Equipment required for keeping a Mangrove snake
Vivarium: Exo Terra PT2614 Glass Terrarium 90x45x60cm 36x18x24 inch (WxDxH). Or Vivarium AX36 (L915mm x D406mm x H1216mm)
Lighting: Lights for viewing only for PT-2614 Compact Fluorescent Terrarium Canopy PT-2227 and one bulb PT-2190 Repto Glo 2.0 Compact and one PT-2124 Night Glo Moonlight lamp for night time viewing.
For the AX36 two Arcadia ADH lamp holders & one PT-2104 Neodymium bulb 40w and one PT-2124 Night Glo Lamp for day and night time viewing.
Heating: PT-2047 Ceramic Heat Emitter 150watt & PT-2054 Glow light reflector for the terrarium.
For the AX36: PT-2047 Ceramic Heat Emitter 150watt and ceramic guard.
Habistat Pulse proportional Thermostat.
Substrate: Orchid bark and/or Moss
Décor: PT-2804 X-large water Dish, PT-3040 – PT3052 mix of 4-6+ plants, Vines 4 PT-3082 they need plenty of vines and branches to climb. Bark Cave large
Sulawesi Black Mangrove Snake (Boiga dendophylum gemmicincta)
The information here is also good for the other Mangrove Snakes (Boiga dendophylum).
Location: Indonesia, Sulawesi Island is one of the four larger Sunda Islands of Indonesia it is situated between Borneo and the Maluka Islands.
As hatchlings they are black with orange bands that diminish with age.
This species of snake belongs to the genus Boiga. They are one of the largest cat snake species, averaging in lengths between six to eight feet. They are considered mildly venomous, though moderate envenomations resulting in intense swelling have been reported. There have been no severe cases of hospitalisation or fatalities that I know of
Habitat: The mangrove snake is found more often in lowland rainforest than Mangrove swamps, from which it is named.
Food: Feeds on small mammals, Birds, lizards, frogs, snakes and fish.
These snakes are nocturnal and prefer to hide during the day.
They are very aggressive snakes and should be handled with a grab stick or hook. If you prefer to handle your snakes then gloves should be used.
These snakes have a long strike range.
With a long strike distance, it can be quite a handful, handling a 200cm+ specimen. Some specimens are very docile, but it seems most of them are very aggressive all the time. They are more aggressive at night.
The whole Boiga complex consist of rear fanged snakes and most are harmless unless you are allergic to the venom, recent studies have shown that some species have venom as toxic as the venom from the death adder (A. Antarticus).
Toxicity is different in each Boiga species. Boiga irregularis has been known to cause some severe envenomations and a few deaths among infants. Bites from Boiga dendrophila sp. have caused large swellings.
Though their means of delivery is very poor. Being rear fanged, they have enlarged teeth in the back of their mouth. In these there is a small groove which allows the venom to run from the venom glands and into their mouth and then have to be chewed into the prey.
So if you receive a fast grab/release bite you are not likely to suffer any consequences from the bite. Maybe a rash, local swelling and pain around the bite mark. But if you let the snake chew for a while you can suffer from quite a nasty envenomation. Effects can be headache, nausea, swelling, pain, discolouration of the surrounding tissue as well as necrosis (tissue death). Usually a pair of solid gloves should be worn and will keep the snake from biting you.
This being said, it is also important to point out that lots of people get bitten by various Boiga sp. every year and don’t feel any effect at all. Above symptoms are a worst case scenario.
Terrarium/Vivarium: Interior and Decoration:
The material of the cage is not that important. Only thing you must make sure is that it can resist the high humidity needed. Glass cages are good the largest Exo Terra terrariums are excellent and have no problems with water. But attaching branches can be a problem. It can be done by using a good solid background or arrange the branches so they don’t need to be fixed.
Unless you insulate the terrarium with a background like cork tiles, they let out a lot of the heat.
