So one thing that comes to mind if you keep colubrid snakes (not boas or pythons) is whether or not to brumate your animals. First of all, what is brumation? Well in the winter many colubrid snakes go through this process in the wild where they cease feeding, slow their movements, and retire to a den until the weather is more suitable. It is similar to hibernation, however the animal will remain more active and alert to threats.
In captivity, brumation is extremely important for breeding. However, if you aren't planning on breeding your animal then you don't need to brumate your snakes. Still, a resting animal means you don't have to worry about keeping temperatures up or feeding for a few months. It also means not interacting with your pet until spring. If you're interested in trying this, simply google the proper method for brumating your specific species of snake, and if you take this route be entirely sure that your animal is healthy enough to undergo this taxing process
Okay, so you've decided not to put your animal down for the winter. That's totally fine! Here are a few tips for keeping your animals warm
Increase your heat
Your house will naturally drop in temperature over the winter. To combat this you can do a few things:
Heat your entire home
This method is a bit excessive, but if you don't adjust your thermostat in the winter, your home should maintain the same temperature it always has, and you shouldn't have to supplement cage heat. Keep in mind that heating is drying, which may mean you'll need to mist your cage more often. Keep your eye on that hydrometer, especially around shed time
Supplement Cage Heat
All of my snakes have different methods of heating. One has an under tank heater hooked up to a thermostat. I generally don't have to worry about her, her heat has adjusted automatically. Another has an infrared light hooked up to a dimmer. I changed the dimmer and increased the heat with no problem. My largest cage has been the largest issue. It has a ceramic heat emitter which simply isn't cranking out the level of heat necessary. I'm trying to insulate my room better, but at the end of the day the cage temperatures are about 5-10 degrees short of my ideal range. It's not the end of the world, but I will likely need to simply buy a more powerful heat source.
In smaller cages I have in the past simply added a weak, inexpensive supplementary heat source to tanks 40 gallons or less. Be prepared for supplementary heat, and the extra costs that will be associated.
Use Common Sense
If you have a snake that cannot drop below a specific temperature, ensure that your thermostat is at least set to that range. You wouldn't want your heat source to fail and come home to an ill snake.
Check your thermometers daily. If you're like me, many of your heat sources do not emit light. If they fail, you won't know until you check the temps. Cold snaps can be very dangerous for some animals, so you want to be on the lookout for failed equipment
Power Outages Happen
Have a game plan for what to do to keep your snakes warm when your power fails. If you don't have radiators or a generator your animals may need to be moved - know which friends will take in your animals. If you keep local animals, the temperatures are not exceedingly low, insulate the tanks quickly to ensure a gradual drop in temperatures. Mostly, just have a plan and know your animal. Some snakes can only handle low temperatures for hours, others are completely content for quite some time (if a bit sluggish).
Winter is coming, be prepared for just about anything.
Happy Holidays, and as always -