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Owning Venomous Snakes

For kids, the Zoo’s reptile house is an all-time favorite since it is the home to some of the most deadly reptiles on earth. As fascinating snakes can be, most people rather avoid them if all possible.  Let alone own. But not all...

Several non-venomous species are commonly kept as house pets. To own a venomous snake, well… that can be a little more difficult.

After doing some research, it’s not surprising to see how heavily regulated it is to get your hands on one. By their nature, venomous reptiles have the potential to inflict harm, leaving their owners and the public at high risk if they were ever to escape. This post will help guide anyone interested in learning more about owning a venomous pet snake in a responsible, safe, and legal manner.

Laws And Regulations On Venemous Snakes

These will vary from state to state and can easily be found online or by checking with your state's Department of Natural Resources. Most states say it’s legal to own a venomous snake with a proper permit. While in other states, it may be illegal to own them at all. For example, Texas state laws seem to be pretty lenient compared to other states. All you need is 20 bucks, and you can get a permit from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Be sure to check your local laws and regulations too. Some cities may not allow the possession of venomous reptiles within their city limits regardless of state laws.

Federal laws primarily control how you are able to obtain, keep, and transport venomous snakes. The Lacey Act is an import law to familiarize yourself with when planning for your new pet. Acquiring venomous snakes that violate state law can be a violation of the federal law and can lead to severe consequences.  We urge you to research these laws thoroughly before you begin searching for your new friend.

Caring For Venemous Snakes

Just like any other living animal, it is important to feed them appropriately and provide an environment sustainable for the snake to live. The Northern Territory Government Information and Services provides guidelines for proper feeding and housing of snakes.

  • Keep them in a quiet and secure location.
  • Plastic containers or glass aquariums with ventilation are good for most snakes.
  • The size of the enclosure should be about the size of the snake stretched out straight.
  • Provide hiding spaces and a climbing space for species that live in trees.
  • Provide ultraviolet lighting, especially if the plan is to keep them indoors.
  • All enclosures must have warm and cool areas.

Feeding can be tricky, depending on the type of snake.

  • Temperature plays a role.
  • Snakes feed on whole animals and can be picky eaters.
  • Provide fresh water daily.

If You Get Bit

Ownership of these reptiles doesn’t come without risk. Largely depending on the species, bites by venomous snakes can result in a wide range of effects, from simple puncture wounds to life-threatening illness and death (rare in the United States).

Once bitten, you should seek medical treatment immediately. The doctor, depending on the severity of the symptoms, will determine the appropriate treatment option. 

DO NOT attempt to suck the venom out, cover it in ice, wrap it in a tourniquet or open the wound with a knife.

DO try and stay calm, rinse the area with soap and water, and keep the area below the heart until help has arrived.


Remember, snakes, venomous or not, are still wild animals and always come with risk when being cared for by people. To minimize the risk, remember to do your due diligence, follow the rules, and take the extra steps to maintain proper safety.

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