Building An Enchanted Forest for Our Western Hognose!
The Western Hognose snake is found primarily in the midwest range of North America in scrubland prairies and semi-desert biomes. The name “hognose” comes from their signature upturned rostral scale that helps them burrow underground into the sandy terrain. Today’s enclosure build focuses on re-creating a forest floor-like habitat for our new tiny friend, Google, the Western Hognose snake!
PLANNING THE BUILD
Our animal care manager Kasey wants to create a habitat that is reminiscent of a forest floor for our snake Google, using a few special accents that she has planned to craft for the build. She chooses a Zen Habitats 4x2x2 Meridian wood panel enclosure and states that she will be making the enclosure into a semi-arid bioactive setup with the hope that it will replicate the ground layer of a pine forest. Google has been housed in a simplistic setup during his quarantine period to ensure our animal care team was able to closely monitor him for any ailments or unwanted pests, like snake mites. Quarantining new animals away from any current animals for 30-90 days is also important in making sure you are not unknowingly bringing in any illnesses that could infect your current pets. Thankfully, Google has completed quarantine without any signs of illness and is able to join the snake corner in our reptile room.
BUILDING THE FOREST
Kasey’s first step is to remove all of Google’s old substrate and thoroughly disinfect the enclosure using F10 veterinary disinfectant. Once the enclosure is thoroughly wiped, she installs a 4x2 BioBasin to hold the bioactive substrate. The BioBasin acts as a protective layer between our substrate and the habitat itself to prevent any accidental leaks or spills. Kasey then installs pine tree decals on the back panel just above the BioBasin liner to give the effect of a forest edge in the distance. For the substrate, six bags of Josh’s Frogs arid bioactive mix are added into the base of the enclosure and given an initial light watering to add a bit of moisture. A few birch branches are added vertically to look like tree trunks, and give the effect of being on the forest floor beneath a canopy of tall trees. Kasey adds a Zen corner cave and burrows it into the soil so only a small opening remains. She states that placing the cave within the ground will give Google a secure, underground hide where he can burrow. Kasey creates adorable mushroom accents by using food coloring and acrylic paint to dye wooden mushrooms. She secures them to a block of wood to ensure they will remain upright in the enclosure even if Google decides to explore on, or under them. She adds both clusters of mushrooms to the habitat, and hides the base underneath the soil so the mushrooms look like they are growing from the substrate. With most of the main decor pieces in place, Kasey begins to add the top layer of the forest floor. She says that typically when creating bioactive habitats, she will use a layer of dried leaf litter on the surface. However, for this habitat she opts for dried pine needles to fit with the pine forest enclosure theme. Kasey adds as a disclaimer that the oils of soft-woods such as pine and cedar can be known to cause issues with reptiles, however, she reassures that the pine needles she is adding have been very thoroughly dried to remove any oils and any lingering potential irritants.
Lastly, Kasey adds in a few pieces of cork bark and cork rounds for Google to climb on, and places a realistic faux cypress tree sapling. The cypress ended up being a bit too tall, so she cut the top off and it became two trees. After the cypress trees were positioned, the habitat was complete! We can’t wait to watch Google utilize all of the enrichment opportunities that his new home offers!
To learn more about creating bioactive enclosures and reptile care, head over to our Care Sheets and Articles section!