Since time immemorial, snakes have been feared by people from different parts of the world for various reasons, with a great number having not seen snakes before in their lives. These reasons arise from both religious and personal factors.
The bible uses snakes as a symbol of evil and commands man to crash the head of the snake (Genesis 3:15) thus some people will not think twice when it comes to killing them.
Snake bites cases are rampant in not only our country but all over the world.
This is also one factor that greatly contributes to the fear among people. However for some cases, this fear arises from lack of knowledge about these creatures. Lack of awareness on how to take precautions with venomous snakes, especially in snake-prone areas have led to these animals being killed ruthlessly when some of these snakes are harmless.
Just like other animals, snakes are important components of the natural ecosystem as they maintain the animal food chain as both predator and prey (Jackson, 2007).
Most of these snakes feed on rodents, examples being the ones in this experiment i.e Kenya sand Boa and Brown house snakes. Others include the vipers, boomslang, the mambas and most of the colubrids. With education on how to keep them from coming to people’s houses, these snakes can be very useful around granaries to prey on rodents that destroy farmers’ food hence contribute to the food security agenda.
Although the snake venom is known to be lethal, scientists have been studying for years, the mechanism of action of snake venom for the development of drugs that can be used to treat life threatening diseases such as hypertension and cardiovascular diseases (Ashis et al, 2011).
Therefore it is important to conserve and manage snakes as can be of value to humans.
Last but not least, they contribute greatly in the tourism sector with parks being a site of attraction. Such parks include the Nairobi Snake Park, Gede Snake Park, stedmark garden and Bioken snake farm. Such facilities play a role in creating education to the public.
It is therefore important that studies be conducted on these animals.
This study’s objective is to determine how variations in feeding frequency affect the growth rate of captive snakes.
A variety of findings have been reported from studies done on the feeding frequency in animals (Hasenjager, 2011).Increased feeding frequencies in boa constrictors resulted in increased body size at a faster rate (Robert et al. 2018) and increased growth rates in neonate red corn snakes (Penning, 2012). Juvenile puff adders die from gluttony as a result of increased feeding frequency (Ref).Increased feeding frequencies in horses resulted in increased levels of feeding behaviors (Cooper JJ, 2005) and increased growth in captive adder (V.berus) (Forsman and Lindell, 1996).This diversification in findings warrants further investigation for wild animals in captive facilities (Hasenjager, 2011)
It is upon this backdrop that this study needs to be conducted on the growth of captive snakes in relation to increased feeding.
Individuals of two species will be used in this study; Kenyan sand boa (Boaedon fulliginosus) and Brown house snake (Eryx colubrinus).
Spawls (2002) describes the Brown house snake as medium sized with a cylindrical body, fairly slim, harmless colubrid that is quick to bite when handled. The head is subtriangular with a medium sized eye and vertical pupils. Most common colour is shade of brown with a pair of pale lines on each side of the head though adults appear darker than juveniles.
The snake is one of the most common snakes in Kenya, known to be distributed everywhere except in northern and north western Kenya (Stephen Spawls, 2002). Though nocturnal, this snake will come out to hunt at dusk. (Stephen Spawls, 2002)
Young snakes will feed on lizards while adults on rodents, birds and frogs. This snake is used by framers to control rat population.
Kenya sand Boa is a small, good natured, harmless snake usually grey, yellow or orange in colour with subcircular brown, black or grey blotches and a white or cream belly, inhabiting desert, semi-desert and dry savannah of northern and eastern Kenya.
Growing up to a length of 90cm long, it assumes a short and stout body and tiny eyes with vertical pupils well set forward between the top and side of the eye with the absence of an obvious neck. (Stephen Spawls, 2002). It has extraordinary senses as it must detect approaching prey under the sand. In the wild it feeds of small mammals while in captivity it is fed mostly on mice (Stephen Spawls, 2002)
This study will be carried out in the Nairobi snake park, a reptile facility created to meet the need for tourist attraction and also provides a research ground on reptiles and their breeding in captivity (Nairobi snake park, 2019).
These individuals will be separated into three groups with feeding done biweekly, once in a week and twice a week. Measurements of the weight and length will be taken every week after the feedings and compared. Records of the food acceptability and other factors that may be observed to affect their growth, with close relation to feeding, will be kept and analyzed at the end of the study.
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