It’s no surprise that some of us are Snake lovers. The mystery and charm of Snakes is well documented, starting with the original Snake in the Bible. However, it may not be a good idea to have Constrictors as home companions (and even more so emotional support animals), not because they are evil, but because they are highly specialized animals.
Constrictors are a specialized sort of Snake: They are nonvenomous (they don’t have fangs that inject poison), and they use constriction, a method of squeezing their prey to induce death.
PRESSURED TO DIE
Scientists thought that Constrictors suffocate their prey, but recent studies show this isn’t the case. Their prey succumbs more to uneven blood pressure (leading to cardiac arrest) than to having the air squeezed out of their lungs, as reported in a 2015 article by Jason Bittel for National Geographic.
One major hurdle to adopting a Constrictor here in the Philippines is that special permits or licenses are needed across the whole process.
Retailers must have express authorization to transact in rehoming Constrictors – or any other Snakes and wildlife – from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Animal retailers should also have a Wildlife Farm Permit. This ensures that you won’t violate the law when you adopt a Constrictor from them.
As the Constrictor’s companion, you also have to inform and register with the DENR so that you can acquire the proper permits. Think of it as an adoption process. If you’re willing to go through all the legalities to take your Constrictor home, then congratulations! You are definitely the right sort of person to be part of a Constrictor’s family.
Aside from the processes you’ll have to go through to legally adopt a constrictor, there are other difficulties. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals outlines the many issues one will run into with Constrictors.
CRUELTY BEING COMMON
Even if you will be a gentle and caring companion, the Constrictor may already be traumatized or affected by what they went through while staying with retailers and traders. Living conditions in shops and farms are usually lacking when it comes to the personal touch, treating Constrictors as products.
NEED FOR PROPER CARE
Constrictors – and Snakes in general – have many needs when in a domestic setting, so even Constrictors who are easy to handle need close observation and care from their human companions.
NOT FOR THE TOUCHY-FEELY
By nature, Snakes are sensitive to being handled and touched. They get stressed when this happens, even with humans they are familiar with.
Snakes are carnivores. Acquiring the food they need to survive might make you engage in cruel animal trade unless there are many small animals you can catch in your immediate area.
Before even considering a Snake as a companion, you should find out if you have medical support available in your area, in case the Snake is (or might get) sick. This also means that you should be prepared to have Snake-related health issues happening to you!
One should remember that Snakes – in this case, Constrictors – are considered wildlife. They will have difficulty adapting to a human home. They aren’t domesticated or used to the company of humans. They have not had the chance to evolve as human companions in the way Cats and Dogs have.
If you are fascinated or really, seriously wish to have a Constrictor as a home companion, try to think twice, even thrice about it. It will be a serious investment in time, money, and attention.
THE CONSTRICTOR FOR YOU
When it comes to Constrictors who are relatively easy to care for, two kinds come to mind, according to Adrienne Kruzer’s 2021 article for The Spruce Pets.
CORN/ RAT SNAKES
Corn Snakes, also known as Rat Snakes, are gentle companions. They are docile, responding well to proper handling. They come in an array of colors and are quiet and clean. They don’t need much attention and only need to be fed once a week or so, depending on their size.
Aside from a well-secured terrarium or aquarium (so they won’t be able to wander off), they also need heat and light sources, along with proper ground substrate that can be regularly replaced or cleaned. You should also make space in the freezer for their food, which are pre-killed smaller animals.
Ball Pythons are larger than Rat Snakes, and they can live longer – decades, in fact. They may not be a good fit if you have young children around, as they are too heavy to be handled by them. They come in many colors, so if a Ball Python is your thing, go for it.
THE BEST REPTILIAN COMPANIONS
Here are some of the best options for Reptilian companionship aside from Constrictor Snakes, according to a 2022 article by PetAssure.
These deliberate animals are absolutely the best when you’re looking for cute, low-maintenance, and quiet companionship. But first things first, you should have some space for them, and they thrive best in large enclosures, preferably outdoors. They need fiber in their diet, as well as proper levels of calcium and phosphorus.
They have long lives – about 50 to 100 years – so be prepared to have them as lifetime companions. [Before adopting a Tortoise, ensure that there is a secondary guardian — ideally younger than you — in case they outlive you, which is a likely possibility. – Ed.]
Some Geckos are perfect for people who are new to having Reptilian companions (it’s best to check with your trusted friends what kind of Gecko is best for you).
Like Tortoises, they tend to be quiet. They also don’t have a strong smell. Terrariums work best for their homes, about 10 gallons per gecko. Your Gecko’s home should have proper light and heat sources, a hideaway structure, some soil and gravel components to cover the bottom of the cage, and feeding and water containers.
Geckos usually feed on live Insects and need a source of calcium. It’s best to read up on what food is best for your Gecko’s species.
Bearded Dragons are similar to Geckos but can be handled by younger children while being of the size that can be kept in a regular aquarium or terrarium.
They do, however, present a challenge in terms of their home’s environment, as they require just the right light and heat source parameters, with proper hydration. They also need to have their habitats cleaned regularly.
They enjoy human interaction at times but are usually perfectly happy basking under their heat and light sources.
SNAKES ON THE *$@#8^ PLANE!
Snakes – Constrictors among them – are always in pop culture. Yes, they have been used more as objects of horror, or as evil creatures, but there’s no denying that they have a certain charm that people find fascinating.
Here are some pop culture moments involving Snakes.
ARE CHILDREN SAFE AROUND CONSTRICTORS?
When the question comes up about children being safe around Constrictors, the general answer is that it depends on the size of the Constrictor. While many Constrictors are usually adopted when they are around 12 to 18 inches long, adults can potentially be as long as 6 to 14 feet in length.
It’s common sense that smaller children will be in danger if the Constrictor’s perception and behavioral patterns leads it to consider a child as a possible food source, regardless of whether they are a home companion or not. That’s because once a Constrictor becomes larger, smaller children will find it harder to prevent the Constrictor’s body from wrapping around their limbs or their bodies. Worse, some Constrictors do bite when mishandled, and this can lead to painful wounds.
Word of advice: If you have children, it is best not to adopt a Constrictor as a home companion or family member. Children and Constrictors don’t usually mix.