Why is it Important to Control Humidity?
Controlling Humidity is extremely important for snakes. Keeping the humidity levels just right is one part of a healthy environment for your pet snake. It’s important to remember that different snakes come from different places where the humidity levels can vary greatly. The right humidity level helps your snake keep their skin and respiratory tract moist. The key to a healthy snake is to mimic their natural habitat as closely as you can in their enclosure.
Maintaining optimum humidity inside your snake’s enclosure also helps keep your snake healthy and free of diseases. It’s necessary for snakes to shed their skin and low humidity levels inside their tank can lead to your snake having problems shedding. When the humidity is too low their old skin can stick to their eyes and tail.
Controlling Tank Humidity: What do I Need to Know?
The first thing you need to know is the humidity level that your snake needs. Different snake species need different levels of humidity. Their humidity needs can range from 30% to 80% depending on the type of species you have. For example, Garter snakes need 30 to 50% humidity while African Ball Pythons need a humidity closer to 60%. Knowing the exact humidity range of your snake will help you take the necessary steps to keep their enclosure at the right level.
We suggest that you purchase a hygrometer for their cage. A hygrometer, just like the thermometer, is an electronic device that lets you measure the humidity level inside their tank. Next to water and food a hygrometer is a must or you’ll never know what the humidity is at in your snake’s tank.
The humidity is displayed as a percentage on the device. Having a hygrometer will help you measure the moisture in the room where your snake is kept and also inside the tank. These can be two very different numbers because most people don’t like their house to be at the same humidity that their snake needs.
How to Control Humidity
Once you know what humidity level your snake needs, you should measure the humidity level of the room or area where your snake tank is kept. Garter snakes require a humidity range of 30 to 50% and if the humidity in your room falls in this range then you won’t have to adjust the humidity inside their tank.
In this case, you may only have to slightly increase the humidity level when your snake is shedding its skin. If the humidity level is not at the optimal level then you can use the following ways to increase the humidity level inside their tank.
Using a Humidifier
Using a humidifier is one of the easiest options. You can use a humidifier to increase the relative humidity in the room where your snake’s enclosure is. If your home has a central humidifier then you can use that or you can purchase one at your local big-box store. This is the easiest method and will increase the humidity range of both your room and tank. It can be a preferred option for snakes that require average humidity like Garter and Corn snakes or when you have multiple snake enclosures in your home.
Using a humidifier may not be as efficient for other snakes or when your snake is shedding their skin. High humidity can also damage your furniture or electronic devices.
Using a Water Bowl
To increase the humidity level inside the tank you can place a bigger water bowl inside. You can also move it near your tank’s heating source. If you’re using a heating pad then place the water bowl over where the heat pad is kept. If you have a heat lamp or ceramic emitter to heat the enclosure, then you should place the water bowl under it. Water placed near the heat source will evaporate the water faster and raise the humidity level in your snake’s enclosure. Check the humidity level inside the tank using a hygrometer to see if evaporation increases the humidity enough for your snake.
Misting the Tank
You can spray the tank with water to increase the humidity inside. This can be done by using water to spray the entire tank, including the hides, tank walls and the substrate. It is a cheap and efficient way of increasing humidity. You don’t need to buy anything except a spray bottle. The tank should be misted once or twice a day. Monitor the humidity level to see when misting is needed.
Creating a Moisture Box
One of the most common ways to increase humidity is by using a humidity box. You can buy these or make your own custom one to meet your specific needs.
To create a humidity box take a small plastic container or rubber box that is the size of a bowl and add some sphagnum moss. If you don’t have sphagnum moss you can also add damp paper towels. If you cut a small hole in the lid it will allow your snake to get inside the moisture box if it wants. Now it’s ready to be placed in the tank.
It is important to make sure the sphagnum moss or paper towels are not too wet and only damp.
Other Things to be Aware of
Adding a water bowl or moisture box is not the only thing that can be done to control the humidity. To maintain the humidity other things that can be looked at.
The bedding of the snake tank can play a major role in maintaining the humidity inside the tank. Bedding like aspen shavings and wood barks tend to dry out faster and you may need to add water to keep them damp. Cypress mulch substrate is better at retaining moisture and helps to promote humidity inside the tank. Different snakes have different substrate needs. Depending on what the humidity level needs to be, you can use what you like based on your ability to control the humidity.
Depending on the type of substrate you use, you may need to regularly dampen the substrate. By monitoring the hygrometer you will know when the tank needs to be misted.
There are also soil moisture meters that are fairly inexpensive. By measuring the moisture in the soil you will be able to use it to help identify any problems you might be having keeping the enclosure hydrated. If the soil is too dry, it will pull moisture out of the air. If the soil is moist then over time it will release some of its moisture into the air. The substrate you have acts like a battery, either pulling or releasing moisture.
If your tank has a screen or wire mesh lid, then your substrate or moisture box will dry out faster. If you notice that maintaining humidity levels for your snake is difficult, you can cover half of the lid with a plastic cover or towel. Covering part of the lid will help slow down the rate that moisture escapes from your tank. If you are using a moisture box, a plastic cover or towel should be kept over the section where the moisture box is placed inside the tank.
When the snakes are shedding their skin, they may need slightly higher humidity than what they normally need. If you see your snake having problems shedding then you should increase the humidity using the methods mentioned above. A visible sign of your snake having problems shedding is when they are unable to shed the skin in one piece or when eye caps fail to come out. Maintaining the needed humidity will help them shed their skin.