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The Best Small Snake Pet? Suprise! The Brown Snake

Northern Brown Snake

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Westportchickenboy

The first wild snake I encountered as a child, on a dead-end street in the Bronx, measured a mere 10 inches long. However, it excited me as much as did the huge anacondas and pythons I visited regularly at the Bronx and Staten Island Zoos, and the American Museum of Natural History. That particular Northern Brown or DeKay’s Snake (Storeria dekayi dekayi) escaped, but you can bet I searched nonstop until I found another! Happily, this adaptable little serpent continues to hang on in the most unlikely habitats…each year I receive several in need of rehab, collected in busy Manhattan neighborhoods. This overlooked snake has much to offer reptile enthusiasts. It can be comfortably-housed in a 10 gallon tank, does not eat rodents, and it’s the young are produced alive, eliminating the hassle of egg-incubation. Brown Snakes are ideal candidates for naturalistic terrariums stocked with live plants, and when kept so they will exhibit a wider range of natural behaviors than can be expected from large snakes – it’s just far easier to provide them with all that they need. As a career herpetologist, I’ve gone on to care for and observe in the wild the same huge snakes that entranced me so long ago…yet I still maintain Brown Snakes, and watch them in my yard at every opportunity.

 

Brown Snake Description

Slender and graceful, the Brown Snake averages a mere 9-13 inches in length, although exceptionally-large individuals may reach 20 inches. The largest I recall handling measured 14.5 inches.

 

Most are clad in various shades of brown (no surprises there!) or tan, but some individuals sport an attractive reddish or yellow hue. Brown Snakes are often confused with Garter Snakes, but may be distinguished by the two lines of black spots that run along their backs.

 

Range and Habitat

The Brown Snake is one of North America’s most widespread and common snakes. The seven subspecies range from southern Canada through much of the USA through Mexico to Guatemala.

 

Northern Brown Snake

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Maberlyn

Equally at home in fields, swamps, forest edges or suburban yards, the Brown Snake’s secretive ways also allow it to survive in parks and overgrown lots in urban areas. It is often the first (and, in NYC, the only!) snake to be found and brought home by curious children.

 

In undisturbed habitats, it shelters below leaf litter, fallen logs and rocks. Big city Brown Snakes utilize old tires, boards, sheet metal and other rubbish as hiding sites, and often do very well if left alone. Not long ago, I uncovered a very dense population sandwiched between a busy commercial area and a major roadway in Queens, NYC. I was once called to a busy Bronx street to remove one that was uncovered when a stoop was being demolished. Given the nature of the area, this individual likely spent most of its life within the concrete channels of that stairway! Amazingly, I’ve also found Red-backed Salamanders living in similar situations.

 

The Terrarium

A single Brown Snake will do fine in a 10 gallon aquarium; a 20 gallon will support 2-3 adults. The tank’s screen lid should be secured by cage clips.

 

Unlike most snakes, Brown Snakes do not fare well on newspapers, or in bare enclosures. Their terrarium should instead be furnished with a mixture of a rainforest-type reptile substrate (i.e. Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding) and coco-husk; I like to add dead leaves as well. Many individuals will shelter below the substrate, but caves, bark slabs and cork bark should also be provided.

 

Pothos, Chinese Evergreens and other hardy plants, or naturalistic plastic plants, will help your snakes to feel comfortable. Once they settle in, you can expect to see a wide variety of behaviors.

 

Light, Heat and Humidity

Heat bulbs or ceramic heaters should be used to maintain an ambient temperature of 72-78 F and a basking temperature of 83-85 F.

 

Both humid and dry areas should be provided. A cave stocked with moist sphagnum moss makes an ideal moist retreat.

 

Although UVB light is not essential, some experienced keepers believe UVA exposure, and low levels of UVB, may be beneficial for other diurnal, insectivorous snakes. The Zoo Med 2.0 would be a good choice if you wish to experiment.

 

Brown Snake Breeding

Well-adjusted Brown Snakes often delight their owners by reproducing. Five to thirty young are born alive at various times from spring through fall. Measuring only 3 to 4 ½ inches in length, newborns might easily be mistaken for earthworms were it not for their alert demeanor. A short cooling off period and reduced light cycle may encourage breeding, but this does not seem essential.

