Despite their somewhat scary reputation, snakes are quickly growing to be one of the more popular pet choices among people of all ages. Contrary to what you might think, certain snakes can even make great classroom pets. Recommended beginner snakes like the corn snake come in a variety of beautiful colors and patterns, are docile, and generally grow to about 3-5 feet. Ball pythons are another popular species of snake, and make for an exciting addition to any classroom.
Housing a snake in the classroom tends to be fairly easy and requires only a few important things. One of these is a secure, escape-proof tank. Most snakes tend to look for openings or cracks to squeeze into in their enclosure, so keeping them housed and secure is important to their safety. Another necessity, as with other pets, is a clean water dish. Snakes like to have a fresh water spot where they can soak, particularly before a shed.
Snakes are cold blooded animals and rely on an external heat source to control body temperature and maintain metabolism. Without adequate heat, snakes cannot digest food properly and eventually will starve to death. Snakes kept in overly warm environments can also become ill or die, so it is important to keep the temperatures within the acceptable range.
In a captive environment, use one or more heat sources for the reptile’s enclosure, such as heat lamps, undertank heaters, heat tape and ceramic emitters. Hot rocks are not recommended because they can cause thermal burns.
Snakes should be kept in housing with a range of temperatures, typically about 10 to 15 degrees F. This temperature gradient allows the snake to move from one area to another to warm up or cool off as needed. Shedding is a necessary process for a snake’s growth. The frequency in which your snake will shed its skin is based on its rate of development, though it normally occurs every five to eight weeks. Most snakes only feed every 7-10 days (on small pre-killed rodents), but before a shed may eat even less frequently.
When choosing your snake make sure that it is well-fleshed, no cuts or scrapes, and has clear eyes. These are signs that the snake is healthy and well-nourished. Also make sure to go over proper handling and care techniques with your students.
When done right, bringing an exotic new pet into your classroom can be an incredibly exciting experience for you and your students. With a friendly corn snake or an adorable ball python, you and your class will be surprised at how fast you “shed” your creepy-crawly view of snakes and see these awesome reptiles’ true colors.
A pet in the classroom is are wonderful resources for teachers, they help teach responsibility to students, and help build a child’s self esteem. Visit us at www.petsintheclassroom.org today, and we’ll help get you on your way. Applying for your grant couldn’t be easier, just go online, fill in the application form and we will get back to you!