If you have a pet dog, you probably love taking them outside for a walk, and they probably love it too. Some people even take their cats outdoors on walks. But, what about snakes? It’s hard to imagine seeing a snake out on a walk. While the idea is good in theory, it’s not that easy to actually do. You might even be wondering:
Can I take my snake outside?
Taking your snake out in public isn’t a good idea, plus, it might be illegal. If you want your snake to get some outside time, there are a few ways to do it. You shouldn’t try putting them on a leash or letting them roam your backyard.
In this article, we’ll talk about everything you need to know about taking your snake outside. We’ll discuss the dangers and the safe ways to get your snake some sun time. But first, we’ll talk about why taking your snake out in public isn’t something that we recommend.
Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Take Your Snake Out In Public
As tempting as it might sound, you don’t want to take your snake out in public.
We’ve all seen the cool/crazy guy or gal with the python wrapped around their shoulders. Does it look cool and intimidating? Yes! Is it a good idea? No!
As tempting as it might be for you to turn your snake into a people’s snake, just don’t do it. If you’re not convinced, we’ll give you some good reasons right now!
They Might Escape
One of the main reasons why you don’t want to take your snake into a public area is that it could escape. Even if you are the best snake handler in the world, you might lose track of your scaly friend in the great outdoors.
Let’s talk about step 1 of a public outing, the car. Do you know how to transport a snake in a car? I worked as a wildlife rehabilitation technician for five years and the best way to transport a snake in a vehicle is to put them into a pillowcase! Yep, that’s right, a pillowcase!
A pillowcase tied at the top is one of the only things that are easy to move that a snake can’t escape out of while driving. Trust me when I say most snakes don’t like to be put into pillowcases. Unless you’ve already tried this before with your pet, I don’t recommend starting now. Losing a snake in a car is not good. They can get into all sorts of nooks and crannies.
Then, once you get to your destination, it’s not going to be easy to keep your snake on you! It’s true that snakes do like to wrap around people, but if your snake decides that they don’t want to stay on you, it might slither away and be lost forever. Not only would losing your pet snake be tremendously sad but your snake might also become a local menace!
According to National Geographic, pets should never be released into the wild. Pets are considered invasive species that wreak havoc on local ecosystems by out-competing native species that aren’t as strong as a pet might be.
They Might Scare People Off
Another reason why you shouldn’t take your snake out into public is that your sweet pet snake might scare someone.
In general, people being afraid of you isn’t a big problem. But, if someone makes a complaint about your snake, it will only make the snake stigma harder to get rid of. Yes, people are afraid of snakes. Seeing one roaming free in public definitely isn’t going to cure them of that fear, either. Unfortunately, people’s fear of snakes can result in stricter rules and housing laws for our scaly friends.
Even though it might seem silly to you, it could give someone a real scare to see a snake in public.
It Could Be Illegal
Taking your snake out in public might actually not be legal.
While there usually aren’t laws specifically restricting snakes in public areas, snakes are usually banned from crowded areas like malls and walking paths. If your snake starts to act up, you’ll definitely draw some attention from the police. Even if it’s not illegal, nobody likes to see a rowdy snake in public. Plus, the news story would only contribute further to the bad reputation that snakes already have!
It Might Make Your Snake Uncomfortable
The last reason that you might not want to take your snake out in public is that it might make them very uncomfortable.
If your snake has lived in a tank for its entire life, going out in public is going to be overwhelming. Your snake might stay relaxed and calm on your shoulders. But, your snake also might freak out! If you really wanted to start taking your snake out into public, you’d want to start out with small trips. This way you could get them used to the idea of being out of a tank in small steps. In this video, you can see an example of a snake going out in public. Unfortunately, this video was not created for the snake’s benefit. And the snake doesn’t seem to be enjoying itself very much!
Does Your Snake Need Sunlight?
So, there are plenty of reasons not to take your snake out into public! But, should your snake go outside in private areas? Does your snake need sunlight?
Not all snakes need sunlight! Nocturnal species like ball pythons, for example, don’t necessarily need sunlight at all. In the wild, these snakes would spend most if not all of the day curled up in a hide or underneath a rock. While it’s never a bad idea to provide your reptile with UVA/UVB lights, not all reptiles need them. If you’d like to know which species these are, we have a list here of 8 pet reptiles that don’t need any UVB lighting in their enclosures.
If you have a snake that does need UVA/UVB exposure, it might benefit from some time out in the sun. Snakes that are active during the day could get enrichment and vitamins from sunlight.
Now, this still doesn’t mean that they need to be outside. But, it might be enjoyable for them to feel the sun on their skin. We still haven’t talked about the best way to give your snake outdoors time. Before we get to that, we’re going to highlight some of the potential dangers your snake might encounter outside.
