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Old 11-12-03, 05:25 AM   #1
Join Date: Dec-2002
Posts: 716
Colubrid Rack System - Buildup w/ pics

The Colubrid Rack

Well I decided to post my latest rack system with the hope that this will help out others looking for a way to efficiently store smaller snakes. I can not lay claim to the design as the inspiration has come from Marcus Jayne Ball Pythons.

Having seen this rack in action, I decided I needed a scaled down version for my kings and corns. Easy to build, well priced and very effective.

So here it is

Materials required:

5/8” Melamine

2 – 41”x13” (sides)
1 – 24”x13” (base)
2 – 18” x 3” (spacers)
7 – 18” x 24” (shelves)

1/8” Hardboard


1 – 41” x 19-1/8”

Note: Make it easy on yourself and have the renovation center cut the wood for you. It’s cheap. I had mine done at Home depot.

Other Materials:

3’ – 11” Heat tape
1 – two prong extension cord - 6’+ (cut off the female plug)
digitial dual probe thermometer
slide thermostat
6 – Sterilite Model # 1856 container – Available at Walmart

Other construction materials

solder for making connections between extension cord and heat tape or heat tape connectors
tube of silicone (clear or white) I used clear.
box of 100 - 1-1/2” x #8 Particleboard screws
screw head covers
melamine iron-on edge stripping (13/16”x50’)
small package 1” nails
duct tape
2 – small brackets


Electric drill
Drill bit to pre-drill all holes
Bit to set screws, or screw driver, appropriate screw head pattern (I used the #2 robertson)
Ruler (12” is fine)
Clothes Iron
Sharp Knife
Soldering Iron

Starting assembly

Building the base and edging

Start by placing the piece 13”x24” on a flat surface and position the two spacers, one in front and one in back , equally spaced side by side. Mark for center. Apply a bead of silicone along the mating edge of the spacers, re-align your marks and attach the spacers as shown in pic . I used 5 screws drilled up from the bottom.

Note: Use Particleboard screws only and PRE-DRILL everything before using the screws. If you do this you will not have splitting.

Also: Apply a bead of silicone on all jointing surfaces. This will make for a stronger unit and avoid potential problems is you are ever infected with mites and need to thoroughly clean the unit.

Next, position the sides and attach to the ends of the spacers using two screws per contact point, make sure to apply a bead on silicone.

At this point you will want to edge trim the base and sides, edging only has to be applied to the visible side, (so the front and sides of the base, and the front edge of the vertical sides), It is easier to do this at this stage instead of leaving it until the end. I ran out of edging for this phootshoot so I did not get a chance to do this myself.

Next, drop the first shelf into place, align for a flush mount at the back, make sure it is seated properly on top of the spacers. Re-install using silicone. Find the vertical center of the first shelf and mark three spots where the screws will be installed, I used the markings of 1”, 6.5” and 12”. Pre-drill the holes and set screws for both sides.

Next take the first sterilite container and place it on the shelf. I took 4 pieces of paper and placed them under the four corners of the tub as vertical spacers. This will make the containers slide easier once construction is completed. DON'T try to put all the tubs, spacers and shelves in first and then screw into place. This will cause binding of the shelves.

Place the next shelf on top of the container and again position for flush mount at the back and for proper seating. Pre-drill, silicone and set screws as you go along. Finish off by laying a bead of silicone in the corners before you put the next container in place. Work clean

Continue these steps until all the shelves are installed.

It is that simple.

Once all the shelves are in place, give a light coat of silicone to all raw edges at the back of the unit, again to avoid the potential of giving mites a place to lay their eggs. Allow this to dry thoroughly.


Next you have to prepare your heat tape. I used the solder method. Note, heat tape is not CSA approved so pay close attention to your work and make sure the connections are secure. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this work, please have someone do it for you. Safety first !! I finished the connection process by applying a little dab of silicone over the soldered area, allowed it to dry and then wrapped in duct tape to protect the connection point.

Also see Jeff's article on Heat tape for further details.

Plug in the heat tape and test your work to make sure it is working properly.

Next , position the heat tape across the back of the unit, vertically. Temporarily secure the heat tape at the top using a couple of strips of duct tape if you don’t have an extra set of hands to help. Nail the heat tape in place, making sure that you do not puncture the copper strip or black portions of the tape and nail on every shelf. For added security I laid down a couple of strips of duct tape and a couple of small brackets to hold the wires in place.

Note: in this picture, the retainer clip has not yet been installed


Next, hold in position and mount the 1/8” hardboard for the backing, again pay attention that you don’t puncture the heat tape.

At this stage, you can finish all edge trimming and install all the screw head covers

Next drill a small hole through the hard board to allow passage of the probe for the thermometer. I placed my probe directly on the heat tape and secured with a piece of duct tape on the third shelf. If you wish, secure the mounting plate for the thermometer in a place of your choosing.

Next, silicone the slide thermostat onto the unit, again at a place of your choice.

Allow everything to dry thoroughly before use.

