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Self-reported snake management practices among owners in Victoria, Australia
  1. Tiffani Josey Howell1,
  2. Clifford Warwick2 and
  3. Pauleen C Bennett1
  1. 1Anthrozoology Research Group, School of Psychology and Public Health, La Trobe University, Bendigo, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2Emergent Disease Foundation, Tonbridge, Kent, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Tiffani Josey Howell, Anthrozoology Research Group, School of Psychology and Public Health, La Trobe University, Bendigo, VIC 3152, Australia; t.howell{at}


Background A large number of snakes are kept as pets in Western societies. Few studies have been undertaken to assess keeping practices of snakes by private owners in Australia. Therefore, there is concern that some owners may not understand even basic husbandry requirements. The aim of this preliminary study was to identify the most common practices used by snake owners in Victoria, Australia.

Method An online survey asked 251 snake owners to describe ways in which they attempt to meet their snake’s environmental, behavioural, dietary, social and health needs.

Results Fewer than half of participants had an enclosure large enough for the snake to fully stretch out, and just over half had an enclosure large enough to meet the requirements in the Victorian Code of Practice. Only 60 per cent of owners correctly identified their snake’s activity patterns based on information about wild snakes of the same species.

Conclusion Educational campaigns may help improve outcomes for snakes in the future, but more research is needed about captive snake husbandry, to provide an evidence base for informing snake management recommendations.

  • captivity
  • reptile health
  • reptile husbandry
  • reptile behaviour
  • enclosure quality
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  • Funding This study was funded by Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport, and Resources, State Government of Victoria.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval This project received human ethics approval from the La Trobe University Human Ethics Committee of the Faculty of Science, Technology, and Engineering (approval number FHEC14/R1).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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