The species accounts also include relevant information on the behavior and demeanor of the given taxa. On these topics, the book offers more relevant information than any other work I have seen in recent years.

It is a must for any herpetoculturist and venomous snakes enthusiast, and you can get yours HERE!


The next three books are best presented together – they are all Terralog editions that present all the species and genera of (true) venomous snakes (Viperidae and Elapidae) in a given area, which is really fascinating and cool to have.

TERRALOG: Venomous Snakes of Europe, Northern, Central and Western Asia, By Gernot Vogel and Patrik David – review

Terralog: Venomous Snakes of Africa, By Maik Dobiey and Gernot Vogel – review

Terralog: Venomous Snakes of Asia, By Gernot Vogel – review

The “Terralog; Venomous Snakes of …” series are three books that present photographs of the Venomous snakes of their assigned region. All these works are mainly photographic and do not feature a lot of text. Each taxa is described at the beginning of the book in a small essay form, but from there on there is only a Latin classification, the distribution and basic information along with the images of each species.

However, in my opinion, these books are great for hobbyists who want to have the pictures of all the species around. Gernot Vogel and his Co-workers put in a lot of effort to get the images of even the rarest and most recently described species on each continent. Some if his photographs feature some of the rarest snakes in the world and in great quality.

This book may not be the most comprehensive guide to the biology and behaviour of venomous snakes, but it is one of the greatest checklist of venomous snakes and a must for any venomous snakes enthousiast and hobby herpetologist. You are not going to learn a great deal about these animals apart from taxonomy and distribution of the species, but it is still one of my all time favourite and go to works if I want to look up a species or remind myself of the beauty of these animals.

Many people think that the book is overpriced at $74, which is why you can get them all together at only $224 HERE!


The next book i want to introduce is my all time favourite work on Venomous snakes. Not only is it troughout and detailed, it is also on my favourite family of snakes – the ones that got me started on this passion: Old World Vipers!

Old World Vipers, A Natural History of the Azemiopinae and Viperinae Hardcover review by Tony Phelps, 2010 

  • Edition Chiamara 2010
  • More than 400 pages
  • Color Images
  • English
  • Detailed description of each species
  • Easy and comfortable to read
  • Price: $89.95 on Amazon.com

 

 

“Old World Vipers, A Natural History of the Azemiopinae and Viperinae” by Tony Phelps is in my opinion one of the best works on venomous snakes for the average reptile enthousiast you can possibly get. It written in an engaging and comfortable style, which makes it easy to understand and enjoy for just about anyone.
It also succeeds in reaching a very high standart in enducation, which makes it interesting for both the average hobbyist and also the expert on venomous snakes. Tony Phelps has worked with Vipers all his life, especially with the European Vipers (Vipera Berus) and he shares some of the most recent discoveries and taxonomic revision in this work. However, there is one recent revision this book does not follow – the Viperinae have been seperated into the Viperinae and the Causinae.

The book offers a nice introduction and general description on the life and behaviour of Vipers, including their ranges of habitat, feeding behaviour and reproduction. Secondly, Tony introduces every species seperately, giving brief information on appearance, observations, habitat, feeding and venom composition, which gives the reader a nice impression of each species and makes the book very easy and interesting to follow. Lastly, Phelps goes into more detail on the composition of Viper Venoms and their effect on their prey, which is incredibly fascinating, but includes difficult terminology. Nevertheless, also this section is interesting to follow for just about anyone. Phelps offers detailed knowledge on Venom effects, treatment and antivenin production and effects, which gives anyone a great basic understanding of the complexity and brilliance on venoms.

In conclusion, this book is a must for anyone who loves Vipers and wants to get familiar with venomous snakes, their venoms, biology and taxonomy. If you consider yourself a venomous snake enthousiast, get one HERE now!