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Can A Snake Be An Emotional Support Animal? 7 Reasons To Choose
Have you ever considered an unusual creature as a source of comfort and relief from stress, anxiety, or depression? Dogs and cats are common choices, but…how about a snake?
That’s right, a snake!
It might surprise you, but there’s been a recent uptick in people choosing unique pets for their emotional support animals (ESAs). But can a snake be an emotional support animal? The short answer is yes.
This article will explore the role of ESAs, the qualities that make snakes good candidates, and how to get an ESA letter to register your slithering friend. If you seek solace and support outside the box, this article might just help you find the perfect companion!
Can A Snake Be An Emotional Support Animal?
Yes! You can have an emotional support snake.
These creatures may not be conventionally cuddly, but they can provide unique therapeutic benefits, including calmness, companionship, and comfort.
Unlike service animals, emotional support animals like snakes don’t require special training. Their main role is to alleviate symptoms associated with various mental health conditions through their presence. As such, an emotional support animal does not get the same privileges as a service dog.
7 Reasons Why Snakes Make Great Emotional Support Animals
- Snakes Are Odorless and Hypoallergenic: Unlike a lot of common pets, snakes have no fur or dander and are virtually odorless. As long as their habitats are cleaned regularly, you won’t have to worry about unpleasant smells.
- Snakes Are Easy To Care For: Snakes are low-maintenance pets. Their feeding schedule typically ranges from once a week to once every few weeks, depending on the species. This is great for individuals who may struggle to keep up with the demands of a mammal.
- Snakes Like to Cuddle: This might be surprising, but snakes enjoy cuddling. They often curl up around a warm object, including a human hand or neck, providing a unique form of physical contact and bonding.
- Snakes Live a Long Time: Most snakes have quite a long lifespan, with many species living up to 20 years or more. This longevity allows for a long-term emotional bond to develop, which can be especially beneficial for those seeking a constant companion.
- Snakes Don’t Get Lonely: Unlike dogs and cats, snakes don’t experience loneliness. They’re solitary animals by nature and are usually perfectly content being alone. This makes them suitable for people with lifestyles that might not allow for consistent interaction with ESA animals.
- Snakes Don’t Damage Property: With a proper enclosure, you won’t have to worry about a snake chewing furniture, scratching floors, or causing other property damage.
- Snakes are Easily Isolated from Other Animals: A snake can be easily separated due to its habitat requirements if you have other pets or even multiple emotional support snakes. This ensures safety for all animals involved and ease of mind for the owner, no matter how many emotional support animals or pets you have in your home.
How Can Snakes Help Reduce Anxiety?
Snakes can surprisingly be calming companions for those with anxiety due to their:
- Slow, predictable movements: Their steady motion can create a soothing rhythm, promoting a sense of calm. This is especially good for people who find other assistance animals overstimulating.
- Simple care routines: Taking care of a snake can provide structure and purpose. Their basic needs, appropriate warmth, regular feeding, and a clean habitat, are less stressful than tending to high-maintenance assistance animals.
- Therapeutic interaction: Handling a snake, feeling its smooth scales, and watching its behaviors can distract from worrisome thoughts. Cold-blooded, they love to snuggle close to absorb your body heat.
Emotional Support Animal (ESA): What Exactly Does It Do?
An emotional support animal (ESA), like a snake or a dog, provides comfort and companionship to an individual battling mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. However, unlike service animals, which have a specific legal definition, there are a variety of general terms like “therapy animals” and “assistance animals” that aren’t as specific.
A service animal must be specially trained to assist those with physical or mental impairments. They are trained to perform tasks like guiding the visually impaired or alerting a diabetic to low blood sugar levels. Usually, these are service dogs, though in some cases, they can be miniature horses.
Emotional support animals, on the other hand, aren’t trained for specific tasks. Their main role is to offer emotional comfort. More than just pets; they offer tangible therapeutic benefits, helping to ease stress, combat loneliness, and promote overall well-being.
List Of Animals That Can Be Emotional Support Animals
While most people may envision dogs or cats when they think of emotional support animals, the reality is far more diverse. An emotional support animal can be any type of domestic animal that provides comfort and support. Here are a few examples of the types of animals that can serve as ESAs:
- Dogs: As the most common emotional support animals, dogs can provide immense comfort and companionship.
- Cats: With their calming purrs and affectionate nature, domestic cats are excellent ESAs.
