Snake Cage Building Guide for 2013
Building snake cages seems daunting at a first glance, but the truth is that such a procedure is not as complicated as you may think. However, you require a few specific abilities with various tools, not to mention about the materials used in the process. A few tips and tricks can be very useful, while your dedication will ensure a good result. Before moving on, you must think about the snake type, its growth, snake cage design, aesthetics or function.
Design When considering a terrarium design, you must consider its aspect and use. It must be large enough to give the snake plenty of room, but you should never think about building a large piece of furniture. Its functionality is just as important, especially when you count the cleaning procedures or the maintenance. For instance, a five foot tall terrarium with a lid on top of it can be very annoying, since cleaning it will be a pain. You can barely pick up snake from the cage. Sooner or later, you will give up caring for it, only because of the overwhelming process. Moreover, try to avoid going over your own capabilities. Do not design a snake cage that is too sophisticated for your abilities and knowledge. Instead, a simple and effective cage can be more appealing than a huge piece of furniture.
Aesthetics is the last consideration in your building task. It only depends on your preferences and may influence the materials or time spent. How do you want it to look like? It might be a basic box that does not draw too much attention, but it can also be a good looking piece worth being displayed. In the end, it makes no difference. As long as you come up with a proper environment for the snake and your kid likes it, the aesthetics is up to you.
The function is by far the most significant consideration, since it implies covering the needs of your animal. Before advancing with your plan, make sure there is enough room for the animal, not to mention about the heat, humidity or particular requirements for the pet. It is supposed to be escape proof too, but also to provide a proper feeling of safety for the owner.
Materials are quite diversified and they depend on multiple factors, such as durability, maintenance or aesthetics. Melamine is extremely common because it is resistant and does not require too much time for the cleaning operations. It is also available in multiple sheet sizes, while working with it is generally easy. You may also find a few different colors, although they are also limited. If there is one drawback you can count, that is its weight. Large snake reptile cages, for example, can be very hard to move around.
Plywood is just as common for snake terrariums, but you need to make the difference between its pros and cons. For example, it is quite cheap, but also hard to model and come up with a good looking cage. You may also find cabinet cases made of plywood, which can be easily adapted. However, make sure you pick the proper grade. The higher it is, the more money you will spend. Generally, a B grade represents a middle solution.
Shelving boards are usually made of pine, but they are relatively thick. They are great if you lack any abilities in wood crafting, especially when it comes to circular saws. However, if you do not want to use it for the whole cage, you may just as well get a board to be mounted inside the snake terrarium.
Wires are also common, but they are not really recommended. They might be appropriate for small and harmless snakes, but this is it. If you choose wire, it should be rubber coated, only to avoid an uncomfortable feeling to the snake’s head or body.
There are a series of tools to be used in building custom snake cages and they usually depend on your initial plan. It is always worth to get all of them nearby, only to avoid unexpected situations. Electric tools may count:
- Table saw for precise cuts
- Belt sander for a proper finish if the snake enclosures are stained
- Jigsaw for windows or ventilation vents
- Hand drill to mount various boards and pieces
- Circular saw for more flexibility
- Miter saw for precise 45 degree angles
As for manual tools, do not forget about a hammer, tape measure, hole saw, nails, countersink or 90 degree clamp. If you have a large case with tools or you build the snake cage in your garage, get all your tools nearby. You never know when you might need them. Unless you build a snake cage sweater box, they represent a must.
Lighting depends on what kind of reptile you get. If you build a ball python cage, these snakes are nocturnal. Therefore, they will do fine without any supplemental lighting. They will hide most of the time anyway. The natural light from a room is more than enough for the photo period. On the other hand, diurnal reptiles may require a continuous light.
From this point of view, fluorescent lighting is the most appropriate opportunity, since it does not cause any excessive heat either. There are multiple sizes or shapes out there, so you can easily find something proper for the snake cage. On the other hand, incandescent lighting also brings in heat, which is directly proportional with the light. Diurnal species can seriously benefit from it, so you come up with two requirements in one unit. However, the bulb should be covered or properly protected, only to prevent the snake from getting in touch with it. If the respective specie is picky and has particular requirements, do not hesitate to install a digital terrarium thermometer too. This way, you can maintain the temperature in proper limits.
