African Egg Eating Snakes

This is my first time using this site and so I probably didn’t do everything right (especially with the hashtags) but I have a few questions about African Egg-eating Snakes, particularly the specifies Dasypeltis Gansi. I recently bought a 2 year old from a breeder here, but the lamp we had was too strong and the humidity was too low and unfortunately she got dehydrated and passed. I thought I did enough research but there is not a lot of information and a lot of it is contradictory, so I wanted to hear from experienced Egg-eater owners. I have found several egg sources; we can by conturnix quail eggs from both the supermarket as well as a small business nearby, and we have found multiple people online who sell finch and button quail eggs as well, though they are expensive. We are hoping to get a female as they are larger and easier to feed. Here are my main questions:

  • What is the recommended age to get one?
  • What are some reliable breeders to buy from?
  • Where are some good places to buy eggs?
  • What are some important things to keep in mind when handling its habitat?
  • Is it possible to make a generally accurate assumption on the sex of a snake based on its appearance in a picture? For some reason most sites I’ve found don’t share the sex of the snake unless you ask.

I can give more information on what I already know and have if asked, but I think that’s enough for now. Thank you!

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@t_h_wyman you keep egg eating snakes right?

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This is my first egg-eating snake, I don’t have any others. (Oh unless you were asking the tagged person if they keep these snakes; in that case thanks)

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I have kept them before, though I currently do not have any in the collection
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Okay so… You are likely not going to like a lot of my answers here because I have been told I am too “preachy” about my take on these animals. A very large part of the reason I moved away from them is because I was tired of the toxicity I encountered among others keeping the genus.

To the best of my knowledge, I am the only person to have successfully taken wild-caught animals, bred them (not have an already gravid female drop), get eggs from them, and get offspring from that to maturity to breed again.

So… With that out of the way…

For someone just getting into these snakes, the best animal to get is one that is large enough to already be eating conturnix eggs. If you get an animal smaller than that then you are in the position of either needing to have an absolutely guaranteed and reliable source of finch or button quail eggs or you will have to syringe feed. And it is almost guaranteed you will cause damage to the animal that results in spinal kinking later in life
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99% of what you are going to see available are going to be WC imports. There are very few breeders. And nearly all of the babies you find will be from eggs that were dropped by a female import that was already gravid

With that said, because of their diet, these are not terrible imports to acclimate. They rarely have internal pests so you do not have to worry about worms and the like.
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I can always find conturnix in the Asian or international grocery stores. There are also quite a few hobby breeders of them as well as large-scale breeders that cater mostly to the falconry hobby but are of late branching into herps. If you can find one of those that is willing to supply you eggs it is often cheaper than the store.

Button and finch eggs (or any other small bird really) require you find a breeder. Again I will emphasize they would need to be reliable
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In my opinion (and one of the bones of contention I had with others) the largest issue that needs to be accounted for is that these animals are highly (almost exclusively) arboreal. I strongly advocate for nothing smaller than 90cm wide and 90cm tall. If I were to get back into them personally, I would probably go with something closer to 180cm x 120cm (maybe even 180cm x 180cm)

Keeping the arboreal aspect in mind, lots of branches and vertical climbing space and also lots of arboreal hides. My animals absolutely LOVED hanging finch nests, to the point that my female clutched in one of them. I also like a few of the bowl type nests to use as arboreal feed dishes

I prefer naturalistic cages for my animals. As you discovered, dehydration is a problem for them. The media and live plants help to maintain a more stable environment. I did not provide supplemental heat, ambient (20-29C) is fine for them
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Not especially, no. And I would also strongly caution about buying from people offering sexed animals. The spines on these animals are exceedingly delicate and the manipulation to even probe them is enough to permanently damage them. A mature adult female should be pretty obvious because of her size, but a younger female could easily be mistaken for a male. And, for me, the tail length between the sexes was too similar to be used as a safe guide
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One thing you did not ask about that I believe is of critical importance: Feeding

These animals are evolved for a boom/bust feeding cycle and the hobby behaviour of feeding weekly/bimonthly all year long is damaging to them. They need to be fed regularly for a max of about three months out of the year and then fast for the rest of the year. It is entirely too easy to overfed these animals and even with strict adherence to a seasonal feed cycle I still, much to my great shame, managed to cause the premature death of my animals by overfeeding resulting in fatty liver. I did not realize it until my original female dropped suddenly and my necropsy of her showed her liver to be more than 80% fat deposits. Even further restricting the diets of my remaining animals after that discovery did not help and as each of mine passed their necropsies showed fatty liver

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Thank you, this is very helpful!! I did not know that about their feeding habits, I will have to do much more research on that. I was aware they did sometimes eat a lot then fast, but I didn’t know anything else. Thank you so much!

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