Fact vs Fiction: Myth Busting
Hey guys! Hope everyone is enjoying the week so far, not to mention the beginning of your year! I want to talk to you guys about some myths and ideologies that should be killed off once and for all. They are the kind of thing that get posted in Facebook groups and are followed by a discussion where you see experienced keepers beat a dead hoarse trying to correct. Unfortunately there are still circles where some of these things are promoted as “must dos” or “facts”. I really want my blogs this year to shift from some of the deep ideologies I talked about last year, and more into content that is much more impactful for you as a keeper. Wether that be blogs on husbandry of specific species, or particular parts of husbandry itself …I’m hoping to bring you the most value I possibly can. But first we have to burn some of these ideas that are best left in the prehistoric times.
Myth: It is beneficial to move a snake into a separate enclosure for feeding, as a-posed to feeding directly in its normal every day enclosure.
Fact: The ideologies that support this myth are actually completely flawed. Behind it all the motivation for this is people’s desire to not be bit. Now of-course this is understandable, and I for one hate being bit and do what I can not to be. But those of us who work with highly food motivated species still always suggest feeding directly in their home enclosure. First it’s very stressful on the snake to deal with being moved right after consuming a meal. It’s not worth the risk and the stress on the animal, and even chancing a regurge. Secondly, while people think they are training the snake to not have a food response in their enclosure…in reality you are now training the animal that coming out of its enclosure means food, therefore chance of a bite is increased. The best method, especially with food motivated species, is actually to feed directly in their enclosure…and to use hook training to turn off that food response. Essentially when you need to remove the snake, you touch them with a hook, and then scoop a coil into your hand while reading their body language and making sure their food trigger is turned off.
Myth: Snakes should be fed once every 7 days.
Fact: This is one of those old well intentioned things that people have used to blanket husbandry everything but in turn has meant the decline in health for many animals. It stems from pet store, and care sheet husbandry ideas that still hang tough today in some circles. Some people seem to need that kind of structure in their care, but one of my favorite quotes that I’ve heard variations of from some of the most respected breeders and keepers in the hobby, says basically how feeding schedules were a terrible thing to happen to the hobby. Not all snakes are built the same. Some need food more often, while others thrive on less. Some are found in areas of plentiful food all year, while others from areas where dry and wet seasons bring cycles of available food as well as fasts. Many of the species I keep do far better when fed less than many people would expect. Obviously this goes hand in hand with obesity, and why it’s such a common affliction in captive snakes. So take a hard look at your species, it’s environment, and what the best methodology for feeding it will be. I promise no snake has to eat every Sunday, and your snake can go far longer without food than you realize…such as if your going on vacation or something.
Myth: Keeping reptiles on (insert substrate here) causes impaction
Fact: Boy this is a common one still. Most of the time the truth is that the actual problem is husbandry related, and the cause is often dehydration. While there are a handful of substrates out there that people might use which certainly can contribute to the issue, this is more focused on the blanket statement and husbandry practice of not keeping reptiles(specifically common pet trade lizard species) on loose substrate at all. The generalized statement that you should not keep any reptile on loose substrate is completely and unequivocally false. It doesn’t take a lot of common sense to realize these animals live in dirty harsh conditions in nature, and impaction that is common in the hobby is certainly not so in the wild. The difference is??? Our husbandry. If your keeping your species correctly, then impaction should be a very rare issue not related to loose substrates.
Myth: Reptiles will only grow to the size of the enclosure they are in
Fact: This one I won’t spend a lot of time on, but I’m truly surprised that in this day and age this is even still around. When I first started in the hobby it was certainly way more common to hear. The truth is, this is completely false. Reptiles will not grow to the enclosure you keep them in. If the cage is to small, they will still keep growing regardless. The only thing I can really think of that may have spurred this myth, was folks keeping some species completely wrong, which in turn kept them from healthy normal growth…and in turn started this myth. The reality is, those animals kept in that manner would not survive very long or be even close to healthy.
Myth: Size/weight matters more than age in breeding snakes
Fact: This is one that makes me cringe when I see it presented as fact in discussions about snake breeding. Unfortunately it stems from breeders that have greedy ambitions over a true passion for the animal. The idea is that when your given snake species reaches a certain weight, it is safe to breed. So this has a lot to do with the source of power feeding. The more you feed your animal, the quicker they will grow, and the faster you can breed them. Only the truth is, this is an unhealthy and dangerous trend. It’s called sexual maturity for a reason. Just like humans, snakes have ages where they reach sexual maturity. It can differ between species, but the important thing is to not rush them and force them to grow to fast. Breeders need to realize that patience is a virtue, that will dramatically increase their success if they practice it. Age is extremely important for sexual maturity. Weight is also important, because obviously you don’t want to breed any animal that is over or underweight due to risks involved, but should never ever circumvent age when it comes to breeding consideration.
Now that we discussed some of the popular myths, hopefully you will continue to support and follow my blogs this year. I’m really trying my hardest to focus on bringing you as much value in this content as possible. I really want to impact the hobby positively as much as I can, especially with newer keepers who find the online reptile community intimidating as well as frustrating. After all this is why my friend Dan and I started the YouTube channel: Reptile Revolution Project. We want to bring the most value possible to all levels of reptile hobbyist. Hopefully you enjoyed this blog as much as I did writing it, and maybe even learned something. I will likely write another blog with more myths some time in the future to try and continue to push education and facts. Thank you for your continued support, as well as accompanying me on this journey to try and better ourselves, our husbandry, and in turn the quality of life for our animals. I look forward to talking again soon!