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Old 07-09-11, 04:33 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Smile Keeping water snakes in semi-aquatic habitats?

I think it's been well-established here and on most other snake sites and forums that even with water snakes, their tanks should be kept fairly dry. Just by chance today I found a thread on another forum in which one of the members posted many pictures of his aquarium, half filled with water and live plants, complete with a waterfall of sorts, and two Asian water snakes! This really piqued my interest because incidentally one of the snakes he keeps in the tank is the exact same type of snake I have, enhydris plumbea. Nobody on that thread seemed to have any qualms about this wet and humid snake habitat. I'm not sure if I'm allowed to link the thread here since it's from another forum, but I'd like to know what anyone else thinks about this?

It's really hard to find specific information on my snake, most people just direct me to general water snake care or garter snake info sheets, but here is a guy with the exact same snake but keeping it in a completely different environment than is normally recommended! Does anyone else keep water snakes in semi-aquatic homes?
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Old 07-09-11, 08:46 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping water snakes in semi-aquatic habitats?

Reptile Cages Custom Showcases Habitat Aquariums Iguana Cage Reptile Enclosure Snake Cages Reptile May give you some ideas. Make sure they have a dry spot to go to though, you don't want blisters and scale rot!
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Old 07-09-11, 08:55 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping water snakes in semi-aquatic habitats?

you could do a water tank underneath a normal viv with just an access hole leading to it, this way, he can take a swim when he wants and not be restricted to a dry environment, also when it come to feeding time, all you have to do, is put fish into his water and you can leave him be, no handling after feeding and therefore safer for you, this will make you and the snake happy.

just a thought though.
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Old 07-09-11, 10:21 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping water snakes in semi-aquatic habitats?

The ones in the link look great!! Wow! Are water blisters and scale rot caused by humidity, or water contact? The guy's tank I saw in that other forum was pretty much filled with water and just a few rocks and upturned pots above water level, but they soaked up and were wet anyway. Personally I'm very happy with my current setup, pretty basic looking with a hide and a water bowl and a branch. Easier to access the snake and do daily maintenance!
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Old 07-09-11, 10:47 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping water snakes in semi-aquatic habitats?

the blisters would be the water droplets sitting on the skin acting as a magnifying glass from the heat light, scale rot would be causes from the high humidity/water contact, althought i cant see a water snake getting scale rot, unless it had no way at all to become dry for a couple hours a day.
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Old 07-09-11, 10:51 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping water snakes in semi-aquatic habitats?

correct me if im wrong but dont water snakes have a layer of protective skin or mucus to prevent scale rot or any water induced problems as they have adapted to water life and would have some sort of protection against it
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Old 07-09-11, 11:21 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping water snakes in semi-aquatic habitats?

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correct me if im wrong but dont water snakes have a layer of protective skin or mucus to prevent scale rot or any water induced problems as they have adapted to water life and would have some sort of protection against it
I don't know about protective skin, I haven't read anything like it and with most (if not all) water snakes, they're kept dry... As for mucus, no, they don't have that. At least mine doesn't!

And thanks Freebody! Very informative, didn't know that!
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Old 07-09-11, 11:48 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping water snakes in semi-aquatic habitats?

I've just received big news on the husbandry front! I posted on a different forum ages ago, and finally today someone replied so just out of curiosity I went to check it out, not expecting anything new. Turns out that with my snake, they're nearly 99% aquatic! The guy who replied said he had the same snake as I did (FINALLY! Someone with the same one!) and he gave me this link. It's for enhydris chinenses, not enhydris plumbea, but apparently they're kept in pretty much the same habitat.

Wow! Hopefully keeping my snake in such a dry environment all this time hasn't been detrimental to him! I'm going to get together my aquarium supplies right now and fix his home. Good thing I had fish, turtles and crayfish before him (still have one cray accompanied by a small neon tetra!) so I have everything I need!
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Old 07-10-11, 01:24 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping water snakes in semi-aquatic habitats?

Great news!

