april skink2011 045Cage: A 30-gallon fish tank is a good size to start with for hatchling snakes, and can also house smaller species as adults. A fine mesh screen top that is well secured should be adequate to keep your snake in the tank.

Hide Box: Offer a hide box on the warm side of the cage or a humidity box – see above.

Heating Pads: Snakes need a good ventral heat source in order to digest their food. The area over the pad should reach about 90 degrees F. An under the tank heater is ideal for smaller snakes. The snake should be able to curl its entire body over the warm surface area. If your heating pad is too small, the snake will not be able to warm itself properly and will be more likely to vomit or to get a respiratory infection. Heating pads should be left “on” 24 hours a day.

Lighting: You can use an incandescent bulb to provide extra heat for your snake during the day. A 40-60 watt bulb should be sufficient depending on the cage size. Place the bulb over the warm side of the tank to increase the ambient temperature of your cage.

Substrate: Newspaper, paper towels and indoor/outdoor carpet make the easiest to clean substrates. Try to stay away from particulate substrates as they tend to dry out the snake’s skin and tend to mold when misted.

Veterinary Care: You should take your snake to the vet yearly for exams and fecals.


Rodent: Snakes should be feed once weekly until mature, then they should be fed every other week. You should feed pinkies, mice or rats, depending on the size of your snake. The prey item should be no larger that the thickest part of the snake. You may need to feed more than one prey item at each feeding if the items are small or if the snake is still acting hungry.

Water: Offer your snake fresh water daily. The bowl should be large enough for the snake to soak its entire body in.

Soaks: Soak your snake in shallow warm water for 15-20 minutes 2-3 times a week and once daily during shedding (when eyes get bluish). If sheds don’t come off in a whole piece increase the soaks, start misting the cage with water 1-3 times a day and offer a “humidity box”. A humidity box is a plastic container with a top. Cut a hole in the side of the container for the snake to enter and fill it with damp sphagnum moss. Check the moss daily and re-moisten as needed. Remove any other hide boxes so the snake has to use this one.