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How to Care for a Pet Rattlesnake

| Updated November 01, 2017


  • Don't consider a rattlesnake as a pet unless you have adequate space and knowledge of the species. Avoid keeping a rattlesnake as a pet if children, elderly or disabled people live in your house. Don't play games with the snake, knock on the cage or even take it out of the tank except to clean or transport it.

How to Care for a Pet Rattlesnake. Snakes have gained in popularity in recent years as exotic pets. Many pet owners keep pythons as pets, but relatively few people harbor the gumption to adopt a rattlesnake as a household reptile. If you're one of the hardy ones considering keeping a pet rattlesnake, think about the following points carefully before bringing this dangerous reptile into your home.

Keep it legal. Some states, like Arizona, outlaw rattlesnakes as household pets. Check with your local pet store owner or state statutes regarding exotic pets. Laws pertaining to exotic pets change from time to time, so obtain the latest information.

Secure your pet rattlesnake. Even a harmless, non poisonous snake can strike fear into the hearts of many people if it escapes from its cage, so imagine what a rattlesnake will do to one's blood pressure. Keep your rattlesnake in an enclosed case with the top tightly closed. Of course, you'll need sufficient holes to let the snake breathe, but be certain there's no space for it to crawl onto the floor or walls.

Allow your pet rattlesnake plenty of space. Even though venomous snakes can stay perfectly still for hours at a time, it's best to house them in a large glass aquarium and keep them in a garage or separate housing unit away from your main residence.

Use a shiftbox to secure your snake when you need to clean the cage. A shiftbox is a sturdy box with a front door that you lock from the outside. You'll need to coerce the snake into the shiftbox and lock it securely before cleaning the rattlesnake tank or moving it.

Feed your rattlesnake pre-killed rodents. Rattlesnakes eat mice, small rabbits and occasionally insects. While rattlesnakes can easily kill live prey, feeding them frozen, pre-killed mice or rodents prevents a lot of thrashing about in their enclosures and gives you peace of mind. Watch the rattlesnake at feeding time to ensure that mealtime goes smoothly.