Snakes can make great pets and they don’t require an excessive amount of care. A properly sized cage with adequate bedding and a secure lid is the bulk of what you will need. Bedding from a pet store is nice and may look attractive, but it is often expensive, and there are many products you can find in your home to use instead for far less cost.
We’ve scoured the internet and racked our brains to put together a list of all the different substrates you can use as an alternative to the pet store brands. Join us while we discuss cost, clean up, burrowing, absorbency, and more to help you find a safe, economical snake bedding for your cage or tank.
The 4 Snake Bedding Alternatives
Here is our list of things you can find around your home to use as an alternative to pet store snake bedding.
We’ll begin our list of household items you can use as snake bedding with the most popular bedding, newspaper. You can find newspaper in many homes, and it’s usually not hard to collect some for free if you run out. It’s easy to clean, and you don’t need to remove all of it each time you clean the cage.
The downside to a newspaper substrate is that is doesn’t absorb very well, so waste will spread much further than it would with other types of substrates. It also doesn’t have any odor absorbing properties, so the cage can begin to stink over time. It provides little environmental feedback and the snake will be unable to burrow.
2. Paper Towels
Paper towels are very similar to the newspaper in that they are found in most homes and are inexpensive. You can lay sheets of paper towels in your cage or tank and replace then as they get soiled, making cleanup extremely easy. They are more absorbent than the newspaper and the waste won’t spread as far.
Unfortunately, paper towels have many of the same downsides as the newspaper does. It doesn’t absorb any odor or allow your pet to burrow. There is also no smell to the paper towel as there might be in a snake’s natural habitat.
Carpeting is another thing you might have around the house that you can use as bedding for your snake. If you have carpeted a floor, you’ll likely have a few extra pieces lying around that can make great bedding for your snake. Of course, you will need to have enough to cover the floor twice, so you can clean one while using the other. Carpet provides a very comfortable surface for your snake and is more natural than a newspaper or paper towel and often more absorbent.
The downside to carpet is that it gets soiled very quickly and can be difficult to clean. It often requires several days to scrub clean and dry out so you can place it back in the cage. The carpet will not absorb any odor, nor will it allow your pet to burrow.
4. Cypress Mulch
Admittedly, not everyone has cypress mulch in their home, but if you do a lot of gardening, it’s likely that you either have used some or come across it. You can find it in most gardening stores, and it has a variety of uses in the yard. Cypress mulch is comfortable for snakes, and they can burrow in it, which makes them very happy. Its absorbent, retains humidity, and it has a nice smell that is closer to the snake’s natural habitat than a newspaper or paper towel.
There are some downsides, though. As we said, it’s not in everyone’s home. You will also need to bake it in the oven for 30–45 minutes to kill any living organisms that may be present in the mulch to prevent them from causing harm to your snake.
Other Great Snake Bedding Materials
You may not find these next few bedding materials in your home, but they are worth considering as a long-term bedding material.
Aspen shavings are absorbent and smell nice. It’s a great material for burrowing, and its light color makes it easy to spot waste. The downside to aspen shavings is that you need to make sure the wood pieces are very small, or they can cause digestive troubles if eaten. It can also be messy when transferring it to the cage because it is very lightweight, and if it’s allowed to be damp for too long, it can grow mold. Many experts consider aspen shavings the best bedding material for snakes.
Coconut husk is a fantastic snake bedding because it is extremely absorbent of fluids and odors alike. It’s soft, comfortable, and naturally antibacterial as well as antimicrobial. The downside to coconut husk is that it comes in large pieces that your snake might swallow, causing digestive issues. It’s also not very good for burrowing, and it tends to camouflage the waste.
Coconut fiber is like coconut husk but is a much finer substrate with a soil-like texture that is great for burrowing. It’s also more absorbent of fluid and odor because there is more surface area. There’s also less risk of your pet eating it and developing digestive issues. The downside to coconut fiber is that is is extremely dusty, and it gets all over the house.
Bedding to Avoid
Let’s discuss a few types of bedding you should avoid.
Cedar and Pine
There is evidence that cedar and pine can be harmful to your snake, causing skin disorders and immune system malfunction. It also affects the lungs and the way your pet reacts to certain medications if they have a health condition.
Sand is natural bedding that snakes use in the wild. However, it can get stuck between their scales, which can lead to complications. Your snake may also eat the sand, which can cause a condition called impaction that can be deadly.
Crushed Walnut Shells
Crushed walnut shells feel soft to the touch, but it can contain sharp shells that can cut your snake’s skin and can do even more damage internally if swallowed.
Out of the types of bedding found in your home, we believe carpet to be the top choice. There’s a good chance you have some lying around in the attic or down in the basement, and it provides a comfortable surface that resembles grass much more than newspaper or paper towels. The newspaper, paper towels, and carpet are fine for the short term, or if your snake has a medical condition that requires keeping an eye on it. However, in the long run, we recommend a better substrate like aspen shavings or coconut fiber.
We hope that you have enjoyed reading over this guide to affordable snake bedding alternatives. If you have found it helpful, and you have learned something new, please share these four alternatives to snake bedding found in your home on Facebook and Twitter.
Featured Image Credit: Annmarie, Pixabay