Owning a snake is a major commitment, one that should not be entered into lightly. Housing a snake can be a very difficult task, especially with those species that can grow to be 500 lbs. Before you consider bringing a snake into your home, it is important that you know how you will have to house your snake. Different species of snakes will have their own specific habitat requirements, but there are some general requirements that you should know about so you can properly care for your snake.
Choosing a Cage
You can build your own enclosure out of plywood and melamine if you are handy, or you can purchase one. Make sure that whatever cage you choose or build has a very secure lid to prevent your snake from escaping as well as proper ventilation and air circulation. Always keep in mind that your snake is going to grow very fast, so what seems sufficient for a python hatchling will soon not be.
Primary heat sources are used to maintain the temperature of the entire habitat, and they can include a series of incandescent lights during the day, nocturnal reptile incandescent lights at night, under the tank heaters and mats, and ceramic heat emitters. If the enclosure is very large, you can use a space heater outside it to help maintain cage temperatures.
Secondary heat sources are used to create a hotter temperature in one area of the habitat, the basking area. It should cover 25% to 30% of the cage, and it should be turned off at night. Secondary heat sources can include 50 to 75 watt incandescent bulbs and basking lights. You can also help to create a hot spot by using an under-the tank-heater on just one side of the enclosure. Never use hot rocks as a heat source - your snake can burn himself on them.
Here are the temperature requirements for some popular pet snakes:
When choosing incandescent bulbs, consider the wattage of the bulbs you are purchasing. High wattage bulbs will produce more heat and raise the temperature of the enclosure.
Here are the humidity levels for some popular pet snakes:
Plants, Accessories & Decorations
A water bowl is necessary for drinking and soaking. It will also help maintain humidity levels in the habitat for some species. The bowl should be large enough that your snake can fit his entire body in it and heavy enough that the snake cannot tip it over. The temperature of the water will be dependent on the requirements of the species.
A hide spot will give your snake a place to rest as well as a sense of security. It can be a large box, a flower pot, or any other item that provides almost complete darkness.
Shelves, branches, vines, and other similar items will all give your snake a place to climb and rest. If your snake is arboreal, crisscrossing these items to form forks near the top of the habitat will give him someplace to perch.
You should also put rocks or branches in the enclosure for your snake to rub himself on. This will help when he is shedding his skin. They should be slightly rough, but not abrasive.
Housing a snake is a major undertaking, and you should start planning and putting together the habitat long before you bring your snake home. We recommend that you always have the terrarium set up with the proper accessories, temperature, and humidity level before placing a snake in it.