at Sun Mar 7 18:09:48 2010 [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by Carmichael ]
Mike brings up some good points...the key is stress management with this species. We currently keep several that we have raised from hatchlings and as Mike said, they all have their own personalities. A few other keys I have found that are helpful include:
1) Providing a large enough cage that promotes good activity levels. Our kings are in cages that measure 12 feet wide x 3 feet deep x 5 feet high...they'll use every square inch including large and sturdy tree stumps, raised basking ledges, etc.
2) Enrichment: this is something typically relegated to mammals in zoo settings but we have found that our kings really enjoy (I know,anthropomorphizing) some new stimuli in their exhibits every now and then. We'll put a big pile of dead leaves in their cage, or, put several live plants...they'll spend hours go in and out of them which is really neat to see. Mike hit an important point in feeding new snakes rigt near their hide areas. Once they acclimate, you can hide food in different areas of their cage and they'll go bonkers looking for food which promotes physical activity and inquisitiveness.
3) Consistency: these are such intelligent creatures so having some level of consistency in how they are managed is important.
4) Humidity: we try to keep relatively high ambient humidity levels but never letting the substrate get wet/moist or even damp.
5) To get my kings used to me I put a sweaty shirt after a workout in their cage to get them used to my scent; another method that is oftentimes laughed at but it does help when you have to interact with your kings on a regular basis. There's a level of familiarity that is important in my opinion.
Rob Carmichael, Curator
The Wildlife Discovery Center
>>The key w/ kings is lack of stress. The first month of me having them consisted of fresh water and proper temps,no interaction whatsoever. The Kings had a very secure hide box and were not offered food.After this time period,they seem to get whats going on and their stress level is very low. Then the feeding begins..everything f/t for parasite purposes, and the food item was always placed right at the entrance of the hide box. This is so the site and smell is right there and the kings doesn't have to leave the security of the the box in order to get the meal. After this for a little bit it snowballs into a consistent routine and they will take the food off of tongs in no time..haha(not always). Now,getting them to eat different item like rodents is a WHOLE other ballgame which took a lot of time and trail and error to figure it out..
>>and of course all snakes and situations are different...this is the stuff that seemed to help me.
>>glad you guys enjoyed the pics,too
Rob Carmichael, Curator
The Wildlife Discovery Center at Elawa Farm
Lake Forest, IL
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