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REPTILE / health & care

Caring for Your Snake

Tips for habitats, health, food and fun

Overview

Your snake’s habitat

To make your new pet feel at home, you’ll need:

Terrarium Lighting & heating elements Thermometer & hygrometer Bedding Decor & hiding places

The lair a.k.a terrarium

A clear, 20-gallon terrarium makes an ideal snake space. Keep in mind, as snakes grow, the may need more space and a bigger terrarium. If you have multiple snakes, keep them separate; it’s best to have just one per habitat.

Top the tank with a screened lid for ventilation. Snakes are excellent escape artists, so make sure the lid is very secure—it should include a latch. Otherwise, someday you might be in for a slithery “ssssurprise.”

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Bedding

Layer the bottom of the habitat with bedding (also called substrate) your new pet can burrow into. Aspen shavings are a natural, odorless option; snakes can tunnel through it like they’d do in the wild. Spot clean the bedding often to remove droppings and change the bedding regularly.

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Lighting & heating

Climate control is crucial to the health of your snake, which may suffer digestion problems if the temperature isn’t suitable.

Snakes, like all reptiles, are cold-blooded and need a heating source to regulate their body temperature. Under-tank heating pads and overhead heat bulbs are both options. Be sure to warm only one side of the tank to give your snake a choice of microclimates, and keep a thermometer on each side of the habitat to monitor the warm and cool temperature.

The snake’s habitat should get 10 to 12 hours of “daylight” every day; if the tank doesn’t get enough natural light, a special UVA/UVB bulb can mimic the sun’s rays.

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Humidity

Maintaining the right moisture level helps keep your snake healthy, so a hydrometer, which measures moisture in the air, is a must for your pet’s habitat. Low humidity can make it hard for snakes to slither smoothly out of their skin during shedding time. When necessary, spray your snake’s space with a mister, put in more water dishes, or add moistened moss.

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Hiding spots

If you lived in a glass house, you’d want some privacy too. PetSmart recommends placing a shelter or cave in the warm and cool sides of the habitat so your snake can get some alone time in either temperature. Keep in mind that as snakes grow, you may need to enlarge their hiding places.

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