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17.02.2014
In a few presentations on the subject of change I have made a point that change is easier if it is for something we want to do than something our employer wants us to do.
So I decided that I would commit time each week to going to Apple School and learn from the pros. One way I accomplish change is to actually say that I am going to do with it and stay with it 21 days. Note:  All schedules and approximate timing are not  related to a specific center location since they all do not open and close at the same time. Mid-Afternoon: Routines, Nap for some, Teacher-oriented activities for babies who are awake.
Private School in Montgomery County MD - Optimal Learning Schools and Centers offer programs for children from the ages of six weeks thru 12 years old. One of the questions we get asked quite often is "How do you successfully raise so many baby snakes". The article here focuses on raising hatchling cornsnakes, but apply equally well to many other colubrid species as well, such as kingsnakes, milksnakes, ratsnakes, etc. For the purposes of this article, we'll simply assume you've obtained healthy hatchlings from a reliable breeder, or better still have produced your own. There's a huge number of sources for baby snakes out there, but in general we recommend dealing directly with a breeder to obtain them.
A hint if you are building your own: Cut several spacer blocks and test them for a precise fit before assembling the shelves. We used our table saw and a dado blade to cut a simple channel perfectly sized to fit the heat cable. At proper temperatures, the heat cable will warm about a third of the wooden shelf - providing a perfectly sized 'hot-spot' for baby snakes. Once you've got it just right for the specie involved, you'll see some are at the front and some are at the rear most of the time. You'll also notice in some of the photos that our racks all have either perforated pegboard backs or simply have open backs. Frankly, we find them ideal, but with one caveat: They should only be used with very small snakes.
Over the last decade or so, frozen mice have entered the hobby on a commercial scale and quickly achieved 'mainstream' status.
But remember when using either fresh-killed or frozen-thawed that you are dealing with a complete carcass here. This is where another potential problem often arises, as there seems to be no standards for sizes amongst suppliers. Well, if your snake is really well-established, it will probably take the meal directly from your hand.
Simply grasp the prey item by the scruff of the neck in such fashion that you can easily present the nose to the baby snake. Generally, best results with feedings are obtained very early in the morning and again in the evenings or just after dark. 99% of successful reptile keeping is using common sense, and I just have to mention a few common problems that we encounter on an almost daily basis in our inquiries. First, if you are using that little round stick-on thermometer the pet store sold you, pry it off the cage wall and throw it away. Fourth, here's another point about using aquariums: That fancy screen cover you've placed on the top is also letting out all the heat. Well, thanks to all who have taken the time to read this, and I hope some of the suggestions offered here will help. This article will explain how we do it, using methods we've developed at VMS over the last twenty-plus years.
Remember, it's the concepts presented here that matter; the details can be varied a bit based on specie. Use caution when dealing over the internet, as it can be difficult to ascertain whether you are dealing with a legitimate business or simply a small breeder falsely representing themselves as such. Always have all required equipment and caging assembled before obtaining or hatching baby snakes. Thus far, we have found fault with every type we've examined and elected to construct our own.
Use these spacer blocks to hold shelves in place and insure you have a correct and uniform fit between each shelf during construction. However, these come with thermostats built in set for freezing temperatures, which must be cut away or spliced around to operate for our needs. Metallic tape (aluminum tape) is placed over the top to prevent the cable from popping out of the channel or getting rubbed by the boxes sliding overhead. Don't put too much faith in the temperature ranges found in some book or on the internet as just a few degrees can make a big difference.


