false water cobra enclosure
False water cobras have “hoods,” the reason behind their common name, which are produced when the snakes flare out lateral appendages on their neck vertebrae. Urates and other wastes are rendered inert by the fungi and bacteria, effectively controlling the odor and waste potential of the snakes. Provide a lay box containing moist sphagnum moss, as well as sphagnum moss in the corners of the enclosure after the female’s pre-laying shed. False water cobras are infamous for their intense response to food. Even when small, false water cobras are incredibly strong snakes and more than capable of popping off lids and escaping. Hermann’s water snakes are rarely found outside of water; what little is known of their biology indicates that they are amphibian and fish specialists that have a more northerly distribution than the previous two species. They haunt marshes, wetlands and rivers in northern Colombia east to Venezuela and south to northern Brazil. All my lighting is connected to reptile timers to maintain a 12-hour-on, 12-hour-off daily light schedule. My adults often sit with the front third of their bodies outside of their hide boxes, head slightly elevated, and actively watch what is happening outside of their enclosures. If they have the right angle, they actually can acquire enough velocity for this to sting just a bit. False water cobra eggs are huge compared to other colubrids, so make sure you have an incubator that’s big enough to handle the clutch. When they were growing juveniles I had enclosure dividers in place that effectively reduced the length of each enclosure to 36 inches. Sexual dimorphism exists in the species, with females normally reaching longer lengths and heavier weights than males. They are arguably among the most dramatic and impressive colubrids when it comes to exhibiting a feeding response, and because of this it is best to feed false water cobras with tongs to avoid receiving an accidental bite while feeding. I incubate eggs between 80 and 85 degrees, trying to keep my incubators at 83 degrees for the two to two-and-a-half-month incubation period. As soon as a prey item was presented within six inches of her head, she would immediately erupt her entire body in the direction of the prey and start biting at everything until she made contact with her mouse or rat pup. Falsies are ecological generalists, and though they don’t require water, are most frequently encountered in wetlands and along streams. Under these conditions my animals thrive, and over the course of the day, each cruises the entire enclosure, warranting the large amount of space provided to them. Falsies are notorious cannibals, and if you don’t watch your charges there is a good chance one of them may be eaten by the other. Over the course of a snake’s life, diet preferences may shift. For hides, I use XL reptile hides available online as well as cork bark flats and tubes. Females are heavier than males, which when in good health and not obese appear leaner than adult females. The name is an allusion to its ability to flatten its neck, similar to that of a true Cobra. Cypress mulch, orchid bark and other substrates that can handle high moisture rates are suitable for false water cobra enclosures. Mice, rats, chicks, fish (including trout and tilapia filets) and frog legs are all foods FWCs will consume. The wooden vivarium should have good ventilation to allow air flow in and out of the enclosure. False water cobras differ markedly in the way they deliver biological compounds into their prey compared to elapids, vipers and burrowing asps. There doesn’t appear to be a need for cycling, though the process may prove important to the long-term health of females. Once they have emerged, I transfer mine to individual plastic shoeboxes in a neonate rack (the only time my FWCs live in a tub). This is one of the author’s false water cobra setups. Within these environs FWCs feed pretty much on anything they can overpower, though a preference for amphibians, fish and other small vertebrates has been documented. False water cobras require a wooden vivarium as their enclosure. It is also very easy to clean. Most long-term captive falsies lose this behavior. The morph craze has yet to hit these snakes, however, and most keepers are quite happy with the natural phenotype. When it comes to reptile heating and lighting, I provide heat one of two ways. These animals constrict, body slam, pin and, if the prey item is small enough, simply engulf their prey. I employ a modified bioactive substrate with minced cypress mulch as the primary reptile bedding. I also add about 25 superworms to the substrate. Important: your order may be delayed by 1-2 working days, Housing: a wooden vivarium of at least 48" in length and 18'' in height, Heating: basking temperature of 88oF, cool end of 85oF, Diet:carnivore with a diet comprising of frozen prey. Zachary J. Loughman, Ph.D., has kept reptiles and amphibians as a hobbyist and professional for more than 20 years.


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