Most pet snakes require very similar setups for their captive care. This similarity allows you to basically have the same equipment for any of the commonly kept pet snakes. The only variation on the typical pet snake enclosure is the size and range of temperatures. With the right equipment, temperatures can easily be varied to suit several different snake species.
The major costs associated with a pet snake typically come when you have to purchase all of your snake care equipment for the first time. These costs typically range from $100 to $200 for each snake depending on what type of enclosure and equipment you purchase. For a basic snake setup, you will need the following items:
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Enclosure with a secure cover
Screen covers are not functional in most cases and will need to be covered to preserve humidity in the enclosure. Most snakes can start off in a 10-gallon aquarium or similar sized enclosure; however, the enclosure will need to be upgraded as they grow. For an adult ball python, you should have at least a 40-gallon tank. We recommend Zen Habitat Ball Python Enclosure.
Most snakes do not need heat lamps or other heating elements. A simple reptile heating mat or under-tank heater is all that is needed to give your coldblooded pet the range of temperatures it needs to survive. We recommend Tikaton Reptile Heat Pad that works really well.
Without a thermostat or other temperature controller, the heating mat will not be controlled and you risk ‘cooking’ your pet snake. When purchasing a temperature controller, some will have knob adjustments and some may have digital readouts. Spending a little extra money on a temperature controller can ease some worry about caring for your pet snake.
The BN-LINK Digital Heat Mat Thermostat Controller is working great for us.
Even with a thermostat, it is great to be able to measure temperatures in your snakes enclosure. Do not waste money on dial gauge or color strip thermometers. An infrared thermometer is generally inexpensive and you can measure the temperature anywhere with it. You can get Zoo Med Repti Temp Digital Infrared Thermometer from amazon.
Newspaper is a great free substrate to use for snakes. If you are looking for something else, use an aspen bedding material typically found in pet stores. Stay away from dusty or chemically rich wood mulches like pine and ceder. We recommend using Zoo Med Aspen Snake Bedding.
As said previously, pet snakes can be seclusive. Be sure to provide hides so that your snake can retreat. One hide on the warm side and one on the cold side of the enclosure is preferred. You can purchase half log type hides or make your own out of old butter tubs and other containers. Habba Hut Hideaway is a great option available for ball python.
One very important thing to consider about a water bowl is it’s weight. Snakes are strong and tend to tip over lightweight water bowls. You can use bowls specifically made for reptiles or shop around for heavier dog water bowls. Exo Terra Water Dish works fine for ball pythons.