What's Pet Snake Enrichment?

Cold-blooded animals like snakes are not the most responsive pets out there. Thus, you may think it's enough only to provide these reptiles with food and a proper enclosure. But snakes can feel emotions like curiosity and enjoy toys or enrichments, and we'll tell you why! 

Snakes spend a lot of time exploring dark areas, climbing, and smelling in the wild. So, in captivity, these cold-blooded pets will benefit from toys they can climb on or slide through. If said toys resemble natural objects like barks or rocks, the snakes will love them even more! 

But in what other ways can you enrich a snake's enclosure? And how else can having toys help your pet? We have the answer to these questions and more below!

Everything You Need to Know About Pet Snake Enrichment

What is pet snake enrichment
What is pet snake enrichment

Before we dive into how you can enrich your snake's enclosure, let's define enrichment.

This term has to do with improving or enhancing something for different purposes. In snakes, the idea of enrichment promotes the reptiles' well-being, health, and life. So, with this practice, we aim to extend our beloved pet's lifespan. 

But what counts as enrichment and what doesn't? We're glad you asked!

Any toys, scents, and accessories that can spark a snake's interest count as enrichment. 

After all, though you may associate the word "curiosity" with cats, snakes also need to explore. Otherwise, these cold-blooded pets may show signs of stress or boredom and get sick in the process.

A snake may be content with food and a proper enclosure, but we want more as pet owners. We want our scaled babies to thrive, and, as a result, enrichment will come in handy.

Now, let's take a look at how you can enrich your pet snake's tank with toys, games, and other tricks. By the end of this post, you'll know how to improve your reptile's life and make it even happier, so keep on reading!

X Ways to Enrich Your Pet Snake’s Enclosure and Life

1. Toys, toys, toys

Let's keep it real, when you think of snakes, you don't think you'll play with them as you would with cats or dogs. And, to be honest, you won't, so don't expect a Ball Phyton to bring you back a ball because of its name.

The kind of toys you can for snakes are for them only since they don't understand the concept of "playing." Over time, you can also handle them, but these reptiles don't like to interact with humans often.

Instead, the toys you can get to enrich your snake's tank need to replicate its natural habitat. So, if your pet's an arboreal species, you may need to buy branch-like objects that it can climb on as if it was in the wild. 

Meanwhile, all snake species will enjoy having toys that resemble caves. After all, your pet's tank must have at least one hiding spot.

Thus, it would help if you get items that look like rocks or empty trunks for your pet to get under or inside. These items will also work as decoration and can sometimes come with a natural scent. And, considering how sharp a snake's sense of smell is, scented objects will do wonders for the tank!

After all, even though they can't see that much, snakes have a great nose for, well, everything. And these cold-blooded animals enjoy discovering new scents in their surroundings.

That said, before you buy any toys to enrich the snake's enclosure, you need to remember a few things.

  • Get toys and objects that are easy to clean. You'll have to take every item in the enclosure out now and then, wash them and kill bacteria that could harm your pet.
  • Although natural toys and objects are great, you can also buy synthetic items. For example, plastic plants are better because they won't die, look beautiful, and are easy to clean.
  • Take your pet's species and size into consideration before buying anything. You may think a particular hiding spot works for all snakes, but it could not fit. 
  • Likewise, you'll also have to remember that the reptile won't stay the same size forever. Thus, you’ll need to adjust everything in the tank as the snake grows.
how to enrich a pet snake's enclosure
how to enrich a pet snake's enclosure

2. Snake Feng Shui

You may be aware of this by now, but it is necessary to clean a snake's enclosure often. And, during the cleaning process, you'll have to remove most things from the tank and wash them. 

But, if you 100% want to improve your pet's life, you can do more than only cleaning. Switch things up in the tank, take some items out, introduce new ones, move things from where they were before. Get your Feng Shui on!

You may think this method is silly, but there's a logical explanation for it. In the wild, a snake's environment is always changing because of natural causes. Sometimes, these reptiles also have to move to look for prey or to avoid predators. 

Thus, it would help if you keep your snake guessing since it'll feed its curiosity.

That said, there’s one thing that you need to remember:

  • There are no rules about where to put decorating items in a snake's enclosure. But you need to keep a thermal gradient and basking spots according to your pet's specific needs. So, don't move thermostats, basking spots, or heating devices from their original location.

3. Let Them Burrow

Depending on the snake's species, your pet may need to burrow. 

The cute hognose snake, for instance, enjoys burrowing in its natural habitat.

As such, you must provide the enclosure with a substrate that's suitable for burrowing. Otherwise, your scaled best friend may experience stress and even get sick.

Yes, paper towels may be cheaper, but they're not a burrow-friendly substrate alternative. Instead, you could get Aspen shavings and place them at the bottom of the enclosure. This type of substrate will allow the snake to move or slide around and dig little hotels as well. 

Likewise, you can even create fun games by burrowing plastic objects for your snake to find. This type of activity will promote the reptile's natural explorer side. But, again, don't expect your pet to bring the toys back to you like a dog.

Which takes us to…

4. Throw a Treasure Hunt

ways to enrich a pet snake vivarium
ways to enrich a pet snake vivarium

A perfect way to stimulate a snake's brain and make sure it works out is by "throwing" treasure hunts.  But there are more ways to play these games than to get your snake to unburrow objects.

A suitable alternative is to hide the thawed frozen mice that your snake's call "dinner." 

Instead of the more straightforward approach of placing the mice near the snake, find a good spot. Then, leave the "prey" there and watch as your pet uses its senses and predatory nature to locate it. 

This game will be entertaining for both the reptile and you and is a much-needed exercise for the snake.

That said, not all snake species will appreciate a good old treasure hunt. To name one, in particular, Ball Phytons won't be fans of this dynamic.

This type of snake fall into the ambush predator category and prefer to wait for the prey to come. These species use camouflage and other technics in the wild to remain hidden until a "snack" is near. Then, the snakes will attack, fast!

So, if you have a phyton, you'll need to place their food right in front of them, carefully. Thus, as you can see, it is vital to research and understand the unique needs of your pet's species.

Related Questions

Can I Have Two Snakes Playing Together?

The short answer is no. Most snake species are very territorial and don't enjoy living together. So, you can't expect these reptiles to be playmates either since they may fight over food or space.

In the worst-case scenario, two snakes may end up killing each other if they share a vivarium. Thus, if you want to have several pets, you'll need as many enclosures as well. 

You can only bring snakes together during mating season. But you'll also have to be sure you have a male and a female. Likewise, mating is over; you’ll need to separate the animals again.

The only common pet species that are social are Garter snakes.

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