Snake cages come in a multitude of different sizes, shapes and styles.
The beginner snake keeper who is only intending to keep a single specimen may decide to modify an aquarium with a reptile-safe mesh lid, heater and light.
The hardcore snake breeders will often use plastic containers as snake cages - even frosted, opaque ones, and sometimes arranged into vast shelving units housing dozens on individual snakes.
Most snake keepers find themselves in the middle ground and will keep a few snakes but want them to look more appealing than a room of plastic boxes.
My own preference for snake cages are wooden vivaria with a sliding glass door.
They can look very attractive, both inside and out. They hold the heat well. They are practical, stackable and easy to clean.
It's also easy to fit heaters and, if you want it, lighting.
Lastly they're reasonably priced and afford a great view of your snake.
But let's examine each of these snake cages in a little more depth before we move on.
The range of containers you can use as snake cages is truly dewildering once you start looking. Some are specifically designed for the task while others just lend themselves to the hobby very well.
For example, any small plastic container - such as those for kitchen use - of 20-30cm long and half as wide could be used to house many hatchling snake species - such as corn snakes.
With some holes bored into the lid (done most easily with a soldering iron - but beware of the fumes) and lined with kitchen towel all you need do is add a water bowl and put it somewhere warm and you have a fully functioning snake cage.
But snakes grow, and soon enough you'll need something a little bigger and more specialised and, who knows, more attractive.
These wooden vivs can often be bought from reptile stores or custom made for you - so they fit a certain space in your home.
Or you could even try building your own - as I have done in the past.
Don't get me wrong - I'm no handyman - but I've knocked up attractive, practical snake cages without any problems over the years.
And at a tiny fraction of what I'd pay in the pet store.
For example, I can make a 20cm cube cage, suitable for many hatchling snakes, for less than £4, whilst a tank bought in a pet store would set me back £10-15.
The choice is yours. If you're a diy virgin, hate building things or just don't have the patience - go out and buy yourself a snake cage.
Otherwise, with a little effort you could save yourself a lot of money and have some fun at the same time designing and building your own snake cages.
Due to the massively different lifestyles and sizes of snakes, together with the costs and difficulties involved with trying to find a suitable cage, many hobbyists opt to use home made snake cages.
This is by no means a bad thing.
When you consider the difference in cage requirements of a terrestrial snake measuring a metre or two in length (such as the corn snake) and an arboreal or semiarboreal species or one of the larger pythons it's clear that "one size fits all" doesn't apply to snake cages.
Also, snake cages tend not to be a cheap commodity. That's not too much of a worry for the hobbyist who wants just one pet snake.
Fut for those of us with a sizeable (and growing) collection, reasonably-priced yet practical caging becomes essential.
Lastly, using home made snake cages allows you to tailor the cage to fit a particular part of your home, and exhibit some of your personality in the design.
I highly encourage new snake keepers to buy one of the "off the shelf" snake cages available because for most common snakes they'll do a brilliant job. The design is tried and tested and there's no messing around with tools.
For the rest of us, even those of us (like me) who hate diy, building your own home made snake cages becomes a necessary evil.
I am currently working on a guide on how to build home made snake cages based on my own experiences - both good and bad - with plans included for simple projects.
If you'd like to be informed as soon as the guide becomes available, please sign up as a community member where you'll get tons of other benefits.
Then, as soon as the guide is ready I'll let you know as one of the community.
I'm currently working on a complete guide on how to build snake cages which will be available soon.
However, until it is published, here are some guidelines to help you when building snake cages.
Snakes can be strong, can spill their water and defecate anywhere they please, so the choice of materials is important.
Plain wood will soon absorb moisture and warp, smell or rot so isn't recommended.
Metal may well rust under these conditions, looking unsightly and serving as a potential hazard for your snake.
Glass must be used with care so that no sharp edges are present which may damage you or your pet, and that it is securely fitted so breaks cannot occur.
Generally the most suitable materials for those wanting to build snake cages are plastic and water-proofed wood - such as if water-resistant paint or varnish have been used. These treatments themselves may cause problems though, for example if a paint contains lead, so much care needs to be taken over the selection and application.
Snakes are professional escape artists and one of the snake cage builders greatest challenges is to ensure a cage is escape proof.
Small gaps, holes, slits and warps in any materials used ot joints can allow your snake to escape, as can loose fitting lids and doors, or any other part of the cage light enough for your snake to move.
This means light-weight plastic lids that can be pushed off are out, as are sliding doors that can be manoevered by a strong snake.
I have had corn snakes and iguanas escape from home made cages that simply didn't prevent sliding doors being moved by the reptile in question.
And wrestling a 4 foot, angry iguana back into his cage after he's spent all day sitting on my couch while I'm out at work isn't the sort of task I relish!
Nor is clearing up the mess he's created!
Incidentally, cage locks are available to help prevent this occurence.
Most snakes in most parts of the world will need heating.
Many others will require lighting - either because they need it biologically or because their cage is so dark that without artificial lighting you just don't get a good view of your snake.
Consider how you're going to install these lifesystems before you start building the cage so you know in advance what goes where and how you're going to control the wires.
Ensuring a decent lip or hood exists at the top of your home made cage helps to hide the lighting tubes themselves, and ensures that the light shines down into the cage rather than straight out sending you blind any time you try to admire your pet.