Friday, February 25, 2011

How to Build a Snake Rack

Several people have asked me how to build a snake rack to house adult colubrids. Here's how I built a ten-level rack that holds 41 quart Sterilite tubs. This is the fourth rack I built and houses adult corns, kings, milks and a ball python.

Here's a slideshow of the process.

I used pre-cut melamine shelving (about 15x33) from the shelving area at Lowes/Home Depot. The shelves are a little too narrow for the 41 quart Sterilite tubs, so I attached side rails made from 1x2 select stock to make the bottom edge of each shelf wider and also to add rigidity to the whole unit (I don't remember exactly what type of wood, but it must be straight and free of splits). And don't use the ones with the rounded edges). For the upright boards, I used 1x4 select (six for the sides and one for the center of the back (adds rigidity and also acts as a stop for the tubs).

Everything was attached with 1.5" black drywall screws (pre-drilled and countersunk to keep from splitting and for aesthetic purposes).

Basic assembly goes something like this:

Cut all the 1x2 rails to the exact length of the shelves.

Set each shelf on a perfectly level flat surface (I used the island in my kitchen) and clamp the rails to the edges of the shelves. Pre-drill and screw the rails to the edges.

Calculate the length of the upright boards taking in to account the exact height of your tubs, the thickness of the shelving and the width of the top 1x2 rail which will extend a little beyond the top shelf. Check and double check your measurements and calculations. Cut all boards to length.

Use a square (and a helper if possible) to attach the bottom and top shelf to the uprights. Check several times with the square as you go.

You should have a bottom and top shelf now held together with six uprights.
Set a 41 qt. tub on the bottom shelf and add a second shelf on top of it. Attach with screws (remember to pre-drill).

Continue adding a shelves until you get to the top. Remove and reattach top shelf if necessary.

Add the last upright 1x4 to the back.

Stick on some heat pads and you're done. I use Zoo Med 4x5 pads ONLY! Other pads have overheated.

If you want a slightly looser fit, place a sheet or two of poster board on top of each tub while you're assembling the unit.

Some tips:

I bought my melamine shelves on clearance for about $7 each.

I bought all my 41 quart tubs at Wal-Mart right after Christmas. They had the ones with the red and green lids for $5 each.

It's okay if the upright boards are a little long. They help to hold an 11th tub in place that I use for extra supplies.

I added some plastic furniture sliders to the bottom for easy movement. During the winter I slide the whole unit into an unheated closet. It's worked great so far.

The whole project (minus heat) cost around $200.

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