Snakes are solitary creatures that don’t have many ways of expressing themselves, and so we don’t really know how they feel about most things.
And although we can’t ask them directly, we can imagine how living your whole life in a small cage can be an unpleasant experience, or are we measuring things by human standards when we think about it this way?
To answer this question, I’ve asked a few different vets and experts, and got surprisingly contradicting opinions.
So, do snakes like being in cages? Snakes are incapable of liking or disliking being in cages because snakes have a very limited mental capacity and don’t think in the same way we or most other mammals do, but a snake will like its cage as long as it’s the right size, humidity, temperature, and provides safety and hiding spots.
The truth is that snakes live very different lives than we do and have very different perspectives on their world and their life, and in this article, I’m going to do my best to summarize what the experts believe on the topic and why it may not be so cruel to keep a snake in a cage its whole life after all.
How do Snakes think about cages?
To understand how snakes feel about their cages, it’s important to keep in mind how snakes live in the wild. Snakes do not create dens as other animals do, and neither do they take over territories as mammals do.
In fact, most snakes do not have homes of any sort. Snakes are simply wanderers, they will sleep when they find somewhere suitable and safe, and they will come back to the same place to hibernate sometimes.
Snakes are solitary creatures, they live their whole lives alone, and the only times you will find more than one snake in a place is either during mating or during hibernation when they huddle for warmth. You can learn more about this in my post on snake hibernating in houses.
This is all to introduce you to the fact that snakes do not have houses or territories, and they don’t really understand these concepts. Snakes also do not understand freedom or captivity. If a snake’s needs are met, it’s fine.
How Snakes live their lives
Snakes live their lives hunting prey and looking for a mate. Snakes do not feel pleasure or happiness, or at least snakes don’t feel or show happiness in the ways mammals do or understand.
They also have a very limited range of emotions, and none of these emotions really related to them being in captivity or free. Snakes just live to eat and mate. They can only feel fear (such as when they feel threatened by predators), hunger, and the desire to mate.
Snakes can not feel sad, lonely, or happy, they are simpler than that.
When do snakes like or dislike their cages?
Snakes will not like or dislike their cages based on the captivity or freedom it gives them, as discussed earlier, snakes have no grasp of such concepts. However, snakes can still have a liking or disliking to their cages based on whether their life, overall, in this cage is a good life or not.
What makes a good cage for a snake?
You should strive to construct the largest cage feasible. The cage you build must be tailored to the particular demands of the distinct species.
Snakes from 6 to 36 inches long require at least a 10 or 20 gallon tank, but if you have a small snake, such as a juvenile python, it may live in a plastic container (cut tiny air vents!). As your snake matures, he will need to be transferred to a more comfortable and spacious enclosure.
The majority of these cages are commercially made, though some may be created by the pet owner with Plexiglas, glass, fiberglass, or even wood (but remember that wood is difficult to clean and disinfect).
Many individuals want to build a vivarium or terrarium in order to establish a semi-natural environment with plants, rocks, and tree branches. These are more difficult to maintain but may make your pet “more content.”
Keep in mind that this theory has no scientific backing, and I personally believe this doesn’t really make such a difference, especially if you are buying a captivity-bred snake since it has never been in the wild anyway and doesn’t really know what it’s missing.
All snake cages must be well-ventilated, ESCAPE PROOF, and have sealed seams and a locking, secure top. Your veterinarian or pet store may provide you with examples of these larger habitats to help you choose the right habitat for an adult snake.
Keep in mind that if your snake keeps trying to get out, then probably something is wrong, and you can learn the 13 reasons your snake is trying to escape here.
Does your snake’s cage need bedding?
The cage should be easy to keep clean and free of harmful chemicals. Newspaper, butcher paper, towels, or Astroturf (or artificial grass) are suggested. Buy two pieces of Astroturf and cut them to fit the bottom of the cage. One piece is placed in the cage and one outside the cage where it can be kept
Once the dirty, wet grass in the cage becomes soiled, you should replace it with a fresh, dry section. Clean the filthy turf with regular soap and water (avoid harsh chemicals unless your reptile veterinarian recommends them), then rinse it thoroughly and hang it to dry, ready to use at the next cage cleaning.
Sand, gravel, wood shavings, corncob material, walnut shells, and cat litter should all be avoided since they are both difficult to clean and can cause intestinal impaction if eaten on purpose or by accident (if the food becomes coated with this material).
Cedarwood shavings are poisonous to reptiles and must be avoided!
A good source of heat is a MUST
All reptiles require some form of heat. Ectotherms, such as snakes, are creatures that depend on external or environmental sources of heat to keep their body temperatures stable (also known as cold-blooded, this means they rely on external or environmental sources of heat to maintain their bodily heat).
Keep in mind that snakes will not survive days (or sometimes even hours) without a source of heat in their cages.
Because they require a wide range of temperatures to maintain their internal body temperature, it would be impossible for them to thrive in an enclosure with only one temperature. The cage should ideally be set up so that a heat gradient is established, with one end of the tank being warmer than the other.
The snake can then move about its surroundings and regulate its temperature as needed in this manner. Purchase two thermometers (unbreakable ones that cannot be accidentally swallowed) and place one at the cooler end of the cage and one near the heat source. If you keep the thermometer at roughly the level where your pet will rest, you should be able to tell whether it is too cold or warm.
The temperature in the cage should roughly reflect what the animal would experience in its natural environment, and it should represent the region where it originated. The cooler end of the cage should be between 70° – 75° F (21° – 24° C), while the hotter side should be between 90° – 95° F (32° – 38°
A 100-watt incandescent bulb with a protected reflector hood may be used as a focal heat source. Other sorts of heat lamps and ceramic infrared heat emitters are available from specialized pet shops. Follow the heating instructions carefully. Place your heat source outside and above one end of the cage and cover it with a screened lid to prevent the snake from burning itself.
The most important thing is to provide a heat source that cannot be accidentally tipped over or placed in direct contact with the snake, which could result in serious burns and injury. Do not use hot rocks for heating as they get too hot for your pet (they can also cause escape attempts).
Heat pads beneath the cage may also be used for warmth, however please consult your veterinarian to determine if this is the proper technique of usage if you choose this sort of heat.
“Hot Rocks” or “Sizzle Rocks” are harmful, may cause harm, and should be avoided!
What about humidity in the cages?
Humidity requirements vary by location and season. Some houses are unsuitable for snakes. Many snakes thrive in a humidity range of 40 to 70 percent, depending on the species. Too much moisture can be hazardous as well as cause health issues. It’s clear that desert-dwelling animals require less humidity.
Do Snakes need UV-B light?
No, snakes do not need UV-B light. While it is true that some reptiles do require UV-B light to synthesize vitamin D (which is necessary for the absorption of dietary calcium), most snakes get enough Vitamin D from their diets. captive environment.
Captive animals should be checked by a veterinarian at least once a year to make sure they are receiving adequate nutrition and that their calcium levels remain within the normal range. Do not use UVA/UVB lights unless you know your pet requires them for health reasons (as many snakes do not require UV-B light).
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