Thread: Help!
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Old 06-01-03, 06:09 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Join Date: Mar-2002
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HOW TO: Find an escaped snake

There are a number of reasons a snake can escape: a weak enclosure, a hole, a lose lid, forgetting to close the lid to name but a few. It's best to try and avoid escapes in the first place by making sure you have a sturdy cage, a tight-fitting and locking lid, and making sure to always close the lid or door.
Though it's always a scary experience, escapes happen to the best of us, and it's usually no big deal unless the snake is dangerous (for example a 15 foot burm, or a venomous snake).

Now, hopefully you've noticed not longer after the escape that the snake (or lizard) is no longer in its cage. The first thing to do is close the door to the room the cage is in and remove all kids and house pets. The snake probably hasn't left the room, and headed directly for warm and dark areas, which is where you want to start looking.
Look in dark and warm areas surrounding the tank and work your way outward in concentric circles. Get a mirror and flashlight so you can see into the smallest, darkest areas. Look under every crack and in every crevasse, you'd be surprised where a snake might go (in the garbage, on top of or under bookcases or desks, under the radiator, curtain rod, behind the enclosure, in a bed or a purse or bag etc). Don't forget to look UP, too! Check cushions for holes in the seams.

Didn't find him? No big deal, there are a million places a snake can hide. You're probably fed up with search by now, and are out of places to look. The snake probably won't come out with all that comotion anyway. Inside the room, place a head pad on the floor with a hidebox or paper bag on top of it, and a mouse/rat in front of the hidebox door / paper bag(preferably NOT on the heatpad. hot mice rot fast). Paper bags are helpful because if you're close enough, you can hear the rustling and grab the snake right away. Leave it there for a few days (but check a few times a night), he'll get hungry and one of his expeditions he'll come across the mouse/rat, eat it, and decide that the warm hide is the perfect place to chill and digest.
Another idea similar to this is to take a relatively big cardboard box, poke some holes in it and cut a large (big enough for the snake) hole near the top. Place the food item in the box, and place the box near a heat pad. The snake, when hungry, will enter the box, eat the food and might be unable / unwilling to leave the box.

If you've got nothing to do that night, you can try crinkling up plastic bags and laying them in the room (near the walls is you best bet) and sit near the dark, quiet room, and wait. Snakes often travel along the wall at night - even diurnal snakes - and you will hear the snake if it does. Have a flashlight and handy, and as soon as you hear a bag rustling turn on the flashlight and take a look.

If you see the snake, DON'T jump after it! It will just slither away before you can catch it. Aproach it slowly, and you should be able to pick it up. If you can't catch at, at least you know the area is in and can place a box with a mouse/rat inside about where you saw the snake, leave, and come backin an hour or two to check.

Leave the snake's cage open, he may very well return there. You can also enter the room quietly in the middle of the night (or during the day if the reptile is diurnal) with a flash light; the snake might be out and about.

If you aren't sure the snake is still in that room (even you think he might be - it never hurts to do this!), sprinkle flour or corn startch across doorways, hallways etc to see if he's moving around the house.


Even though escapes are completely undesireable, you need to learn for the experience. How did the snake escape? Loose fitting lid? Hole in the cage? Forgot to close the cage? Remember that bricks or heavy books aren't suitable to hold down lids because all a snake needs is a little give, and they can force their way out. Tight bungee cords work well, but proper, locking lids work best. Once you know what the problem is, fix it! If your snake is escaping on a regular basis (ie more than once!) then there is something seriously wrong. Just because you found your snake every time it escaped, doesn't mean that the next time it escapes it won't find a hole in the wall, or an open window, or a cat or a bird.

Okay, what do you all think of that? Give me any suggestions/additions and I'll edit my post, then we can ask a mod to make a new thread in the HOWTO forum

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