I live in Florida.
This afternoon I spotted a snake looking in a window that looks onto a heavily planted atrium.
A little bit of research revealed that the snake is a yellow rat snake, which apparently make good pets. Also, this is breeding season for rat snakes, and soon I may have 30 babies outside my window.

If I wanted to catch a rat snake for a pet, what is the best way to do it so that the snake would not be harmed.
Also, where's a good source of info on how to keep a pet snake?

Can rat snakes be handled when they're kept as pets.

BTW, I've never had a pet snake, and accordingly, know next to nothing about keeping a pet as a snake.
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BTW, I've never had a pet snake, and accordingly, know next to nothingabout keeping a pet as a snake.

That being said, by far the best thing you can do is leave your visiting snake alone, so you can enjoy it in its surroundings and maybe even learn something about its behavior by doing so. Then, hang around here and visit many web sites looking for " care sheet" (where the blank is filled in with 'corn snake,' 'rat snake,' etc). THEN, narrow your choice of pet snake down to a couple and ask opinions on each. You'll stand a far better chance of success with a captive-bred snake vs. a wild one (usually easier to tame and will feed more readily, plus not die of some mysterious disease).
The above is just my opinion. Emotion: smile

Chris
http://www.mcmartinville.com
I live in Florida. This afternoon I spotted a snake looking in a window that looks onto a heavily planted ... pets. BTW, I've never had a pet snake, and accordingly, know next to nothingabout keeping a pet as a snake.

It would be better if you went out and purchased or adopted a captive bred one, rather than a wild one. Plus, depending what area you are in, capture and captivity of native species may be illegal.
The benefits of a captive bred snake are very numerous, with some of them being a lack of mites, illnesses, and usually a snake that eats well.

-cat
Thanks for the response.
Since this is the breeding season for rat snakes, would capturing a baby rat snake be an alternative to getting a captive-bred snake? My thinking is that a baby would be easier to tame.
However, would possible disease still be a problem? Are baby snakes more difficult to keep alive?
However, would possible disease still be a problem? Are baby >snakes more difficult to keep alive?

The captive babies that are offered for sale by breeders and pet shops are usually feeding well because the breeder usually ensures that they are feeding before they are offered for sale.
A wild-caught baby may not feed for you and it probably won't be too impressed by the frozen/thawed mice that most captive bred snakes are fed seeing as it would be used to eating mice that it caught and killed itself.

While an experience snake keeper will probably be able to get a wild baby to start eating frozen/thawed, seeing as this is your first snake a captive bred snake would be a better option.
Get a baby corn snake! They're great! My amelanistic (red albino) corn, Jool, was my first snake. She was a captive bred baby of about 2 months and fed within 15mins of me getting her home. She's about a year old now and is due to be fed today.
I've recently moved a little up the snake keeping ladder and bought a 2-3 month old captive-bred Royal (AKA Ball) python whom I've had for about 3 weeks. He's a great feeder too.
If you want to get a snake the very least you'll need is:
1) A enclosure to keep it in with a securely fitting lid to prevent snakeypopping out and scaring the relatives. For her first few months I kept Jool in a plastic tupperware-style box with holes punched in the lid
2) A heat source. With corns, an under the tank heat mat usually suffices
3) Somewhere to hide. When I first got Jool I used a piece of kitchen paperfor her to hide under (it also doubled up as somewhere to place the mouse during feeding to prevent getting substrate on it). When she was moved into the iguana's old tank (he was upgraded to a 5ft tank) I provided her with a wooden log to hide in and under. She refused to use it because she was used to the kitchen paper.

4) A water bowl which must have fresh water at all times
5) Substrate. I used bark chips with Jool and Jasper (the royal python), butyou can also used sheets of newspaper.
I live in Florida. This afternoon I spotted a snake looking in a window that looks onto a heavily planted ... snake for a pet, what is the best way to do it so that the snake would not be harmed.

Run up to it and grab it. They're not dangerous. Oh, they may try to bite, but it barely hurts - it may bleed a bit from dozens of tiny pinpricks, but that's about it. Expect to be deficated upon and musked upon, and expect the critter to squirm and thrash a bunch, but restrain it gently and firmly and it will neither escape nor be hurt.

