While I don’t currently own any wild caught snakes, several species that I would like to have in my collection one day seem to only be available as wild-caught/imports. And if captive bred individuals become available between now and then, then obviously I would prefer to get captive born snakes, but I have to work under the assumption that they won’t be. So, I need to know what to do well before then.
I understand that as wild animals, wild-caught snakes can have several issues ranging from scarring, fungus, parasites, and other diseases. Therefore, extra care needs to be taken to improve their chances of surviving in captivity and ensure none of those problems affect the established snakes in a collection.
To which I ask, people who have wild caught snakes- how did you care for them when you first got them and how did you get them established in captivity? I’m asking less about specific species care guides and more along the lines of veterinary work. i.e. if I handed you a wild caught snake right now to care for, what would be the first things you do?
I would definitely suggest that you talk with @creaturesofnightshade. They have even successfully established dragon snakes.
I have brought in a few import animals in my days.
First thing, make friends with a reliable and knowledgeable herp vet unless you yourself are well versed and comfortable with medicating animals
After that, you will need an entirely separate quarantine area where you are working with these animals. My import Q is segregated from both my main collection and my CB Q because my protocols in there are more strict and the Q process lasts longer
An initial exam of the outside of the animal after purchase/arrival should be performed. If there are obvious external parasites then treat accordingly. If there are no external parasites I hold off on any treatments for a few days.
Animal goes into a simple set up tub. Provide them with clean water and switch it out daily. Most imports are still going through a bit of recovery and are generally dehydrated.
I try to leave the animal undisturbed other than the water change for a week or so. After that I will begin changing the paper in the tub every day or two. If I can get a fecal at this point, I perform a float to check for internal parasites. If anything is found then I begin treatment with appropriate medication. If I had not previously done an external treatment for obvious external parasites, I will usually done one at this time as well, just to make sure and catch anything I might have missed. I also start attempting feeds
Once the animal is feeding regularly I will attempt a second fecal (sometimes the first few are not as informative as there is nothing passing through to push out the nasties). Again, treat as necessary.
After 45-60 days, I will transition the tub to something a bit more natural for substrate. Continue monitoring
Assuming the animal is feeding and shedding and behaving normally and consistently, my Q for import animals is a minimum of 90 days, but much more frequently it is 180 days or more. If you bring a new animal in to Q, the clock for every animal in the room starts over.The longest I have kept an animal was 14 months and that was not because of timeline resets, the animal just took that long to fully establish
^^^^This is good stuff that most keepers overlook!
You should assume that any wild caught specimens have a parasite load. Studies have found 75% of wild snake specimens to have parasites. I would proactively treat for both internal and external parasites. If you aren’t comfortable administering the requisite meds for internal parasites, you should consult a vet.
As others have pointed out, quarantine is essential. Were I importing animals today, I would house them in a separate structure from my main collection for 180 days.
Garter snakes I still have one.