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Housing Your Snake

The Basics

To house and feed your snake, you'll need:

  • A terrarium
  • Bedding
  • Hiding places
  • Lighting & heating elements
  • Thermometers/Hygrometers
  • Water dish
  • Food (frozen mice)
  • Décor


A properly-maintained terrarium can be a work of art—many people prominently display them in their homes. Terrariums offer the most practical habitat for housing snakes. A 20-long terrarium is typical and effective for most snakes. However, depending on the species you choose, a 40-gallon habitat may be needed for your adult snake. Be sure that your terrarium is big enough to house your pet when full grown. Consider investing in a larger size habitat from the start. While snakes tend to stay in one spot most of the time, you should choose a terrarium size that will allow them to stretch out to full size and enjoy moving around.

Snakes can be escape artists! A secure lid with latches that you can clip in place is a must. The lid should be a screen that provides adequate ventilation and care should be taken at all times to ensure that the terrarium is escape-proof.

Snakes are best housed alone.

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Substrate or Bedding

Provide your snake with a safe substrate that allows him to form a burrow. Substrate should be spot cleaned after the snake defecates and changed regularly to avoid bacterial growth. Aspen bedding is a natural, easy-to-clean and odorless substrate in which snakes can burrow and nest as they would in the wild. A PetSmart associate can also recommend other substrates based on the type of snake you choose.

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Hide Boxes or Snake Caves

A proper hiding area is an essential feature of the terrarium. PetSmart recommends using 2 hiding shelters or caves. Locate one at each end of the habitat so your snake can feel secure and get some solitary time based on his temperature needs.

Purchase a hide box your snake can comfortably curl up in and feel secure. Keep in mind that the size of hide box that is appropriate for a juvenile will probably need to be upgraded when the snake is an adult.

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Lighting & Heating

Snakes are "cold blooded" (rely on ambient temperature) so they need an external heating source to regulate their body temperature. Under-tank heat pads can be used, but only place these beneath one side of the tank—this allows for a gradient temperature that goes from cooler to warmer. Your pet will move around from the cooler to the warmer area as needed to regulate body temperature. Overhead incandescent basking bulbs or daylight bulbs can also be used to provide the heat gradient or as a supplemental basking spot.

Providing the right temperature for your snake not only ensures comfort—it allows your snake to properly digest food. Terrariums that are too cold may result in feeding problems. Appropriate temperatures and balanced humidity levels are goals as a Pet Parent of a snake. You'll need at least two thermometers to accurately determine temperatures in various areas of the habitat; one of them should be placed on the cool side and the other on the warm side.

Daily fluorescent UVA lighting is recommended for 10-12 hours each day. It is essential your pet snake be provided day/night cycles.

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One of the most important things snakes need is proper humidity. Place hygrometers in multiple areas within the habitat to ensure proper ranges are being maintained. Low humidity may cause problems when the snake sheds. Maintaining proper humidity may be accomplished by spraying or misting habitat with water, increasing the number or size of water dishes or adding moistened moss.

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