A Petco Sales clerk in the Plastow N.H. store identified herself as a "snake expert" and gave us bogus information resulting in the death of our beloved snake.
This past September, while mowing our yard in North East MA, we discoverd a tiny baby red & white striped snake with red eyes. The red and white colors were very bright. We caught the snake, were conserned for its safety and wanted to find out what kind of snake we had. We got on the net, narrowed it down to pictures of a few species it might be and tried to educate ourselves to make a good decision on what to do with. We followed up with a call to our neighborhood "Petco" up in Plastow, N.H. to see what insight they might be able to share.The Petco employee that anwered our call said "Bring it in...I know all about snakes. I can tell you for sure what you have." We headed up to Plastow, showed her our snake, and she said right away..."That's a cornsake...an Albino cornsnake. It is not native to this area (New England), and would not have survived if you had not captured it." She said "it's already got food in its belly (showed us a tiny brown speck in the lower belly area) and went on to say that it will be easy to care for our new little boy snake, they are very hardy and should be a wonderful pet for years.

She said our corn snake would survive on crickets and meal worms until it got big enough for pinkies. She gave us two large pinkies just in case, but if it doesn't eat them not to worry. She said the crickets and meal worms sprinkled with calcium powder should sustain it until it reaches at least 9 inches in length, or if it hasn't eaten at all in about a month or two, we should bring it back in, but there is really nothing to worry about.

"I know snakes. This is definatly a cornsnake."
While convincing us, she set us up with an aquarium with all the accessories, including a basking light, under tank heater and night time heating bulb. Based on all her recommendations, we spent over $100 on snake stuff by the time we walked out of there. It was our son's 12th birthday this week, and he said this would be his one and only birthday present. Feeling good about our new baby "Albino Corn Snake", our son named him Curly and we all got quite attached to him.

After a month, it was hard to tell if our snake was eating or not, so we went back to Petco for more assistance. She gave us more crickets and said to discontinue the meal worms.
Up until this past week, Curly seemed fine and the cricket count in his aquarium would gradually diminish. The Petco lady said this is normal, they feed at night while we sleep.
This past week, our beloved Curly became listless, so we took him to another store "Zoo Creatures" for a second opinion. They immediatly identified Curly as a female Albino Eastern Milk Snake, dangerously malnurished, dehydrated, it's doubtbul that she has EVER eaten and will probably die. They asked us to leave her there yesterday for emergency care, and today she is dead Emotion: sad
We are crushed by this. We now know the care for milksnakes, from diet, lighting, etc etc, is very different from the needs of a cornsnake and makes the difference between life and death. If the Petco employee gave us the slightest hint that Curly might not be a cornsnake, we would have got other opinions immediatly. We took our dead snake straight back to Petco and voice our complaint to the store manager. He apologised for his employee and left it at that.
Our message is that if the employee isn't sure about a particular species, just say so and make a sensible referal, instead of misleading people just to make a sale.
Family in mourning
Family in mourning

What a horrible story. I'm so sorry for your loss.

-M
A Petco Sales clerk in the Plastow N.H. store identified herself as a "snake expert" and gave us bogus information ... just say so and make a sensible referal, instead of misleading people just to make a sale. Family in mourning

First, I'd like to say I'm sorry for your loss. Losing a pet is always difficult on the family. But I would like to clarify some misconceptions you've listed in your post.
The husbandry is NOT any different between a corn or milk snake. I do not know who told you that the care of a Milk snake is VERY different from a corn snake. Looks like you've been given bad information from
2 people.

The information given to you was wrong, regardless of which snake you had.
No colubrid (corn or milk snake) should be fed crickets regardless of its age. You would be surprised at the size of mouse a baby milk snake can eat! Your snake should have been fed a small 1 day old pinky. Nothing else. No crickets nor mealworms. They may eat them , but I doubt it.
This was a very terrible situation for you. Someone that knew nothing about the care of a snake to be told something so grossly incorrect by a supposed expert. But I also do not respect the employee at the second store that told you that the care for a milk snake is VERY different from a corn snake. This employee did nothing more than make a bad situation worse by telling you an obvious lie. If he/she is such an expert, they would know that the care for these 2 snakes are identical. No difference what so ever.
So now you have 2 people telling you absolute untruths.

