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Old 12-08-17, 01:18 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Black Ratsnake husbandry questions?

So I'm looking into getting a black rat snake, and for the most part, I know the husbandry requirements. But I was wondering if one of those Iris Christmas tree boxes would be suitable to house an adult in? it measures 51x21x14. Also, for people who use these types of plastic bins as enclosures, whats the best way to heat them? I've only ever used the glass tanks for my ball pythons and I feel like under tank heaters would melt the plastic but I'm not sure. Thanks for any information.
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Old 12-08-17, 03:26 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Black Ratsnake husbandry questions?

Hi,

Awesome you're getting a new snake! Black rat snakes are a really awesome, sadly, I can't keep one myself because they are illegal where I live. A young black rat snake could be comfortably housed in the size you mentioned (assuming it is LxWxH), but I would recommend something bigger as an adult. A under tank heater would be the best way to heat your snake, however, I recommend keeping them in a room with ambient temperatures of 75-80°F. Night cooling is not required, but it won't harm the snake and it's your decision if you want to provide it. I keep all my reptiles in a heated room of about 75-80°F which makes a good ambient temp. BTW the undertank heater would be needed for a hotspot, the temperature should never come close to the temperature that plastic melts at, but you can use a temperature controller to be certain. (Most common plastics melt at a temp of 212°F, this will not be reached with a UTH, but a temp controller can make sure it never goes above 90-95°F for your snake). This temp should only be on one spot, under a hide, in the enclosure in order to give the snake a thermal gradient. Warm side temps should be 80-85°F, and cool side temps should be 73-76°F. This will allow your snake to thermoregulate, and pick the temp it desires.
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Old 12-08-17, 03:28 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Black Ratsnake husbandry questions?

Black rats grow way too big for that type box. You need to look into something about 5'x2'x2' or bigger, depending on whether you have a medium or larger size black rat. There's quite some variation (from 4' to 6'+). I can imagine that type box to be good for the first 2 years only.

They are diurnal snakes, they like a good provision of light, something to use for climbing. I wouldn't stick such a snake in a plastic box, it's not even fun for you to look at.
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Old 12-08-17, 03:35 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Black Ratsnake husbandry questions?

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Black rats grow way too big for that type box. You need to look into something about 5'x2'x2' or bigger, depending on whether you have a medium or larger size black rat. There's quite some variation (from 4' to 6'+). I can imagine that type box to be good for the first 2 years only.

They are diurnal snakes, they like a good provision of light, something to use for climbing. I wouldn't stick such a snake in a plastic box, it's not even fun for you to look at.
I agree with TRD about the plastic box, snakes are much more fun to house in glass enclosures.
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Old 12-08-17, 11:36 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Black Ratsnake husbandry questions?

I don't know what black rat snakes others have seen but 51"x21"x14" is plenty of space for one. That's enough room for some of the average sized bull snakes and I've never seen an adult black rat bigger than that (maybe a bit longer but more slender).

I will say that your dimensions do leave something to be desired (not for lack of total space), black rats are plenty arboreal if you give them the opportunity. If you wanted a nice big display cage I'd shoot for something like 48x24x36" or 48x24x24". I think that 5 feet long is a bit overkill if you have the full 2 feet of depth to the cage.

Personally I think you'd be doing yourself a disservice if you kept a rat snake that has so many cool behaviors in a tub, albeit a larger one than we'd typically see. If you are very strapped for cash there is always worry about potentially not having the means to care for it in the future so do keep that in mind. If however you're just trying to add another to a collection but want the caging on the cheap I'm sure there are ways to modify the tub into something suitable.

Other than them being slightly larger than corn snakes there really isn't much different in terms of care though.
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Old 12-09-17, 04:27 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Black Ratsnake husbandry questions?

I've been talking with breeders who have the wild occurring blue racer that is not recognized as a separate subspecies from black racers here (or it would be endangered and I couldn't keep it). They are very active and some get big so while the concept works fine and you'll only melt plastic if you don't control your heat source properly, the only thing I have heat mats for is plastic bin hospital or quarantine emergencies, I wouldn't go that size forever. I'd rather just have an adult cage ready in the first year. I'm building the first adult pinesnake cage 6' long and throwing in a divider for now so each yearling will have a 36x30" cage. Racers also will climb more than average so bins and typical long reptile enclosures are hard to get with the useful height for their activity. I do have to agree with others that part of the reason I want one is their daytime activity level, including that climbing, and you just aren't going to enjoy that in a short, not fully clear bin. For keeping several breeders and temporary holding until an adult enclosure I can see the point but not for enjoying a single individual of a diurnal active species.

It's really not that hard to put together wood cages and seal them as waterproof as plastic. They even do them for marine coral growout so they hold water without toxins that can harm sensitive marine life. It may not always look as fancy as what some build but my goal from an exotics interest as a kid with no income was always to keep the animals happy, safe, and enjoy them. Might also be that same thinking as my chemical engineer sister that aesthetics lose to function when deciding where to put my money. If you ask around reptile and aquarium forums/groups or local classifieds you can often find someone with the skills for furniture quality custom stands and enclosure frames but my bulls are simply in plywood chipboard and an $8 can of enamel with screen door or fine hardware cloth mesh. Thicker wire needs to be watched for rubbed noses. It's more work but barely more cost than the bin if you have a hardware store that will cut at least wood. One of ours will even cut clear plastic and glass materials. Then you only need the ability to paint and put in screws. We have a saw so we only need it cut down for the vehicle and I do bioactive so the weight of chipboard instead of at least higher quality layered plywood is of no concern compared to the 100s lbs of drainage, soil, and natural rock I end up adding to my 4'-6' and 30" wide bases. The only thing I plan to do different, probably on all enclosures in the future, is spend the extra money for plexi or used glass sections instead of mesh where I want to view from in order to contain more heat and humidity than my bull snakes currently are.

