The Ideal Terrarium Equipment For Snakes

Are you fascinated by the mysterious world of snakes and your greatest dream is to finally have a snake as a pet yourself? Then you are not alone. Many different species of snakes are kept in terrariums today. To ensure that the animals are always well, they have taken on a great deal of responsibility towards their animals, which goes far beyond species-appropriate nutrition. Above all, the snake’s new home plays a very important role in its well-being. The right terrarium, the right values inside as well as the optimal equipment adapted to the natural habitat are therefore part of the basic knowledge. In this article, you will learn what to look out for when keeping snakes in a terrarium.

The terrarium size for snakes

There are many snakes on this earth, but not all can or may be kept as pets. The size of the terrarium plays a particularly important role in keeping snakes appropriate to the species. The size of the terrarium ultimately depends on the species of snake and whether a reptile is kept alone, in pairs or in a group. A minimum size of 80X40X40 cm is required for small snakes kept in pairs. If climbing snakes are kept, the terrarium should have minimum dimensions of 100-120X50X60-100 cm. If you want to keep boa constrictors that get a whole lot bigger, then there are of course other dimensions that are specified by the Federal Agency for Professional Nature and Species Conservation. The minimum requirements for large snakes under 1.5 meters in height are the dimensions of the terrarium: length 1.0 x width 0.5 x height 0.75 cm. For snakes over a meter in length 1.75 x width 0.5 x height 0.75 cm.

Juveniles, on the other hand, should be reared in smaller containers, especially in the beginning. For example, a footprint of 20X20-30 cm is sufficient for the Thamnophis/Pantherophis and Lampropeltis juveniles. If these are young animals from the giant snakes that live on the ground, the box should have a floor space of 60-80 x 40 x 40 cm in the first months of life.

Buy or build a terrarium

In order to offer the animals an optimal home, you have the choice and can either build the snake housing yourself or buy it, whereby you will of course “only” find the standard sizes when buying. Furthermore, there is also the possibility to have a terrarium specially made for the snakes, if desired. If you do not want to build the terrarium yourself, you are guaranteed to find what you are looking for in a typical pet shop or on the Internet in our Zoobio Terrarium online shop. The models made of full glass are particularly well suited, which are also quite cheap to buy.
However, many people choose to build their own. Styrofoam or Styrodur, for example, is a popular material for this. This material has many advantages, such as optimal circulation or optimal insulation properties. Of course, you now have to cover the fronts, for which decorative cork panels are often used, for example. These are not particularly cheap to buy, but they look really beautiful and are particularly suitable for providing a platform for animals that want to move and climb. In addition, you will not see any lime residue from the spray water.

The temperatures in the terrarium

Snakes are cold-blooded reptiles that depend on you for warmth. They always choose their own body temperature and can therefore optimally control it. The air temperature for the species mentioned in the text should always be between 24 and 28 degrees, although you should always find out about the different needs of the animals in advance so that you can adapt the temperatures to them. Please also ensure that there is always a sunny spot that is large enough for the animal to enjoy a soothing sunbath, whereby the temperature in the terrarium should be around 30 – 32 degrees Infrared heat lamps are guaranteed.

You can also take the opportunity to build an intermediate level in the terrarium. This is offered closer to the heat source and also increases the surface area of ​​the snake’s dwelling. Your snakes will happily accept this spot and use it as a place to rest and lurk.

However, please always avoid having the same temperatures everywhere in the terrarium. Because many animals prefer not only a place in the sun but also a cooler corner, which they mainly go to during the molting phase. The warm spots in the terrarium, on the other hand, are often used, especially after feeding, in order to stimulate digestion and thus simplify it.

