Werribee Open Range Zoo is ramping up the way it keeps resident snakes entertained.
The zoo last week introduced a contraption dubbed the “snake ramp”, a two-metre ramp which attaches to the outside of the Dumeril’s boa snake exhibit.
The ramp, on a 45-degree angle to the floor, provides a connecting bridge for the reptiles to explore their external environment.
The ramp is fitted with wooden pegs to encourage the boas to actively constrict and move their bodies, which are natural behaviours often used by the reptiles to secure their prey.
Keeper Malinda Delahant said the snake ramp was used by the reptiles for up to 30 minutes at a time and provided the Dumeril’s boas with a range of benefits.
“The snake ramp gives the Dumeril’s boas with choice and control,” she said.
“They’re able to stretch out and exercise and they can choose when they want to come out and engage with keepers. It’s really great enrichment for them.
“By giving these snakes the choice to come out willingly, it provides high-quality welfare.“
Ms Delahant said the snakes were displaying positive behavioural signs, as a result of using the ramp.
“Sometimes, they’ll be waiting for us at their exhibit doors, and when we open those doors they are choosing to engage in the activity,” she said.
“They are displaying relaxed behaviours and there’s a lot of tongue flicking which indicates that they’re trying to get a sense of their new environment.”
Werribee Open Range Zoo is home to four Dumeril’s boas, a species that is non-venomous and native to the coastal areas of Madagascar.
They can grow up to two metres in length and weigh up to nine kilograms.
While Werribee Open Range Zoo is temporarily closed to the public, animal lovers at home can stay connected with the zoo’s animals through Zoos Victoria’s live stream cameras at zoo.org.au/animals-at-home