Take a look at my very first video upload to YouTube, showing a basic walk-through of cleaning and setting up an enclosure for my corn snake.
I love discussing tank set-ups, so if you have any questions or comments, just drop a comment or contact me. I’ll try to elaborate on the things I do below – I’m not here to necessarily give advice, because what works for one person or snake, may not work for another. Hopefully in seeing what I do and why, you’ll have a wider range of options and can make a decision yourself…
The set-up in this video is a 4x2x2ft wooden vivarium, with a non heat-emitting light during the day, and a pair of heat mats hooked up to a thermostat on the warm side. I use Aspen substrate and a mixture of different decor items.
When and Why?
I do these clean outs every time I feed my snakes – as adults this is every 2 weeks as standard. I feed them in a separate tank (there is much division on this subject) and while they eat, perform this full clean-out. My reasons are outlined in the video, but lets elaborate:
- Hygiene – these clean-outs allow me to fully check the substrate for soiled areas, disinfect the vivarium and clean/check all the decor. I can also make sure there’s no mould, holes or damage to all the bits and pieces
- Tech-Check – the task gives me the chance to check the mats and light fittings for damage or wear, and make sure they are fitted correctly and secured in place
- Enrichment – this is probably another subject for debate, as most believe snakes are perfectly happy with a minimal lifestyle, and perhaps it is for my own interests, but I like to mix things up a little and change some of the decor around to keep things different.
Step 1 – Remove and clean current decor
This ones simple and doesn’t need much of an explanation. I simply remove and disinfect the decor, using appropriate cleaning solutions, depending on the surface-type.
Step 2 – Remove an angry corn snake
This is always an interesting part of my routine. The snake in this video is Kelly, and while she has come on plenty since I’ve had her, she still has days where she hates the world, and this was one of them.
I prefer to avoid using my glove, and decided instead to try and keep her head busy with the plant. Unfortunately, she’d wrapped her tail around the wires so it was a little harder than usual. I eventually managed to coax her to move away and took her out and popped in her feeding tank.
Step 3 – Spot clean the substrate
Aspen is super easy to keep clean, and I just go through with my fingers and pull out any soiled substrate and the surrounding stuff too. Then I just chuck it all over to the one half of the tank to leave the other half bare.
Step 4 – Clean the tank and fit the heat mats
I use my old busted hoover to remove the little bits of aspen on the clear half, and spray with a reptile safe disinfectant. I usually remove the tape on the thermostat probe, unless it still looks well secured, and re-fit it after.
It’s then a case of chucking the aspen over to the other side, and doing the same over there. My heat mats have always stayed in place, but i like to pick them up and re-stick them just to be sure – it also lets me clean them properly and reduces any smell building.
Make sure a thermostat probe is on top of the heat mats. This is to ensure they do not overheat and burn the snake!
Step 5 – Bury the hide over the heat mats
Provide both a warm and cool side of the tank with a hide over each. Snakes cannot regulate body temperature so must be able to utilise their environment.
I slightly bury the hide over the warm side to allow me to create a simple rock pile and make it seem more secluded for her. I make sure there’s plenty of substrate in the hide, and then cover it over.
Step 6 – Top up with new substrate
Not something I have to do every time, but I like to maintain around 2-3 inches of aspen to allow her to burrow. I buy my substrates from Swell Reptiles, a reasonably priced UK store.
Step 7 – Creatively add decor
This is my favourite part! I like to give her plenty of hiding places, cover and climbing objects.
Around her warm hide, I have some huge stones to create a rock pile. I have to be careful that she can’t get underneath the heavy ones, so these put flat on the wood base. Any that are not flat on the floor, I make sure to test that they won’t fall or move to avoid her getting injured.
I use plant vines to hide the wires for the heat mats, and a small standing plant to cover the entrance to the hide.
I recently acquired some huge wooden stumps from a friend, so I’ve gifted the big one to Kelly and adorned it with another plant vine.
Her cool hide is constructed of two pieces of cork bark, covered over with yet another plant vine.
I make sure the water bowl is set on the wood base, not the substrate – again to avoid her getting underneath and injured.
I then finish it off with some pieces of branch decorated with, you guessed it, plant vines!
And that’s everything…
I hope you’ve learnt something new or gained ideas from my example. I love seeing other peoples set ups and hearing your comments, so tell me what you think either below or on social media.
If you’re interested where I buy my products, most of the decor I buy when I see something pop up on Facebook or local sales sites. I tend to favour the Swell Reptiles own brand products, because they’re affordable and an alright quality, but anything else I try and source from an incredible local exotic pet store, Beck’s Pets.
These are only my experiences in setting up a tank for one of my corn snakes, and every keeper should perform proper research before doing anything themselves. What works for me and my routine, may not work for you or your snakes.