As I start to come up on 10 years of ball python ownership, the idea of branching out to to a different species with more complex husbandry is very appealing. While I’m still a ways out from looking to purchase, I’m starting to explore some options now and thought I would see what ophiophagic species people on here currently or have previously worked with, and what the husbandry requirements are like. Since some of these species are rare, require permits and/or a waiting list, I figured now’s the time to start doing the research and getting my ducks in a row so I will be ready a year or so down the line
I’m particularly interested in a snake that is partially ophiophagic as it would provide a convenient disposal for any wild type ball python hatchlings or those that are born with defects, so it would probably have to be a larger species as well. Front fanged venomous can be completely ruled out.
Has anyone ever raised/worked with either Yellow Bellied Puffing Snakes or Mussurana snakes? Both seem relatively rare in captivity and I’m not sure if it’s due to husbandry, lack of interest or difficulty reproducing in captivity
I have never kept Mussurana but, according to a friend of mine that does, they are fairly easy to convert to other items so I would imagine flipping them to prey items like ReptiLinks, frog legs, quail and Gallus chicks, chicken parts (hearts, necks, etc.,) or fish should be doable
I kept a blackhead for a time. They are largely saurophagous but will eat other snakes as well. I fed mine a handful of defects over the years.
I think Jason Hood works with Pseustes, you might want to try dropping him a line to discuss them.
I think both Pseustes and Clelia are only “rare” in the hobby because not many people have an interest in them, not because they are particularly difficult
Aren’t Eastern indigo snakes also ophiophagic? They would probably need a permit, but they do get rather big. Definitely big enough to eat hatchling BPs. They also eat other things easily enough from what I have heard.
I agree with @ashleyraeanne indigos are by all I’ve talked to very interesting and intelligent captives. Not to mention big and beautiful! I like the idea of a mussurrana as well, have seen some nice pied morphs of them! Don’t know much about the husbandry for them though.
One of my favorite are cape file snakes, the scales are crazy on them, and they love snakes but also eat rodents very readily. Try to find cbb if possible, some come in as imports pretty banged up from what I have seen.
Thanks, I will do that!! The more I read about them the more fascinated I am, although I’m only seeing wild caught available which adds an additional layer of challenge
Yes!! I’m also looking into them, they’re so cool and the fact that they’re non-venomous and bred in captivity is a huge plus. Once I figure out where I’m settling I can start to look into permits and getting on a waiting list if I decide to go that route
In addition to what is already mentioned, Womas would be a great choice. They are primarily reptile-eaters in the wild, and they grow very fast, so even if you started with babies they would be up to baby-ball-python-eating size within a year. Plus, they cost much less than Blackheads do, although the price has gone up over the last few years. Womas are also super easy to care for and very hardy, and they can be selectively bred to be very colorful.
If you do go down this route and end up getting a snake that could eat bp hatchlings, you should think a little bit about if you would be able to do this. It would be a long ways in the future and you’ve probably thought about it but would you be able to feed hatchlings that you produced to another snake?
I did not know this, thank you! That’s definitely someting to put on the “con” list for eastern indigos, especially if I end up wanting to breed down the road. I’ll look into some of the other Drymarchons
Fully prepared for this! Well, I will be before even reaching out to breeders. I can’t forsee being able to build the type of enclosure I would want in my current apartment, this plan is fully dependant on finding a post-grad job and moving to somewhere else. Right now I’m just trying to narrow down to a few species so I can dig deep into husbandry requirements, whether I’ll need permits, whether I need to aquire and learn to use a snake hook (probably), etc
It wouldn’t be a decision I would make lightly, and I certainly would’t be breeding ball pythons for the sheer purpose of feeding them to another snake, but I would rather a hatchling with a defect be used to nourish and enrich another animal’s life rather than end up in a sad tank on craigslist. Part of raising animals does sometimes mean facing the decision to euthanize, and it is a difficult choice ot make. My dream was always to go to vet school, so I was pretty hands on working with goats and sheep from age seven up through college, and now some of my research involves some unpleasant experiments with mouse models. While it never really gets easier, unfortunately I’m used to it
Also, please pardon the slightly garbled response, I’ve had an on and off fever for several days now and I think my brain is melted
It was a large part of why I decided to stop pursuing the idea of adding them to my collection, sadly
Unpopular opinion (and not one directed at you, but since the topic has been brought to the fore), I see no problems with this and I cannot really understand the almost universal aversion to this idea… We breed mice for no purpose other than to feed snakes. We breed rats for no purpose other than to feed snakes. We breed AFS for no purpose other than to feed snakes. We breed quail for no purpose other than to feed snakes. We breed hamsters for no purpose other than to feed snakes. We breed guinea pigs for no purpose other than to feed snakes… I can keep listing feeders that we happily breed for, literally,
So I do not understand why the idea of breeding snakes to feed to ophiophagic species is such a horrible thing. If a species had been subject to millions of years of evolution to feed on a specific diet, does it not make more sense to aim to feed as close to that diet as is possible rather than forcing an animal to eat something completely foreign to it?