What I could find was that they are venomous, but not dangerous to humans unless allergic, also called Rice Paddy Snakes, and they are on the threatened species list, but not listed as a major concern, which is good. Their first entry into the reptile database was in June of 1935.

Here is a study they did on your type of snake: http://www.fmnh.org/research_collect...Karns_1996.pdf

Here is some information with good links to references: Yellow-bellied Water Snake Reptiles and Amphibians of Bangkok

And here is a link to a publisher where you can order books on husbandry of common Thailand snakes: http://www.krieger-publishing.com/PDF/Hsnakes.pdf

Hope this helps you pull together enough data for a care sheet. Good luck!
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Old 07-10-11, 02:14 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping water snakes in semi-aquatic habitats?

Thanks so much for all those links! I'd read that second one before but I don't think I've seen the others. I've changed his tank setup, replaced cocopeat with gravel and it's half-filled with water with a branch for him to bask on if he wishes. He's a LOT happier now and is not hiding and sleeping all day. He has most of his body in the cave with his head out of the water. I'm not sure if this is how they sleep because it doesn't look like he holds his breath for more than a few minutes at a time. I guess I'll find out soon enough!
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Old 07-10-11, 07:19 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping water snakes in semi-aquatic habitats?

Thank you very much for the link marionsclan!

I can confirm that many species of Asian Water Snake (such as Enhydris enhydris, E. tentaculatum, E. bocourti, etc.) are much more aquatic than North American water snakes. It is almost impossible to see some species in the field unless you are trapping in the water itself. I have seen them kept in aquatic habitats here in Thailand with minimal ability to leave the water, and they appeared to be thriving.

All that being said, Enhydris plumbea is the least aquatic member of the genus, and I have found it on dry land a number of times. I would suspect that more dry land access might be beneficial for this species. But, considering the behavior of other members of its genus, I wouldn't be surprised to see it tolerating a moister enclosure.

http://bangkokherps.blogspot.com
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Old 07-11-11, 12:00 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping water snakes in semi-aquatic habitats?

Thank you SO MUCH bankokherps! I found a couple other people with the same snake and they keep them in 100% aquatic environments with land access. I've been doing the same for the past 12 hours since I found out, and the snake is much more active now. He was on his tree branch for a significant amount of time during the night but this afternoon he is in his underwater cave and coming out periodically to breathe. Thanks heaps! If you have any more advice pertaining to this snake, please do let me know!
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Old 07-11-11, 03:15 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping water snakes in semi-aquatic habitats?

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I've changed his tank setup, replaced cocopeat with gravel and it's half-filled with water with a branch for him to bask on if he wishes.
Can you take a picture of it? I would like to see it.
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Old 07-11-11, 06:07 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping water snakes in semi-aquatic habitats?

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Thanks heaps! If you have any more advice pertaining to this snake, please do let me know!
I'm glad his behavior appears to be healthier! I don't have any real husbandry advice other than what you've already figured out from my site. Your best bet is probably this book: Snakes of Thailand and their Husbandry.

My personal experience is that I've found three of them on a road near ponds on a non-rainy night, two of them under a rock on riverbank at night, and one submerged under a rock inside a fish pond. So they were always near water, and sometimes in the water, but they don't mind dry land. That being said, I'm 100 times more likely to find them when they're on land than when they're in the water, so the fact that I've found more on land shouldn't be taken as evidence that they don't prefer the water. I would suspect they naturally spend 80-90% of their time in water. That would still make them less aquatic than the other Asian water snakes.
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Old 07-11-11, 11:38 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping water snakes in semi-aquatic habitats?

Thank you so much for all your help guys, I would have been so lost without your advice! XD Here are a couple of pictures of his new and improved setup:

In this one you can see him peeking from the right hand side of the cave entrance. Further to the left out of view I've added a small filter.


Here is Preshuz getting tangled in the plastic vines I've attached to the screen lid! He does this every night :3 I have since removed that branch because it was causing cloudiness in the water, and replaced it with a fake branch.


What do you guys think? (:
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