Instructables

Safety & energy-efficiency in large reptile enclosures

Picture of Safety & energy-efficiency in large reptile enclosures
In this instructable, I will demonstrate how I reduced the energy consumption of my snake pen while upgrading the heating and lighting setup to better match their needs.

A little bit about myself and my pets...

I have owned several types of exotic lizards and snakes. Currently, I have two boa constrictors; a male and a female. The male is about 6' and the female is 9' and I adopted them about 4 years ago. So, they're big, they're heavy and they are living in a pen that I built for Savannah Monitors several years ago.

I wanted to provide them with better light and heat while using less power and gaining more control of the system.
 
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Step 1: A little about my enclosure

Picture of A little about my enclosure
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The snakes are in a pen that I built several years ago. The enclosure is a 4' x 4' x 4' cube on top of a 2' x 4' x 4' base. The enclosure is divided into two stories to house the two snakes and was expertly painted by my wife. I don't put them together at all because I don't want any baby snakes.

Originally, two 60 or 75 watt reptile bulbs are what I used to provide the heat and light. So for 12 hours a day, I'm using 120 watts for the lights.

Over the past year, I have tried to reduce my all-around electricity consumption in the house and the snake pen is something I wanted to address as well.
F1X0R5 years ago
I think as owners we can reduce energy consumption quite a bit. I l also think that where we can, we should. How ever Reptiles do tend to need quite a bit of electricity in their day to day lives when kept as pets. It would be important for potential buyers to recognise this potential cost.
iPodGuy (author)  F1X0R5 years ago
I agree. No reptile should have a less-than-adequate habitat, but the same result can be achieved in a number of ways. It's really worth the time it takes to investigate and plan a setup.
HubertF iPodGuy3 years ago
BEST ive heard yet on here about herps .VERY refreshing!
egermann044 years ago
what kinda bedding would you be able to put down over the rubber mat that would made the heat transfer suitable for the snake?
iPodGuy (author)  egermann044 years ago
None.  I suggest using newspaper or thin cardboard. 

Reptiles can develop intestinal problems over time due to inadvertently ingesting substrate.  Even if it says it is safe, I highly doubt it.
What are the temperature ranges you read on your cage thermometers with the new bulbs?
iPodGuy (author)  MommasArtMess4 years ago
Typically the ambient temp. is in the low 80's or high 70's.  With the open front of the cage, I don't retain too much heat.  It's been awhile now since I did the renovation, and I like the localized heat of the heat rope.  It's warmer in that area of the cage and provides a nice temperature gradient.
Knerps5 years ago
Thanks for this instructable. I am saddled with AUD3000 plus elect bills annually heating 20 odd reptiles and welcome anything that could save me money. Unfortunately, my snakes are mainly arboreal and seem to like the overhead heat spot, which for most of my enclosures is a 100-150W source. Unfortunately cords or mats don't seem to cut it for these snakes except when babies. I think ceramic heat globes or radiators on pulse proportional thermostats may be more economical than incandescents. Either way, I'm saving up for a solar panel set up.
iPodGuy (author)  Knerps5 years ago
How abut a CFL/radiant heat panel combo? If they're in to basking, those radiant panels would do the trick. I'd keep it on a rheostat, though. Check online. This instructable is brought to you by eBay...
DIYDragon5 years ago
Wow! 9 feet? he's a big, pretty boa. I noticed your Kingsnake.com sticker too - I've been there on the classifieds boards to find dart frogs before, lovely little creatures. : D Good energy tips, and the coils being under the rubber surface should keep the animals from burning themselves.