You have different options to allow the temperatures in your snake’s terrarium. On the one hand there is floor heating and on the other hand the air heating. It is important to know that reptiles always associate heat with light. In return, this means that snakes in whose terrarium you only work with underfloor heating cannot really live out their behavior pattern, which in turn quickly leads to health problems. Because pure floor heating would only heat the floor of the terrarium and not the air. Depending on which type of snake you have decided on, you can also work with a radiator to ensure the required air temperature. You can also combine this with underfloor heating and thus ensure an ideal interaction. In addition, there is also the option of doing without the floor heating at a certain basic or room temperature, which is often the case in the summer months. If it is a burrowing species of snake, such heating can even be harmful and cause burns. For this reason, they should not be installed from the start. If it is a rainforest terrarium, this in turn has many advantages. Warming the moist soil with underfloor heating allows for constant and easy evaporation of the water. This fact means that mold is avoided and the humid climate in the rainforest is promoted.

Choosing the right substrate for keeping snakes

Not only the size of the terrarium and the temperature in the container play an enormously important role in the health and well-being of your animals. The substrate used should also be selected so that it comes close to the natural needs of the reptiles. Here you will find a wide range of different options. For this reason, however, it is even more important that you also find out about the requirements of the respective snake species in this regard and see what the substrate looks like in its natural environment in order to then decide on the perfect substrate.

Have you decided on a snake species that is kept rather dry? These include, for example, the Boa, Python regius, or the Pantherophis. These snake species feel particularly comfortable on a substrate made of wood granulate or fine bark litter. On the other hand, moisture-loving snakes, such as the different Elaphe species, feel comfortable with the terrarium soil. This soil can either be ordered online or purchased from a pet store. This substrate is often offered in the form of a block, which is then dissolved in water. Even when the soil has become dry, it can be optimally moistened and absorbs this moisture very well. With the moisture-loving species, you should always make sure that a corner of the terrarium also has a good level of soil moisture. Do your snake a special favor and add moss to your favorite spots.

On the other hand, we strongly advise against using beech wood chips as a substrate. This could possibly be swallowed by the snakes and thus lead to internal injuries. It can also happen that the snake suffers from constipation. Some keepers still use this substrate, but then often feed their animals outside of the terrarium, which is not recommended either, since removing it leads to a stressful situation for many animals, so that some animals even refuse to eat.

The humidity in the snake terrarium

Humidity within the terrarium is a very important point, which some keepers neglect. A moist place in the terrarium is very important for many species of snakes. This must be located in such a way that the animals can always go to it if necessary. This is especially important when the snake is about to molt. A pile of moss, for example, is ideal for this and can be moistened several times a week. A container with very moist soil is also ideal and can still be covered with dry moss. The advantage of a container is that you could spray it two to three times a week to keep the soil moist. However, avoid spraying the snakes directly, as the sudden and unpredictable evaporative cooling could cause your animal to catch a cold. Still other snake species enjoy the warm rain and then show a much higher level of activity than usual. There are also snake species for which it is essential to life. These snake species absorb the water through their skin and “drink” it that way. These include, for example, tree pythons. Here, too, the rule is that you should always obtain more detailed information in advance.

Set up the terrarium species-appropriate

How you design the terrarium for your snake purely visually is of course up to you. However, you always have to orientate yourself to the natural needs of the respective snake species in order to build a species-appropriate home for the animals. Find out below what is important in the terrarium for snakes:

Places to hide

In any case, hiding places should be found several times in the terrarium. For example, you can create a space in the warm area and one where it is cooler and nice and humid. Make sure that these places are not too spacious. Small and narrow hiding places give the snake a sense of security. Most snakes feel particularly comfortable when their body is in contact with the individual walls around them. The material is of secondary importance when creating hiding places. You can use either wooden boxes or plastic containers. Flower pots are also popular with snake keepers. Roots or pieces of bark are also well received by the animals and of course emphasize the naturalness in the terrarium. Of course, these offer additional climbing opportunities, which should not be missing either.

Incorporate climbing opportunities

Climbing opportunities, such as climbing branches, are very important for many species of snakes and should therefore not be missing in the terrarium. This also applies to the so-called “non-climbing” species, which are nonetheless observed from time to time pursuing this activity. From time to time, snakes also like to rest in slightly higher places or use them for a warm and relaxing sunbath. It is important that the branches are securely and firmly anchored and do not collapse or slip off. Otherwise, dangerous injuries could quickly occur when the snake falls. For example, you could use branches from fruit trees or other deciduous trees. The grapevines, for example, also create a particularly beautiful visual image. However, keep your distance from branches that produce a lot of resin, such as conifers. On the one hand, these can have a toxic effect and, on the other hand, cause your snake to stick to the branch. Because snakes often tend to stay in one place for a long time.

