The Asian Vine Snake, also known as the Whip Snake, is a small, slender snake. Due to its slender face and long snout, it bears a unique appearance, so much so that some internet communities meme-ified it and have given it the nickname of the “Judgmental Shoelace.”
This small snake is most commonly found in Asia, notably from Southern China and Hong Kong and ranging down into much of Southeast Asia. In addition to its slender body and long-snouted appearance, the Asian Vine Snake is typically colored a bright shade of green, though they can sometimes sport light shades of green and brown. These small snakes are largely seen as harmless, almost never exhibiting signs of unprovoked aggression, rarely biting even in self-defense, and possessing a mild poison that is not harmless to humans.
The Asian Vine Snake has many attributes and qualities that make it a unique and interesting animal. Read on to learn more about this snake’s venom, diet, lifespan, quality as a pet, and even how to care for them.
Can You Have a Vine Snake as a Pet?
You can have these snakes as pets. However, due to the Asian Vine Snake’s diet of reptiles and their rear-fanged quality, a trait typical of mildly poisonous snakes, it can be difficult to find these snakes in pet stores. However, if you look hard enough, you will be able to find some on online reptile shops or at reptile expos.
Many Asian Vine Snakes that are sold as pets are caught in the wild and shipped to their destination. Few are hatched and bred in captivity. If given the choice between wild-caught or captive-bred Asian Vine Snakes, choose the captive-bred one. They have less exposure to worms and diseases present in the wild and have not been through the stress of capture and transport which can make them more susceptible to illness.
How Big Do Asian Vine Snakes Get?
Depending on the species of vine snake, of which there are eight, the Asian Vine Snake’s size can range anywhere from two feet (or 0.6 meters) to six feet (or 1.8 meters). No matter how long they grow, Asian Vine Snakes are hardly ever bigger than a penny width-wise. This long, slender appearance gives these snakes their names of “Vine Snake” or “Whip Snake.”
How Long Does a Vine Snake Live?
Asian Vine Snakes who live in captivity typically have a lifespan of 8 to 12 years. This all depends on proper care and health upkeep of the snake as a pet, of course. If living in the wild, the Asian Vine Snake can live for as long as twelve years.
The care of this snake can be rather tricky for new pet owners. To maximize your pet’s life expectancy, it is suggested that you research care for the Asian Vine Snake thoroughly before purchase. An important thing to keep in mind is to always know where your snake is in the terrarium or cage before you open it. Due to its small size, this snake can be hard to catch after escape and can be easily injured during capture.
Do Vine Snakes Bite?
Vine Snakes do bite, but it is very rare for them to bite humans. Asian Vine Snakes are rear-fanged snakes, meaning they have slightly longer teeth on the upper, back part of their mouth. This trait is typical among other mildly venomous snakes.
This gives the Asian Vine Snake a bit of a taboo when discussed in pet communities. However, the Asian Vine Snake rarely bites humans and, if it does, its venom is so mild that it would not harm a grown adult.
Like any animal, the vine snake may bite in self-defense or if it feels threatened. Vine Snakes do not usually like to be picked up and handled often. Avoid doing so and keep your snake out of reach of children who may have difficulty handling the snake with the proper care, and you will protect yourself against possible circumstances that may cause the snake to bite.
Are Green Vine Snakes Poisonous?
The green vine snake, unlike the similar-looking green tree snake, is mildly venomous. The green vine snake’s venom is hardly ever seen as a threat to humans, though. It is very mild and typically causes a numb or tingling sensation in the bitten area. However, sometimes this snake’s venom can cause an allergic reaction. If you have a history of allergies, use caution when interacting with this snake.
The second reason the green vine snake is hardly every seen as a threat to humans is its method of venom delivery. Most venomous snakes have hollow fangs which inject the venom into its victim like a syringe. Vine snakes, instead, have grooved teeth, which allows the venom to flow from their venom glands and down their teeth into the bitten.
This means that the vine snake must essentially chew its victim before the venom is properly delivered. This makes it more difficult and time consuming for the vine snake to poison its victim.
When threatened, the vine snake will curve its body into an S-shape and puff out its neck. It is rare for a vine snake to bite, even if they feel threatened, but it is still a good idea to handle them with care.
Is the Brown Vine Snake Poisonous?
The Brown Vine Snake, otherwise known as the Mexican Vine Snake since it is largely found in the geographical range of Mexico and surrounding southern-U.S. and Latin American countries, is, similarly to its cousin the Green Vine Snake, mildly venomous. Its bite is known to not be fatal to humans and only causes numbness or tingling sensations around the bitten area.
However, like the Green Vine Snake, the Brown Vine Snake’s bite can trigger allergic reactions or even anaphylaxis is people predisposed to such conditions.
Though vine snakes hardly bite, even more rarely when it comes to biting humans, it could be helpful to know what signs to watch out for in an aggravated vine snake. If a vine snake feels threatened, it will open its mouth wide and expose its rear fangs and the dark lining of its mouth. The Brown Vine Snake will also release foul smelling secretions as a defense.
What Does a Vine Snake Eat?
The vine snake is classified as a carnivore, meaning its diet consists of meat from other animals. The vine snake usually eats frogs, lizards, and small birds. Some species of vine snake have even specialized their predatory skills to hunt hummingbirds. They use the element of surprise and ambush the unsuspecting hummingbirds as they drink nectar from flowers.
This diet has caused somewhat of a bad image for vine snakes amongst the pet community. It can be difficult to find vine snakes for sale in regular pet stores partially because of their carnivorous diet. However, they are sometimes available for sale online or at reptile expos.
Temperament of Vine Snakes
The Asian Vine Snake is typically a docile creature. It hardly bites humans, even if they feel threatened and only after it has made its feeling clear by curling into a S-shape and puffing up its throat.
