Seductive serpents

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Jan 28, 2013 in Rat Answers | Subscribe

Snakes take centre stage this year as the Chinese welcome the Year of the Snake. StarMetro speaks to exotic pet shop operators and snake owners on these slithery reptiles.

While some shudder at the thought of snakes, let alone seeing one, some are quite comfortable with the reptiles and even keep them as pets.

Exotic pet shop owners said there was an increase in demand for exotic pets such as snakes due to availability of information via the Internet and wildlife documentaries.

They also expect more interest in the reptiles in the Year of the Snake this year. To be precise, it will be the water snake.

Greenland Exotic Pets owner Darren Chow said about 80% to 90% of his customers were aged between 13 and early 30s.

“They consider snakes as part of the ecology and environment and do not think all snakes are dangerous and should be killed.

“Customers prefer pythons, especially the ball species. However, currently, we do not have these as our licence from the Wildlife Department has yet to be approved,” he said.

“We stock snakes mostly imported from the United States, such as corn snakes, albinos and king snakes. The snakes are a breed from at least 15 generations and they are very domesticated and come in a variety of colours.”

Expert handler: Exoreptiles founder Steve Yong handling a corn snakeExpert handler: Exoreptiles founder Steve Yong handling a corn snake

Chow owns more than 30 snakes.

“I have been bitten many times but it was my fault as I was handling rats before handling them. “They bit me after they smelt the scent of rats as they thought it was food.

“The greatest reward is to breed them, incubate the eggs and watch the babies hatching. There are no words to describe the feeling,” he said.

He feels that Malaysians are still very uneducated when it comes to snakes.

Exoreptiles founder Steve Yong has been operating his pet shop since 2006, offering 20 types of snakes such as captive-bred ones imported from the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States.

“Most of the snakes are captive-bred while some of the imported ones are from the wild.The smallest measures 1cm in diameter. A corn snake can cost between RM200 and RM500,” he said.

Yong said corn snakes, ball pythons and king snakes were popular among Malaysian customers

First-time snake owners need to get a house kit with a secure lock, water dish and hiding cave.

“Room temperature is fine. Once a while, you can bathe your pet snake in warm water. It is highly recommended to get separate enclosures or house kits because if you house a few snakes in one kit, they may fight during feeding time,” he said.

He warned pet owners against feeding their snakes rats caught in back alleys as these may carry diseases that are harmful to snakes.

Tangerine beauty: A Honduran milksnake at Exoreptiles pet shop).Tangerine beauty: A Honduran milksnake at Exoreptiles pet shop).

“Just feed the snake mice which can be bought at pet shops that sell snakes, once to twice a week. Some feed on live or frozen chicken.”

On concerns over impulse buyers who buy snakes just because it is the Year of the Snake, both Yong and Chow said chances of this was slim as snakes were not cheap.

“It is quite rare that people buy them on impulse. Most snake owners do research before acquiring a pet snake and are quite knowledgeable.”

For more details, visit (Exoreptiles Malaysia) or do a search for Greeland Pets and Reptiles on Facebook (Greenland Exotic Pets).

Exoreptiles Malaysia is located at 63-1, Jalan Temenggung 19/9, Bandar Mahkota Cheras, Selangor.

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