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Housing snakes together - my very, very long opinion
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Old 01-12-2005, 04:19 PM   #1
kathylove
Housing snakes together - my very, very long opinion

I see that this subject has been discussed here A LOT lately, with lots of opinions and experiences that have supported both sides of the question. A number of members have privately emailed to me and asked me to post my opinion over the past few weeks, so here it is, and very long winded it will be, lol! Sorry for the length, but it seems such an active subject that I want to say everything I have to say at one time.

I generally do not house babies or adults together myself, but might consider doing so under certain conditions. I have colony bred Sinaloan milks in the past with good luck. And I have kept partial litters of baby corns together until their first meal, since that is when the most problems, stress or cannibalism, are likely to start. I have had at least 2 occasions since 1985 when a baby corn did eat another, even though they had never fed on anything before. Both cases were bloodreds, but I don't know if that means anything.

I am going to post 2 relevant FAQs that I email to those who write asking for advice (I have written a number of them on commonly asked questions). They are long and are meant for those who have little experience and need help getting started. Those who are already experienced don't really need to read them, as they will already have heard enough to make up their own minds on whether the risk justifies the benefits. Some will agree with me, and some not. But they are my opinons based on my experiences. So here it is, for what it is worth:

FAQ - housing together

Please DO NOT keep babies (or any newly obtained corns) together! Although some people have done it successfully, many more have had a lot of problems. If you have to keep some together, do it with the well established corns that have been in your collection for a long time. The babies are already under stress with new homes, travel, and just generally growing up. Please don't add to the stress anymore than you have to. Cannibalism is possible, although not likely. More likely problems include: going off feed, regurge, passing disease, early pregnancy, etc.

It is a much better idea to get a bunch of little plastic shoeboxes or "critter keeper" type terrariums and stack them on top of, or next to, each other. After you have had the snakes for AT LEAST 3 or 4 months and have gotten to know them individually, you could try combining some of the best feeding, best growing ones in groups of two per cage.(be sure to separate while feeding, and for 1/2 hour afterwards) There will always be differences in feeding habits, timidity, etc. Some animals are more prone to stress than others. You won't know which ones at first, but after a few months you will know. Be ready to separate them at the first sign of one going off feed, regurging, behaving unusually, etc. They may look happy all curled up together, but that doesn't mean they aren't stressing out. This may, or may not work out for the individuals in your colony.

The reason I keep referring to babies is because that is what most people buy from a breeder. But the same would be true of newly acquired yearlings or adults - they would also be new and suffering from the stress of travel and adjusting to a new home. Any new animals should be quarantined and their habits observed for a 2 - 4 months anyway. I would not suggest that you put two (or more) together unless they have both been in your collection for at least a few months and are approximately the same size.

If you follow these instructions, you will often be able to EVENTUALLY keep 2 or 3 together once they are well acclimated. Just depends if you get a shy one. The more you keep in one cage, the more likely complications will occur (as mentioned above, going off feed, regurge, passing disease, etc.) You have to decide if the risk outweighs the benefit in your case.

Please feel free to call if I can answer any other questions for you.

Good luck!
Kathy Love

FAQ - Success in "going against the usual advice"

Although it is easier to be successful following the usual advice, such as keeping them separately and feeding frozen/thawed rodents, there are many who are successful doing the exact opposite. To those who are very careful and doing everything right while going against the norms - you can't argue with success! Even though it is more difficult to keep track of things with two or more together (and often, but not always, more stressful for the corns and can result in early pregnancy and other problems), it doesn't mean it can't be done. There are added precautions to be taken as well as added risks. It is not usually worth the added effort or additional slight risk for most people, but that is something that each person has to decide for themselves. The main problem is that it is usually beginners with new babies who want to try it - just asking for more problems than they might already have. I can tell you that even though I consider myself pretty experienced in corns, if I start working with a totally new species, I will follow the generally accepted advice with that species while gaining experience. Only when I feel I have some success with that species will I start to tinker with the accepted "recipe for success" that has already been established. On the other hand, nothing new would ever be learned if some people didn't experiment, keep records, and report their success and failures.

