General information on Snake and Reptile Cages
by Mark Chapple
If you are new to keeping snakes then I suggest you talk to snake keepers, pets shops that specialize in reptiles and read as much as possible. You should also understand that it will cost money to set yourself up properly to care for your reptile. Our home page has snake cage plans designed to help you save money but there are other costs such as lighting, heat mats & lamps, thermostats, thermometers, heating & lighting power costs, accessories, substrates and food.
Pet snakes generally fall into three categories, based on the environment from which they came. The cages that you house your pet in will depend on that environment. The most common of these types is the terrestrial, those that prefer solid ground and live and hunt in that environment. The other common types are arboreal snakes (tree snakes) and semi aquatic snakes (water snakes).
Many people house their snakes in converted aquariums but these are generally not the best place to house a snake. The glass does not insulate well and consequently loses heat easily and quickly. Smaller reptiles adapt quite well to this sort of environment and the heating costs are not really an issue as the tanks are smaller.
Acrylic cages are common and are quite a good alternative. They are easily washed and lightweight. The better ones can be expensive, depending on their size and options. It is generally a lot more expensive to make moulds for large shapes.
Wooden snake and reptile cages are widely used. This is for a number of reasons:
Easy to construct at home as people already have many of the tools needed
Timber has good insulation properties; this reduces heat loss and also saves heating costs
Materials are readily available
Can be altered to suit the owner’s preferences
You will need to provide at least 3/4 square foot of living area per foot of snake housed within. This means that for cages measuring 2ft deep (wide) the length of the cage is roughly 2/3 the length of the snake to be housed in it i.e. 4ft snake has a 3ft x2ft cage, a 6ft snake requires a min 4ft x 2ft cage etc.
Snake cages also need to be secure. Ideally your snake cage should be lockable to prevent people removing your animal without your presence and risking the chance of being bitten or in the case of a large reptile, potentially injuring or preventing fatalities in the case of young children.
This is even more true of venomous snakes. If you are new to snake keeping or have little experience then you should not consider a venomous snake. Only keepers with a lot of experience keep venomous snakes and even then not many.
Your snake cage will also need to be ventilated. The ventilation should allow a free flow of air through the snake enclosure, without being too much. Snakes have a low metabolic rate and hence do not require a massive air flow.
The vents for your snake enclosure will need to be made from plastic, rather than metal to prevent abrasions.
You will also need to clean your snake’s cage thoroughly at least once a month, including disinfecting the floors, to keep your snake healthy and in good condition.
Snakes regulate their temperature in the wild based on a variety of factors and they need to be able to do so in the artificial environment you provide. Your cage will need a temperature gradient and adequate provision for the snake to regulate its temperature.
You may also have to regulate the humidity of your cage, depending on the type of snake you keep. Snakes from tropical environments require high levels of humidity to remain healthy.
Heating can be provided in a number of ways, for example heat lamps (incandescent bulbs) and heat mats. You need to monitor and regulate the temperature of you snake cage in a number of locations in order to keep you r snake comfortable. If you use incandescent globes, make sure they are not able to be accidentally touched by the snake. As lizards do not have the ability to stretch out to heat lamps as easily, this is generally not an issue.
Snakes requiring humidity will require that you measure the humidity and maintain it be between 40 and 70 percent, in order to provide the optimal environment for your snake.
Humidity gauges and thermometers should be placed at multiple locations within the snake housing to monitor the temperatures and humidity throughout.
For arboreal species, you need to provide plenty of branches of different types and sizes in the snake cage. Other decorations and cage accessories such as rock formations, hollow logs, or other hiding areas should be placed at different temperature locations within the enclosure.
The snake cage will also require a substrate (base material). There are a wide range of these such as Aspen shavings, commercially available substrates designed for snakes newspaper and recycled paper material such as kitty litter.
You will also need a sturdy ceramic or plastic water bowl in your snake cages. They need to have a flat base and be reasonable wide as snakes and reptiles will move around freely and knock poor water containers over. The water containers should be at both the warmer and cooler ends of the cage. Some species of snake like to have a larger water container that enable them to immerse themselves.
You may also need to provide a UV light, such as Zoo Med’s Reptisun 5UVB, to assist you snake with the production of vitamins. Not all snakes require this so you need to check on your particular snake’s requirements. Many species of lizards and skinks do require these UV lights to produce vitamin D so it is best to make sure of your animals requirements when setting up an enclosure.
About the Author
Find out how to build these cages as well as arboreal cages.Full co lor pictures, detailed diagrams and easy to follow, step-by-step instructions. http://www.reptile-cage-plans.com