These small green snakes are named for their colour. Native to North America both rough and smooth green snakes are closely related, though rough green snakes are seen more often than smooth green snakes in the pet trade. Here we have a look at the overview of the rough and smooth green snakes and what they are like as pets.
These timid and shy snakes are a fantastic emerald green shade, usually sporting a pale yellow or cream-coloured underside. It is said that they take on a bluish shade when excited. When threatened they secrete a potent oil from their vent glands and although not poisonous, these snakes can bite – usually as a last resort. They can grow to 2 meters in length, but most often are seen between 1 – 1.5 meters. These snakes can be reluctant feeders and are not recommended for first time snake owners, they can get very stressed from handling and are better observed than handled.
While these little snakes do not need huge acres of space, you will need to make sure you provide them with a tank that has height to allow them space to climb. Think about looking at 30-gallon tanks, as it will provide your snake with enough space for greenery as well as places for them to hide. These peaceful little snakes can be kept in groups, but you must make sure to use tight mesh that is super fine as with their thin bodies, they are susceptible to escaping if they can find a gap.
You must make sure your green snake has enough greenery to hide in, as they would do in their natural environment, as they can tend to get stressed. Nontoxic plants such as ivy and pothos are ideal as green snakes are small enough to hide in them. You can also use silk plants as well. The greenery you provide your green snake should fill at least one third of their tank. Make sure you’ve got some hide boxes for them and vines and branches so they can climb.
The temperature gradient for green snakes can vary a little depending on what reference you’re using. These tend to be around the 21 – 27 °C mark and at night the temperature can be allowed to drop to 18 – 24 °C. Make sure you provide your green snake with an overhead heat source. If you are using a heat bulb make sure you use a white light for the daytime and a red, blue or purple light at night. It’s said a ceramic heat emitter is the best option here. You can supplement the overhead heat source for a heat mat though you must make sure your snake cannot sit directly on the glass as thermal burns may result from it. Green snakes should have a UVA/UVB bulb on for 10-12 hours daily.
These snakes’ diet is insects – crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars, spiders and beetles. Unlike many snakes, the green snake is one of the few species that are insectivores. In captivity, it is possible to feed them mainly crickets but if you decide to go ahead and get a green snake keep in mind that they need a diet that is somewhat varied. You can add in a spider, grasshopper, moths and earthworms as much as you can.
As with all prey, whatever you decide to feed your green snake, it will need to be gut-loaded. You can buy supplements to feed them, make sure it’s around 24+ hours before you feed them to your green snake. You will also need to calcium dust the feed at least a few times a week.
Mealworms can be fed to your green snake, but it is important to not do this too regularly as their exoskeletons may pose a risk of impaction, you can pick freshly molted ones to lessen the chance of this happening. Waxworms can be offered every now and then as well. As the general guide to snakes, don’t feed them anything wider than their body.
Provide your snake with a shallow dish of water to prevent drowning but to also provide your snake a place for them to soak. It has been noted that green snakes seem to prefer drinking water from droplets on leaves, so make sure you mist their greenery to provide them the choice and options of how and where to hydrate themselves.
Green snakes – smooth and rough – are prone to respiratory and fungal infections, one of the signs of this is open-mouthed breathing and/or wheezing and discolouration of the skin and fungal infections. Mouth rot is also common in green snakes, this mouth infection causes bubbling saliva and an inflamed mouth. If left, mouth rot can reach the bone and may cause your snakes teeth to fall out.
If you suspect your snake has any of these issues, or any other health concerns, take them to a reptile veterinarian to get checked out.