African egg eating snake care

The African Egg Eating Snake is a member of the Dasypeltis genus of colubrid snakes. It is one of only two taxonomic groups of snakes known to have adapted to feed exclusively on eggs. They are non-venomous and found throughout the continent of Africa, primarily in forested habitats that are also home to numerous species of birds.The species of this genus exhibit a wide variation in patterning and colour, from mixtures of browns and greens, to solid black. Individuals in a specific locality tend to share similar colour and pattern. They vary in size greatly, from 30-100 cm (12-39 inches) in length.Dasypeltis species tend to have a nervous disposition, and when threatened will perform what is called saw-scaling, where it will rub its scales together quickly to make a rasping noise that sounds vaguely like hissing.They are agile climbers, and have a keen sense of smell to tell whether an egg is rotten or too far developed to be comfortable to eat. They have extremely flexible jaws and necks for eating eggs much larger than their head, and have no teeth, but they do have bony protrusions on the inside edge of their spine which are used to aid in breaking the shells of eggs.The process of consuming an egg involves wrapping their mouth around it and drawing it into the throat and then flexing their muscles pushing the egg into the bony protrusions on their spine, which causes the egg to collapse in on itself. Then the snake carefully squeezes every last bit of liquid out of the inside of the egg, ending with regurgitation of the completely crushed egg shell. They are remarkably efficient, and waste very little of the contents of an egg. Egg-eaters are easy to maintain.  Start with a 20-gallon or larger terrarium with a heat pad at one end set to generate a hot spot of about 95 degrees Fahrenheit. The overall temperature of the enclosure can be held at about 70 degrees. It does get cold in some parts of the snake’s range, so a drop in temperature at night is not a huge issue, but try to keep it above 60 degrees.  Substrate can be as simple as aspen bedding or bark. Place a hide on the warm side of the terrarium for shelter.  Place another hide on the cooler side, and create a humid hide by placing damp moss beneath it.  Re-dampen as needed and throw away and replace soiled moss.  Add sticks, branches, silk or plastic plants, giving your snake places to check out and explore. Egg-eating snakes do climb a bit, and they should be given the chance to do so. A naturalistic set-up would look great, and the front-opening enclosures work well for this, plus look really nice and would enhance a living room or den. Because of the light weight and size of egg-eating snakes, live plants can be used for décor as long as they are not too delicate. Snakes tend to “trample” delicate vegatation in terrariums. Using sturdy plants and hefty branches works well. Perhaps even a small water feature could be used to enhance the enclosure’s appeal. I recommend a fluorescent light for viewing and to give this snake a day/night cycle. Make sure to have secure doors or a top, as you don’t want your egg-eater wandering off. These guys usually cruise around at night.  Diet: As its name implies, the egg-eating snake eats eggs, and only eggs. Because of their small size they can’t just eat chicken eggs, which are too large. To feed these little guys, you will need a steady supply of quail, finch, canary or other smaller birds’ eggs.  Egg-eaters prefer fresh eggs, but some will take refrigerated once the eggs have been warmed to room temperature.

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