How to Care for a Rat Snake
- 1). Place the terrarium in a spot where it will not be bumped or need to be moved too often. Snakes will benefit from exposure to natural light. However, do not locate the terrarium where it may receive an excess amount of direct sunlight. As snakes have no way of regulating their internal body temperature, constant sunshine on the glass or plastic enclosure can elevate temperatures to dangerous levels.
- 2). Set the heater under the terrarium. Run the cord from the heater to an outlet where the cord will not be in danger of being tripped over. Set the temperature control on the heater to approximately 78 degrees. Never allow the temperature in the cage to exceed 85 degrees.
- 3). Add enough bedding material to cover the bottom of the terrarium. There are number of choices for substrates, such as wood shavings, mulch or excelsior.
- 4). Place a rock or two, about the size of your fist, in the habitat. This will give the snake something to climb on as well as a rough surface to rub against when it needs to sheds it skin as part of its normal growth cycle.
- 5). Fill a bowl, large enough for the snake to immerse itself in, with fresh water and place the bowl in the terrarium. The snake will use the water both for drinking as well as cooling off if it gets too hot. Change the water regularly; at least twice a week.
- 6). Attach cover to the terrarium. Familiarize yourself with the latches on the cover. Snakes are remarkable strong and can push a loose cover off the cage, and escape.
- 7). Install the light and bulb in the cover. Use the light to supplement natural light when and if needed, especially during the shorter days of winter. For best health, snakes should have approximately 12 hours a light daily to help them synthesize vitamins and digest their food.
- 8). Place your rat snake in its new home and allow it at least 24 hours to acclimate before you attempt to feed the snake.
- 9). Feed your rat snake once a week to every 10 days. While some snakes will eat frozen rodents, others will only take live food. If your rat snake will not accept dead animals as food, be sure you keep watch over the feeding process as a live mouse or rat can deliver a nasty bite to your pet. If the snake does happen to get bitten during feeding, consult your vet. As a captive rat snake's diet is not as varied as a snake in the wild, add a few drops of vitamins to the water bowl whenever you change the water. Be sure to use vitamins approved for your species of rat snake and follow the label instructions.