It is important to offer your snake hides.
We prefer two hides that are identical and placed at opposite ends of the enclosure. This allows your snake to hides in different temperatures. They often will choose a less than ideal temperature in order to hide in a spot that feels safe.
Both hides should be exactly the same, or at least very similar. This means the snake will not sacrifice the temperature they need for a preferred hide style.
The hides for sale at pet stores such as half logs and fake castles are expensive and not necessary. We make all our own hides out of plastic storage containers.
Your hides should have the following characteristics:
- light weight and easy to move
- easy to clean and sanitize
- fully contained
- very small openings
- low height
- just slightly larger than the snake in coiled sleeping position
Why do I insist on giving my giant snakes hides, you ask? Not only that, but why do I make all my hides myself out of plastic tubs?
Positive Thigmotaxis means to gain comfort from touch. This is big part of how our snakes make themselves feel safe. In the wild hiding in a tight dark hole where a majority of their body is in contact with the structure helps them know they are safe from attack. If their body is touching the walls of their hide on all sides they can rest easy knowing they are protected.
Offering your snake the appropriate sized hide is one of the most powerful things you can do for their mental/emotional state. This is particularly helpful for animals with behavioral problems, but we believe it should be offered to every animal whether they are scared or not. They can use it if they want to which gives them some control over their own vulnerability.
We find that here at Snake Haus ALMOST every snake uses their hide when sleeping. That makes sense because good sound sleep requires a solid feeling of safety. But make sure your hides are the right size. Ideally they should be the same size as the snake when coiled. I don’t upgrade hide box size until the snake is so squeezed into it that they pop the lid off or crack the sides. Once that happens you know they can be comfortable in a slightly large hide.
Here are some photos of our happy sleepy snakes in their hides this morning. I love going in to say good morning and seeing them poke their noses out to greet me! Shhhhh! It’s ok guys, go back to sleep.
Hides also help with handling and training:
These hides allow me to pull even the most scared, or shy, snake out of its enclosure and move it around with minimal stress. You can see me working with two large retics here in this way. When you open the enclosure you can use your hook to gently encourage them to go back into their hide where they feel safe. Then simply pull the hide out with them in it. Most snakes will choose to stay inside their hide where they feel safe while you do whatever it is you need to do. If you need to also handle the snake the hide box lets you slowly and gently get them accustomed to your touch and ready to come out of hiding.
The first video shows me getting Lore into his new enclosure today – I used his hide from the old enclosure to move him from the house to the python room in the basement. This technique of using the hides to keep them calm has been vital for working with Lore and Realm who are only one generation away from wild.
The second video shows how I get Lilith out of her enclosure. She is super duper food motivated so asking her to go back in her hide before taking her out keeps her very calm and easy to handle.