When caring for any pet, understanding the basics of its husbandry is important for setting it up for a long, healthy life. With this guide to African house snake care, we hope to provide some insight into what exactly to expect of these animals in addition to various best practices. From there, we’ll take a deep dive into why certain needs should be accommodated.
African House Snake History
To truly understand the African house snake, it is important that we take a step back. Let’s examine just where these animals come from, how they behave in different settings, and what their native habitats can say about their needs.
The African house snake (Lamprophis) is a modestly sized constrictor native to Sub-Saharan Africa. They receive the moniker “house snake” due to their tendency to show up around human dwellings. This makes them extremely valuable for pest control.
In the wild, the African house snake is typically a skittish animal that would rather dart at the first sign of conflict than fight. However, African house snakes are known for being docile, relaxed pets when in human care. This is a non-aggressive animal that will tolerate human handling. Because of this, they are desired and enjoyed as pets.
Now, you should expect your snake may be somewhat nervous as a baby or in a new environment. However, it should soon grow into a confident, happy pet. Especially with the right socialization.
To make sure that your interactions with your snake are positive and healthy, be sure to keep your pet’s needs in mind first. Initiate contact by placing your hand in its enclosure and allow it to slowly climb up your arm.
Due to their size, these guys find themselves right in the middle of the food chain. This makes them mesopredators, meaning that they are both prey and hunt other prey animals. When they are not searching for food, you can typically find them beating the heat and avoiding predators by curling up in a burrow or under a rock. Overall, these are extremely adaptable animals that can thrive in a range of terrain and climates. This is part of what makes them excellent house pets.
African House Snake Care
Caring for an African house snake isn’t typically more involved or difficult than typical snake husbandry. However, if you are a first time snake owner, it is important that you understand the basics of keeping your snake happy and healthy. Especially before bringing it home.
If you have any additional questions about African house snakes for sale and their care after checking out this information, we would recommend contacting your breeder or a fellow snake fancier. They will likely be able to provide you with individualized support and answer any specific questions you may have.
African House Snake Setup and Care
As with every snake, the African house snake should be housed in a well-ventilated, secure and clean terrarium. While your snake will prefer a smaller enclosure as a hatchling (approximately 10 gallons), it will need a larger tank as it gets older. You can expect your African house snake to do best in a tank that’s around 2ft x 1.5ft x 1.5ft, or around 30-40 gallons. They will also need several inches of high quality substrate to keep their enclosure clean.
Of course, your snake isn’t going to live in an empty tank with some substrate. They are going to need various accessories and enrichment items, including:
- Ceramic water dish
- Heating lamps/bulbs
- Feeding tongs
These will not only help keep them engaged and active, but happier and healthier in the long run.
Remember, African house snakes are burrowers. This means that they will want to dig under substrate and hang out in hides. Having access to these spaces allows for your snake to decompress and relax when it may be stressed or overstimulated.
To ensure that your baby has everything it needs once it gets home, you may want to purchase an all-in-one snake starter kit. While your pet may eventually outgrow this setup, these kits make convenient, cost effective terrariums for a variety of snakes.
Cleaning your African house snake’s enclosure will likely be one of the more involved aspects of its care. You want to give your pet’s terrarium a deep cleaning around once a month. This means gently removing your reptile from its enclosure, placing it in a well ventilated temporary container, replacing all substrate, and sanitizing the tank and accessories.
Of course, your snake’s enclosure is going to need spot cleaning every day. This means picking up all fecal matter, shed skins and loose food materials. This is important for both keeping your tank’s smell at bay and preventing the formation of diseases. If you are planning to travel, it is important that you arrange for someone to look over your snake’s enclosure at least a few times a week.
In the wild, your African house snake could be found feeding on various small birds, reptiles, and small mammals. Throughout its life in captivity, however, your African house snake is going to live off of small frozen mice. Typically, a healthy adult snake will be able to live off of 3 appropriately sized feedings a month. To find out what a properly-sized food item would be for your snake, make sure that it’s the size of the thickest part of your reptile’s body. Feeding it more than this can cause obesity and various gastrointestinal issues. Of course, when planning your African house snake care and feedings, you don’t want to provide it with too little.
As a hatchling/juvenile, your snake should have a different diet than what is mentioned above. Hatchlings start off eating “pinky” mice at around once a week. As they reach their adult size, they will eat larger food items less frequently. To learn more about what snakes eat and how to feed them properly, check out “What do pet snakes eat?“.
All snakes are exothermic, meaning that they can’t regulate their own body temperature. These animals need consistent, regulated heat sources to stay happy and healthy. If not kept at proper temperature ranges, your snake can experience a variety of metabolic and gastrointestinal issues.
Now, keep in mind that your snake’s enclosure isn’t going to be the same temperature throughout. You are going to need a “warm side” and a “cool side” to allow it to regulate as it pleases. To keep a warm side, devote a section of the tank to being heated up by heating accessories. This should remain at around 85-90 degrees. The cooler side should naturally be devoid of heating elements, keeping at around 70 degrees. To mimic the natural day/night cycle in your vivarium, turn your reptile lights off for around 8 hours at night.
To make sure that your tank is being maintained at a proper temperature gradient, keep two reptile thermometers at both ends of the enclosure. This precaution is especially important for making sure that things don’t get dangerously hot or cold.
Like any animal, the African house snake has a variety of quirks that make them fun to learn about and keep. Certain other snakes share many of these characteristics. Observing them can help us learn about both this reptile and many others.
African house Snake Quirks
- Found in a variety of ecosystems. This ranges from deserts to tropical rainforests.
- African house snakes can live up to 20 years or longer in human care.
- They are oviparous. This means that they will lay fertilized eggs that will then hatch after around two months of incubation.
- Mothers can lay litters of up to 8-12 eggs. Typically in early spring.
- Female African house snakes are usually much longer and heavier than males.
Morphs are simply a variant of color or pattern that differs from the original or “wild form” of a snake. The snake fancier world is full of breeders and researchers obsessed with creating and expressing certain morphs in their lines. In fact, some create highly restricted and limited lines that are only available to friends and fellow breeders.
While this list isn’t the extent of what you’ll see, here are some of the more common morphs of African house snakes for sale:
If you happen to want a really rare morph, you will have better luck seeking one out at a reptile expo or reptile specific store. Breeders will be more likely to show off their lines at these events and venues. Regardless of what African house snake variant you choose, its temperament and care level should be the same as any other.
When choosing an African house snake, it is more important to make sure that its distributor cares about its health and temperament than simply selling a popular, flashy morph. If you are able to, be sure to observe any snake you may want to purchase. This will help you ensure it’s healthy enough to go home.