 

Consuming salamander

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Bdempster

Diet

The natural diet includes earthworms, beetle grubs, slugs, caterpillars and other soft-bodied invertebrates. In some habitats, Red-Backed Salamanders and the young of other woodland species, and small or newly-transformed frogs, are taken as well (please see photo). Pets do fine on a diet of earthworms, waxworms, calci-worms and butterworms; mealworm pupae, housefly larvae, and canned silkworms are accepted by some individuals. I also collect and offer cutworms and other smooth caterpillars, beetle grubs and slugs (please see articles linked below).

 

While vertebrate prey is not needed, some believe that insectivorous snakes should be provided with calcium supplements. I’ve not found this necessary for individuals kept on a varied diet anchored with well-fed earthworms. For snakes fed a more limited diet, a once weekly dose of ZooMed Repti-Calcium, or a similar product, might be useful.

 

Brown Snakes do best when fed several small weekly meals. Allowing earthworms and other invertebrates to establish themselves in the terrarium will provide your pets with hunting opportunities, and yourself with much of interest to observe.

 

Temperament

Shy and always on guard (they are on the menus of a great many predators!) these little snakes can rarely even be induced to bite. Stressed individuals may release musk, but most take short periods of gentle handling in stride. However, they are lightly-built and are best considered as a poet to observe rather than handle frequently.

 

 

Further Reading

 

Collecting Insects for Captive Reptiles

 

Garter Snake Care

 

The 5 Best Snake Pets

65 comments

  1. avatar

    Hello Mr. Indiviglio,

    I just wanted to say that this afternoon I saw what looked to be a 16-18″ brown snake while outside walking. It seemed to have crossed the street, and was on the sidewalk when I saw it, heading for the taller grass of the lawn on my side. As I came up it dashed into the lawn where, had I not hesitated to grab it, I could have caught it. I spent quite a while looking for it but the ankle high grass ensured it’s escape. I searched up the DNR database and the only thing it could have been was a brown snake based on how it looked.

    • avatar

      Hello Alex,

      Thanks for your note….always wise to refrain from grabbing any snake until you can be absolutely certain of it’s identity. Even in places where native venomous snakes are unlikely to be encountered, there is always the possibility of an escaped venomous “pet”…thousands are kept, illegally and legally, in private collections. Where are you located?

      Brown snakes rarely cross open areas, almost never found away from cover, but I’m sure they re-locate at times; garter snakes vary greatly in color and pattern…individuals with little pattern can be misleading. They also stick to cover, however. Where are you located?

      best, Frank

      • avatar

        Hello Frank, I was hoping that you could help me. I am a teacher and three years ago we found a small northern brown snake trying to get in our building. I have always been very fond of snakes so I kept him in my classroom as a class pet for my class. We had him for three years and he flourished. My kids and I adored him. He was healthy and happy and had grown so much! This past January someone stole him. My class and I are devastated . I was wondering if by chance you know of any one who breeds and sells brown snakes or anywhere that I could get another one. Thanks so much fro your time and help!! Michelle

  2. avatar

    I am in Maryland, right on the border with Washington. I’m quite confident that it was S. dekayi unless the garter snakes here have highly unusual patterns that match most browns I’ve seen in the past.

    • avatar

      Hi Alex,

      I agree….none of the garters I had in mind live there; I didn’t realize you had seen brown snakes in the past…sounds like it was a good-sized one. Let me know what else comes your way, best, Frank

  3. avatar

    I have seven brown snakes that I found at my old house. I have had them for almost a year I was wondering how to tell males from female’s

    • avatar

      Hello Ken,

      Females are larger and thicker than males, but there’s individual variation. If you look at the undeside of the tail, you should be able to notice a difference in shape. A female’s tail will taper noticeably immediately past the cloaca; males show a gradual taper (the tail right below the cloaca is about as thick as just above the cloaca, then it tapers gradually) due to the presence of the hemipenes which are internal, and just below the cloaca. Pl let me know if this proves useful…differences can be slight. best, Frank

  4. avatar

    Frank, this is the best article about brown snakes I’ve seen on the Web. My 9-year-old son and I have been looking for information ever since he found a baby brown snake near our Pennsylvania cabin last week. He’d been hoping to catch a snake for a pet all summer, and finally got his wish the week before school started. I’d never even heard of brown snakes before, and was surprised to learn they are quite common.

