How do we set up a large snake aquarium or terrarium? Number one the most important thing to understand is, how big is my snake going to get? Now what I have here is a ball python. This is a big snake, but it's not one of your larger ones. The nice thing about these guys is that they're docile. They get a little bit thick, but they only get to be maybe anywhere from 4 to 6 feet long.
But when you buy your snake you normally are buying hatchlings or you're buying young snakes that are small. So what you need to be prepared for is, understand that that little guy that you just bought which is going to need maybe a 10 or 20 gallon tank initially, is going to need a 60 or 100 gallon tank or something that you may have to build.
Because if you get a boa constrictor or one of the larger pythons, now you're looking at a snake that's going to get 12-15-18 feet and it's very important that they stay concealed. So when you build this terrarium you can't build it initially. You don't want to have a small snake in a really large area, because they can get very, very nervous.
The most primary thing that you need to really understand when you're building a terrarium for your snake is number one, they need proper heat and you need to set up a heat gradient, where on one side of the tank we get to the high 80's, low 90' and at the other side, where for these guys, you normally want them about low 80's, mid-80's.
And for your pythons you also want to make sure that you have proper humidity, because they can dry out very quickly. What you can do for that is, it's very important that they have a bathing area, so it's nice to have a small tank that has clean water in it. It does several things. It allows them to get in. They consume the water. It helps them with digestion. It helps them with hydration. It helps them with defecation, and it also by putting that in there with the heat, many times what it will do is is it will establish the proper humidity for you.
We need to also understand that no matter how small or large our snakes are, they need a hiding spot. They're very private creatures. Without that, they'll have stress enough to get them sick. So what we want to do is is we want to make sure that we have an area that's called a hide box. When they're smaller you can use something as simple as a small pot for a plant, a cardboard box, ceramic, half of a log, the bark on a log, several things that they can get underneath, and you want to make sure that this is just big enough that this guy can cuddle up around it, just like this. You don't want it too large. They want to be secure. You can make a hole in the side or in the top and they can get down in there and enjoy it, okay? Very, very important.
The bottom, the substrate this is very important. You've got to make sure that what you have in there will separate the snake from its waste products or absorb it, to make it easy to scoop it out. Mulches, tree barks, they have specialty things that you can buy in any pet store that is good for a substrate. Do not and I repeat, do not use aromatic woods, your pine chips, you cedar chips and those things, because they will irritate the eyes and nose of the snake.
A good thing that you can use is AstroTurf for a synthetic grass and the reason for that is this, you buy two that fit to the floor. You can clean and disinfect one and let it air out and then when it's time to change, you simply put the one that's already aired out in. You take the one that needs to be cleaned. You can soak it in a bleach and water solution, a half a cup to a gallon of water. Clean it, rinse it, hang it so it airs out. That way you don't have any gas or any aerosol vapors in there that can irritate your snake. But it keeps it clean and can separate the snake from its waste products, because it'll float down underneath of the rug. There are some tips on taking care of larger snakes.