Setting Up a Snake Habitat

Have you recently decided to get a snake? These beautiful, scaled animals are enchanting to watch, and can make the perfect pet for the right person. Generally, snakes are fairly easy to care for, provided they have a suitable habitat. In fact, making sure that your reptilian pal is comfortable in his cage is one of the most crucial aspects of good snake care. Below, a Niwot, CO vet discusses setting up snake habitats.

Plan Ahead

Different snake breeds have very different environmental requirements, so you’ll need to do some thorough research before going shopping. Ideally, you’ll want to have everything ready and waiting when you bring your scaled pal home.


Getting the right size cage is very important. Smaller snakes, such as garter snakes, can live comfortably in a 10- or 20-gallon tank. King snakes, rat snakes, and gopher snakes, as well as other colubrid snakes, require 30- to 55- gallon terrariums. Larger snakes, such as pythons, will need custom enclosures. One thing that is important for all snakes is security: make sure your snake’s home is escape-proof!

Heat Sources

Most snakes need more than one temperature zone. This is because snakes can only regulate their body temperature by moving between warmer and cooler areas. Typically, your primary heat source will maintain the overall temperature in your scaled pal’s cage, with the secondary source making one area warmer.


Humidity requirements can vary greatly by breed, so find out exactly what range your scaled pet needs. You may need to use misters or foggers to keep the right amount of moisture in the air.


Lighting is also very important. Most snakes need 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness each day. Some lights provide heat, while others offer different types of illumination, such as UVA and UVB.


Once you have your snake’s cage and climate set up, you’ll need to add substrate and decor. Again, requirements vary by breed, so be sure to do your research. Paper towels, newspaper, cypress mulch, carpet, aspen shavings, and butcher paper are a few good substrate options. Most snakes will need at least one hidey-hole they can retreat to for some privacy. Your pet may also enjoy branches, rocks, or even a pool.

Do you have questions about snake care? Call us, your Niwot, CO vet clinic, anytime! We are here to help!

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