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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.
Old 12-14-2005, 10:34 PM   #2
That about sums up how I think an indigo should be kept. I can't imagine cramping mine up (she's in a plastic box that is larger than 2x2 and I'm now looking into getting her an adult enclosure in the next few weeks). These snakes are just too active. I think alot of snakes do pretty well in fairly small enclosures (compared to other animals). They just aren't, in general, active animals that move around alot (I try and explain this when someone comments on how cruel it is to confine a wild creature like a snake to an enclosure).

But Indigos break this general rule. They fill a niche, as predators, that is almost un-snake like – more like larger predators (like cats or coyotes). They wander large territories and feed off of whatever they can catch (as apposed to more specialized and stationary species of snakes). This is one of the things that fascinates me about indigos.

My indigo has more than twice the metabolism that any other snake I’ve owned and burns that energy with lots of motion. She’s much bolder than other snakes I’ve owned and, as she gets bigger, doesn’t bet scared into hiding all the time, spends nearly half her time out side of her hides.

After observing my girl, I don’t think I’d ever put her in a cage that didn’t have at least one side that was not opaque. None of my other snakes did this, but she consistently watches what goes on in the world outside her cage. As intelligent snakes and as sight hunters, I think they benefit from mental stimulation brought on visually. Her cage is in my bedroom and she watches me all day (especially when hungry…but even out of curiosity when she is not).
Old 12-19-2005, 12:46 PM   #3
Okay, here goes...

I am not going to defame anyone for their husbandry methods. While I may not agree with the way another individual maintains their collection, regardless of genus, I will simply have to agree to disagree with them, unless the practices place the specimens in imminent danger, especially if the individual has presented the greatest amount of success of anyone or institution, that I am aware of anyhow, in the captive propagation of the indicated genus.
With that said, I will say that I have found the individual indicated to be one of the most intelligent individuals I have had the privilege of discussing issues of Drymarchon spp. care and husbandry with. This individual has provided me and the Dry community with some very valuable information, some of which has come at heavy cost to himself, both financially and in the way the Dry community has treated him.
While I may not agree with all aspects of every ones captive husbandry techniques, I have a difficult time disregarding such, when the techniques I disagree with have proven so successful.
One aspect of herpetoculture I have always enjoyed is there is no single correct way to accomplish something. Drymarchon are an incredibly strong and resilient genus, a genus we are just starting to scratch the surface with, in understanding their natural history, habits within the wild and captive requirements.
Much information has been spread about the individual indicated, I am partly to blame for such, as only he can tell the entire story, which he has been unable to do, as he is often flamed on the open forum and blasted with hate mail, prior to providing the full scope of his methodology and who would wish to return to such a hostile crowd to give “the rest of the story” after such hostilities were faced once?
Personally, I maintain my adult Dry collection within very large, custom made enclosures; I offer them a varied diet of rodents, fish, fowl and amphibians and I attempt to mimic their enclosure environment to meet what they would incur within the wild, at least the conditions I feel comfortable with, as I do not wish to impose, fire, flooding, drought and hurricane like conditions within the household.
Should we take the time and listen to the individual indicated, we may walk away a bit surprised by what we hear and make a few adjustments within our own methodologies, with some of the new found information we garner from such a conversation.
I am but one individual, a bit set in my ways too, but I have made a few changes over the past couple of years, per information which has been so generously given me by members of the Dry community and the individual indicated.
In short, I believe we are all working toward a common goal and all of us harbor information vital to our success with the genus Drymarchon. I feel the only way we can accomplish such is to set aside the bickering, bad mouthing and petty jealousies which create barriers for open communication. It’s time to open the playing field to all who wish to participate and allow each to have their own say, regardless of how we feel about such, without the fear of having to field hateful and asinine remarks.
Just my humble .02 worth…

Best regards,

Jeff Snodgres
Old 12-19-2005, 01:47 PM   #4
Jeff,...just so you know,...I have not posted anything he did not tell me. If any of it is not true, he can come here and deny it. I will apologize. And I won't post his name. And although it angers me to no end, to know how he keeps his animals, I welcome him here. I would even go snake hunting with him, and I promise not to bash him. As long as you promise to come along and referee! And although I do disagree with his methods, I too recognize this this guy is pretty smart. I just don't understand how someone that smart, could not see the cruelty in his methods. I just don't get it. And I hope he will consider changing his methods. Furthermore, I think this is peer pressure in action. If I get out of line, I hope the rest of you will rein me in. Heaven knows, sometimes I need it! Although I must admit to some personal bias because I had a less than favorable business transaction with him. But that's a whole nuther ball o wax! I just hope he finds it in his heart to move in the direction he's being nudged. As for me, I'll leave him alone now. I'm just grateful to have the opportunity to put my 2 cents in. He can come here and put his 2 cents in also. I hope he understands that indigos are a passionate subject for those of us who love them. And I will freely admit to being a hothead sometimes. I just love these animals so much. Anyhoo,...thanks for posting Jeff. Always a pleasure to have you here! You are quite the ambassador! Have you considered a career with the United Nations?
Old 12-28-2005, 09:49 AM   #5
Eric East
LOL, Tony you know you can count on me to smack you if/when you get out of line!


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