Creating a Garden-Themed, Stunning Corn Snake Enclosure!
Many reptiles that we feature are exotic animals found halfway across the world in vastly different climates than our own here in the USA. However, the species we are building an enclosure for today can be found in abundance in the south-eastern United States! Check out how our animal care manager Kasey created a natural Mid-Atlantic garden themed enclosure for our familiar reptilian neighbor, the corn snake!
Kasey is hoping to enliven the enclosure of our resident corn snake, Phoenix. Her enclosure currently features several live plants and a few hides. Kasey hopes to create a habitat that resembles the yard and garden of a Mid-Atlantic home, where you might find a corn snake out exploring!
We will be using Phoenix’s current 4x2x2 PVC Meridian enclosure and redesign it to bring it new life. Kasey plans to install a faux brick wall on the back panel of the habitat to look like the side of a home. She wants to add a hose and spigot onto the brick wall, and add a galvanized steel water pail underneath as a water bowl to add to the garden theme. The enclosure will be naturalistic, so she has purchased a cypress mulch based substrate and a few large plants to add to the setup.
The first step in the setup is painting the interior panels of the enclosure. Kasey sands the panels to give the surface a rougher texture for the paint to cling to. She tapes off the frame pieces to protect them before beginning to paint the panels. Using tinted FlexSeal paints, she paints the back panel a mortar-like color before moving on to the side panels and painting them green to resemble bushes. She says that she is using food coloring to tint the paint, which is not typical, but she says it ends up holding up very well!
For the brick wall, Kasey figures out how to evenly space the faux bricks, and places everything before gluing them down to the panels with construction adhesive. For one side panel, she adds a few layers of faux vines over the spaces of the bricks where the paint is visible to mask the green color. On the other side panel, she attempts to paint a bush using tinted Flex Seal, but is unhappy with the result and ends up leaving it a solid green. She uses the construction adhesive to attach the spigot and hose holder to the back wall of the enclosure as well.
For the galvanized steel water pail, she coats it in several layers of a protective spray. Kasey assures that the pail is food safe, but to be extra safe, she wants to cover everything in an additional layer in the rare event that zinc would leak into the water from the steel.
Kasey adds a hose onto the holder, and silicones it into the shape she likes. She also silicones both ends so Phoenix cannot get herself inside of the hose and get stuck. The final touch for the background is adding a few faux vines snaking around the back wall. The enclosure is left to air out for several weeks before it is moved into place in the reptile room.
After securing the substrate shield and adding a 4x2 BioBasin liner to the enclosure to prevent leaks, coco coir and cypress mulch are added into the enclosure, with a layer of live leaf litter overtop. Kasey wants the hose to double as a hide for Phoenix, so she stuffs moist sphagnum into the hose holder so she can rest comfortably inside. A large boston fern and a polka dot begonia are placed into the enclosure, and then Kasey begins to add the lighting and misting system into the enclosure. A 36” linear UVB bar, halogen basking lamp, and a full spectrum LED grow light are added to support the health of both Phoenix and our live plants. A few elements of her last enclosure are reused into her new setup, including a hanging bamboo planter and two branches. With all decor in place, Kasey sets the water pail in place and replaces the enclosure doors. The new enclosure is complete and ready for Phoenix!
To learn more about snake enrichment, bioactive enclosures, and corn snakes, check out our articles and information section!