The wooden vivariums are easy to arrange. You can screw your branches and other decor to the sides and they are well insulated. But they don’t cope well with the high humidity.
Of course you can paint the inside with a non toxic water-resistant paint or yacht varnish. Giving it 2-3 coats will do fine.
Tall cages with lots of branches and plenty of places to hide are to be preferred. I like to use jungle vines, imported from Asia, as they give a really cool look.
Make sure to create hiding places both high and low. Plants also look great and provide good cover for your snake as well as helping to keep the humidity up.
They help to keep a good environment in your cage. Plastic plants are good as they can take the wear and tear of the snake climbing over them. They are also easy to keep clean.
The size of the cage is of course determined by the size and species of your snake.
Boiga babies do best in smaller cages with lots of tight places to hide. Non transparent plastic boxes will do fine for housing neonates. Critter boxes or Fer-Plast cages are good but either paint the outside or stick coloured paper to the plastic as the clear plastic can cause stress.
For juvenile Boiga (50-80 cm) I would suggest no less than 40x40x80 cm (Long x Wide x High). I would prefer 60x60x100 cm. For adult species (120 cm+) I say no smaller than 60x60x120 cm for a single animal. For a large 200+ cm snake a larger cage will be necessary!!
NOTE be aware that most Boiga species are highly cannibalistic. Do not attempt putting a smaller specimen in the cage with a larger one. I would suggest keeping them separate and only introduce them to each other when trying to breed them.
Substrate: I use coconut fibre (Coir) because of the high humidity also Sphagnum moss is good.
Water: A water bowl that is large enough for the snake to lie in but not completely submerge is good and should be changed daily.
Spray the cage two or three times a day to give some added humidity, also most Mangroves will not drink from a bowl but drink the water droplets from their bodies and foliage when sprayed.
Humidity: should be 70-80%
Heating: It is best to use ceramic heaters (make sure to shield the bulb with a wire cage). Best for larger vivariums as they generate a lot of heat Always use with an appropriate pulse proportional thermostat.
Heat mats can be used on the smaller cages/vivariums placed under half the vivarium/cage. Also use with a thermostat which can be used with the Ceramic later on.
Aim for a temperature range of 78°F-85 ° F days time high, 75° -80°F. Do not go above 85°F otherwise they can stress out.
Wild Caught Animals & Quarantine:
Now dealing with WC Boiga is a lot more difficult, as they are usually full of internal parasites and very dehydrated when they are bought.
Parasites are best treated by a vet unless you know what you are doing and 10% Panacure (Fenbendazole) is used by tubing it directly into the stomach via a syringe and tube. They will probably need two doses a fortnight apart.
Flagellates can be treated with Flagyl (metronidazole) in the same way.
Dehydration I treat any wild caught snakes in the same way for dehydration. Take a large plastic storage box with a good fitting lid. Add half an inch of luke warm water and add half a can of sport aid drink one with re hydration salts and EDTA in them. Add the snake and replace the lid and tape it down so that the snake cannot push it off. Leave for half an hour then return the snake to its vivarium/cage. Repeat this daily until the snake is re-hydrated.
To tell if the snake is dehydrated pinch the skin and it should spring back immediately, the longer it takes the more dehydrated the snake is.
Dehydration is the biggest killer of imported Boigas.
Before getting the snake home, you should have prepared a quarantine area. It is important that you separate your WC Boiga from your already healthy collection to avoid spreading disease or parasites.
When the quarantine area is setup and you have got your Boiga(s) take a stool (faecal) sample and take it to the vet. Your vet should have the sample within 24 hours of the snakes “making it”. When you find it, put it in a little plastic container and into the fridge if you cannot go to the vet right away.
Ask him/her to analyse the sample looking for worms or parasites like flagellates.
Keep the animals in quarantine for at least 6 months. If your Boiga is being treated for something during the 3 months, keep it in quarantine until the treatment is over and another faecal sample has shown the snakes is fine.