    Our concern is how to get the little snake to eat. We put him in a 10 gallon terrarium this evening after he spent almost a week in a jar, hiding under a leaf. Tonight he was making laps around the perimeter of his new home, which gave us some hope, even if he was just looking for an escape route. We’ve set up the terrarium with coconut husk substrate mixed with some dead leaf and compost made from grass and leaves, a hollow lizard log to hide in, some sticks and stones, a little live sod, and a water dish. The lady at the pet store recommended an infra-red 50w light as a heat source, which we plan to keep on only during the day. My son plans to catch small earthworms and grubs tomorrow after school to add to the tank. I’m guessing the worms and slugs will head underground soon after being introduced to the terrarium.

    Will the baby snake be able to retrieve the food, and how would we even know? How many worms should we introduce to the environment, and will they subsist on the leaves and grass roots in the tank?

    The pet store associate suggested that we force feed him if he doesn’t eat in a few days, but I can’t see how we could pry open such a tiny mouth.

    Any advice for us?

    Thanks!

    Chris

    • avatar

      Hello,

      Thanks for the kind words!

      Young brown snakes can be difficult to keep, unfortunately. it will find earthworms and grubs, best to put only 1-2 in several times weekly. However, they must be very small or they will be rejected…chopped pieces of earthworm can work if thin enough. You’ll not be able to force-feed it, and if done improperly can cause food to become lodged in the trachea. remember also that you will need to have a supply of tiny insects for the winter..breeding earthworms is possible, but takes some care and work.

      It’ s not possible to recommend a particular bulb size…check temperatures and then try to set a range as described in the article…they are hardy re this..room temps fine until winter.

      Be sure to have a damp area (in cave perhaps) as well as dry areas, as they are subject to dehydration when small.

      It might be wiser to release this snake a choose a captive bred species better suited to a new snake owner..please let me know if you need more info on this,. best, Frank

    • avatar

      Hi! I have two ring-neck snakes and they eat night crawlers and baby geckos. Also, I have to brown snakes I caught yesterday. One is 8 inches and the other one is like 4 inches. They are very cute. I am giving them baby frogs and small earthworms. I just waiting for them to eat. Looks like they will adapt faster than the ring-neck snakes. I love them. I would like to buy mini waxworms to see if they like it.

      • avatar

        Hi there,

        They should take wax worms. You do not want to feed those too often because they are very high in fat. Wax worms are great for fattening up skinny animals.
        Have fun with your snakes!

        -Josh

  5. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    Three months ago I found a Dekay’s brown snake and have kept her outside in an aquarium on the porch. The care tips we have found online in general and from you in particular have helped guide us in caring for our snake Our family enjoys taking care of her and she has become a great pet. Six weeks ago she had babies which we have since put in a separate tank also outside on the porch. We live in Toronto and it is starting to get cold, I wonder how and when to make the transition from outdoors to indoors. Additionally could you please let us know what types of lights or equipment we would need as well as any care tips for the winter.

    Thanks, Jon

  6. avatar

    Frank, thanks for your advice about my son’s baby brown. I tried to gently introduce the idea of releasing the snake into the wild, but I told my son he could stay for a week while he tried to feed him. On the last day, we released a small earthworm near the snake, which turned, locked on, and then snapped up the worm, dragging it into a patch of sod where he devoured it. The next day my son did the same thing, and the snake quickly snatched the worm and dragged it into his water dish before swallowing it. Sneaky spends much more time out in the open now, usually in the grass patch. So I’m thinking that he’s becoming accustomed to his terrarium home. Now my 9-year-old is researching worm farms so he can develop a food supply for the winter. He’s wondering when it would be possible to pick up and hold his pet. He so much wants a pet that he can hold (and we have allergies to mammals). I suggested that we wait until the snake gets a little bigger before we try to handle him. What would be your recommendation?

