Snake Enclosure

Specialty Installations

Year: 2017
Location: Central New Jersey
This is the sister enclosure to the Alligator Snapping Turtle tank.  I was contracted to build a floor-to-ceiling home for various snakes which would occupy the corner in the laboratory opposing the turtle tank.  The goal was to have oversized viewing windows, adequate ventilation, a cabinet structure underneath and doors which make tank and snake service a breeze.  This entire project went from design to finished product, including materials purchase, in five days.

As with my turtle tank, the lower cabinet structure was constructed off site.  The cabinets are fundamentally the same for both the turtle and the snake’s.  The snake enclosure however has a smaller footprint (42″ back sides vs. 48″ for the turtle’s) and is far less overbuilt as the load it has to support is minimal.
The upper cabinet pieces were pre-cut off site, but had to be built in place as they would not fit through the door to the lab once assembled.  Regrettably, I have no documenting photos of the lower cabinet build as I had such a tight deadline on this project.

The upper cabinet’s supporting columns are made from 2×4’s ripped with a table saw as opposed to store bought 2×2’s.  I did this because home depot 2×2’s are made from a very light weight wood and I needed the strength of douglas fir to secure the heavy glass doors.
The glass used is 1/4″ plate. The enclosure uses over 90 feet of quarter turn moulding to trim out the glass, secure the flooring and form the wire mesh breather up top.   Mains power from the ceiling drops down then returns up the back side of the enclosure to power an outlet inside the lower cabinet as well as a switch on the side to control an led fixture installed in the top of the upper cabinet.

The enclosure walls were built to block out the adjacent window.  That along with an LED fixture which gives off no heat left the tank far too cold for its residents.  I installed a heat rock, wiring it through the floor of the enclosure to a power outlet I installed inside the lower cabinet.

If I had the opportunity to modify my design, besides spending more time on finish work, I would rebuild the large doors so that the hinge sides are not beveled (may be tough to discern from the photos); transferring that bevel to the cabinet support columns and leave a solid 2×2 on the doors to mount the hinges.  All though they are plenty strong and sturdy, having such a thin edge on the hinge side of such a heavy door is rather nerve-wracking.
The mural painted inside of the enclosure was done by the man who contracted me to build it.  Note that I did not go through the same lengths to waterproof this enclosure as I did with the turtle tank.  It is painted with a simple brown latex so that painting could be done on site without endangering the respiratory systems of the creatures present in the lab.  As with almost everything I build, all parts are sealed together with Loctite Premium before fastening.  The enclosure as a whole is anchored both to the floor and the studs in the adjacent walls.
Before construction I designed this in Solidworks to work out any bugs and be certain of dimensions, then derived 2d drafts from which to work.  My original design would have had additional shelving and cabinetry in the base structure as well as doubled ventilation up top.  Those features were eliminated to make the five day deadline possible.  The models are available both on my website and on GrabCad.