Small Breed Rescue of Southern California

Animal Care

Animal Type:
Snake
Animal Breed:

Choosing the right snake enclosure



Selecting an Enclosure can be a daunting task. There are many things you need to keep in mind when it comes the the animals health, your interaction, cost, size, and availability. While its tempting the buy a smaller enclosure for a snake to start off, most everything that you will need to complete that enclosure will need to be sized up when the snake becomes bigger so you end up buying twice as much. It is much better to buy once with everything matched from the very start.




Glass Terrarium

Pros:

  • Available in very small to around 40 gallon, aquarium tanks can be found larger but will require a custom top
  • Inexpensive 
  • Readily available at most pet stores and online
  • Easy to sanitize
  • Handles high humidity well if your snake overflows the water bowl
  • Easier to create a thermal gradient of cold side and hot side due to screen top shedding heat
  • Due to open top, it is easier to run lighting such as basking lights or mercury vapor bulb which generate a lot of ambient heat.
  • Heat mats can be installed under, or in the enclosure as long as the snake does not come indirect contact like when using tile on top.

Cons:

  • Reaching in from above your snake can be threatening to them, and sometimes more difficult to pick up
  • Lighting often sit on the very top you are trying to remove, and sliding to one side often burns the plastic. Buying a stand for them often lifts it up enough to negate is effectiveness.
  • Glass does not retain heat very well so loss of heat and subsequent cost is a factor



Font Opening Glass Terrarium

Pros:

  • Available up to around 40 gallon but very few any larger
  • Reaching in from the front can be easier for you and less stressful for the snake than reaching in from the top
  • Easy to sanitize
  • Handles high humidity well if your snake overflows the water bowl
  • Lights and heaters sit on the top and don't need to be moved to get into the tank.
  • Easier to create a thermal gradient of cold side and hot side due to screen top shedding heat
  • Due to open top, it is easier to run lighting such as basking lights or mercury vapor bulb which generate a lot of ambient heat.
  • Heat mats can be installed under, or in the enclosure as long as the snake does not come indirect contact like when using tile on top.

Cons:

  • A bit more expensive
  • Can be harder to find, Petsmart Thrive brand is highly recommended for the features it comes with
  • Glass does not retain heat very well so loss of heat and subsequent cost is a factor



Melamine Wood Enclosure

Pros:

  • Available in a variety of sizes from small to very large exceeding 200 gallon 
  • Reaching in from the front your enclosure can be easier for you and less stressful for the snake than reaching in from above
  • Panels are easy sanitize, but caulking in corners can be problematic
  • Lights and heaters mount in the enclosure for a cleaner external look

Cons:

  • A bit more expensive
  • Can be harder to find, usually at reptile stores like LLL Reptile
  • Wood retains heat very well
  • Does not handle high humidity well if your beardy dumps the water bowl, particle board swells and disintegrates
  • You must have screens enclosing the light and heater for protection.
  • Can be difficult to get a good temperature gradient because these retain heat so well, may require heavy modification to add enough venting to allow for a cold side.
  • Due to lighting and heater being in the enclosure, it is much harder to run lighting such as basking lights or mercury vapor bulb which generate a lot of ambient heat which can turn these quickly into an oven.
  • You cannot mount any heat under the tank, it must be inside. Tile over heat tape, ceramic heat emitter, or radiant heat panels are required.




Pvc Enclosure

Pros:

  • Available in a variety of sizes from small to large of around 100 gallon
  • Reaching in from the front your enclosure can be easier for you and less stressful for the snake than reaching in from above
  • Panels are easy sanitize
  • PVC retains heat very well
  • Lights and heaters mount in the enclosure for a cleaner external look
  • Does handle high humidity well if your beardy dumps the water bowl, particle board swells and disintegrates
  • Can be shipped disassembled

Cons:

  • More expensive
  • Can be harder to find, usually internet only, sometimes in reptiles stores but at a premium
  • You must have screens enclosing the light and heater for protection.
  • Can be difficult to get a good temperature gradient because these retain heat so well, may require heavy modification to add enough venting to allow for a cold side.
  • Due to lighting and heater being in the enclosure, it is much harder to run lighting such as basking lights or mercury vapor bulb which generate a lot of ambient heat which can turn these quickly into an oven.
  • You cannot mount any heat under the tank, it must be inside. Tile over heat tape, ceramic heat emitter, or radiant heat panels are required.



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