    • avatar

      Hello Chris,

      Here’s some info on breeding earthworms

      I may adjust to handling..they vary in responses to this; easily injured, so be sure he handles gently. Some companies offer worm farms that allow one o view worms below soil..prob not ideal for breeding, but interesting. best, Frank

  7. avatar

    Thanks, Frank. Just one more question: To feed a baby brown snake for a whole winter (I’m near Washington D.C., so maybe Dec. through March), how many earthworms should my son catch? I’m thinking of the small garden worms he can find under logs or by digging in the soil, not large nightcrawlers, which are too big for his small snake. The other concern is that even garden worms are too big for this snake at this point in its development, so there would need to be a supply of young worms through reproduction in the worm farm. Is this realistic for one winter? Should we start the farming now, so that there are baby worms when we need them? Thanks again!

    • avatar

      Hello,

      They may not breed in a small worm-viewing habitat 9ant-farm type) designed for classroom use..best to set up a large group in a garbage can…I sen article link previously, I believe(?). Check pet stores and bait stores also..smaller worms, sold as red wigglers, can be cut into small sections. Wondering if blackworms, sold live for tropical fish, would be accepted?,…might try some in a jar lid. Try tiny slugs also…these can be collected, stored in frig. Best, Frank

  8. avatar

    Hi Frank I was wondering if you saw my my post to you?

    • avatar

      Hello Jon,

      I responded to a post on 8/29 (please see below)…was there another that I’ve missed? if so, please re-post, thanks, Frank
      Hello,

      Thanks for the kind words!

      Young brown snakes can be difficult to keep, unfortunately. it will find earthworms and grubs, best to put only 1-2 in several times weekly. However, they must be very small or they will be rejected…chopped pieces of earthworm can work if thin enough. You’ll not be able to force-feed it, and if done improperly can cause food to become lodged in the trachea. remember also that you will need to have a supply of tiny insects for the winter..breeding earthworms is possible, but takes some care and work.

      It’ s not possible to recommend a particular bulb size…check temperatures and then try to set a range as described in the article…they are hardy re this..room temps fine until winter.

      Be sure to have a damp area (in cave perhaps) as well as dry areas, as they are subject to dehydration when small.

      It might be wiser to release this snake a choose a captive bred species better suited to a new snake owner..please let me know if you need more info on this,. best, Frank

  9. avatar

    Hello thanks for.the blog I just found out that the snake that I found a month ago is a brown snake..in the pet store they keep selling me baby mouses but she doesn’t eat them.. now I know what to do…I will like to get the couple but im afraid to touch it and see if is a male o female is about 15″ to 20″

  10. avatar

    Can you tell us the life expectancy of the Brown snake? Also, we have a 12″ inch brown snake. How can we tell its age and what food portions to give it? Also, how do we tell if it is a male or a female? Thank you again. This site has been a joy to read through! Carol

    • avatar

      Hi Carol,

      Thanks for the kind words!

      There are few records, as they are rarely kept in zoos and not popular with private keepers; published records list 6-7 years longevity, but the age of the animals when collected was unknown. One might expect 10-15 years. Age cannot be determined by size, as growth rates vary widely …range, temperature and diet all play a role. Sex is difficult to determine w/o experience. Just below the cloaca, the female’s tail tapers very quickly. the male’s (due to the presence of the hemipenes, internally, tapers gradually in width. However, this is hard to access w/o having seen many individuals. Enjoy, Frank

  11. avatar

    Hi, I have a few questions.

    I have a young Dekay, and he/she is not big on worms, but its the only thing that I can feed it in the winter when my slugs run out. Do you have any suggestions on what I should do or a live food source?

    Also i have had this snake for about two months and it still hasn’t shed. Is that normal or should I be worried?

    • avatar

      Hi Emily,

      I’ve never known one to refuse earthworms once it gets hungry enough. You can try waxworms and calciworms as well, but I thik it will take earthworms in time. No need to worry about shedding…depends on diet, temperature, age etc…no set schedule. Watch that your nite time temps are not dropping too low..this can suppress appetite, let me know if you need anything, Frank

  12. avatar

    Frank, your advice was helpful for my son’s caring for his baby brown snake. Unfortunately, we didn’t start our worm farm in time and I think it died of starvation. My son really wants another snake and has been looking on the Internet for small snakes. He found a ringneck snake for sale but a lot of sources on the Internet seem to indicate that it’s hard to keep them alive in captivity.

