Understanding Arboreal Snake Perches

What is an arboreal snake perch, and do you need one for your pet snake? The word ‘arboreal’ simply means ‘resembling’ a tree. How do you make arboreal snake perches? Do you need a real tree or something that just looks like one? Let’s unpack all there is to know about understanding arboreal snakes so that we can provide the best possible perch for your beloved pet snake.

Understanding The Basics Of Arboreal Snake Perches

Creating a natural habitat for your pet snake with the use of foliage and tree branches is also known as arboreality. It is important for your arboreal snake to feel safe from predators, be able to enjoy foraging for food, and be able control its own body temperature (thermoregulation).

Temperature

Generally speaking, the higher the temperature of your enclosure, the more likely it is for your arboreal snake to want to stretch out and drape itself over the branches. Cooler temperatures mean that it is far more likely to coil. Think of it as creating a ‘home gym’ for your arboreal snake: you’re wanting to make a space for your snake where it can stretch out and balance on a branch without the branch breaking and be able to traverse a network of branches without doubling back over itself in loops.

Space

While there is not a great deal of research and data regarding the optimum environment for arboreal snakes, we know that a healthy environmental structure is likely to increase the diversity of movement in the arboreal snake. On a horizontal branch, lateral undulation (movement from side to side) is increased. Arboreal snakes are also well suited to a vertical incline. Boa constrictors have been known to employ a ‘gripping gait’ which allows them to move faster over a surface that contains some frictional resistance, i.e., the texture of the bark of a tree.

What To Consider When You Make A Snake Perch?

Be sure to leave enough room for your arboreal snake to be able to climb up to the top and perch there without feeling cramped. Dowl rods make for simple wooden poles to build your snake perch out if you’re not going for the more rustic feel of a natural branch.

Depending on whether your cage or tank is made from glass or PVC, you can look to extend other branches to make up the perch and support it from the side of the tank using glue. Another good idea is to combine branches with PVC plumbing joints, as this gives you interesting angles to build offshoots so that you make full use of the space you have for your snake. Lastly, considering that your arboreal snake enjoys being ‘up,’ be sure to make your enclosure nice and tall. As a rule of thumb, the terrarium’s height should exceed the length.

Alternatively, you can buy removable arboreal snake perches that are made from PVC, and come in small, medium, and large sizes. They’re recommended if you keep your snake in a drawer (i.e., if you need to travel with it) and cost upwards of $15. They are quite aesthetically pleasing and easy to remove and clean.

Where do arboreal snakes live

Arboreal Snakes Diet

It is amazing to consider the range of prey that a typical arboreal snake can consume, from small rodents like rats to lizards, birds, and even fish. While it is not an uncommon sight to find a snake eating a mouse or a rat in captivity, it is less common to see the same for birds or fish.

The trick is to find a pet store nearby that can assist with selling you dead rodents, ideally frozen. You then need to let the mouse or rat thaw completely before serving it up to your snake. Chances are your snake is looking to dine in private – most are quite fussy like that. This is then something to consider when you build your snake perch. Often, creating one side that is paneled with cardboard or wood will suffice as a hide. Experiment by placing your snake’s food on the perch itself, mimicking how it would hunt a mouse in the trees in nature itself.

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Size Of The Prey

The size of the meal is roughly equivalent to the size of your snake’s midsection. Most arboreal snakes will eat once a week. If it doesn’t go for the dead prey, then you need to coax it to eat by letting it hunt and feeding it live prey. A word of warning here, though: watch this hunt play out, and be prepared to intervene a rodent’s teeth or claws can really hurt your pet snake. Be sure to provide your arboreal snake with a bowl of clean water at all times, to be changed twice a week.

Caring For Your Arboreal Snake

If you find yourself asking, ‘why is my green tree python on the ground?’, then consider what has changed recently in their immediate environment. Are the temperature and humidity the same? Is there mildew or mold on the perches you have built?

Sometimes noise can be a factor that causes stress or if you’re a beginner when it comes to owning a snake, there’s a chance that there is something that it doesn’t like about its environment. This is why arboreal snakes are considered intermediate or advanced pets to own, as they are more challenging pets than some beginner snakes. Another consideration is the introduction of a live plant to complement the perch that you have made for them.

Sometimes, your arboreal snake spending too much time on the ground is just because it’s over-eaten. But usually, if you make a snake perch that is robust and which allows you to remove it and clean the enclosure, then your arboreal snake should be out and about, getting exercise, or wrapped around its perch, relaxing. Being on the ground for too long for an arboreal snake is not a good sign.

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Arboreal Snake Perch Conclusions

If you are a beginner, then the spotted python is the best kind of arboreal snake to buy. Consider that it is not dangerous. It can also happily live in captivity for up to 20 years, meaning that it will be a good friend for years to come.

If you decide to go for an arboreal snake as a pet, then be prepared to create a ‘home gym’ for it in its terrarium or home enclosure. We recommend sturdy, natural branches for when it is at home, and a simpler PVC option for when you need to transport your snake and keep it in a drawer. So long as you have space in terms of height for your arboreal snake to explore, you’ll be well on your way to keeping your arboreal snake happy!

FAQs

What Do Arboreal Snakes Eat?

Arboreal snakes are carnivorous - and they like to eat their prey whole! In the wild, they mostly survive on rats, birds, and mice. Smaller species will eat things like insects and crickets. It’s quite an emotional commitment to feed your pet snake a live mouse once a week, but luckily most arboreal snakes are okay with dead prey.

Where do arboreal snakes live?

In trees naturally, or up in the perch that you have built inside your terrarium or cage.

How do you make a snake perch?

When considering the best wood to use for your snake perch, start by asking your local timber yard or hardware store what natural hardwoods they have available. You’re ideally looking for something with thin bark, such as silver maple or ash. The next consideration when you begin to make a snake perch is its portability. You are looking for something that is free-standing, a snake perch that you can remove when you want to clean your snake’s cage. Picture the letter ‘H’ lying flat on the ground. Then extend poles upwards, and then connect another ‘H’-shaped extension at the top of your cage.

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