Don’t forget the pool

A water basin should be found in all snake species in the terrarium and should always be filled with fresh and clean water. The size of this pool of water depends on the type of snake. For example, there are also particularly water-loving animals, such as the Nerodia or the Thamophis. There, the pool of water can be correspondingly larger than, for example, a climbing snake or many boa snakes, which almost never bathe. However, many species of snakes do not drink directly from the water bowls. They absorb the liquid through their skin after being sprayed. The water can also be absorbed by the animals in the form of droplets from the skin of the leaves or terrarium walls, so you need not be surprised if the snake does not touch the water basin.

Select plants for the terrarium

Plants not only serve the purely visual purpose, but also take on many different tasks in a terrarium for snakes, which contribute to the health and well-being of the animals. For example, they offer the animals places to hide and climb, which snakes like to use. You have the choice between artificial and real plants, whereby you always have to make sure that the latter are not poisonous. They should also be insensitive to light and temperature. In addition, the plants must not have any sharp edges or leaves or thorns that the animals could injure themselves on.
Efeutute is particularly well suited and therefore often used. It is ideal for the terrarium and is also very undemanding and insensitive. Before you put new plants in the terrarium, however, it is important that you wash them thoroughly and, if possible, several times a day. Many keepers separate plants for two to four weeks to really make sure that any fertilizers are completely gone. In addition, you should never put the old soil, which was included in the pot when you bought it, into the terrarium. The ivy grows particularly well in a terrarium, which of course means that you have to cut it regularly.

If your snake is a particularly large species, you can do without plants because they will always be flattened. Adders, which like to dig, also make it difficult for the plants to form roots and anchor themselves so that the plants die quickly.

Never lose sight of the safety aspect

If you don’t necessarily want to go snake hunting, you should never lose sight of terrarium safety. Always make sure that the terrarium does not have any gaps or holes. Snakes take advantage of the opportunity and would flee. However, this does not only affect the small snake species, but also the larger snakes. You will be amazed at the small crevices the animals can fit through. If your reptile is a large snake, you must also ensure that the terrarium is secured with a lock, because many animals can push the panes open themselves after a very short time. In addition to the personal loss of a snake, there can of course be other problems. Of course, many people call the police directly if a large snake suddenly appears in their apartment or garden without prior notice. This in turn would be associated with high costs for you.

It’s finally here – the snake is coming to you

When the time has finally come and the snake is to move into its new home, it is of course important that you have taken all the important precautions. The terrarium should already be completely set up. The terrarium temperature, humidity in the tank, and the furnishings must therefore be precisely adapted to the needs of the respective snake species. If you were to only do this after your new pet had arrived, this would mean further stress for the animal in addition to the move.
If the snake has now moved into the terrarium, it should first be left completely alone. So show your new animal around for a few days and spare it the looks of friends or family members. You, too, should withdraw and just check things out from time to time.

There is probably also a great temptation to spoil the snake directly with treats. But even with the first feeding you should wait about three days until your new pet has settled in better and feels the necessary security. In addition, the first food should be dead and not alive. It is best to place this in front of the snake hiding place. Now we have to wait and see, because how the animal behaves in this situation is very different. For example, your snake may take the animal straight from the tweezers. Still others wait until you have left the room and the light has gone out. If the food is not accepted yet, you should not panic immediately. Some snakes take a little longer to get comfortable.


The snake posture is not really an easy task, but it is associated with many exciting and great moments. Above all, the setup, the choice, and the technical equipment of the terrarium is never really easy, but should be well thought out. Snakes are very delicate and sensitive animals that can quickly become ill if their needs are not met. So it is not only important that you inquire extensively about the respective snake species. In addition, allow yourself enough time to take all the necessary precautions. Only then will your new snake feel comfortable and enjoy a long, healthy life.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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