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HOUSESNAKES ... Lamprophis Spp

There are a dozen or so species of housesnake and in my opinion they are the perfect snake to keep. They aren't very big, roughly about 3 ft, however some may reach 5 ft but this is extremely rare. One of the best things about house snakes is their range of colours. From black or brown to orange and yellow; green and olive house snakes are also available but as with the yellow house snakes they are quite rare.

These are the most widespread snake in Africa. Found from Morocco to the Cape.

Keeping house snakes is relatively easy due to the fact that they are a hardy type of snake (Mattison 1991 p67). They will need a strong vivarium (has to be escape proof) which can either be 1) All glass or 2) Wooden with glass doors. (2 is the best in my opinion) I suggest that you use a light bulb and a heat mat so the bulb can be turned off at night the daytime temperature should be 28-30C (82-84f). Make sure that the bottom of the cage is covered with newspaper or other substrate. The snakes must have a decent hide re.Cork Bark. A branch will also add to the effect and it will give the snake something to climb on (Please note the branch is not vital). The cage must also contain a water bowl.

You can also use plastic vines to make the cage more attractive but don't overdo it, the snake needs room to have a little wriggle or a wander! Take into account that house snakes are related to Houdini, need I say more?

Any thing from pinkies (new-born mice) to small rats depending on the size of the snake. House snakes relatively good feeders but if you have a pair in the same cage, the male may refuse to eat. (Try to feed it separately, an ice cream tub will do the trick). Hatchlings are always difficult to feed. If you have problems try mouse tails, if this does not pay off and you have tried all the tricks, you may have to resort to a pinkie pump.

Breeding house snakes is easy because they are an African species they require no hibernation and may breed all year round. About 50 days after mating the female will shed, about 10 days after that she will lay her eggs ( a good healthy female will probably double clutch). When she is laying her second clutch of eggs the first clutch should be hatching. Before the snake is expected to lay her first clutch make sure there is a box of damp vermiculite or moss in her cage and give her a smaller waterbowl. The eggs should be incubated at 28C (82F) a thermostat will keep the temperature constant (cost œ20-œ40 depending on the make). The eggs should be kept in a margarine tub containing damp vermiculite. WARNING: DO NOT TRY AND SEPARATE THE EGGS IF THEY ARE STUCK IN A CLUMP. When the eggs hatch transfer the hatchlings into separate little boxes with tissue on the bottom and a loo roll for a hide box. An eggcup for a water bowl, or small glass paste jar will do nicely. When the hatchlings have shed you can begin the trauma of feeding them!

I suggest that you purchase a brown house snake which is a year or so old. These are the most readily available. I would advise against buying a non-feeding hatchling if you can avoid it.

This is influenced by market trends and availability

Hatchlings £15-œ20, Adults £40+, Pairs £80+

Happy House Snake Keeping

AUTHOR A. Carpenter (07/02/95)

REFERENCES: C.Mattison(1991) A-Z of Snake-Keeping, Merehurst, London