You are 100% totally right on all points! @t_h_wyman and nutritionally, being the said snakes natural diet it would also be optimal for them as well. The only reason I would have a problem, unless frozen, very defective or other extreme circumstance is just a very non scientific reason. Hard to emotionally feed live snakes to other snakes, especially ones you breed yourself, that’s it, no real good reason, or argument against it. No judgment to anyone who does, they are doing nothing wrong! That might be the only reason I don’t own a king cobra! Well… maybe a few more reasons😃
People tend to draw arbitrary lines between what is a “pet animal” and a “food animal”. If I were to bring meatballs to a potluck made of ground beef or ground pork, no one would bat an eye, but I mention swinging by the ASPCA to pick up a lb of ground cat/dog, suddenly I would be the bad guy.
If someone is working with ophiophagic species it probably makes sense to breed your own feeders, whether it’s ball pythons, corn snakes, etc. For just a few snakes though (like I am planning) it may make more sense just to partner with some local breeders to buy any hatchlings with defects, from partho clutches, etc
Maybe??? The symptoms are spot on, but I keep testing negative. Whatever it is, I 100% do not reccomend.
I’m with you. When my wife used to sell socialized pet rats we lived in the SF bay area. We had a lot of customers who were college students. One of them from UC Berkeley taught a rat to perform commands that were written on index cards. If we can all get behind feeding something that can learn to read, it’s time look at where you put that line and why it’s there.
I think the main reason people don’t consider rats or other rodents as big of a deal when it comes to feeders is because they reproduce fast. Another reason is because they are considered vermin by most. I have kept pet rats before, and if it was to give a snake that eats snakes a better life I would personally be fine feeding deformed snakes, alive or not. I would also be fine with feeding wild types as they have a higher chance of being abandoned or abused/neglected. There are a ton of normal BPs in rescues around me, I wouldn’t want to put more into the world knowing what will likely happen.
Yeah, this pretty much sums up my feelings. I have no moral/ethical objection to feeding a snake to another snake, but I’d have a hard time feeding off a baby I hatched for purely illogical, emotional reasons. It’s the same reason I have no plans to ever breed my own rodent feeders. I’ve kept rodents, including rats, as pets, and if I started breeding and raising them, I’d quickly get emotionally attached and see them as pets, which would make it really hard for me to euthanize them and/or feed them off live. Again, not for any moral, ethical, or logical reason, it’s all emotional. I can handle feeding off a dead animal that someone else raised. If necessary, I can even handle feeding off a live animal that someone else raised. But it would just feel different and somehow more wrong to me if I’d raised that feeder animal myself.
This is in no way meant as a criticism against anyone who raises their own feeders, whatever those feeders may be. In fact, I rather envy people who can do that. I wish I could put aside my illogical emotions and approach the situation more rationally. Maybe one day I’ll get to a point where I can, but I’m not there yet. I may never be.
I mean for me, it probably will become a reality that I have to deal with when I breed boas and other types of snakes. Like @chesterhf, I would be feeding off the deformed, still, and normals. At least that is the plan.