Snakes Harmful and HarmlessTM


To Keep A Snake

(Order Squamata)
All vertebrate fauna and some invertebrate fauna have protection under the Wildlife Conservation Act, 1950. A venomous snake can be killed if it poses a threat to the safety of people in the immediate area ('Open Season' 1984 Government Gazette). Generally snakes pose little threat - they cannot eat you therefore they don't want to bite you! A snakebite may occur around buildings and play areas if one accidentally touches a snake. The majority of snakebites occur as a result of treading on them.

To take protected fauna one can be fined a maximum of $4,000 or, if that fauna is gazetted threatened, $10,000. Many people feel obliged to rehabilitate injured fauna or pass injured animals they find onto experienced carers and there is provision for this within WA's wildlife regulations.

Part 4. 28 A person must not keep fauna in captivity or confinement unless

(d) it is temporarily kept in accordance with regulation 28A.

28A Caring for sick or injured fauna

(1) A person may temporarily keep in captivity or confinement fauna that is sick, diseased or injured or that is abandoned juvenile fauna, for the purpose of caring for it until it recovers or becomes capable of fending for itself.

(3) A person who keeps fauna under subregulation (1) must, as soon as practicable after it recovers or becomes capable of fending for itself, release it in a place where such fauna is ordinarily found in the wild.

The following notes have been put together with keeping for rehabilitation in mind. For treatment and advice on medication for injured reptiles contact your local veterinary centre.

1. Pythons are inactive beasts that require far less room than mammals and birds. An area of 60 x 100 centimetres per metre length of snake is ample. Aquariums with secure pegboard lids make ideal cages. On the floor, for hygiene, use newspaper or coarse gravel rather than fine gravel or sand. A non-spillable earthenware container for water; a bird nest box to provide a hide so the snake can seek concealment and a climbing branch are all that is required.

Supplementary heating is recommended during cooler months. For this a heat lamp of low wattage (25-40w) can be used. With higher wattage globes it is preferable that the snake can not contact it. Electric blankets make ideal heat pads. This is placed beneath the aquarium so that it only heats half of the floor area, allowing the snake to shuttle through different temperature zones.

2. Snakes are ectotherms (cold-blooded animals) that require much less food than comparable sized endotherms (mammals & birds). Dead mice or day-old chickens, preferably after freezing, offered after snake defecates (approx. every 2 or 3 weeks). Remember! It is not uncommon for an adult python to go several months without a feed.

3. Continual handling will stress the snake and put it off its food, eventually causing its death.

4. External parasites such as ticks can be killed with Binkill (trademark) garbage can pest control strips.


Only expose snake to pest strip for no more than 2 hours per day for 3 consecutive days. Repeat exposure cycle again 7-10 days later.

5. Treat any open wounds with antibiotic paint.

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