Daniella Dos Santos said she has seen a large number of pet snakes with obesity issues whilst working as a small animal and exotics vet, and that this can be caused by a lack of space to exercise coupled with overfeeding.
Her concerns chime with a recent BVA survey of the profession which showed that vets estimated that half (47%) of exotic pets brought into their practice were not having their five animal welfare needs met.
The need for a suitable environment was the most common with 89% saying that this was the most common need that was lacking.
Dos Santos said: “Obesity in pet snakes can have a serious impact on their health and welfare, including leading to issues such as liver problems. The ‘perfect’ size of a snake enclosure will depend on the species but all pet snakes should have enough space to roam as well as a place to hide. They also really benefit from enclosures with appropriate enrichment.”
“Getting the diet right for a pet snake is essential in making sure that they are healthy, as well as ensuring an appropriate environment is provided. It is worth bearing in mind that most types of common captive snakes can live to a minimum of 15 years.
She added: “The royal python can live up to 30 years and the corn snake, 20 years, so keeping them as pets is a long-term commitment.
“I would urge anyone considering getting an exotic pet of any kind to really do their research around the animal’s needs and think carefully about whether they can realistically provide for these. Your vet will be happy to help if you have any questions.”