So you’ve finally decided to get your first snake. That’s great to hear but before you run down to the store to pick it up (or purchase it from an online vendor) you need to be certain everything is in place and ready to go for your snakes arrival. Reptiles are very unforgiving animals when it comes to their living environment and not having everything setup ahead of time is a big mistake when it comes to caring for a snake. This is what you should have ready.
A terrarium for your pet snake
In the past we’ve advocated making your own snake cage out of a plastic bin and for many people due to the low cost and ease of use that is still the best option. However we also recognize that there are those who would like to spend a little extra money and have their snake in a glass display case. Some people will buy a glass aquarium, put some lights on it, tape a heat pad to the bottom, secure the top down and call it good. That’s fine but you’ll often find yourself fighting with humidity and dryness issues. Instead you should consider purchasing an Exo Terra AllGlass Terrarium – 18 x 18 x 18 Inches. These kits a pre-made and take all of the guess work out of setting your animal up properly. Plus the peace of mind they give as far as security goes is unbeatable.
Because snakes can not regulate their own body temperature providing sources of heat is important. A common method of heating is to use an under the tank heater (UTH) such as the Zoo Med ReptiTherm® Under Tank Heater, Medium. The UTH provides a spot for the snake to bask which aids in the digestion of meals.
In addition to the UTH you will need a heating lamp. Snakes unlike lizards do not require UVA/B lighting, but getting a bulb that gives off those wavelengths isn’t going to hurt anything. You want to be sure to get Zoo Med Daylight Blue Incandescent Reptile Bulb 15 Watts and one for Zoo Med Nightlight Red Reptile Bulb 60 Wattsuse at night. You can also Zoo Med Zoo Med Day and Night Reptile Bulb Combo Pack (Pack of 2 60 Watt Bulbs)that has one bulb for night and one bulb for day usage.
If you are using an exoterra terrarium system they usually have lamps built in that just need bulbs. On the other hand if you are using an old aquarium you’ll have to buy your own Zoo Med Clamp Light Fixtureto hold the bulbs.
Keeping track of the temperature and humidity
After you have heating elements you need to be able to keep track of temperature and humidity. One of the best tools to use for doing this is a Chaney Instruments Acu-Rite 00891A1 Indoor and Outdoor Thermometer with Humidity.
The remote probe allows you to place the main body of the instrument at the end away from the heating pad and then put the probe over the heating pad. That way you can see both the ambient temperature inside the enclosure as well as the basking temperature.
Miscellaneous items you should have on hand
You should also have the following items ready to go when your snake gets there.
- Phone numbers for exotic animal vets in your area
- A good reference source (such as pet-snakes.com)
- A large bowl. It should be shallow but wide to help speed up evaporation