Why We Created The Massive Snake Jungle Gym
Providing enrichment within your snake’s enclosure is called environmental enrichment. Environmental enrichment is defined as changing a captive animal's environment in a way that improves the animal's quality of life. Previously we created a snake enrichment board, and our corn snake Phoenix was quite fond of hanging out on it. Our Animal Care Manager, Kasey, decided to create a large vivarium for Phoenix where she could utilize lots of height and many types of enrichment within her enclosure!
To see Phoenix in her brand new snake enclosure, check out the full video here: Creating A MASSIVE Jungle Gym For Our Corn Snake Using Our Zen Habitats Reptile Enclosure!
Planning the Enclosure Build
Kasey wanted to bring the essence of a snake enrichment board into Phoenix the corn snake’s enclosure upgrade. She decided to use a 4x2x4 PVC Meridian Zen Habitats enclosure, which is twice the current size of Phoenix’s 4x2x2 PVC Meridian Enclosure! While a 4x2x2 is a wonderful size for a corn snake, Kasey states that Phoenix utilizes every inch of her current enclosure and loves to climb - so she will surely appreciate the extra height!
Kasey plans to create many different sizes and lengths of PVC perches to allow Phoenix to zoom all around the vertical space in her enclosure. She also picked up a dog treat ball that has large, hexagonal holes; she plans on turning this into another climbing opportunity that will double as a little nest area for Phoenix. If frozen thawed prey is left in the little nest, our corn snake can seek out and “raid” the little nest for a novel experience during feeding time! Kasey also wanted to turn a hanging three-tiered fruit basket into yet another climbing opportunity. For the final climbing item, she chooses several rope bird perches that can be snaked around the enclosure.
Kasey will be making the enclosure semi-bioactive, meaning the enclosure will include bioactive substrate, complete with a cleanup crew, but will not include any live plants.
Building the Corn Snake Enclosure
The first step in the enclosure build is creating the various perches with PVC pipe. To do this, a circle saw is used to cut PVC pipes to size. With all of the pieces cut, Kasey assembles them with caps and corners to make u-shaped pieces as well as straight bars. For ease of cleaning, Kasey wraps each piece of PVC in colorful vet wrap. Once the vet wrap is soiled, it can be removed and replaced with fresh vet wrap. Not only will the vet wrap add lots of fun color to the enclosure and make it easier to clean, but it will also add texture and grip, so Phoenix won’t slide off of the bars while she climbs through the enclosure.
With the climbing bars fully made, Kasey assembles the 4x2x4 PVC Meridian Zen Habitats enclosure. Our Meridian line of enclosures take only a few minutes and 8 screws to assemble, which makes the assembly process quick and easy! She uses a hole saw to drill a series of holes on the back panel of the enclosure. She labels the holes so she knows where each climbing bar will go, then enlists some help to attach each bar in its place.
For a hide and basking area, a platform with a Zen Cave is added. Brackets are used to hold up the platform, and extra reinforcement is used to ensure the platform will not come crashing down.
Since our enclosure will be semi-bioactive and feature loose substrate, we need to add a Zen Habitats Bio Basin. The Bio Basin acts as a protective liner to ensure there will not be any water leaks or spills from the enclosure.
Kasey then adds the flexible rope bird perches into the habitat. She snakes them sporadically throughout the enclosure and drills small holes on the platform and side panels to secure the vines.
From the top mounting bars, Kasey hangs the three-tier fruit basket and dog treat ball. Thankfully, our enclosures can hold more than 25 lbs from the interior mounting bars, which means they can easily support the weight of our enrichment and our snake!
For the substrate, Josh’s Frog’s Bio Bedding is added. We aren’t using live plants in this habitat, but a high-quality substrate is still highly recommended to help support the cleanup crew. Some substrates such as exclusively coco fiber, or other substrates with low drainage, will cause the cleanup crew to decline or fail over time. It is still important to offer the cleanup crew with an airy substrate mix and a generous layer of leaf litter as a food source. Sphagnum moss is added to each tier of the fruit basket, into the dog treat ball, and onto the platform where the Zen Cave will be placed.
To add a bit of greenery in the absence of live plants, fake vines are added from the top mounting bars, spanning down onto the various hanging enrichment items. A large terracotta pot is added on its side on the bottom of the enclosure as a hide, and more fake vines are added in the lower portion of the enclosure.
The finishing touches were to replace Phoenix’s water dish and lights, and put the doors back onto the habitat. Once everything is in place, Kasey decides last minute to add a wooden ladder from the bottom of the enclosure to the platform. The last step is to introduce Phoenix to her new jungle gym! She wastes no time, and begins to explore all of the climbing opportunities and enrichment. We cannot wait to watch Phoenix thrive in her new upgraded habitat!
To learn how to offer your snake enrichment, check out our Snake Enrichment article here! What are your thoughts? Are there any changes or modifications you would’ve made for the setup? Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel and to watch the full video of Kasey introducing Phoenix to her new home!