How to Choose the Right Sized Terrariums for Pet Snakes

There are tons of different terrariums to choose from for your snake, but how do you pick one that’s properly sized?

So, you’re taking a leap and getting a non-traditional pet: a snake. Congrats!

Some species live up to 30 years, which means you’ll enjoy your new friend for a long time. But you want your snake to enjoy its new life too and that starts with choosing the best habitat.

In this guide, we go over what you need to know when shopping for terrariums, including how to find the right size for your snake.

Glass Vs. Plastic Terrariums

After you select which snake you feel will make the best pet, you need to go over your habitat options. The most common types of terrariums are plastic and glass.

Glass terrariums are easy to clean and provide excellent visibility. The downside is that your snake may think it’s too much visibility. Glass holds heat well, making it suitable for reptiles that thrive in humid environments.

Of course, glass terrariums are breakable and don’t always come with pre-drilled holes for lamp or heating cords.

Plastic terrariums are very affordable and available in a variety of shapes and sizes for smaller reptiles. They’re more durable than glass terrariums and are light-weight. Like glass, plastic is easy to clean and maintain.

It can be difficult to find a plastic terrarium for a larger snake like a python. The size of the ventilation holes can vary, so make sure you check the recommended species for the tank you’re looking at.

In either case, snakes are notorious escape artists so you will need to keep the lid clamped down and the ventilation holes smaller in diameter than your snake.

How to Find the Right Size for Your Snake

As a rule of thumb, snakes tend to go the opposite way of mammals when it comes to habitat space. For example, smaller snakes need more room because they’re more active than larger snakes.

Arboreal snakes (like pythons, boas) don’t need to stretch their bodies out all the way in their terrarium, but they need enough room so they can extend their lungs.

Semi-aquatic snakes (also called water snakes) need an enclosure large enough for a water area to swim in. The empty floor space only needs to be big enough for basking and sleeping.

Many theories about the size of terrariums in relation to the snake claim snakes get stressed out in larger spaces. A recent study found snakes become aggressive when stressed, so it’s best to follow size guidelines for enclosures.

Snakes may prefer smaller spaces or hiding spots where they can coil their body against, but you still must make sure they’re not too cramped. There needs to be enough room that you can maintain the tank, there’s proper heating, a feeding spot, a humidity box, and water.

The standard for finding an exact size for snakes is to measure one-third, three-quarters, and the full length of your snake. Use those measurements to determine the terrarium size that best fits your snake:

  • Length of the tank should be three-quarters of the snake’s length
  • Depth should be one-third of the snake’s length
  • Height should be three-quarters of a land-based snake’s length or twice the length of an arboreal (tree) snake’s length.

In nature, snakes live in grasslands, wetlands, forests, and deserts. Some live underground while others live in trees or between rocks. You want to replicate these environments as best you can.

You’re Ready to Enjoy Your New Pet

Now that you know about the different terrariums and how to find the right size, you can feel confident in your choice.

Owning a snake is challenging when it’s your first one, and we’re here to help you in your journey. Visit our blog for helpful hints and advice on being a snake owner.

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