Pet Gazette DECEMBER 2018 - Page 18

18 | PET GAZETTE | REPTILE A FOCUS ON EFFECTIVE DESIGN FOR SNAKES Continuing with thoughtful design I n the previous issue we started to look at the importance of effective enclosure design, shape and cage size with regards to the provision of the third parameter of overall nutrition, this being the provision of positive physical and mental enrichment. I suggested that the thoughtful provision of naturalistic decoration, be that as being part of a BioActive system, or not, (naturalistic but not BioActive) would always provide an environment in which an animal would be able to - to a degree - exercise its body and would be more likely to fi nd itself at home in a lower stress environment. This would allow the vital organs to function to a higher degree as the body remained fi t and better exercised. It would also help to lower the number of potential stressors, thus keeping the harmful long term exposure to cortisol to a minimum. By including physical and mental wellbeing into the remit of nutrition, and then viewing this as part of overall nutrition we accept that these processes are indeed important, can be built upon and then, by defi nition, will allow us to see a greater level of positive change in the animals in which we keep. We are progressing at such a rate with regard to species specifi c nutrition, in terms of the food and water that they consume and the levels of and pertinence of external energy that we are able to provide them with, that these animals are indeed able to display a higher level of physical energy. This energy is best spent well in order to keep the animal fi t and well by the inclusion of a form of decoration that is akin to its natural state and within a size of enclosure that allows it to do so effectively. In this issue I would like to pay particular interest to snakes and how we as keepers and traders can help to design and build enclosures that are of a suitable size and orientation and that also include a range of decoration that allows the snake to display wild-like movement and behaviour. This is, in my mind, a key and positive step forward within this avenue of herpetoculture. Sadly, many have historically kept snakes in a very minimalist way, be that within racks, tubs or shallow vivs. The seeming obsession with the racking systems that were so prevalent up until very recently was built upon the theory that snakes could exist just as well in reduced sized enclosures, that this may also be better for them in terms of getting them to feed and that an added bonus was that the keeper could keep quite a few individual snakes in the same or similar space as one December 2018