Another option is if you take the time to look for damaged aquariums and even window/door glass and take the panels apart you can rebuild a new glass tank that is your custom depth or replace areas of plastic on a bin, wood, or mesh with a clear glass panel. Also done in larger aquariums to put viewing panels in the sealed wood tank because of both cost and the pressure on it to do the whole thing in only glued together glass panels. I stay in the local aquarium classifieds groups despite giving up fish and aside from my free 90gallon with 1 damaged panel and a 75gallon missing it's frame with center brace for $40 I've got a 3 row stack to the ceiling of free or around $5 tanks in 10 to 40gallons. The only problem with any shape you build is a top and a bottom that match your created dimensions but you have to solve a bin top anyway and you aren't looking at the bottom panel.
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Old 12-10-17, 03:22 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Black Ratsnake husbandry questions?

Are you looking to start with a hatchling black rat snake?
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Old 12-10-17, 04:49 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Black Ratsnake husbandry questions?

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Are you looking to start with a hatchling black rat snake?
Most likely. I know a hatching wouldn't start in such a large enclosure. I'm just trying to figure out the best way to affordably house an adult. Cause all the Zoomed and custom cages I could find that would be the appropriate size are more expensive than I think they're worth. Especially if I could rig up something suitable myself.
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Old 12-11-17, 04:47 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Black Ratsnake husbandry questions?

It will likely take at least several years for a black rat hatchling to grow to adult size. You'd have plenty of time to build or save money to buy a suitably large enclosure. An Animal plastics enclosure would likely cost a few hundred shipped. A DIY plywood enclosure would be considerably less expensive.
My 2 2017 hatchlings are currently housed in 7.5 gallon sterilite tubs, and don't appear to be growing as quickly as my corn snake.
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Old 12-11-17, 12:32 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Black Ratsnake husbandry questions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jjhill001 View Post
I don't know what black rat snakes others have seen but 51"x21"x14" is plenty of space for one. That's enough room for some of the average sized bull snakes and I've never seen an adult black rat bigger than that (maybe a bit longer but more slender).

I will say that your dimensions do leave something to be desired (not for lack of total space), black rats are plenty arboreal if you give them the opportunity. If you wanted a nice big display cage I'd shoot for something like 48x24x36" or 48x24x24". I think that 5 feet long is a bit overkill if you have the full 2 feet of depth to the cage.

Personally I think you'd be doing yourself a disservice if you kept a rat snake that has so many cool behaviors in a tub, albeit a larger one than we'd typically see. If you are very strapped for cash there is always worry about potentially not having the means to care for it in the future so do keep that in mind. If however you're just trying to add another to a collection but want the caging on the cheap I'm sure there are ways to modify the tub into something suitable.

Other than them being slightly larger than corn snakes there really isn't much different in terms of care though.
100% all of this.
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Old 12-21-17, 08:42 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Black Ratsnake husbandry questions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jjhill001 View Post
I don't know what black rat snakes others have seen but 51"x21"x14" is plenty of space for one. That's enough room for some of the average sized bull snakes and I've never seen an adult black rat bigger than that (maybe a bit longer but more slender).

I will say that your dimensions do leave something to be desired (not for lack of total space), black rats are plenty arboreal if you give them the opportunity. If you wanted a nice big display cage I'd shoot for something like 48x24x36" or 48x24x24". I think that 5 feet long is a bit overkill if you have the full 2 feet of depth to the cage.

Personally I think you'd be doing yourself a disservice if you kept a rat snake that has so many cool behaviors in a tub, albeit a larger one than we'd typically see. If you are very strapped for cash there is always worry about potentially not having the means to care for it in the future so do keep that in mind. If however you're just trying to add another to a collection but want the caging on the cheap I'm sure there are ways to modify the tub into something suitable.

Other than them being slightly larger than corn snakes there really isn't much different in terms of care though.
I agree with most of this. That size cage would certainly be big enough for a while. But a black rat CAN get considerably larger than a corn snake. A 5' corn is a big one. A black rat could get 7-8'. Six feet is probably more realistic, which would be borderline for the dimensions you've listed. However, I agree with the other guys, these snakes would be much more enjoyable in a larger setup that allowed them to utilize their arboreal tendencies.

Anyway, awesome, underrated snakes. Sometimes I think about trying to grow a big one.

Here's a gray/midland rat snake that's well over 6'. Supposedly, the blacks get a little larger than the grays.



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Old 12-22-17, 04:13 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Black Ratsnake husbandry questions?

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Originally Posted by eminart View Post
I agree with most of this. That size cage would certainly be big enough for a while. But a black rat CAN get considerably larger than a corn snake. A 5' corn is a big one. A black rat could get 7-8'. Six feet is probably more realistic, which would be borderline for the dimensions you've listed. However, I agree with the other guys, these snakes would be much more enjoyable in a larger setup that allowed them to utilize their arboreal tendencies.

Anyway, awesome, underrated snakes. Sometimes I think about trying to grow a big one.
Emminart I agree. I make recommendations based on average size. For example most Baird's Rats are about the same size as corn snakes. BUT there are some 6 foot long giants out there (same with corn snakes). I would like to think someone would be able to make that judgment call if their snake ends up on the larger end of the scale to offer more reasonable accomidations. A 4x2 footprint is enough room for most slender 6ft long snakes and more than most sources would recommend. When you add extra height it just sweetens the deal.
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