Ventilation is extremely helpful for a snake, so do not forget about it when building python enclosures. Wire mesh is very useful and handy. It is easy to work with, but it can also be painted in your favorite colors. Inspect the reptile for about a month, since some of them tend to rub their noses against the wires. In order to prevent the injuries, you may opt for rubber coated wires. If it keeps rubbing the nose, it is obviously not happy with the surroundings or the environment. Sometimes, the temperature might not be appropriate or perhaps the snake does not have too many hiding places. Educate yourself on the respective specie before building the cage.
Pegboards may not represent the most aesthetic solution, but they can definitely bring in a cheap and simple result. A pegboard may consist of wood or plastic. If you choose wood, make sure you get a think board. You may also find metal boards, but they are not really appropriate for a snake. They are not very resistant either and may require a lot of safety measures. Instead, a terrarium screen cover metal is more appropriate to build from this material.
Finally, drilling one side is an option too, but it asks for a lot of care. A few people would do it. Although it is extremely safe, you must use a pencil to draw a perfect grid, then drill the respective side. Without a perfect pattern, the snake cage will not look too good. However, if you choose this option, you will need more than just drilling a side. You also have to work on the holes and ensure a safe environment for the snake, not to mention about the aspect.
Before drilling, think about the necessities of your reptile. A rat thrown into snake cage may not really escape, but some insects can easily get away and infest your home.
There are a lot of different methods to come up with some good looking doors. From many points of view, this is the most sophisticated factor in building snake cages. If this is the first cage you build, you might be surprised with the final look. However, a little dedication and a good plan can ensure a decent result.
Sliding glass doors are very popular because they are easy to install, although a simple mistake can be devastating. They must be perfectly equal and the installation should be flawless. Otherwise, they may not be secure enough. A thin snake can easily force them and crawl out. From another point of view, framed glass is more appropriate. You just have to cut the door frame according to your measurements, install the glass and reinforce it with wood. A little silicon is essential to strengthen the doors. However, if you opt for glass, make sure it is resistant enough and the snake cannot break it. You definitely do not want to hear the sound of broken glass coming from the cage in the middle of the night.
Those who are anxious about safety can rely on plexiglass. It is widely used because it does not necessarily require a frame. It is resistant and can be drilled without any problems at all. Attaching some hinges is piece of cake then. Plexiglass is appropriate for snakes, but not for clawed reptiles, such as dragons. Maintenance is just as important, since some solutions will make it cloudy. It scratches very easily too.
Finally, solid doors are appropriate for nervous reptiles that can be easily distracted by outside factors. But then, a solid door can cause serious problems if the respective specie is venomous. In such cases, you have to see where the snake actually hides before opening the door. Other than that, internal lighting is required for these doors too.
Live plants are very helpful to ensure a natural environment for the snake. It depends on how large your snake cage is. But then, they can be relaxing and very comfortable. Choosing some plants seems simple, but it is not at all. First of all, the respective plants are supposed to resist in those conditions. Moreover, learn about your specie and make sure it will not chew, destroy or eat the live plants. Most importantly, choose nontoxic plants. The larger your cage is, the more opportunities you have from this point of view. For instance, a naturalistic terrarium waterfall kit might be very appealing, as long as the snake specie loves water. Things like these are not helpful for the animal only, but also for the overall decor.
Cleaning a terrarium
Just because snakes are used to an outdoor environment, it does not imply ignoring it and leaving it dirty. Therefore, the cage must be cleaned on a regular basis. More importantly, you have to do it in a healthy manner for both you and the reptile. Take all the safety measures you can think of, but also use natural cleaning products that will not hurt the animal. As for you, snakes are known for carrying specific bacteria, such as salmonella. It may not be very dangerous for a human being, but no one wants to end up with it. Therefore, sanitize the environment every once in a while and do not hesitate to wear some rubber gloves too.
Remove everything before you start. Place the pet in a different box and all the belongings must be placed in a bowl or a towel. Carefully scrub the terrarium and eliminate all the debris. Use a knife to remove the stuck parts. If there are any hardly accessible areas, use a toothbrush. Once you are done cleaning every inch, rinse the cage and sanitize it with specific solutions or a cocktail of water and bleach. For this operation, use different sponges or towels. Rinse the cage again, then perform the same operations for all the other things, such as toys or accessories. Let everything dry, rebuild the initial environment and put the animal back into its cage.
Aside from cleaning the environment, try your best to keep it clean too. Replace the water and food on a daily basis, but also clean the waste as soon as you spot it. Even so, a detailed cleaning operation is still mandatory once a week.