Care and Keeping of the False Water Cobra Hydrodynastes Gigas

General Care and Keeping of False Water Cobras

Hydrodinastes gigas

False Water Cobras are one of the largest colubrid (egg laying) snakes in the world. Adults can attain sizes of eight feet or longer and weigh over ten pounds. These snakes are FAST, they have excellent eyesight, and very little fear of anything. They are one of the few snakes who will watch you watching them. They are also a rear-fanged snake and should be treated with the respect they deserve.

False Water Cobras are cannibalistic, especially when babies. Do NOT house them together. Adults can do well in pairs and trios but must be separated during feeding.

False Water Cobras hatch out in the 12 to 16 inch range and are about as big around as an average mans little finger. They are fully functional, able and ready to climb, swim, burrow, explore and eat. Most especially eat. False Water Cobras (FWCs) are voracious feeders.

Babies will usually start to eat pink mice or pink rats. Stubborn feeders can almost always be started on small goldfish. As the snake grows food of proper size should be provided. A medium FWC, in the 3 to 5 foot range, will eat small to medium rats or fish similar in size to a 7 to 10 inch trout. Large FWCs, in the 6 to 9 foot range can eat large trout sized fish or medium rats. These snakes do not do well on extremely large meals. Better to feed a smaller food more often than large meals.

When handled regularly FWCs will remain quite tame as a rule, there are always exceptions. If handling is infrequent there is a good chance that your snake will not be easy to hold. Fast is too slow a word to describe the speed at which these snake can move. When handling it is recommended that they be picked up in one smooth motion. Do not wave your hand in front of the snake or start and stop your hand where the snake can see it. Food items move like that. This species is a sight hunter; they have excellent vision. You do not want to be mistaken for food.

A ten gallon terrarium is sufficient for your slithering friend until it is about 2 feet long. At that point it will need to be stepped up to a bigger cage. For an adult something 4 feet long, 18 inches deep and at least 18 inches tall is adequate. FWCs are fantastic climbers. Given an enclosure with room to climb, they will do so with gusto. False Water Cobras are not shy.

A temperature range of 70F on the cool side of the enclosure up to 90F on the warm side will keep your snake happy. Temperatures over 95F are not tolerated well, especially if a meal has recently been consumed. Be sure to use a thermometer or temperature probe to monitor the heat of the cage.

A variety of beddings are fine for FWCs. Pine shavings, sani-chips, newspaper, or shredded aspen are all acceptable. Stay away from sand and gravel. Snakes that eat a lot also defecate frequently.

Give your snake at least 3 inches of material in the bottom of its cage. This will enable you friend to burrow. They do occasionally want privacy. They will also need some sort of hide, a hollowed out log, an upside down litter box with a hole cut in one side, anything that can be sterilized and does not have sharp edges will suffice.

Humidity will only be an issue for those living in arid areas. 40% to 60% is an acceptable range. They do not need to be kept wet, though they do need a water bowl big enough to soak in. Too dry will be detrimental. These snakes need some moisture, they are rainforest natives.

Kept properly False Water Cobras can live 15 to 20 years or more and provide quite a bit of entertainment. They are large alert active snakes that will have you seriously pondering whether or not snakes can think.