You have decided to own a snake or other reptile as a pet and have probably invested quite a bit of time and money into getting everything ready. What you do not want now, is your little pride and joy (the reptile) to go missing! First of all, it could be dangerous to other people or pets. Secondly, it might give someone the fright of their life. Thirdly, and most importantly, it could be stressful for the pet.
As all good herp lovers know, reptiles are good at being stealthy. But you might be amazed at what tiny gaps they can escape through. In this case, it’s better to be over-zealous and safe, rather than sorry.
Escape Proof Enclosure Basics:
- The enclosure needs to be at least ¾ of the length of the snake. Remember to account for space taken up by accessories too. Getting the right size of cage prevents a baby snake form escaping through gaps in a cage meant for larger reptiles.
- Plastic is the best choice of material, followed by glass. Wood tends to keep bacteria and can be too rough. Wire mesh is no good, because you cannot control heat and humidity.
- Buying a professional cage for your snake or lizard means that safety precautions have already been thought out and incorporated into the design.
- Lids and sides need to be secure so that the snake cannot push against them and create gaps which allow escape. Use special clips meant for this purpose or buy a cage with sliding openings.
- You not only want to keep the reptile enclosed, but you also want to keep kids and strangers out. Locks are just for this purpose, as well as keeping the reptile out of reach of young ones.
- To avoid your reptile escaping while you are cleaning the cage, you could buy or make one with a removable bottom tray for easy cleaning.
- All reptiles need to have heat source. Special heating pads are made for snake enclosures.
- A lamp can also warm your snake, but use only in the daytime. Allow your snake to regulate its temperature by providing cool places in the enclosure, as well.
- Your enclosure should have a thermometer and humidity gauge. A second thermometer on the other end of the cage is worthwhile, too.
- A heavy water dish about 1/3 full should be placed on the cool side of the enclosure.
- In most aquariums, the water dish will provide enough humidity. Don’t it let run dry.
- Every enclosure needs lots of hiding spots. Make these by cutting a hole in a clean plastic container. Place one on the cool side, one on the warm side, and one in between.
- Cover the floor of your enclosure with newspaper, potting soil or sterilized sand. Terry cloth, carpet or an AstroTurf like product called reptile carpet allows for easy washing. Avoid kitty litter or wood shavings.
A little bit of knowledge can go a long way. As with any pet, spend some time reading up on the habits and needs of the animal. Different snakes have different tolerances for humidity and heat. Know what your snake needs and you’ll be able to provide the best care.