Types of Cages and Racks
Some people build cages out of old TV cabinets, dressers, coffee tables and other pieces of furniture. Many of these are attractive and functional. Perhaps at some date I will work up a page on these, but for now I will concentrate on standard cages and racks. There are also mass produced cages made from various plastics. I have a few Vision cages and a few Neodesha cages. Both have their pluses and negatives. I'll refrain from discussing them.
The main consideration in building racks and cages is quality of material. If you buy cheap materials, you will be dissatisfied. This is not to say that you need to buy the most expensive, but you do need to buy good quality. Warped lumber is no good. Wet lumber will warp. For myself, I don't like bad quality, but I have limited funds, so I try to reach a happy medium.
Some cages that I have built have been constructed to fit into a particular space. Others have been constructed to fit a free piece of glass that I acquired. I have built units which contained numerous small sections and others which went from floor to ceiling.
I like to have my bottom cage a few inches off the floor to allow for air flow, sweeping, etc.
WARNING! Make sure that you will be able to move the cages into and out of the room. Make sure that they can be moved within the room. If the cage is going to be extremely heavy, particularly when the snakes and substrate are in them, put them on rollers so they can be moved around.
When I moved into my present house, I built several large cages with the intent of moving them into one of the back bedrooms. When it came time to move them in, I found that they could not be moved into that room owing to the narrow hallway and the tight turns. I had to put them into another room.
I also built a very nice corner cage for a friend. Owing to the winter weather, I decided to assemble it in the kitchen. When I got it together, I realized that it was 1.5" too wide on the narrowest measurement to fit through any of the doors going outside, so I had to cut a couple inches off the depth and rebuild it.
Snakes grow. Keep this in mind when planning your setup. The 24" boa of today will be the 7' boa in a few years. There is no need to build a 6' cage for a 24" snake, but the 6' cage will be needed some day.
The cage needed to house snakes under normal conditions need not be the same one needed under special conditions, such as for breeding or for gravid females. Many of my snakes are kept in plastic boxes but, when they become gravid I want them to be able to stretch out and to have a basking spot available. So, I have other cages into which I can move them for these purposes.
Some snakes prefer some height for branches on which to climb, some could care less about vertical space. My Dumeril's boas and rainbow boas like to burrow, not climb, so they can get by with 12"-18" of cage height.
Some snakes do well in a nice setup with plants, etc., particularly the totally arboreal ones such as tree boas and eyelash vipers. Other snakes will trash a nicely setup cage. Some snakes need cover, some don't. Read up on the species and design a setup which will suit their needs.
If you have limited numbers of snakes and ample space, you will be able to make some nice setups. If you have large quantities of snakes, as many of us do, you will need to keep it basic on many of them. I thoroughly enjoy going to someone s home and seeing beautiful setups with beautiful herps in them. However, all of the breeders I have visited have their animals in basic cages, necessary to keep large quantities of snakes. This is not to say that the animals are not healthy and cherished, but the time required to keep pretty cages pretty can be intense.
Also, some snakes need setups with plants and shelter. Some snakes will be happy with a hide box, some will want leafy cover, some want a substrate into which they can burrow. If you are keeping a species which requires high humidity, remember that you will have to have a sealed interior if you are using wood.