Over the past few months there have been a large number of people enquiring about potentially owning highly venomous snakes, most of which have little or no experience with potentially deadly animals!
I myself have been approached by three different people this weekend alone, all enquiring about purchasing venomous reptiles and only one of these people has actually kept snakes before, one corn snake to be exact.
I find this extremely disturbing and detrimental to our beloved hobby or jobs! I have therefore decided to start a post for anyone who is considering a venomous snake as a pet.
Before even deciding which venomous snake to purchase, please consider the following.
1.Is antivenom available to treat a bite from your chosen snake? Don't forget that in South Africa, only SAMIR Polyvalent is produced and available to treat the bites of a dozen or so indigenous snakes, our hospitals DO NOT stock antivenom for exotics snakes and probably have very little or no experience in treating exotics envenomations.
2. Can you provide the snake with all its necessary husbandry requirements and an escape proof cage?
3. Can you safety handle a venomous animal without harming it, yourself or anybody in the immediate vicinity?
4. Do you have the necessary experience to deal with any unexpected situations that WILL arise?
5. Every venomous snake owner should have some sort of bite protocol in place for yourself or anyone who may be with you at the time of the bite to follow! e.g. Numbers of hospitals, anti venom suppliers, experienced herpetologists, ambulances or any other health care professionals who could be of assistance.
Once you have had a good think about the above, you need to do the following.
1. Research the snake that you are interested in and find out absolutely everything you can! e.g. Type of venom, husbandry requirements....
2. Attend a snake handling course offered by professionals with the necessary credentials!
3. If possible, find a mentor you can work with or ask questions on websites and gain valuable knowledge and experience.
4. Make sure you have all the necessary handling tools and posses the knowledge on how to use them.
5. Draw up a bite protocol and put one up near a phone and in the snake room.
6. Practice on aggressive non-venomous reptiles.
7. Consider the implications involved if you or somebody else gets bitten by your venomous snake!
The reptile market in South Africa offers mostly exotic venomous snakes and it may be impossible to get antivenom to succesfully threat an envenomation! A western diamond back rattle snake can be purchased from your local pet shop for around R500 and an envenomation could cost you upwards of R35000, if antivenom can miraculously be obtained.
Venomous snakes are not toys nor are they a wise pet to own! Not only could you DIE if bitten but you could suffer life long effects and an escape could lead to a family member or community member to suffer needlessly.
Anyone who has not owned a snake and starts with a venomous one, is in my opinion, more dangerous then the snake itself.
Here is picture of a snake bite, so you can consider the possible outcomes and dangers involved with owning one.
Also an interesting topic to read.viewtopic.php?f=45&t=15483&start=0
Im sure I ve left out some important information here so if anyone has anything to add then feel free.