Plug it in and test it.

I also checked all nail heads holding the back in place to make sure that I had not punctured the heat tape. If you did you will get a shock. Remove the nail if this problem is discovered. I did end up with one that needed to be removed.

Well that’s it. Put it into position, plug it in, set the temps and you are ready to go.

I let mine sit for a day, so that the temps could stabilize and then I prepped the containers. Drill air holes in the locations of your choice in the containers and make sure the holes aren’t too big for the snake to escape. Clean them and set them up with nothing more then a good bed of aspen and a water dish.

You do not need to put in hides if the snake is older, but for juveniles you can keep it simple and throw in a few toilet paper tubes and plastic containers for their added security.

This design allows for a very good heat and light gradient. It’s easy to clean, easy to move around, takes up little space and is very strong.

Currently I am using this setup for juvenile corns, mid size kings, a juvenile boa, and 4’ male ball python.

Here is a summary of costs:

All prices in Canadian Funds

5/8” Melamine 23.00
1/8” Hardboard 12.00
3’ – 11” Heat tape 15.00
1 – two prong extension cord - 6’+ (cut off the female plug) 8.00
digitial dual probe thermometer 22.00
slide thermostat 20.00
6 – Sterilite Model # 1856 container – Available at Walmart 5.43 ea 32.58
solder for making connections between extension cord and heat tape or heat tape connectors
tube of silicone (clear or white) I used clear. 6.00
box of 100 - 1-1/2” Particleboard screws 5.00
screw head covers 3.00
melamine iron-on edge stripping (13/16”x50’) 8.00
small package 1” nails 1.00
duct tape 4.00
2 – small brackets 1.00

Plus about 4 hours labour to assemble

Total: 160.00 or approx. 26.66 per snake housing

You will save more if you cut enough wood for two units

Plus tax of course. Your heat tape may be more, I did get a deal on mine through a private sale

Initially, the recommendation was to mount the thermometer probe directly to the heat tape. Although this gives you an accurate reading at the source, it does not properly measure the temp inside the tubs. Since then, I have installed the probe inside the tub and put a sheet of double sided aluminum foil insulation across the back of the unit. Using the foil insulation greatly improves the efficiency in getting the heat back into the tub, where it is needed.

Well I hope this helps someone out, and if you have any further questions, drop me a line. I’ll be happy to help.


Last edited by jwsporty; 03-31-04 at 07:08 AM..
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Old 11-12-03, 05:39 AM   #2
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Thanks for sharing.. I will be using this plan real soon.
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Old 11-12-03, 05:24 PM   #3
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thanks i will be making a smallert version to jousew future baby corns:-)
if something doesn't fit hit it with a hammer, if that doesn't work get a bigger hammer: Jesse James
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Old 11-12-03, 05:32 PM   #4
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that's a great looking set up~
love all the procedures in making this rack~
great information!!
My Web Site!
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Old 11-12-03, 05:48 PM   #5
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Wow - excellent instructions - thanks for sharing,

mary v.
Mary VanderKop
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Old 11-20-03, 11:42 PM   #6
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Beautiful step by step. Best I've seen.
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Old 11-21-03, 12:42 PM   #7
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SOLID write up Jim. Thanks.


Last edited by Infectrix; 11-21-03 at 12:46 PM..
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Old 11-25-03, 12:06 PM   #8
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Thanks a million for taking the time to write that up. Not many people would go into that detail. I am sure there is a lot of people that will benfit from this.

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Old 11-25-03, 12:46 PM   #9
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Great post! Best "How To" post I've seen...
Cranwill's Captive Bred Snakes
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Old 11-26-03, 05:51 AM   #10
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Thanks folks, glad I could help

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Old 04-26-04, 08:43 PM   #11
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i have a Q, if making another one, would you put the foil insulation in the inside of the unit between the heat tape and the backer board? i am going to make a rack system and really like this design. thanks for posting the steps. my unit will be for juvinile leopard geckos to raise until salable size. could you explain the size and # of air holes used in each box.
2.0 Ball Pythons
0.1 Blood Red Corn Snake
1.6 Leopard Geckos
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Old 04-26-04, 08:53 PM   #12
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Great post. Thanks for sharing, Jim.
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Old 04-26-04, 09:01 PM   #13
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Thanks for sharing! I'll be saving these instructions for a future rack system!
Erin Keller :eb:
Snakes: 2.1 Corns, 1.1 Kings, 1.0 Everglades Rat, 1.1 Spotted Pythons, 1.2 Children's Pythons, 1.2 BCIs Lizards: 0.2 Leopard Geckos, 1.3 Bibron Geckos Inverts: 2.1 Tarantulas, 0.1 Emporer Scorpion Mammals: 0.2 Kittens
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Old 04-26-04, 09:16 PM   #14
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Dynomite post!
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Old 04-26-04, 11:14 PM   #15
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I just built a rack modelled after this one adn I absolutely can not get my 11" heat tape to warm my containers...please help me figure out how to use back heat!
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