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MatthewG   FloridaHerps01  

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 Northern water snake help

Hello, I have a baby northern water snake. He’s about 5 days old and when I first got him he was in a small 4 gallon tank until I got him a 10 gallon a few days later. In the first tank, he was always out and doing something, but now that I’ve moved him to the big tank, all he does is burrow all day and night. It’s rare to see him at all unless I go digging for him. Is this normal? And if not, is there anything I can to do get him more active?

08/14/14  04:27am


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  Message To: MatthewG   In reference to Message Id: 2308516

 Northern water snake help

Water Snakes are very shy snakes that have the potential to be bold and friendly captives. This requires handling and interaction with the snake.

Before you can begin acclimation though, you must establish that it is feeding regularly in captivity. That way if handling it causes it to stress and stop feeding all together, you can cut back on handling or quit all together and wait a while longer, feeding it regularly and making sure it eats, before trying again.

As far as cage size some snakes can stress if they feel over-exposed, and so seek sheltered, un-exposed areas. A good water dish and a lot of hiding areas and an open basking spot under a heat light may help increase visuals. Fake vines/foilage that can be purchased as "vines" at pet stores are good, as well as hollowed cork rounds, and flattened wood/cork with a slight concavity are great hiding opportunities for snakes that help them feel more secure.

Also, chances are the snake is partially exposed, sees you coming, and retreats into the hole. Juvenile water snakes are obviously well aware of how small they are - based on how abundant the species is. If they are exposed in the wild, they usually become food for something else. If they stay hidden near a good food source, they usually do well.

My advice to you is put a hollowed out cork round/log next to the water dish, offer some live fish that are thyminase free (so not gold fish), check your temperatures, and monitor for food. Also, Nerodia species may be more active at night if temps are warm enough (in-door temps). Chances are it is foraging at night if you notice consumption of food but no diurnal activity. Most yearling Nerodia fasciata fasciata that I find, I find at night while out shining for amphiumas.

Also are you sure of the snakes age? Did you get it from the breeder directly or did you produce it yourself? If not, and it is a guess of a WC individual, then it is obvious that it is hiding as it is stressed. In this case again, just make sure to keep fresh food available as much as possible - easiest done as live fish in a water bowl. Reduce activity around the cage, as it will continue to hide if there is a "threat" nearby such as a human (you or anyone else). Then just wait and monitor food to see if any is being eaten.

Obviously if you still have it based on the original post date, it is eating - and if it isn’t it doesn’t have long left. So if you still have the snake, and it is eating, handle it regularly a few days after eating to allow it to defecate. This will gradually warm it up to you and your presence and may result in a more bold attitude, allowing you to observe it out basking or swimming more often as it ages. This may take time though, because as I said juveniles are instinctively reclusive.

10/20/14  09:25pm

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