J's Viper and Cobra page
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J's Viper and Cobra page

Viper and Cobra care sheets

Gaboon viper care (bitis gabonica gabonica)

Ok first of all the size and history so to speak. The gaboon viper belongs to the family viperdae and is found in Africa from Tanzania , Uganda, and to south of the sahara. They are a lethargic stocky built snake of moderate lenght (5'-7'). They are in my opinion the most beautifully colored viper in the world. They are found normally laying camaflauged in the ground cover of the forest floor waiting for a prey item to "waltz" by. They are very seclusive and "shy", in captivity.

They do best in a roomy enclosure with NO bright lighting! Supply heat by under tank devices(heating pads or tape). They need at least a 60 gallon aquari, if not bigger(for your own safety). They don't need the size for roaming as they are as I earlier stated very lathergic, but instead the room is needed so you can safely work around the motionless snake. A hide box of some sort is a must! A big deep water bowl isn't really needed. I keep humidty at low to moderate say from 30-55 percent. Day time temp. should be in the high 80's at the basking spot or warmer end and the "cool down" zone in the upper 70's low 80's. Again I use the easiest sustrate (exceptfor showing) which is newspaper as it's easy to take out when soiled and easy to notice when it needs changing, butcher paper also works well.

Good tools are a must!!!!!! The basic things you need is a good sturdy "trap box" as described by Allen Hunter on his black mamba page, as it is the safest and less stressful way to clean and such as the Gaboons are very seclusive. They go in to the trap box and a sliding plexi-glas, wood, or glass door is slid across so they can not get out of the box during cleaning and transporting. Snake hooks are also important although the gaboons aren't to go on them with their massive girth. Pilstrom tongs are a way to feed the animal and to handle him only when a must place the "gripper near the mid section and softly clamo down not hard as you don't want to injure your charge (animal). Also the extractor snake bite kit is as well a MUST to deal with any gaboon bite. Plexi-Glass shields are also great as you quickly place it in between you and the snake and do your very quick cleaning.

Feeding is fairly simple as Gaboon's thrive on mice and rats, but can be very dangerous! Only offer dead unless you must feed live! The best way to feed is crack the cage lid open enough to fit your at least 30" pilstrom thongs in using them to dangle a pre killed rat or mouse. The feeding bites are worse than their defense bites as their feed response bites they tend to inject more venom, and show no sign before the strike. While their defense strike is more showing I guess but all they really do is breath quicker and "harder".

Make sure 100% that if you are bit that a local hospital or zoo has the needed antivenom (especially for the gaboons of course)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Gaboon Vipers have the longest fangs in the world of any snake so they are very dangerous bites indeed, as they will be able to release alot more venom into their would be meal or predator.

Monocled cobra care (Naja naja Kaouthai)

Monocled cobras are found in southern Asia and India. They are a fairly elongated snake reaching approximatly 5'-6'. The albino varity exists only in captivity. As all venomous snakes do they need a large roomy and uncluttered enclosure (for your own safety). Naja naja Kaouthia is a fairly active snake species. A must is a escape proof enclosure as with all reptiles but even more so for the venomous species, as a smart deadky cobra on the loose is a big problem!

Caging the monocled cobras is fairly simple not failing that it is large and escape proof. Using newspaper works the best for me as it is easy to change and also very cheap, as cobras seem to defecate more ofton than other snakes. An absolute smallest enclosure for an adult in my mind would be no less than a 120 gallon enclosure. A small water bowl for drinking is good enough as they don't seem to enjoy soaking much. Provide a hide area also some will and some won't use it but it is always good to have.

The tools used are the same for most venomous species, a trap box (a must), hooks of different sizes, a grap stick for feeding and for restraining the snake if it is very much out of control, the snake bite extractor kit, and always check to see if your local zoo has the particular species you are keeping as they will have the antivenom. I would hate to drain my zoo's resources but coming across antivenom in the u.s. is almost impossible as the private keeper can't have it imported (not the case in Canada however).

Temperature should be in the high 80's to low 90's in the basking area and in the mid to low 80's over all. At night the temperature can drop to as low as the mid 70's. It is best to suppy the heat through under tank heaters 24 hours a day by either heating pads or heat tape, and during the day use a low wattage incandesent bulb to supply a basking area. Supply several climbing bracnches and logs as well. Humidity should be moderate in the 40-60 percent range.

This species will readily except rodents in captivity. Feeding can be a dangerous time as these cobras have a long striking range, stand pretty far back while dangling the mouse or rat with the pilstrom tongs (grab stick). Feeding the appropriate sized rodent every 5-9 days.

This concludes my monocled cobra care sheet. I hope this will both help the avid herpers looking to obtain this species and the herpers who are just interested in learning about these cobras.

Email: jthd@msn.com