Cute Snake... Who Eats Other Snakes

Animal Scene - - FRONT PAGE - Photos by JEFFREY C. LIM

The Banana King snake is one of the more com­monly kept pet snakes abroad, and An­i­mal Scene sat down with hob­by­ist Lendl Christo­pher Lin to learn more about this fas­ci­nat­ing crea­ture.

How did you get into keep­ing the Banana King snake? Is it rec­om­mended for be­gin­ners?

When I first saw a friend’s Banana King snake, I told my­self, I gotta have one. Since I wanted to shift from big lizards and big snakes to smaller ones, I de­cided to get the Banana King Snake. In my opin­ion, yes, it can be rec­om­mended for be­gin­ners be­cause of its small size. Though, I have to warn oth­ers, I have no­ticed that King Snakes have very strong feed­ing re­sponses.

For you, what makes these par­tic­u­lar snakes fas­ci­nat­ing and unique? What makes them worth keep­ing?

I fell in love with the Banana King snake be­cause of its col­ors and with its small size. I find it easy to keep and eas­ier to han­dle. But what I love about this King Snake are the eyes. [These] some­how [re­mind] me of [those of] a cobra. I have been in love with co­bras but I just don’t find it fea­si­ble for me to keep one in cap­tiv­ity. King snakes are called [thus] be­cause they are also known to eat other snakes too (although I feed mine with ro­dents). What are the best things you’ve learned about car­ing for the banana king snake, in your ex­pe­ri­ence? Do their care re­quire­ments vary from those of other snakes? Do they need a lot of at­ten­tion? Do they need a spe­cial diet? The best thing I ex­pe­ri­enced with King snakes is that they don’t have any is­sues when it comes to feed­ing. It could be quite hard to find small prey items at first (if you get a hatch­ling) but when it grows…big­ger, I can say, it’s all worth it! Their care re­quire­ments are al­most the same [as those of] other snakes. But never put—or avoid putting—two snakes in one en­clo­sure, since King snakes will and can eat the other snake. I even heard from my friends abroad that King snakes eat other ven­omous snakes too. Were there any mis­takes that you made as a be­gin­ner that you feel other be­gin­ners should learn from? When I was first got my snake years back, I made the mis­take of get­ting the snake straight from the en­clo­sure. Most snakes, es­pe­cially when [they get] used to the en­clo­sure, be­come more com­fort­able. And they usu­ally an­tic­i­pate us be­ing their food source. So when I first got ahold of the snake, it was quite ex­cited and thought I had food with me. Just like a dog wait­ing for his part­ner to give him food, all ex­cited and crazy. So the snake ended up giv­ing me a small bite in my arm. So [the] les­son is, al­ways use some­thing to pick up the snake (snake hook, tongs, or even tap them gen­tly with news­pa­per).

What are the mis­con­cep­tions about this an­i­mal that you would like to cor­rect?

Well there are plenty of mis­con­cep­tions about snakes in gen­eral. And it might prob­a­bly take me days or weeks to enu­mer­ate and ex­plain to them that snakes are ab­so­lutely harm­less, es­pe­cially when you re­spect their space and habits. One of my key prin­ci­ples is that if the snake doesn’t want or is not fit for han­dling, re­spect that. If you do, you can avoid ac­ci­dents, bites, and stress for the an­i­mal. Be­sides, snakes that are com­monly sold in the [rep­utable] pet in­dus­try are al­ready cap­tive-bred and non-ven­omous.

Can these crea­tures show af­fec­tion? How do they in­ter­act with hu­mans?

To be hon­est, I don’t think they can show af­fec­tion like mam­mals do. In all hon­esty, in my ex­pe­ri­ence, snakes doesn’t re­ally like to be han­dled but [they] can tol­er­ate han­dling. The main in­ter­ac­tion snakes have with hu­mans, in my opin­ion, is dur­ing feed­ing time. It’s the only time when snakes want some­thing from their keeper!

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