In association with the Australian Reptile Park, Snake Ranch is providing the fast-growing reptile-keeping hobby with beautiful hatchling captive-bred reptiles. Find out about subscribing to the Snake Ranch News and obtaining hatchling prices here. Beginners who do not have a copy of the comprehensive Care of Australian Reptiles in Captivity by John Weigel are urged to obtain and read a copy before jumping into the hobby. It is available at many bookshops, or can be ordered from the Australian Reptile Park - email . The greatly expanded second edition of this reptile keepers' bible will be available in late 2007.
The Australian Reptile Park encourages responsible pet ownership. So please read the following first! Because reptiles have very different requirements to those of most traditional pets, you will need to consider a range of issues before jumping in. Without an appropriate level of preparation and commitment, the novelty factor will soon wear off, with the likely outcome being a neglected animal and a disappointed owner.
Reptile keeping in Australia is a privilege, not a right. The trade and keeping of reptiles is regulated on a state-by-state basis, and the laws are subject to change. In most instances, licences must be applied for before a reptile is obtained, and records must be kept, with annual returns required. All reptiles must be acquired from a legitimate source, and there are constraints as to which species can be kept, and in what circumstances. Therefore, the very first thing to do when considering acquiring a reptile is to familiarise yourself with the legal requirements within your state or territory. The following prompts lead to the relevant wildlife agencies for each state and territory: NSW, Vic, Qld, SA, ACT, WA, NT, Tas
Although most reptiles may become tolerant of some forms of handling, they are not affectionate animals and do not crave human contact. If a companion animal is what you are after, then better to get a homeless dog from the pound.
Although captive pythons are not inherently 'aggressive' towards their keeper, they can be quite defensive when feeling threatened or territorial, and many will bite. The apparent zeal with which some individuals will bite can blur the line between 'protective behaviour' and outright attack! Many pythons become very food-oriented and will bite just about anything that moves - including the keeper's hand. When that happens, it can take a great deal of time and patience (and blood!) to dislodge the hungry python without injuring it.
Young pythons will grow - and before any hatchling is acquired on the basis of 'cuteness', an adult specimen of the species should be viewed.
A small proportion of beginners acquire their first reptile for the wrong reasons: wildlife should never be maintained for the purpose of impressing friends, undertaking a practical joke of any sort, or providing an unplanned, unsolicited gift for anyone. Reptiles do not benefit from being carried around like an article of jewellery at the local shopping centre. Their use as an attention-seeking prop or as a demonstration of bravado belies any true regard the keeper purports to hold for the animal. Irresponsible keepers undermine community respect for wildlife while portraying the hobby in an exploitative light. Fortunately, the show-off type of keeper usually moves on to other pursuits within a relatively short time.
Without adequate attention to hygiene, reptile keepers can put themselves and others at risk of infection from a range of protozoa and bacteria, including Salmonella sp.
The expense incurred in the purchase of a python is only the beginning of the costs that will have to be met - the most 'up front' of these being appropriate specialised caging, which needs to be 100% ready upon arrival of the Snake Ranch hatchling. Provision of food requires planning, and can be costly. The keeper will need to either maintain a breeding colony of rodents, or purchase frozen stock from a commercial source. In the interest of continued family acceptance of having a snake in the house, a separate dedicated freezer should be acquired to store rats and mice. Licensing fees are a factor in most states, and significant veterinary expenses may be incurred if health issues arise.
So, you've read the above and you want to keep a reptile as a pet, then visit www.snakeranch.com.au, sign up as a member to start receiving Snake Ranch News and then check out the hatchling prices.