    I know you said that brown snakes are the ideal small snake pet, but we can’t find any for sale and who knows if we’ll be able to catch one again in the wild, so is there a good second choice that also eats earthworms or some other readily obtainable and not-too-disgusting food (i.e., no mouse parts)?

    Thanks and merry Christmas —

    Chris

    • avatar

      Hi Chris,

      Garter snakes are ideal…they readily take adult earthworms and minnows, goldfish. Not all can be handled right away, but they generally tame down quickly,. Ring necks are tricky, best to avoid. Please see this article and let me know if you need anything, Merry Christmas, Frank

  13. avatar

    Hello!
    I’ve enjoyed reading your information, as well as everyone’s questions and the resplies. We acquired a baby northern brown snake from my husband’s job site in Canton, OH in October, he was only a few inches long, I suspect born this past fall. I have 20 years of experience with my dumerils and argentine boas, but none with colubrids, especially one accustomed to a local climate. He initially ate like a champ; he’s in a 10 gallon tank with the solid glass lid TAPED on because our cats are baaaaaad (they consumed my son’s goldfish last year, now we take no chances). I’ve been using a regular bulb for heat, and he stays around 74 during the day and falls to around 65 at night. Moss from the yard, log “house”, dead leaves, water bowl (though he drinks condensation off the sides of the tank)… He was super active and eating well. He shed twice, and has not wanted to eat since the second shed. He shows no interest in anything I put in there. He also seems a lot less active. Do they naturally try to hibernate their first year? Or is there something I have overlooked?
    Thanks so much!!!!!!!!!!

    • avatar

      Hi,

      Thanks for the kind words. Internal/circadian rhythms control some species, so that they may not feed even if kept warm…brown snakes usually will feed, however, The cool temps are likely inhibiting feeding…best to have a basking site in low 80’s, or a higher ambient (74-78); 65 may be ok at night if it can warm up in day, or you can warm at night with a heat pad, ceramic heater of black night light. Let me know if you need anything, best, Frank

  14. avatar

    Thank you! I guess we’ll get a regular mesh lid then and get him a CHE. I had assumed that since he is native to Ohio that he would not need higher temps. I guess he’s no different than the more tropical boas! So much easier to care for the BIGGER guys, I’m so afraid of him getting out! He’s early invisible IN his enclosure, I can’t imagine if he escapes (cats would ensure we’d never find him)!
    Thanks again! I’ll heat him up 🙂

    • avatar

      Hi…I meant to mention the lid…mesh is preferable to avoid overly-damp conditions (although a moist area in the tank is needed). Good quality cage clamps will keep the lid secure. They can take cooler temps than tropical species, but for digestion, normal activity need to warm up each day. Happy, healthy New Year, Frank

  15. avatar

    Hi !

    good explanation !

    I would like to know the frequency of feeding and the number of worm please.

    Thank you

    Bye

    • avatar

      Hello,

      Thanks for the kind words.

      Food intake is influenced by snake’s age, temperature and other factors, but for an adult 2-3 earthworms weekly would be about average. Let me know if you need more info, Frank

  16. avatar

    sorry for the duplicate !

    Ok thank you for your answer !
    and how it is a young?

  17. avatar

    Thank you Frank for your rapidity !

    Should I give all worms (2-3) to the same time?

    sorry for my english I’m french.

    Charlotte

    • avatar

      My pleasure, Charlotte.

      Best to split the feedings into 2-3 per week. These and similar snakes have faster metobolisms than the common rodent-eating species.

      Try to add some of the other foods mentioned, but earthworms are best as the staple of the diet.

      I’m surprised to hear that this snake is available in France…is it commonly sold there?

      Best, Frank

  18. avatar

    There is an importer in France, but these snakes are very rare!
    Unfortunately, the majority are WC

    What else can I give alliment in captivity? (other than earthworms)

    Sorry if you already answered these questions

    Charlotte

    • avatar

      Hello Charlotte,

      Very interesting to know…I would not have guessed they were exported to Europe.

