This article is a step by step guide for setting up a Brazilian Rainbow Boa Enclosure. If you are interested in seeing how I built the enclosure featured in the article than make sure you check out: Custom Terrariums: How to Guide.
If you’d rather watch a video than read an article, scroll to the bottom of the page to find the YouTube video!
I choose to heat this enclosure with a large 12″ wide strip of THG Heat Tape. Being a glass enclosure this was by far the simplest option, plus Brazilian Rainbow boas really do not require much heat (85°F max). The only real downside is heat tape will not do much for your ambient temperatures.
Of course, you should never operate heat tape without a thermostat controlling it! My thermostats are always set up in the same fashion. I place the probe between the heat tape and the bottom of the enclosure, and use foil tape to keep it in place.
This way I know the inside of the enclosure at a temperature equal or lower than the probe is reading. A probe placed inside an enclosure can cause issues as the animal can move it, pee on it, spill water, etc. all of which would affect the probes ability to read the temperature accurately.
Last step is to tape the perimeter of the heat tape to the bottom of the enclosure using foil tape.
When using heat tape, you must provide an air gap to allow the tape to breathe. If heat tape is placed between two surfaces it can overheat quickly… if your thermostat fails it could lead to a fire.
Luckily, there is a very easy solution to this problem (for most cases).
The solution is: FELT PADS!
I can’t speaks highly enough about these little guys!
- They come in many shapes and sizes
- Will raise your enclosure by about 0.25″
- Are self-adhesive, peel and stick
- Make your enclosures incredibly easy to move (slide around)
I found these 90° angle ones to place around the heat tape.
And these large ones to support the rest of the enclosure.
Here is the final product! The felts pads provided a perfect spacer, giving the Brazilian rainbow boa enclosure heat tape some breathing room.
BRAZILIAN RAINBOW BOA ENCLOSURE WITH INSULATION?!
Glass does not hold heat as well as something like PVC, therefore I decided it might be a good idea to insulate a few of the sides with Reflectix. If you take a glass object and a plastic object and leave them in a room for a few hours… which one will be cooler to the touch? The glass, right? So that’s why I decided to try insulating the sides.
There is not much information out there regarding insulating a snake enclosure but it seems to be a some-what common practice in the aquarium hobby.
For my Brazilian rainbow boa enclosure, I only insulated the back and the warm side wall. I can’t say with 100% certainty that it is effective but I think it is. When the room temperature dips a few degrees the Brazilian rainbow boa enclosure seems to stay relatively stable.
I simply, cut out a rectangle to the correct dimensions and ran double sided tape along the perimeter and stuck it to the side and back.
There is no exact method when it comes to ventilation for Brazilian rainbow boas. Obviously ventilation is directly related to the amount of humidity your enclosure will hold.
Too much ventilation = Low Relative humidity inside the enclosure
Too little ventilation = The air will become stagnant, mold can grow.
It is very much a balancing act to get it right when you first set up your Brazilian rainbow boa enclosure.
|Rule of Thumb: Your goal should be to MAXIMIZE ventilation while maintaining ideal reliability humidity|
Fresh air is never a bad thing, of course provided the humidity doesn’t dip too low.
On the flip side (its worth knowing), that unless you are using an actual air tight container you don’t really have to worry about oxygen levels dipping to low due to low ventilation. The purpose of the ventilation is mostly to keep the air fresh and reduce chance of mold and other bacteria from growing, as opposed to providing “breathing holes” to inject oxygen. Snakes consume very little oxygen and a reasonable amount of vent holes are more than enough to keep up with the respiration demand of the animal.
I read a paper that suggested a 1000 g Brazilian rainbow boa consumes about 10mL O2 /Hr when at rest… which is really quite low. So you don’t have to panic thinking you might suffocate your snake with minimal ventilation, but as stated above too little ventilation can still be deadly to your snake (mold, bacteria, infection, etc.)
I drilled 4 x 8mm holes in the top left corner (warm side) of the door and the same on the bottom right side (cool side) of the door. This way I can create a little natural airflow- as the hot air rises out the the vents it pulls in cool air through the bottom vents on the other side.
Also note: the door is not air tight meaning the entire perimeter of the door acts as ventilation as well.
Time finish setting up the enclosure!
First, I added the hides and the water dish.
I mixed equal parts of each together. These substrates work well together, cypress mulch alone doesn’t allow for burrowing behavior (it does. but not very well) and EcoEarth alone is too “light” i.e. it gets everywhere! The cypress mulch binds it together well. Plus they smell great!
I am a firm believer in giving your animal a natural substrate rather than something like paper towel or newspaper. Natural substrates introduce texture and smells to your animals environment that newspaper can’t provide. Plus when the animal defecates it is absorbed in a small area rather than spreading across the entire enclosure (tends to happen with paper towel or newspaper).
DECOR AND LIGHTING
I added a couple climbing branches… I am not sure if she will use them. Technically, Brazilian rainbow boas are mainly terrestrial snakes but have been known to climb as well. Giving the animal an option to climb is important for muscle development and mental enrichment in my opinion! So hopefully she uses them.
I currently have a Zoo Med LED Light Hood running 8 hours on during the day. Lighting is not necessary at all for Brazilian rainbow boas but I do think having a photo period is important. I just can’t decide if it’s too bright, I may look for something less intense.
When setting up an sub adult to adult Brazilian rainbow boa enclosure you are shooting roughly for the following parameters:
|Temperature Gradient:||75°F- 85°F (night drop of a few degrees is fine as well, not necessary)|
Do you best to provide as much of the natural world into your enclosure as you can safely manage. Whether that be a nice natural substrate , or some climbing branches, or even a live plant! It doesn’t have to be extravagant but we owe it to the animals to provide some natural enrichment in their lives.