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Old 12-12-2005, 10:58 PM   #1
Husbandry/quality of life issues

Here's a nice juicy one. This issue stirred up a BIG stink over at the other forum. Here it is again.

At least one person thinks it's o.k. to keep an adult indigo snake in a 2'x2' container, with no hide box, and only substrate, which only gets cleaned about once a month, and a water bowl. And then feed the animal only chicken necks. This person says he does not even clean the cages thouroughly. This person says he thinks mechanical removal is enough. Can you imagine? This person has a huge collection. This person makes a living, with what amounts to an "indigo factory", in my opinion. This person is welcome to come here and talk openly about it for everyone to read. This person knows who he is.

With that said, I'll tell you what I think our indigos should have. An adult indigo {couperi}, should have at least 2'x6'x18", with an external hide box of about 2'x2'. Male indigos, in particular need huge amounts of space during breeding season. However, they stop cruising when you place them with a female.

A substrate of plain white paper from the newspaper office. "End Rolls" Should be spot cleaned as soon as poop is smelled. Cages should be made of plastic, and should be steamed periodicaly, according to your diligence in spot cleaning. I use a shot of vinegar/soap solution, wait 30 seconds, then spray with hydrogen peroxide/ soap solution, wait another minute, and wipe with paper towel. Then I place a blower in the cage door, and thouroughly dry. There is also the BSS method discussed in the book "The Art of Keeping Snakes", which uses plants, and growing medium, along with worms and beneficial bacteria to simulate a more natural environment. I have not yet tried this method, but I will. And I will share what I learn. I could not possibly allow any animal to swim in it's own filth.

They are practically omnivorous in the wild, so I believe that variety in captivity should be the norm. I feed mine the following; mice, rats, quail, egg, chicken parts, wings, hearts, gizards, fish, and bunnies so far. But I'm always looking for new items. And so are they! Only chicken necks? Gimmy a break!

I also try and provide them with stuff to do, by placeing objects in their enclosures to stimulate curiosity, and activity. I build tunnels out of 6" PVC pipe for them to check out. And I change the tunnels around periodically for them. I also handle them, and allow them to cruise in the yard whenever the weather is right. Fresh air, sunshine, and exorsise, can't possibly be bad.

I don't know if they need UV light or not, but my hunch is, a certain amount might be good. They do need a basking light to warm up in. And they should have a wide thermal gradient to choose from.

Water. They must have fresh clean water at all times. I catch mine drinking all the time. And I frequently find tongue sheds in the water as well. So i know they are drinking lots of it,...not to mention what comes out the other end.

So that's what I think we should provide at a bare minimum. I think that anything less, could be considered cruel, and inhumane. I base that opinion on hundreds of hours of observation, and study, and on countless conversations with others who know more than I. I think we breeders should all adopt an SOP standard operating protocol for the care and husbandry of these magnificent animals. If they are in our care, and our confinement, we owe it to them. I think it would go along way to gaining credibility for all those who sign on. It would help to generate the best image possible. And whenever trying to promnote any idea, image is important.

Each of us who keeps these animals has a responsibility to the species, and to the individual animals, to make their lives as complete and healthy as possible. And we should do everything we can to discourage folks from keeping animals in sub-standard conditions. We should all strive to set a higher standard, every day. The Eastern Indigo Snake occurs naturally, only in the southeastern U.S. Nowhere else. And that habitat is disapeering rapidly. Maybe we can stop that. Maybe not. But we can, control what we do with captive animals. And these snakes are magnificant to behold. I think they are National Treasures. And I think they deserve the best we can give them. I'm not telling anyone else what to do. I'm telling you all what I think we should do, as a group. I hope you will join me.