On the subject of risk, we do risky things every day and have to judge the risk vs. the benefits. The most dangerous thing IMHO is probably shipping them, although if done properly it is not terribly risky. In carefully controlled circumstances, I feel that housing together and feeding live rodents can be a lot less risky than shipping and other risky things we do (such as driving to work!). But please do not construe this as an invitation for beginners to throw all of their newly acquired corns together in a bin with a bunch of live rats!

Some experienced keepers offering advice get into the "never" or "always" do or don't this or that. But I go more for "usually" something works better than another thing . But each circumstance is different. Keepers who have a little experience and actually think about the likely consequences of what they are doing (and how to deal with them) can often successfully do things that beginners or "non-thinkers" will do haphazardly and unsuccessfully. Listen to all good advice, and then make your own informed decision based on your own circumstances and judgment.

Good luck!
Kathy Love
 
Old 01-12-2005, 04:26 PM   #2
howiet4702
Kathy,

This has been tossed around A LOT lately. Thank you for taking time to post your opinion on this sticky issue.

BTW, The snow corn I emailed you about is doing much better....I couple of small feedings with no regurges! (keeping fingers crossed)
 
Old 01-12-2005, 04:35 PM   #3
kathylove
Great! Good nursing care (and sometimes Nutri Bac) often are the only way to get over such a problem.

Good luck!
 
Old 01-12-2005, 05:14 PM   #4
Mangrove
Talking

wow very cool i have read your manual on how to own a cornsnake a thousand times... very cool to see you type on this forum... well nice to finally talk to you.
 
Old 01-12-2005, 08:11 PM   #5
Quigs
Did you read the post Mangrove? Or were you too star struck? It goes against everything Cornman is saying and everything you are agreeing with.
 
Old 01-12-2005, 08:18 PM   #6
Spirit
Thanks so much for this thread, Kathy. There's been a lot of talk around here lately about housing two together (I swear no one takes the time to do a search).

It may be Kathy's opinion, but it's one I (for one) trust. This thread should be sticky, in my opinion.
 
Old 01-13-2005, 06:07 AM   #7
Kel
Quote:
goes against everything Cornman is saying
How, Quigs?

Quote:
you will often be able to EVENTUALLY keep 2 or 3 together once they are well acclimated
Doesn't that support the view that if you're careful, you can keep them together successfully? Which I think is what Cornman has said.
 
Old 01-13-2005, 06:31 AM   #8
cornman1979
You got their before i did Kel.

I was going to ask Quigs if he can read and understand?
 
Old 01-13-2005, 08:37 AM   #9
cka
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathylove

Some experienced keepers offering advice get into the "never" or "always" do or don't this or that. But I go more for "usually" something works better than another thing . But each circumstance is different. Keepers who have a little experience and actually think about the likely consequences of what they are doing (and how to deal with them) can often successfully do things that beginners or "non-thinkers" will do haphazardly and unsuccessfully. Listen to all good advice, and then make your own informed decision based on your own circumstances and judgment.

Good luck!
Kathy Love
...and I thought i was the master of the "probably, you should or could, IMHO", etc...Corns are far and away the best snake to "experiment" with....feeding in the enclosure/out of the enclosure, housing separate or together, Okeetee phase vs. Okeetee locality (had to throw this one in )....Don't be afraid to try something a little against the grain in the interest of finding out what works for you...And when someone drops a thread to talk about it or question it don't jump right in to smash it just because it goes against the Edicts of the Troika...what works for them may not work for you, and they'll be the first to go "well, I usually do this ..." peace folks
 
Old 01-13-2005, 09:28 AM   #10
JM :o)
Recently someone who was purchasing two of my babies asked me if she could keep them together~

I told her if she absolutely insisted on keeping them together~ to wait until they were older as it seems to me that adults are not as oppurtunistic in thier feeding habits as babies are. This makes sence as smaller prey items are more difficult to find and overcome~

I like that answer. Makes sense to me~ not sure how I came up with it~ I probably read it somewhere.
 

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