Yet when I checked one of our racks in which the snakes were thermo-regulating perfectly, I got a range of 82-90.
7) how the snakes have all left the front and are now sitting on the hot-spot at the rear of the cage? I'm not talking about an alarm system, although you may want one of you have a large and valuable collection, we've had one for years now. Those small plastic boxes slipped into dark little shelves are often enough security for all but the most nervous individuals.
For our purposes here, we're going to assume you've obtained a healthy young snake, already feeding steadily on frozen-thawed mice and that you are maintaining correct environmental conditions as described above. While these could have a few problems, such as live adult ones chewing up snakes and either type potentially carrying parasites, problems were otherwise pretty non-existent. They provide the perfect solution to the irregular supply problem, and are a real convenience to all who tire of running to the local store once a week for a mouse. In fact, since their use has become wide-spread the numbers of digestive-related health inquiries we've received has increased dramatically.
Regardless of the issues, we use them here almost exclusively for our baby colubrid snakes. We're all familiar with safety precautions involving thawing chicken breasts on the kitchen counter, imagine the dangers in thawing a complete frozen chicken. Based on the numbers of inquiries we receive asking what to do about regurgitation, it's apparent that far too many keepers feed prey items that are far too large. 13), we've buried a 2oz portion cup almost flush with the surface of the bedding and placed the meal inside. Placing it directly on the hot spot will cause the meal to decompose at a startling rate of speed, with negative results on the olfactory senses of both keeper and snake.
The snake is not sitting ten inches off the ground on the back wall of the cage, so why is your thermometer stuck up there?
Most homes are simply too cool, especially in winter, and providing a proper temperature range can be near impossible in such conditions. With a hundred times the space available, it's a hundred times harder to make sure temperatures throughout are ideal. This can be especially noticeable in homes during winter, and it may be necessary to cover up some or all of the screen to prevent heat loss and achieve a safe temperature range throughout the cage. Some articles may differ from the methodology presented here, and some keepers may view it as overly simplified. While it seems simple, there are a number of features that should be examined before either building your own or buying a commercially made one. However, new rack systems appear on the market each year and presumably somebody will get it right eventually. 4) This is a prototype of a now commercially available brand often sold as 'heat rope' or similar. Heat ropes such as shown here are probably the safest bet for those not experienced at electrical wiring and safety. We get more questions about this subject than any other, and they can prove difficult to answer properly. Bear in mind that our baby snake room is heated to 76-78 in winter and 82-84 in summer, and so there are no cold spots anywhere in any cage.
We settled on these after having encountered difficulty obtaining replacements for the more specialized boxes offered by some dealers.
While we used treated municipal water for many years without problems, some keepers insist on using filtered water. Regardless of the water source, change it at least weekly if chlorinated, more frequently if not, and immediately if soiled. If not, we've prepared an entire web page on dealing with stubborn feeders, and I'm not going to cover all that again here. Anybody with some freezer space can keep every size needed for a vast array of snakes of all ages and sizes. This is mostly because customers have grown to require they be feeding on frozen and because it's, well, like I said, convenient. Not the kind neatly cleaned and sealed in the vacuum packed plastic wrapper, I mean the kind with all the guts, fresh poop in and on it, and dirty feathers all over it. At snake-room temperature, with air circulating over them, even larger food items thaw amazingly fast. Just because somebody sent you an internet photo of a Reticulated Python that ate a Donkey, it doesn't mean you should feed Donkeys to your pet snake. I can't help you with this very much, but the best suppliers offer photos of each size, along with a common item (such as a dime). For newly arrived specimens, or those that are very small, once per week is generally about right.


Better yet, just go back and review the discussion of thermoregulation above, since the snakes know more than the thermometer does.
I know you think you are giving your new pet the very best, but there's a reason the pros use those little plastic boxes in shelf rack systems - they are far easier to work with.
Take a heavy duty plastic food storage bag, cut the edges to open it flat and trim to fit as needed. It's one of the problems with doing something for so log that it becomes second nature, you just don't think to mention some things that might not be readily apparent to others. Remember, in any large-scale operation the simplest method will always prove the most effective. Too loose and tiny snakes can escape, too tight and sliding boxes in and out is impossible. I'm not going to make specific statements about it and the various equipment available, especially since we've probably never used any of the commonly available pet store equipment.
All of our rooms have exhaust fans set on timers to exhaust stale air from the rooms and draw in fresh air for an hour or so twice per day. Just be sure to shake them out before discarding a soiled piece of paper, I've had to dig more than one startled little cornsnake back out of the trash can. For Colubrid snakes, such as corns, kings, rats, and milks, feed prey items with a body diameter roughly the same size as that of the snake and you'll be OK. Once established and obviously thriving, you can pick up the pace a bit to increase growth rates. Don't just use your hand, this will not only teach your snake to bite you, but if teeth break off in your skin it can cause real problems for the snake. You can use other items as a 'dinner plate', but these little cups are small, cheap, and disposable. Each and every fall we get letters from worried keepers that 'my snake has suddenly stopped feeding'. This will also help maintain a higher humidity within the cage, which may or may not be of benefit, depending on the specie involved.
Feel free to shoot us a note if you see some of these things, or have questions, I'll go back and edit as needed.
Whether you are new to the hobby or experienced, a lot can be learned from that simple statement. Instead I'm going to show you how we've settled on doing it over the last twenty years of commercial production. When placed as shown, it also allows them to continue thermo-regulating while always enjoying the security of their hide. Well, your snake doesn't want a dirty rotting pinkie either, so use the same precautions you would with your own meal. Make changes gradually, offering food every six days for a month, then every five days for a month, than maybe even every four days.
In fact, if you thawed the food in the same area (on top of the cage cover is good), the snake will likely already be on the prowl looking for it.
Depending on the humidity requirements for your specie, and the relative humidity in your snake room, you may need to make more holes than shown here - but it's a good starting point. Keep things fresh, feed immediately after thawing, remove uneaten items after thirty minutes, and above all never ever ever feed one that's even slightly cold to the touch. Make very sure temperatures are optimal, as described above, as even slight changes can have a pronounced effect on digestion. Scent plays a key role in feeding - yet another reason to keep your hands out of the way and use forceps.
If the wait-staff doesn't cough up a couple, mention that this means you'll have to save your tip money to buy some, that usually works. Many keepers utilize shorter boxes, but this makes it easy for a panicked snake to jump out, so we've settled on this height as the best balance for our needs. It must be a tight and secure fit for them, and it must allow for thermoregulation by covering both warm and cool locations. Otherwise, many snakes will seek out a hiding spot at the expense of achieving proper body temperature. It's far better to err on the side of safety and feed smaller items less often than to risk the health of your pet.



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