I have tried about every shape, size and material for water bowls over the years. Now I used plastic deli cups of varying sizes for most of the snakes, particularly those being kept in various plastic boxes (ranging in size from 4X11" to 18X34.") My reason for this is simple: It takes a lot less time and drastically reduces the chances of passing diseases. It also keeps the water containers from being tipped over.

I first tried using sections of PVC pipe as holders but had problems. First, it is hard to find a saw big enough to cut the pipe, especially smoothly and evenly. And then the snakes would move them around the cage, tip them over or sneak in below and use the PVC pipe as a hide spot, displacing the cup of water.

However, a 4" PVC joiner such as this will snugly hold a 16 oz. deli cup. I use this method in my wooden cages. Since it snugs into a corner, a single screw holds it firmly in place. Should it be necessary, it can easily be removed.

For the smaller snakes, such as babies and smaller colubrids, I use 5.5 ounce deli cups. For the larger colubrids, boas and pythons I use the 16 ounce deli cups. Bear in mind that most of the snakes in my collection stay under seven feet in length. I would not use this system for large constrictors as they would trash them out.

What I do is glue a cup to the bottom of the box as a holder and put the cup full of water inside this holder cup. I recently changed the water bowls on 37 boa and python boxes and it took me about 6-8 minutes. I keep a bucket handy to dump the contents of the old cup into, then stack the old cups for disposal. I use a plastic box to hold the fresh cups of water. I fill them in the bathroom and carry them in the rubbermade (holds 12 16 Oz. cups) into the snake room. Then all I have to do is slide out a box, remove the old cup and replace it with a fresh, sanitary drinking cup.

I do not have to waste time washing bowls. I do not have to waste time rinsing bowls. Nor do I have to waste time sterilizing bowls and waiting for them to dry.

I have experimented with various adhesives and various placements in the boxes. I have found the following to be the best.
For a glue, I use "Mr. Welder", available at herper's central (aka WalMart.) Since it will dissolve plastic, it is necessary to apply just a very thin line of it around the bottom perimeter of the cup. I then press the cup on the bottom of the box and rotate back and forth a bit to even the glue. A few hours of drying, and it is ready. I have tried other glues, but most of them didn't adhere well.

I originally placed the cups in the corners of the boxes, but had trouble with this placement. Bedding and feces got hidden in the corners, and it was hard to clean. Also the snakes would get hidden in the corner between the box and cup, making it hard to get them out. Also, every now and then a larger snake would break the cup. Now I place them in the center of the box, a bit away from the leading edge of the box. On the smaller shoe boxes, I go about 1 inch back from the edge. On the larger boidae and coulubrid boxes I place them about 4-5 inches from the edge. This gives the snakes sufficient room to crawl around the cups without breaking them.

Give it a try. Works well for me.
John Hollister, Fall 1998.