Having a snake for a pet is a real challenge, especially for those who have not handled one yet. There are so many things that you may want to consider including the proper habitat for the snake that you intend to keep as a pet. If you will also consider keeping a large snake, you need to remember that this hobby is not for the faint of heart. For one, these snakes enjoy munching live preys. Only if you really do not mind watching rodents being eaten alive, you need to think twice.
You also need to take note that a snake can live from 25-40 years. The oldest ball python recorded reached the age 48 before it died. There are also so many breeds of snakes. You may also find a lot of crossbreeds as you look for the right snake to keep as a pet. Every snake breed will have its own housing requirement. And if you would really like to keep one or more snakes, you have to make sure that you are properly educated on how to provide them the right husbandry to ensure your pet as well as your safety in the process.
There are some general requirements that you should take note of, including those that will be mentioned below.
Finding the right enclosure for your pet
Once you have decided which snake breed to keep, you need to build the right enclosure for the snake. You can’t just let it roam around until it gets the best of you, just like what happened to a British snake enthusiast who supposedly was cuddled to death by his pet python. If you plan to adopt a smaller snake species, like a garter snake, milk snake, corn snake, Western Hognose Snakes, African Ball Pythons, and Kingsnakes, a fairly small enclosure will just be right for any of them.
Take note, however, that there are some species that can grow to a length of more than 30 feet, and they will need a custom-built vivarium. You may need to consider one of these enclosure sizes where your snake or snakes can live and roam around without restrictions. choose the best snake cages meet the criteria.
- 10 – 20-gallon terrarium. This size of an enclosure will just be right for smaller-sized snakes like garter snakes, grass snakes, and so on;
- 30 – 55-gallon terrarium. For bigger-sized snakes like the kingsnake, rat snakes, milk snakes, gopher snakes, and other snake breeds, you will need an enclosure with about these sizes.
- Custom-built enclosures. Boa constrictors, pythons, and other large snakes will need enclosures where they go around freely.
You can build your pet’s housing, or buy one online or at your local pet stores. Just make sure that whatever enclosure you choose or build will have a tight-fitting or secure lid that will prevent the snake from escaping. A good habitat for a snake should also provide proper ventilation and air circulation as this will help maintain your pet’s overall health.
The temperature within your pet’s enclosure
Snakes need to thermoregulate their body temperature with the help of supplemental sources of heat. They cannot do this on their own. If they won’t be provided with best way to heat a snake tank, they will soon get sick and die.
As different snake breeds have different temperature requirements, you will need to know your pet’s specific heat requirement to ensure its overall health. All of these snakes require a temperature gradient that varies throughout its enclosure. You will notice your snake moving into warm areas of its cage when it needs to raise its body temperature, such as when it needs to digest the food that it had just eaten. Then, it will move to cooler areas when it needs to lower its body temp. As such, you will need to provide a temperature gradient within the enclosure where the snake can have a basking area as well as a cooler side. You will also need to place thermometers at both ends of the cage as this will help you properly monitor the temperatures within the enclosure.
For this purpose, you will need to set up primary as well as secondary heat sources within the snake’s cage. Primary heat sources will help maintain the temperature within the enclosure. A series of incandescent lights are normally turned on during the day and nocturnal reptile incandescent lights are set for the night. You may also use under the tank heaters and mats, as well as ceramic heat emitters to maintain the right overall temperature in the cage. If you have a fairly large enclosure, you may need a space heater outside the cage as it can help maintain cage temperatures.
Secondary heat sources, on the other hand, are installed to create a warmer area where the snake can bask. This should cover about 25% to 30% of the cage, and has to be turned off at night. You may want to set up 50 to 75-watt incandescent bulbs as well as basking lights for this purpose. To ensure that you are providing adequate heat for your snake, you may also use an under-the tank-heater on one side of the enclosure. A hot rock should never be considered for this purpose as your snake can burn itself while resting on it.
Consider these temperature settings for specific snake breeds:
- Ball Python. 77° – 85°F during the day, 69° – 75°F at night, 90°F in the basking area
- Milk Snake.78° – 82°F during the day, 65° – 70°F at night, 84° – 88°F in the basking area
- Amazon Tree Boa. 80° – 85°F during the day, 75° – 78°F at night, 90°F in the basking area
- Red-Tailed Boa. 82° – 90°F during the day, 78° – 85°F at night, 90° – 95°F in the basking area
- Burmese Python. 85° – 88°F during the day, 78° – 80°F at night, 90°F in the basking area
Snakes, like most reptiles, have a day and night cycle. They generally need 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness within a 24-hour period. They also require two types of lighting sources in their enclosures – light that provides heat (incandescent bulbs) and full spectrum fluorescent lights to supply UVB and UVA light.
They need UVB lights to help synthesize Vitamin D3 from the foods that they eat. They need vitamin D3 as it will help metabolize the vitamins and minerals from the foods that they eat. Both lights should be turned off at night unless you have set up special nocturnal bulbs that emit almost no light.
Your pet snake will also require the right humidity level within its enclosure as well as within its body. You may need misters or foggers to keep the habitat moist. A best reptile humidifier will also help you properly monitor the humidity level within the snake’s cage with, so it’s necessary that you have it set up as well.
Popular pet snakes as follows require these humidity levels:
- Amazon Tree Boa – 80% – 90%
- Ball Python – 60%, hide spot that is 70% – 80%
- Burmese Python – 65% – 70%
- Milk Snake – 40% – 60%
- Red-Tailed Boa -75%
When choosing the right substrate for your snake, you need to consider its safety as well as the ease of cleaning and replacing the substrate. Some of the most commonly preferred substrates are as follows: cypress mulch, paper towels, newspaper, indoor/outdoor carpet, aspen shavings, and butcher paper. Make sure to do some research on the substrate that will work best for your snake.
The accessories and decorations that you may add to your pet’s enclosure will depend on the breed of snake that you own. Some of the items that should be placed in your pet snake’s enclosure include a water bowl, a hide spot or shelter, branches, rocks, and shelves.
Building the right habitat for your snake is a major requirement and you will need to put all necessary items together even before you bring your snake home. Ensure that everything is set up properly to ensure that your pet will grow healthy and satisfied in its new habitat.