Mexican Vine Snakes are known to be a bit more precocious. This species is more likely to bite and strike repeatedly than its Asian counterpart. When threatened, in addition to curling into a S-shape and puffing up its throat, the Mexican Vine Snake will open its mouth wide and bare its fangs.
Vine snakes are known to be tricky to care for as pets, thus only recommended for experienced snake owners. This difficulty in care often gives these snakes a perceived personality of being picky or particular. In addition, since these snakes are mildly venomous, it is recommended that they be handled with a snake hook or gloves to lessen the risk of them biting you.
You should only pick up vine snakes and handle them if you need to and if you are experienced with such circumstances. Do not allow children or inexperienced people to handle or hold them.
Care of Vine Snakes
The care of vine snakes as a pet can be a bit tricky. Their diet, environment, and maintenance requires specific details and timing. It is important to pay attention to the aspects of care below and the details and are they entail:
The vine snake is an arboreal snake, which means it likes to climb plants and trees. To accommodate this trait, it is best to have a vertically oriented terrarium for your snake to live in. For a normal sized vine snake, a 55 to 75-gallon tank set on end will serve as a great habitat.
If your snake is smaller or bigger than normal, you can adjust the terrarium size accordingly, though a good rule of thumb to remember is it is better to air on the larger size as your snake will need room to slither around, climb, and just plain live life.
To help your vine snake indulge its climbing habits, it is best to put in branches and vines. It would also be ideal for your vine snake if you included some live plants and moss in the terrarium to offer cover and hiding places. This offers your pet some comfort and a sense of security if it ever wants to hide, as your vine snake is sure to do.
If you include hide boxes or bird houses sized to your snake, this will offer them additional places to climb into and relax.
The climate inside of your vine snake’s terrarium will need to mimic that of its natural habitat. The ideal temperature set up for a vine snake is on the hot and humid side of things.
The top of the terrarium should be between 85 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit and the lower levels should be around 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This best copies that temperature in their natural environment where the sun warms the top of the jungle canopy more so than the layers below the foliage. This is best achieved by fixing a heating pad to the front, sides, or back of the terrarium. You can also use a heat lamp to achieve the same results.
A basking lamp is also a good investment for your vine snake. The lamp does not need to be ultraviolet, though that would be an added benefit for your pet. Since this basking lamp will serve as a sun of sorts in your vine snake’s terrarium, put it on a cycle of twelve to fourteen hours on and ten to twelve hours off to mimic the natural cycle of sunrise and sunset.
Rocks and Climbing Branches
As mentioned above, the vine snake is an arboreal creature, meaning it likes to climb. This habit combined with its long and slender appearance causes the vine snake to be confused with actual vines at time, thus giving earning it its name.
Your vine snake’s terrarium should be well equipped with plenty of branches, vines, and rocks on which they can climb. You should also include places where your snake can rest, bask, or hide at different levels in its terrarium. Hide boxes and appropriately sized bird houses offer great spots for vine snakes to rest.
Thermometer and Hydrometer
The temperature and humidity of your vine snake’s terrarium habitat is an important factor in helping it remain healthy and happy. The vine snake’s natural habitat (Southeast Asia and Southern China for the Asian Vine Snake and Southern U.S., Mexico and surrounding Latin America for the Mexican Vine Snake) is naturally hot and humid. Its terrarium should mimic this climate.
The top of the terrarium should be hotter than the bottom, 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit and 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit respectively. An accurate thermometer should be purchased to properly track the terrarium’s temperature.
A hydrometer is an essential purchase to track the humidity inside your vine snake’s terrarium. Ideally, humidity levels should be between eighty and ninety percent. Short time periods above or below this level are okay for vine snakes to experience, however, if the levels are out of this range too often or too long, this can negatively affect your vine snake’s health.
To properly maintain humidity levels in the terrarium, you can spray the inside of the terrarium with fresh water twice per day, once in the morning and once at night. You can also place a water dish above a heat pad. Lastly, partially blocking the screened opening of the terrarium can work to keep moisture in, thus increasing humidity.
No matter the method, your snake’s habitat should be properly humid, with the moss and substrate on the bottom of the terrarium being moist, but not overly damp or wet.
How Much and How Often to Feed?
As mentioned above, a vine snake’s diet is carnivorous, consisting of frogs, lizards, and small birds. Your vine snake should be fed at least three to four times per week to ensure proper health and body weight. You can place multiple feeder lizards or frogs in your snake’s terrarium at once.
The snake will eat its fill and save the rest for when it is hungry later. These lizards pose no threat to your vine snake so they can remain in the terrarium as long as they need before they are eaten.
It is important to note that many people find the feeding of their vine snake the trickiest part of caring for their pet. Small lizards and geckos can be difficult to find in pet stores, especially at the quantity that a vine snake will need them. Be sure that you have an available and steady source of food for your vine snake before purchasing one.
Vine snakes do enjoy being handled for too long or too often. When handling a vine snake, it is important to take appropriate precautions. Never pick up a vine snake with your bare hands. This is a surefire way to invite your pet to bite you if it so feels.
Always use a snake hook or tongs and wear thick gloves for protection. Always ensure that the handling of your vine snake is done by an experienced person and, of course, done with caution and care.
Many illnesses and health problems common with vine snakes can be avoided with proper feeding and habitat upkeep. If their terrarium is too moist or not humid enough, they may develop fungal or bacterial infections in their scales or respiratory systems.
When you first get your vine snake, a common risk to address first is dehydration. You can alleviate this by placing your vine snake in an appropriately sized container with about an inch of warm water. Do this for three days in a row and your snake will be properly hydrated.
If properly cared for, maintained, and provided with proper environment and sustenance, your vine snake will be a great and interesting pet to have. And, most importantly, it will live a long and happy life.