It should be immediately stated that there is no perfect enclosure. Cage size and design is a personal preference based on many factors, and your preference may in fact change with time and experience. A common misconception is that chondros require tall cages because they are arboreal snakes. But this is not widely accepted in GTP husbandry. A horizontally oriented cage is actually preferred by most keepers because, as you will understand, it is easier to create and maintain a suitable thermal gradient.
When planning your cage, consider that a chondro is likely to fare better in too small of an enclosure than in too large of one. So err on the small side if you aren’t sure what size to go with. The best suggestion is to copy the cage dimensions used by the previous owner. But whether you buy it or build it, consider the chondro’s current size, and think about your collection now and where you see it down the road.
Breeders have success with cages of various sizes, although there are some basic recommendations to follow. Within the recommended ranges you will have to decide what works best for your situation. If you plan on having a large collection and you have limited space, you might choose cages at the smaller end of the range. Smaller enclosures are also more energy efficient because they require less power to heat. But if you have animals that are over 1,000 grams you should consider larger enclosures. Regardless, the health and welfare of the snake should be the priority when choosing appropriate caging. Larger adults tend to be especially sedentary. It could be argued that too small of an adult enclosure discourages movement and exercise.
A 6 qt. shoebox with dimensions of approximately 14” x 8” x 5” (L/D/H) is the most commonly used enclosure for neos. A tub with these dimensions will likely be suitable from hatch to 8-12 months of age. Chondros grow at different rates, determined by both frequency of feeding and their underlying genetics. In general, a chondro can be kept in a 6 qt. tub until it reaches about 75-100 grams. Some snakes will reach this size by 9 months, while others may require closer to 1 year. Be aware that moving a GTP to a larger cage will sometimes cause an aggressive feeder to begin refusing food. This is typically caused by stress from the move and it’s normally temporary. But a prolonged refusal might suggest that it isn’t ready for a larger cage and you should consider moving it back to the previous one until it gains more size.
Yearlings and Sub-Adults
As your GTP grows it should be moved to a larger enclosure. If using a rack, yearlings are transitioned up to 15-16 quart tubs with dimensions of 17” x 11” x 6.5”. As they add additional size and weight they are moved to 30-32 quart sub-adult tubs with dimensions of 24” x 16” x 6.5”. Some brands might be taller than 6.5 inches, which is also suitable for yearlings and sub-adults.You can also choose custom built cages from one of the listed manufactures.
Most keepers consider an area of approximately 8 cubic feet to be the minimum enclosure size for adults. This equates to a cage that is 24” x 24” x 24” and is usually a good option for adult males. But an enclosure with dimensions 30” x 24” x 24” (L/D/H) or 36” x 24” x 24” is more common for adult females because they grow bigger than males. Large tubs, such as The Container Store’s CB80’s, are sometimes used for adults. They require a custom built rack, but most adult enclosures are either built by do-it-yourselfers or purchased from reptile cage manufactures like Animal Plastics, Constrictors NW, or PVC Cages.com.
Typical Progression if Using Tubs
– Birth to approximately 9-12 months: 6 quart tub
– 9-12 months to approximately 175-200 grams: 15 quart tub
– 175-200 grams to approximately 350-400 grams: 32 quart tub
– Above 350-400 grams: Vision CB80 tub, 24” cube cage, or larger cage