Have you ever tried putting a leash on a snake? I don’t recommend it. But how else can you simultaneously bond with your snake and help it get some healthy exercise?
Allow me to introduce IGer urbansnakemagic. You may already be following her. You may already be in love with her adorable Florida kingsnake, B.B. (or one of her other 26 noodles). And if you’re like me, you’ve been envying her magical snake-proof bathroom for ages.
Well envy no more, because today we are revealing her snake-proofing secrets for your educational pleasure.
Does your snake qualify?
Snakes of all sizes can benefit from time outside of their terrarium. Whether or not you can let them out without supervision is a different story. As a rule of thumb, all snakes smaller than 4 ft should be supervised while enjoying the snake-proof room.
Choose a room to snake-proof
Rooms that are cold, cluttered, or full of valuable/fragile objects should be avoided. In general, kitchens are not the best choice either due to large appliances and food-prep areas (letting your snake explore supervised on the floor should be fine, though).
Although her entire home is snake-proofed, urbansnakemagic uses her bathroom as the primary snake room. It is clutter-free, easy to clean, and full of fun—but sturdy—surfaces for the snakes to explore.
Keep in mind that as your snek explores, s/he may leave you a “present.” So if you know your snake is due for a poo, keep them in an area that is easy to clean.
Plug all holes.
Assume that your snake can find and fit through any hole in the room. Plug drains with wadded paper towel or rubber stoppers. If you have a cabinet-style sink, seal all cracks between the cabinet and wall/floor. Then take some time to “slither” around your room of choice. Imagine that you are a snake. What kind of mischief could you get into?
Remove all glass.
All glass objects on counters and shelves should be removed from the room or placed in a cabinet. If your snake knocks over and shatters some glass, then falls on top of it, they can get seriously injured.
Check what’s on your shelves.
Remember: There is no such thing as “out of reach” for a snake—even “ground-dwelling” snakes are very good climbers, and they will show you if given an opportunity.
As you look through the items on your shelves and counters, ask yourself—Could this injure my snake if it fell on top of him/her? Would there be a problem if this object fell and cracked? Soaps, cleaning products, medical supplies, etc. can harm your snake if spilled and/or ingested, so they should be removed or secured.
Unplug and store all electrical gadgets.
This prevents potential burns, electrical shock, etc. Even if the danger is in a device turning off rather than on, let’s just not take the risk, shall we?
Tape the toilet lid and all cabinets/vanities shut.
Duct tape works great. If you’re worried about damaging the paint or leaving residue, painter’s tape or electrical tape is also a good choice. You want these secured shut because as your snake wanders, s/he may accidentally push it open, potentially knocking the contents out.
Close the door.
If it doesn’t “click” shut, secure it from the outside with a bungee cord.
How long should your snake be out?
The best time for your snake to be out is after it’s spent a few hours basking on the warm end of its terrarium.
During summer, your snake can be out for as long as it likes as long as you don’t blast the A/C. During winter, however, cap playtime at 2-3 hours. You can set up a heating pad covered by a towel for the snake to warm up on as needed. If you’ve snake-proofed your bathroom, you can fill the tub with an inch (2-3 cm) of lukewarm water to increase ambient temps.
Watch out for signs of stress! If this is the first time your snake has been in the snake-proofed room, stay with them. Minimize overstimulation by keeping them in a limited space (ex: bathtub or playpen) with a few “toys” like loose towels, boxes, plastic racks, etc.
Cleaning your snake-proof room:
When cleaning your snake-proof room, the most important thing to keep in mind is avoiding toxic chemicals.
Dawn dish soap is a safe, inexpensive, nontoxic soap that makes a good general cleaner for all surfaces. It’s okay to use heavy-duty cleaners for deep cleaning (disinfecting or scrubbing the toilet and tub/shower, for example), but the treated surfaces need to be thoroughly rinsed with hot water and the room thoroughly ventilated before snakes can be allowed to use it.
In case of poo—Remove the poo with toilet paper and flush down the toilet. Then wipe the area clean with vinegar or diluted chlorhexidine and let dry.
Benefits of having a snake-proof room:
(according to urbansnakemagic)
1. Peace of mind.
“A properly secured, snake-proofed room means that the snake can move in a much larger space unencumbered without you having to watch them like a hawk. You’re free to come and go as you please knowing that your snake is exploring in a safe space when you’re not around.”
2. Bonding time.
“No tank or barrier between you and your snake, and it can freely interact with you as it wants to. I hang out with them in there. I lay down some blankets, read, watch a movie, exercise/stretch, do my work on the computer, etc and the snake comes around me. Sometimes they curl up near me or on top of me and go to sleep. I’m in their world and they’re in mine. That’s—in my opinion—when you really get a sense of your pet’s personality, develop trust, learn to ‘read’ them, watch them, cuddle with them, play with them. It’s the part of the day I really look forward to when it happens.”
3. Sensory stimulation.
“I provide them with lots of objects in the room… Blankets, pillows, bolsters, boxes, tubs, plastic racks, chairs to climb up or down on near the sink so they can move vertically as well as horizontally. I also provide a bowl of fresh water separate from the tub they swim in, and a hide. A gym bag filled with dirty laundry makes for a great hide. I turn it into a sensory extravaganza for them!”
“[This is] a chance to stretch out. Especially important for larger snakes that are housed in tanks shorter than their full body length.”
“Many of our snakes now are ‘toilet-trained’ because they are in the habit of going in the bathroom when they free roam. This makes life easier for us because it’s less messy having to spot clean on tiles versus in their tanks on aspen chips. When I know they’re due to go, I wait until it happens, then fill the room with interesting objects for them.”
6. Mental health.
“They love it! Most wait for us by their tank door to come and give them attention, and time out for a stretch.”
How do you bond with your snakes?
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