- Rabbits: Rabbits are known for their soothing presence and are ideal for individuals living in apartments. They can even be litter box trained!
- Birds: Birds can be very social and engaging pets, providing emotional support through their interactions.
- Hamsters: These small pets can be surprisingly comforting and are easy to care for.
- Ferrets: Ferrets are playful and intelligent animals that can provide distraction and engagement.
- Reptiles: In addition to snakes, bearded dragons, tortoises, and other reptiles can serve as effective emotional support animals.
This list isn’t exhaustive. Nearly any domestic animal that provides demonstrable emotional support can be a candidate to be an ESA.
4 Steps To Register Your Snake As An ESA
Certifying your snake as an emotional support animal is not as complicated as it may seem. Here are the four essential steps to register your snake as an ESA.
Step 1: Meet With A Therapist
Start your journey by booking an appointment with a licensed mental health professional. During this session, openly discuss your emotional or mental health concerns and why you believe a snake could help you manage these issues. If the therapist concludes that you have a qualifying condition, they will help confirm how you could benefit from an ESA.
Step 2: Obtain Your ESA Letter
Next, you need to obtain an ESA letter from a mental health professional (LCMP). This letter should state that you have a diagnosed mental or emotional disability and that an ESA will help manage or alleviate symptoms of this disability.
This letter will be your primary tool in affirming your need for an ESA in situations such as housing or travel. For the best legitimate ESA letter, consider services like CertaPet, which can help you register online, but remember to read a Certapet review first to ensure it suits your needs.
Step 3: Register Your Snake As An ESA
Although there is no formal registry for ESAs in the United States, some individuals find comfort in ESA registration through private organizations. However, it’s essential to remember that these registrations hold no legal standing. The most critical part of ESA recognition is your ESA letter from a LCMP.
Step 4: Integrate Your ESA Snake Into Your Life
Finally, you can introduce your ESA snake into your daily life. Consider the specific needs of your snake species and set up an appropriate living habitat. Always remember that the goal is to have your snake help you with your mental health challenges, so consider activities that promote this interaction, like handling or observing your snake regularly.
Snakes can make great emotional support animals due to their calming presence, low maintenance, and longevity. Always consult a LCMP before deciding which type of emotional support animal will best suit your needs. Remember, the primary role of an ESA is to provide emotional support, and the most important thing is to choose an ESA that fits your lifestyle and mental health needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, snakes can help with anxiety for some people. Their quiet, predictable behavior and easy care can provide a sense of calm and distract from anxiety.
Yes, reptiles, including snakes, can be registered as emotional support animals, although they may not provide the same level of interaction as more traditional ESAs like dogs.
Emotional support snakes are low maintenance, quiet, and live long. They also don’t require constant attention, which may suit some people’s lifestyles.
Snakes don’t form emotional attachments like mammals do. However, they can recognize and become accustomed to their handlers, creating a sense of familiarity and routine.
You can obtain an ESA letter for a snake from a LCMP. This can be a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist who can attest to your need for an emotional support animal.
Yes. Under the Fair Housing Act, landlords cannot discriminate against tenants with ESAs, including snakes. However, some restrictions may apply, and other accommodations, like airlines, may have their own policies regarding ESAs.
Certain species of snakes might not be suitable or legal to keep as pets, let alone as ESAs, depending on local and state laws. Venomous snakes or extremely large constrictor snakes, for example, are generally not permitted. Before deciding on a specific snake species as your ESA, research and understand the regulations in your area.
Any domestic, non-venomous snake is a potential candidate to be an emotional support animal. Ball pythons and corn snakes are popular choices because they aren’t venomous and don’t get big enough to be dangerous to humans.
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- Howell, T.J., Nieforth, L.O., Thomas-Pino, C., Samet, L., S. Agbonika, Cuevas-Pavincich, F., Nina Ekholm Fry, Hill, K., Jegatheesan, B., Kakinuma, M., MacNamara, M., Sanna Mattila-Rautiainen, Perry, A., Christine Yvette Tardif-Williams, Walsh, E.J., Winkle, M., Yamamoto, M., Yerbury, R.M., Vijay P.S. Rawat and Alm, K. (2022). Defining Terms Used for Animals Working in Support Roles for People with Support Needs. [online] 12(15), pp.1975–1975. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12151975.
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (2000). Housing Discrimination Under the Fair Housing Act. [online] Hud.gov. Available at: https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/fair_housing_act_overview.