Children's Python Enclosure

Discussion in 'DIY Zone' started by Jduff, May 9, 2020.

  1. Jduff

    Jduff New Member

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    Hi all,
    I have had my Children's Python for almost a year (purchased as a hatchling) and it has recently shot up in size, and so I need to get a new enclosure. My current enclosure is 60 x 40 x 45, and based on the last shed (of which was a few days ago) the snake is around 60 cm. I was planning making one myself, however I'm having trouble finding decent guides/forums etc on how to go about this. I have done some research but unfortunately information on the keeping of this specific species seems somewhat scarce. From what I can gather, the enclosure should be around 90cm x 50 cm x 60 cm. My biggest issue is what sort of wood I should build it out of, and what I should be aware of during a build, things to consider etc. If someone could provide me with a guide, forum, video, parts list, a photo of a constructed enclosure or even just advice I would be incredibly greatful.
    Cheers!

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  2. Sdaji

    Sdaji APS Veteran APS Veteran

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    Okay, a few things to cover here.

    Firstly, you have a very beautiful Stimson's Python, not a Children's Python. Not a big deal, just the wrong label on a very nice snake.

    Secondly, sloughs are not a good way to measure snakes. They tend to be around 15-30% longer than the snake, but can be shorter than the snake or more than 30% longer.

    Thirdly, that enclosure is large enough for your snake for the rest of its life. 60cm x 45cm is plenty for an adult Stimson's (or Children's).

    If you look at home made enclosures you'll see people using melamine-coated chipboard (it was by far the most popular thing when I was starting out and is still popular today), MDF, ply, pine and others. It's not too important what you use, just make sure if it's not something already sealed, that you paint it with a good coat of sealant, preferably 2 coats.

    You'll get as many different opinions about how to build enclosures as the number of people you ask. I used to use melamine for most of mine, although if I wanted to go all out with more fancy designs I used MDF with a generous amount of sealant. These days I love plastic tubs in racks, even for 10'+ pythons (there are some nice big tubs available these days, and they're even making commercial racks large enough for people to be keeping and breeding large pythons in them).
     
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  3. Molly039

    Molly039 Not so new Member

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    If we use plastic tubs, how are they ventilated, cooled and heated?


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  4. Sdaji

    Sdaji APS Veteran APS Veteran

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    Again, ask a handful of people and you'll get a handful of different answers. Most people ventilate using holes they drill or melt out with a soldering iron. I use a rotary tool to cut windows out, then weld insect screen over the window. My tubs take more time and work but they're a superior to other designs, and for me they get a lot of use. Some of my original prototype tubs are still in use in friends' collections almost 20 years after I made them! They still get sterilised and used for new hatchlings each year.

    Other than airconditioning the room, or occasionally using fans for improvised evaporative cooling, I'm not really familiar with reptile cooling, and none of it would be particular to enclosure type.

    These days I almost exclusively use heat cords for heating (regardless of enclosure type), but until about 10 years ago I still had some of my old heat mats in use which worked in the same way. Plenty of people use basking lamps over plastic tubs by employing various improvised designs, but I'm personally not a fan.

    It looks like this is your only snake and I'm guessing you probably want it to look pretty, so you may want to avoid pragmatic but ugly plastic tubs, but the enclosure you have now is comfortably large enough to serve your little buddy for the rest of its life.
     
  5. Jduff

    Jduff New Member

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    Thank you for such a detailed reply, I appreciate it.
    When I purchase it I asked for a Children's, and the enclsoure it was kept in was labelled chidlren's. Similarly all the research I've done has been for chidlren's pythons (although some information has overlapped due to the similarities of the species within the antaresia genus). Nonetheless I have certainly speculated that it may not be a Children's python, as the patterns have shown no signs of dulling over the year I have taken care of it. Many thanks for the heads up! Luckily they are similar snakes of the same genus, I will do more research but I would assume they have the same husbandry requirements/techniques.

    The cage he is in now being suitable is a relief, however I will still upsize, but its good to know I don't have to rush. This is my only python (for now!) and I'll certainly spruce up a tank for it. Doubt I will use a rack system as I don't plan on breeding but I will keep it in mind if I ever get the experience and the motivation.

    As for materials to build a cage out of thanks for the tip, I will find out what bunnings have in terms of both wood and sealant. You make it sound easy!

    Many thanks again for such a detailed reply, keep up the good work kind stranger!
     