The snake is dead because you were told the wrong information for your snake. You feel even more upset because you think the Petco employee gave you bad information, but the employee from the second store did nothing more than make you more irate, for no reason at all. Corn snakes and Milk snakes are cared for exactly the same. There is nothing that would make the difference between life and death. Corn and Milk snakes eat mice, nothing else.
Please consider another snake. They make excellent pets. However, please decide on a species and investigate their needs. Do not ask a
16 year old store employee, go to a library and study. An informedowner would have prevented the snake's death.
Jim Smith
The husbandry is NOT any different between a corn or milk >snake. I do not know who told you that the care of a Milk snake is >VERY different from a corn snake. Looks like you've been given bad >information from 2 people.

Assuming that the animal in question was in fact an albino eastern milksnake (I'm having problems with the identification abilities of pet shop people, many of whom have never seen a wild snake), husbandry issues for a "tiny" eastern milksnake are indeed very different from young cornsnake maintenance.
I've bred and raised eastern milksnake hatchlings as well as reared some hatchlings from the wild. I've seen young animals eat centipedes, salamanders, newly metamorphosed toads, spring peepers, brownsnakes and spiders.
At hatching, most eastern milksnakes cannot take even the smallest pinkie. Parts of pinkies must be offered.
Young eastern milksnakes are entirely fossorial in the wild. You don't find them unless you tear open a rotting log or lift one up. They need a moist substrate in captivity to keep from dehydrating. Subadults are more durable and can tolerate dryer conditions.

Back to identification: This snake could have been any one of a number of non-native animals. The original poster said the snake was striped. Eastern milksnakes have saddles and a very obvious "Y" on the top of the head.
Exotic species turn up in the darndest places. You're reading the post of a man who found a gopher tortoise floating in a lake in Pembroke, Massachusetts.
It could also have been an albino garter snake, which are more common that most people think in the wild.
That's all I got.
Cheers,
Kurt
The husbandry is NOT any different between a corn or ... Looks like you've been given bad >information from 2 people.

First off, we want to thank everyone for their responses - we just needed to warn and vent. We are brand new to the snake world and wanted only the best for our new family member. We were/are still learning the proper way to identify species, and we will be getting a replacement snake. We found New England Reptile Distributors (NERD) and they seem to be reputable. The guy there was very up front with us and told us it was very unlikely Curly would live. He could see and showed us that her internal organs were already breaking down.
Assuming that the animal in question was in fact an albino eastern milksnake (I'm having problems with the identification abilities ... some hatchlings from the wild. I've seen young animals eat centipedes, salamanders, newly metamorphosed toads, spring peepers, brownsnakes and spiders.

Curly was about 7 inches when we found her, about the diameter of a pencil and she never shed once while we had her.
At hatching, most eastern milksnakes cannot take even the smallest pinkie. Parts of pinkies must be offered. Young eastern milksnakes ... said the snake was striped. Eastern milksnakes have saddles and a very obvious "Y" on the top of the head.

Our bad in describing Curly. She/he did have saddles, not striped - still learning here -with the "Y" on its head. It was a very colorful snake. We found it in the tall grass, about 3" tall, next to a kayak as we were mowing our yard.
Exotic species turn up in the darndest places. You're reading the post of a man who found a gopher tortoise floating in a lake in Pembroke, Massachusetts.

We live in Merrimac, MA - right at the NH border.
First off, we want to thank everyone for their responses - we just needed to warn and vent. We are ... family member. We were/are still learning the proper way to identify species, and we will be getting a replacement snake.

You may be interested in:
rec.pets.herp FAQ:
http://www.mcmartinville.com/chris/reptiles/rph/rph faq.htm

Also, check out kingsnake.com

Chris McMartin

http://www.mcmartinville.com
http://www.mountainboomer.com

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