I have a big trip coming up across the country for a week and I’m left with that nagging feeling: Should I leave my snakes alone while I’m away? I love my pets, but my snakes have very specific needs. Leaving them alone requires careful preparation. Luckily, I’ve done it before.
Most snakes can be left alone for a week aslong as they have been fed and have access to enough clean drinking water. Any lights and heaters will need to be set on a timer, and it’s best to feed the snake two days before leaving in case of any regurgitation or faeces.
As you can see, leaving your snake alone for a week means thinking ahead. Let’s take a look at what you need to do if you’re leaving your snake home and going on vacation. We even provide a checklist for you at the end of this article!
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Is it Okay to Leave Your Snake Alone?
Most adult snakes are fine to be left on their own for 1 – 2 weeks with the proper preparations in place. This is due to their slow metabolism.
In the wild, some snakes only eat properly every 1 – 2 weeks and are able to gain all the sustenance they need to remain healthy and active from this eating schedule.
Some snakes can go even longer than 2 weeks between feeding and still remain healthy.
This doesn’t mean you should starve your snake! But leaving your snake for a week without food is fine as long as it still has:
- Clean drinking water
- Stable electrical supply for tank setup
- Surge protectors should there be an electrical surge in the supply that can fry equipment
- Reliable heaters to maintain habitat heat on a day/night schedule with timers
- A clean habitat, removing any spoiled food, feces, or urine. Left uncleaned, these can create a health hazard for your snake
Should I Have Someone Look After my Snake?
If you are unsure about leaving your snake alone for a week, you might want to ask someone to look after your pet. There are two approaches to having your snake cared for by someone else:
This is usually a friend, neighbor, or family member. They check in on your pet every couple of days to make sure everything is okay. In some instances, as I have done for a neighbor, they might be asked to feed the snake while you’re away.
Full-Time Pet Sitter
This is someone who will look after your pet 24/7 while you’re away. This is usually either a friend who has experience with snakes, a pet shop with the capacity to look after snakes, or a professional pet sitting service.
Is a Pet Sitter for a Snake a Good Idea?
It all depends on your snake. If your pet has any health problems that need to be monitored, then having someone look after your snake is a good precaution.
However, it’s usually best to have an intermittent sitter come in and check on your snake every couple of days, instead.
Reasons for this include:
If your pet is moved to another location where it will be cared for, this can cause stress. This is especially true if it is placed into a different habitat rather than its tank going with it.
Sudden changes in the environment can cause food refusal. It can also make a snake more aggressive than usual because it will feel insecure in its surroundings.
Hiring a full-time professional pet sitter or paying for a pet store to take your snake for the week is often an unnecessary cost. And hey, you’re going on your vacation, so who needs that!?
We love our Slytherin buddies, don’t we? I know when I’m on vacation, the thought of a stranger looking after my pythons is a stress I don’t need, never mind the snake!
When it’s a friend who has even a little knowledge of what to look out for, this is preferential for me rather than paying a stranger to effectively do the same job.
Are there any Advantages to a Full-Time Pet Sitter?
Sure, there are some advantages to having someone looking after your pet 24/7. The main one is that, if anything goes wrong with your snake or your setup, someone will be there to correct this.
For example, if your heat lamp or mat heater dies, someone will, hopefully, be able to replace it.
If you’ve hired a professional, they’ll also be well-versed in identifying issues with the snakes themselves. If any illness occurs that needs to be tended to before you return from your holiday, then they should be able to take care of that.
At the very least, they’ll contact you and ask if it’s okay to take the animal to the vet of your choice.
Despite these advantages, I still believe the environmental stresses and how this can significantly affect your snake makes moving them to another location one journey that should be avoided, if possible.
Other Considerations When leaving Your Snake Alone
There are a few other things you’ll need to think about before leaving your snake for a week. It’s important to consider:
Installing a camera system
This can be done pretty cheaply these days, even a webcam attached to a laptop will do. You can log in via your phone to take a peek at your pet to ensure everything is okay whenever you want.
This will help set your mind at ease. A pet camera or wireless security camera is also another good option for this.
Remember that young snakes often need to be fed twice a week to keep growing healthily. Only fully grown adults can be left 1 – 2 weeks without food.
Feed 2 Days Early
Try feeding your snake two days before leaving so that there’s time to clean up any regurgitated food that might rot in the tank, as well as ensuring that your snake has an empty stomach and won’t defecate again in its habitat.
You don’t want to come home to any nasty surprises!
Having spare bulbs for any lights and a backup heater that can be easily installed is something you should consider.
Create a Caresheet
If you’re asking someone to check in on your snake or to feed it, leave a care sheet for them. This will let the intermittent sitter know what they need to do when things are normal and what to do if something goes wrong, such as a heater or light breaking.
It doesn’t need to be an encyclopedia. You don’t need to be David Attenborough, though it would be nice to have his money.
No, just write down the important points such as how to feed the snake, where any replacement bulbs are kept for lights and lamps, and what numbers you and your vet can be contacted on if something is concerning.
Checklist for Leaving Your Snake for a Week
If you’re still unsure about what you need to think about when leaving your snake for a week or longer, here’s our helpful little checklist.
Leaving your snake alone for a week or two can seem stressful, but it needn’t be. Believe me, taking your snake on vacation is a much more difficult proposition!
For both of you. If you follow our checklist, you should have everything covered and be able to enjoy being away, knowing your pet will be safe and in good health when you return home.