Many people greatly overestimate the size of their snakes. Every large snake we have taken in were reported to us as several feet longer than they actually were at intake. That’s ok! We don’t mind at all, but lets talk about how to accurately measure your large snakes.
A common mistake:
You can not use your snake’s shed to get a measurement. When the animal sheds the skin stretches as it comes off. See below for an example of this. This picture shows a shed from Elsa, one of our largest boas, being dried for display. This shed when flattened like this measure out to almost 12 feet long! No, that does not mean Elsa is 12 feet long. She is actually just over 9 feet. This is an excellent example of the general snake shed size rule – most snake’s will throw a shed that is 1/4 to 1/3 longer than they are.
- 20 foot shed = 15 foot snake
- 12 foot shed = 9 foot snake
- 8 foot shed = 6 foot snake
- 6 foot shed = 4.5 foot snake
Getting an accurate measurement of a live snake can be quite difficult. The most accurate way to do it is with heavy sedation so they relax and hold still. That is how it should be done for things like world records and such. No, we are not going to sedate all of our giant snakes just to measure them.
Here’s a couple of ways we do it:
Our goal is to train the snakes to be calm and comfortable stretching out along our floor or work table where we have place a measuring line. Some snakes are better at this than others. We find the burms readily will follow me along the line and are quite easy to measure because of their style of movement. The burms creep along in a straight line naturally. The retics however prefer to move in sections. They push their head and front half forward and then bring their last half up to anchor and push their head forward again. Lilith is learn to move more slowly and follow me so she has been easier to measure. Lore and Valac however are a bit less comfortable stretching out.