      They bear live young, so perhaps you or someone will begin breeding…
      Please see the foods mentioned under “Diet”…the first group can be purchased online in the USA, some in Europe also. The second group, slugs etc, may be collected from pesticide-free areas.

      If earthworms form the bulk of the diet, it’s a good idea to feed the earthworms for awhile to improve their nutritional value (please see here) and to use a Calcium and a vitmin/mineral supplement once weekly.

      Please keep me posted, Frank

  19. avatar

    Thank you for your answers!
    Yes I would like to breed a couple to have some NC France.

    I fell in love with this species.

    • avatar

      My pleasure.

      Great to hear of your interest. They are not kept in the US at all, despite being very interesting and still common – I can even find them in Manhattan! Enjoy and pl keep me posted. frank

  20. avatar

    Could this be the Australian brown snake that is being imported into France? It is very difficult to find the American brown snake sold even in the USA …

    • avatar

      Hi Chris,

      Let’s hope not! Actually, Australia is very adept at regulating the trade, would be next to impossible..hard even for zoos to obtain certain species.

      I was surprised as well, but I have seen this with other common species that are ignored here….importer elsewhere asks for inexpensive, unprotected species, and they sometimes catch on…happened with leopard frogs in Taiwan many years ago. best, Frank

  21. avatar

    It is indeed Storeria dekayi from the USA.

    I have other snakes not widespread in Europe as coluber constrictor sp.
    a specialty store any snakes from usa.

    Charlotte

  22. avatar

    sorry the first comment is in French you can remove

    This store also sells the species you show me.

    I give you the link :

    http://www.lftshop.com/autres-colubrides,fr,3,30.cfm

    I have a few questions:

    it must be sized terrarium?
    I do not know the measure “gallon”

    should I earthworms to the clip?

    Thank you,

    Charlotte

    • avatar

      If tanks are sold by volume, a 40 liter would be fine…more room allows more plants, additional animals. Even a bit smaller would do. Generally, you want a space that is at least 2x the snake’s length and width, but there are variables.

      Sorry, what question do you have re earthworms – size? Please let me know when you have a moment. Best, Frank

  23. avatar

    I want to know whether to cut earthworms or give them whole.

    And I have another question (sorry for bothering you)

    Young Storeria also eat earthworms?
    Are they not too small to eat worms?

    • avatar

      Please write in as often as you wish…no one listens to me when I promote this species as an interesting pet!

      They can swallow a worm about the width of the head, maybe 1/4 length of body…not too critical but they do not take huge meals that show bulges in the abdomen as with rodent-eaters. Single small worm better, nutrition-wise, than cut worms, but nightcrawlers and other large species must be cut.

      You can breed earthworms if you wish; most prefer cool temps but some are heat tolerant. Please see here.

      Breeding will provide tiny ones for young. They will also take cut worms. Silkworms may be available online – small to large sizes sold; not all will accept but worth trying if possible to vary diet; hatchlings great for young snakes.

      Please keep me posted, frank

  24. avatar

    Dekays Brown’s really are awesome. They can be trained to eat almost any animal matter except foul tasting and smelling kinds which are normally poisonous. I have had mine for 3 years and it will now except a piece of raw chicken,earthworm,mouse,slug or just about any thing I offer it by hand. But as far as getting a wild snake to eat, females are much easier and a lot less picky normally that is.

  25. avatar

    I’ll let you know about these snakes.
    I adopted a couple of Storeria dakayi victa (WC), with the advice of Frank Indiviglio.

    My male is much more curious than the female, but both are beautiful.

    thank you again for your help.

    I can send you pictures of my couple if you wish to have more guidance from you.

    Charlotte

  26. avatar

    The female is mature and the youngest male.
    It is much smaller than the female.

    They are each in a terrarium 45x45x45cm (separate)

    I keep them at a temperature of 73 F (ambient) and 84 F (max. Hot point)

    They are fed earthworms.
    I puts calcium once a week.
    (I feed my worms also occasionally with some calcium on vegetables)
    I intend to try snails (I have found small sold without shell).

    Earthworm how (or other) would you advise me to give?
    Should I give all 3 days? (one or two worms at once?)