All this assumes you know the snake is a rat snake. If you mess up and grab a rattlesnake or cottonmouth by mistake, expect extreme pain and large doctor's bills. Be careful about this even if you know how to identify rat snakes from the others - a rapidly moving snake in the field can be a greater challenge to identify than one you have the leisure of studying. I once lunged at a big gopher snake, and was physically prevented from grabbing it by my companion - only to find out that the snake was a pacific rattler instead!
However, as others have said, captive bred snakes make better pets. There's the whole disease issue, there's the fact that captive bred snakes are used to being in captivity and not hyper-sensitive to would be predators so they're not nearly so jumpy and defensive. Also, many wild caught snakes are already imprinted on wild foods. Do you really want to have to catch lizards or birds to feed to your snake for the rest of its life? Wouldn't it be easier to just order 500 frozen mice and keep them in a freezer, thawing one or two out per week for suppertime? Also, you will know your new pet will have come from a long line of snakes that have been proven to do well in captivity.

If you really do want a wild snake from your backyard, the babies will be more likely to settle in to captivity than the adults. The problem is that baby snakes are often reluctant to eat the foods we can provide in captivity. Snake breeders have all sorts of tricks to get them to eat mice. You might have to feed it lizards or frogs ore something similarly exotic for its first year or so.
Also, where's a good source of info on how to keep a pet snake?

Google "rat snake" "care sheet". Not all of them are any good, so read a bunch of them, find the various oppinions, and then either make up your own mind or ask back here if you've got questions.

There are also pet store books. The care of a rat snake will be nearly identical to that of a corn snake or king snake, so you could, for example, buy the corn snake book by Kathy Love (a noted corn snake expert) at a pet store or off of Amazon, and apply the information to the care of a rat snake.
Can rat snakes be handled when they're kept as pets.

Well, yes. They're not guarenteed to be calm, or even not to bite or musk on you or deficate on you, though. Captive bred snakes will, on average, be considerably more docile than wild caught snakes, since they haven't spent all their lives dodging predators.
BTW, I've never had a pet snake, and accordingly, know next to nothing about keeping a pet as a snake.[/nq]Snakes can be wondeful pets for the right sort of person. They are nearly ideal for the modern, busy lifestyle in small, cramped apartments, since the snakes take up very little room, do not need affection, do not need to be walked, only need be fed once a week (and thus only need to be cleaned up after once a week), are quiet, and don't stink (so long as they are kept clean). However, don't expect friendship or affection from a snake. Such emotions are foreign to them.

Many will tolerate being handled, but as far as they are concerned, you are basically a tree to climb in and a source of food (in the best case scenario, that is. In the worst case, the snake sees you as a vicious predator about to eat it!). Snakes also have an intelligence that rates somewhat above rocks, but just barely. They can be alert and aware of their surroundings, but don't expect much in the way of understanding or many of the basic levels of thinking that we expect from pet mammals and birds.

At least you can take comfort in the fact that rat snakes are a bit better endowed in the brains department than boas and pythons!
The care of snakes is quite a bit different from that of mammals or birds. You've got to stop thinking like a mammal and providing for a mammal's needs. Think like a reptile, and provide things that a reptile needs to survive and thrive. In this respect, you've picked out the right snake to start out with, since the constricting colubrids (a group that includes rat snakes, as well as corn snakes, king snakes, milk snakes, gopher snakes, pine snakes, and bull snakes, to list the most common types in North America) are hardy, forgiving, easy to care for, and commonly docile (although the rat snakes are reputed to be a little less docile than most).
Best of luck,
Luke

To email me, take out the trash.
Thanks for the response. Since this is the breeding season for rat snakes, would capturing a baby rat snake be ... be easier to tame. However, would possible disease still be a problem? Are baby snakes more difficult to keep alive?

Yes, a baby would probably be easier to tame, but as you've already brought up, possible disease is still a problem, and baby snakes are definitely more difficult to keep alive.
Rat snakes aren't that expensive. I would recommend buying one and leaving the wild ones wild.
Tah tah.
TK
^
/(o o)\

oOO

( )

OOo

http://www.tktv.net
Rat snakes aren't that expensive. I would recommend buying one and leaving the wild ones wild.

Lest anyone misunderstand my point of view:
I do not have a problem, from a biological or ethical perspective, with keeping wild-caught reptiles as pets.
However, given the original poster's admitted lack of experience and expertise, the better route is via captive-bred.

Chris
http://www.mcmartinville.com
I want to thank everyone for your very thoughtful replies.

At this point, I believe that I will leave my rat snake in the wild and hope that she has a nest in the atrium outside my family room window. It'll be like having a large, natural snake cage for observation.

I'll let you know when I start seeing babies.
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