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  6. Sdaji

    Sdaji APS Veteran APS Veteran

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    Always a pleasure chatting about snakes :)

    Absolutely, you keep Children's and Stimson's in the same way. In reality they're the same species. If Children's and Stimson's are different species then Africans, Europeans, Asians and native Australians are certainly not the same species. Someone just drew a line across northern Australia and said anything north of it is a Children's and anything south is a Stimson's, but the snakes ignore that line, slither across it, breed with each other, etc. They're all part of the same population.

    Have a look at other people's enclosures to get some ideas, choose what you like and copy the design. Something I found when I was starting out was that the commercial units had very bad designs in terms of heating, thermostat and ventilation placement, so with some thought you can make better units than most commercial ones. Having said that they're a lot better now than back in the 90s when I was first building them.
     
  7. Great Dane

    Great Dane Not so new Member

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    If you search YouTube on how to build a reptile enclosure (DIY reptile enclosure etc.) There will be plenty of tutorials on how to do so, only thing you'll need to work out is measurements. It's very stright forward once you get the hang of it as it's basically just building a box :p. There is quite a debate online on adequate enclosure measurements for Stimsons, childrens etc. I personally house my yearling spotted python in a 90x45x45 melamine enclosure. The common mistake people make when debating tubs vs enclosures is the amount of hides and coverage they use. One or two hides just isn't enough if housing in a larger enclosure if you want them to use the space.

    I build all my enclosures out of Formply from Bunnings, melamine is also a fantastic a cheap material to use. I would recommend straying away from MDF as it's basically compressed cardboard,and will become soggy overtime when exposed to high humidity or water.

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  8. Sdaji

    Sdaji APS Veteran APS Veteran

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    MDF is okay if you want to seal it well. I haven't built many MDF enclosures, but because it's basically compressed sawdust as you say, I used a generous amount of sealant, and they lasted very well. One I still know of was in use (by myself) for about 10 years then spent about 5 years stored in a wet garage and then back into use, someone is still using it now a further 5 years later and it's still in really good condition. You're completely right of course, if they're not well sealed they'll quickly degrade.

    As you say, people will give all sorts of different answers about cage sizing, and there's nothing wrong with 90 x 45 x 45, that was the exact size of my first Antaresia cage, which I had in use for over 10 years, but I've never known anyone with more than about 10 Antaresia who didn't keep most of them in enclosures much smaller. I've actually bred them in 2.5 litre tubs! I find they go best in something around 50-60cm and under 20cm high, and if you want to go larger it becomes a bit more tricky to set them up so that they'll be as happy. As you say, with a larger enclosure you want it to be more furnished, as big, empty spaces are generally wasted and often make the snake less comfortable. More height makes temperatures more difficult to manage.
     
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  9. Great Dane

    Great Dane Not so new Member

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    By the time you buy all the wood and sealant, mdf works out to be just as expensive and more time consuming than melamine. Although I have built a rack out of the stuff in the past and it's still holding up pretty good. But rack vs enclosure comparing exposure to elements racks get stuff all.
    I only keep 3 snakes currently so room is no issue for me as they are mainly display animals.

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  10. Sdaji

    Sdaji APS Veteran APS Veteran

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    Absolutely, they're comparable in price, and sealing the MDF is slightly more time consuming, but the MDF does give a better final product at least according to some preferences and applications. It does come down to personal preference. The main problem I had with melamine was that the gaps between the wood eventually leaked, that allowed moisture in, and the internal chipboard expands and breaks up. The MDF held the sealant better (with melamine I used aquarium silicone, with MDF I painted with two coats of sealant, really being generous on the internal corners) and the MDF never leaked. These days you'd only build wooden enclosures for display, so it would mainly come down to wanting a more laboratory style white melamine look or a more earthy brown MDF look. My preference has changed in the last 10-15 years, and these days I'd go with MDF for a display unit. Other people use pine etc, which I'm not personally a fan of but it has its own charm which I can understand others liking.

    And yep, for racks I'd 110% go with melamine. You can even just use uncoated chipboard for racks. I knocked one of those up in about an hour using the cheapest, flimsiest chipboard I could find, just to house a larger than expected clutch of bredli, I didn't think I'd have it in use for more than about 3 months, and wouldn't have expected it to last a year, but I ended up keeping that rack in use for nearly 10 years and it was still in great condition when I threw it on a bonfire (just because I was moving interstate and didn't have a use for it).
     

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