    Regards,

    charlotte

  27. avatar

    I live in northeast NJ and have just rescued what I believe to be a baby Northern Brown snake from my basement. I won’t be able to keep him (or her) and need help finding somewhere that I can take it. It’s mid-March and we are still having high 20’s/low 30’s at night so I’m afraid it wouldn’t survive. FYI, over the past several years I have begun to see more and more Northern Browns on my property in Kearny.
    Can you help me and my little friend?

    • avatar

      Hello Henry,

      Good to hear they are doing well there…I find them when out with my nephew in Tenafly/Bogota area as well.

      It will probably do fine a typical basement temperatures until the end of the month, at which time they are usually active outdoors. It can be kept in any sort of ventilated container..plastic shoe box sized storage box, etc, with dead leaf litter and a jar lid of water. spray 1 x daily with water, No food needed.

      Or you can check online for a local wildlife rehabilitator..i do not have contacts there, but someone will likely be able to take it from you. NJ Fish/Game dept will alos have a rehabber list. Best, frank

  28. avatar

    This is a very long long shot, but nevertheless…

    My coworkers and I have a pet office brown snake (not out of place, considering where we work), who has escaped! After he’d being missing for a week, we’d feared we lost him until discovering him this afternoon behind a toilet in the bathroom down the hall. In trying to recapture him, we ended up driving him to hide in a hole under the base of the toilet. Whoops. So now we’ve got a snake in the bathroom and we’re not sure what to do. Our goal is to get him back in one piece, and probably let him go free as we all feel bad for him now. 🙂 We can’t close off the bathroom, nor monitor it full time. We’re nervous that maintenance or a visitor will discover the snake before we can recapture him, and things will end poorly all around.

    Is there a super attractive food that might lure a nervous snake out from hiding, do you think? Or some other way we can cox him out of his hidey hole? I assume this is a futile task–either he’ll come back out at a time when we can spot him and grab him or he won’t–but just in case.

    • avatar

      Hi Julia,

      Generally with escaped snakes it’s as you suspect…you need to get lucky. But you can try a minnow trap baited with earthworms..we use this in the field for other species. Let me know how all goes frank

  29. avatar

    Thanks for the tip! I’ll look into seeing if I can get my hands on a minnow trap. Will let you know what the result is.

    PS: Don’t tell my boss, who pays me to copy edit and write things, that instead of working I lost a snake then posted on a blog looking for help and in doing so misspelled coax! Makes me cringe just to read it. Hah!

  30. avatar

    Well, we got lucky! Our guy was caught skulking outside of his new toilet home early Thursday morning, and we were able to get him back into his tank. He spent the night there (with multiple weights on the lid to make sure he stayed put), clearly jonesing to get out. Yesterday we found him a nice spot of woods to live in and set him free to live out the rest of his snakey days. He was a great little office pet, and a wonderful ambassador. I hope he’s got plenty of worms to eat and holes to hang out in for a long time yet.

  31. avatar

    Hi, Frank. My son found a baby brown snake last summer and it died before we were able to get an adequate worm supply. He’s been wanting another pet snake, and today his friend across the street found a baby snake in his house. I’ve posted a photo at the website link above, and also here:

    https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/115620816511135743331/albums/6150320621108502289/6150321270081117698?pid=6150321270081117698&oid=115620816511135743331

    Is this also a brown snake, or is it perhaps a baby garter snake, or even something else?

    Thanks —

    Chris

  32. avatar

    Fantastic article and information Frank. I cant believe that more snake keepers do not keep the Dekay Snake. I have been finding several in my yard here in Michigan lately and I have alot of slugs because I see them at night while collecting nightcrawlers to feed my fish…I use no pesticides or fertilizers on my lawn. I found a 10 inch or so female today which looks to be either feeding well or pregnant…are the Dekay insectivorious as well? Will a adult eat crickets at all or mainly worms and slugs? Thanks in advance.

    • avatar

      Hello Shane ,

      Thanks for the kind words!

      Most do not accept crickets, preferring worms, slugs, beetle grubs, smooth caterpillars, but the occasional individual will. They give birth to live young…very interesting to see the little ones. Please keep me posted, enjoy, frank.

About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.
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