4 Hazards That Your Snake Might Encounter Outdoors
Pets are not the same as wild animals. While they still have many of the same qualities and behaviors as their wild counterparts, they weren’t raised in a wild environment. Pets raised and bred in captivity don’t have the same instincts and defenses as wild snakes. When you take your snake outside, you’re exposing them to new dangers that they’ve never had to face before!
1. Wildlife and Other Animals
One danger of taking your snake outside is the local wildlife and other pets.
Even though snakes seem like very intimidating predators, they’re still prey for many other animals.
No matter where you live, there is local wildlife. In my area, you’ll find raccoons, coyotes, and bobcats that would be more than happy to make a snack out of your pet snake. There are also hawks and owls that fly around, day and night, that would see your pet snake as a very easy meal. While you might not have the same wildlife in your area, I guarantee you’ll find animals nearby that eat snakes on a regular basis.
Even if you think there isn’t wildlife around to prey on your pet, cats are a big danger to your snake. Cats are predators and love to chase and hunt prey. If you’ve ever owned a cat, you might notice that they seem to do this out of fun and instinct and don’t always even bother to eat their victims. a small pet snake might look like the perfect enriching activity for the neighborhood cat.
2. They Might Get Lost or Escape
Just like with taking your snake out in public, you could easily lose your snake in your own backyard!
There aren’t really many fences that are snake-proof. Snakes have super flexible skeletons and ribs and can fit through incredibly small spaces and holes. If you let your snake hang out in the yard, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to keep them inside it.
Plus, if your snake does decide to make a run for it, you’re going to have a pretty hard time stopping them! It’s not easy to catch a snake that’s running away from you. They don’t really have a great spot to hold on to. If you grab their tail too hard, they might even decide to turn around and bite you.
Once a snake has escaped, it’s really hard to find them again. Unlike a dog or a cat that might prefer the comforts of a human home, a lost pet snake isn’t likely to go back to another person’s home. Your pet will probably wander off, and you might not be able to find them again.
While they’re out in the world, they could run into any number of problems from finding their way into a pool or eating something they shouldn’t.
3. They Could Come Into Contact With Parasites Or Disease
Was your snake born and raised in captivity? If so, they’re not going to be very well-equipped to deal with parasites and diseases in the wild.
If you decided to let your snake wander outside in the grass, it could come into contact with a parasite. Parasites like roundworms not only live inside animals but also pass their eggs through an animal’s feces. If your snake spends enough time outside, it’ll likely wander through something that contains parasite eggs. Inside, there really aren’t too many ways your snake can get parasites. But, in the outdoors, the options are truly limitless.
It’s likely that there are wild snakes in your area. If there are, these wild snakes might pass through your property. wild snakes can carry diseases that might not affect them but would make your captive snake very sick. It’s like if you kept a small child in a bubble for their entire life and then you suddenly let them run around barefoot on the streets. That child is going to get sick!
The difference between the bubble child and your snake is that your snake doesn’t have too many good reasons to be outside and wander around. Taking your snake outdoors will come with a risk of contracting something.
4. It Might Be Too Cold Or Too Hot For Them
The last reason you might not want to let your snake hang out outside is that the weather might be too extreme for them.
Snakes are ectothermic. Ectothermic animals cannot regulate their own body temperatures. These animals depend on environmental conditions to stay cool or to stay warm enough. Your snake probably isn’t native to your region. Most pet snakes are found in the wild in remote jungles or deserts. This means that the environment your snake is supposed to be in is not the same as your environment.
One of the reasons why keeping a reptile is harder than keeping a cat or a dog is that you have to maintain a good temperature for them at all times. So, if you choose to take your snake outdoors, you have to make sure that the weather is going to be appropriate for them!
How To Take Your Snake Outdoors
We’ve discussed so many reasons why you shouldn’t take your snake in public or outside.
Despite all of this there is still a safe way to get your snake some outdoor time! Have you ever heard of a tortoise hutch? A tortoise hutch is a fully enclosed cage that lies flat on the ground. They usually have a small side that is completely enclosed where the tortoise can hide. The other side is much larger and is a space where the tortoise can bask in the sun because the top of this side is a sturdy mesh.
These tortoise hutches are a great way to take your snake outdoors!
Because they’re fully enclosed, they protect your snake from predators and parasites. Your snake won’t be able to escape easily out of a tortoise hutch, especially while you’re supervising. These hutches still won’t protect your snake from temperature drops, so you’ll still need to be aware of the factor. But, a hutch is still a great way to give your snake some sun.
Can You Take Your Snake On A Walk or Put them On A Leash?
Because snakes don’t have shoulders, leashes and harnesses just don’t work on them! It’s a bad idea to try to take your pet snake on a walk. All of the risks we mentioned above still apply. Plus, a leash is going to give you a false sense of security when in reality, it won’t restrain your pet at all!
There are so many reasons to not take your pet snake outside. If you’re looking to enrich their lives, your best option is to try and improve their enclosures. Give them a bigger tank and better features and always make sure they’re getting plenty of natural light throughout the day!