non toxic wood sealants

As someone expressed an interest in how I made the shelf in Little Prince’s vivarium I thought i’d share the process :)

A shelf is an excellent way of increasing the ‘floor’ space of a vivarium by making use of the wasted upper space. Most snakes like to hide in places that are off the ground as well as having a climbing opportunity. This is one way to build a removable shelf for small snake (i.e corn snake). Being removable makes it easier to clean or change things round. For a larger/heavier snake or a bigger shelf then I recommend a different, more substantial construction rather than this one.

This is a photo of a finished (upside down) shelf and two rails ready to be added to the viv. The shelf and rails have interlocking L shapes by glueing on smaller square dowels. A  supporting leg is glued on the front corner, if the shelf is long, another leg can be added midway along. For added interest for the snake, I’ve cut a climb through hole in the corner.

I’ve drilled a series of small holes along the shelf. These are done so that hides and other things can be secured to the shelf so the snake can’t push them off and hurt themselves or break the glass of the vivarium etc. Additionally tubes and other things can be attached to the underside of the shelf to create extra exploring fun. (The one downside of the holes is that if the snake poops on the shelf, it can get in the holes so make sure to have some pipe cleaners on hand to clean them out!)

Paint/ seal the wood. Measure the height of the rails and secure them to the sides of the viv with strong glue or nails/screws. It’s a good idea to seal the gap between the rail and viv with hot glue so if the snake poops on the shelf it can’t run down behind the rail where you can’t clean it.

Drop the shelf in and done!

Close up and diagram showing how the L shapes hold the shelf in place. There must be at least two rails, one on the back wall and one on the side wall, to hold the shelf in place.

Viv with finished shelf installed :D

Safety tips-

*Take care when using tools etc, particularly power tools.
*Make sure the wood and other things used in the construction are strong enough and won’t splinter, bend, snap or break with the weight of the hides and a snake lumping about on it.
*Some woods are toxic to snakes (the oil in pine wood is harmful and dust from chipboard is harmful to humans so safe to assume it’s not good for snake either). Some glues also contain chemicals that are present after it dry to preserve it. Make sure to coat or seal the wood/glue with non toxic paint or sealant.
*All edges/ corners should be smoothed with some sandpaper and if using screws or nails, make sure there are no protruding sharp edges or points the snake can hurt itself on.

Materials & tools-
Wood (piece for shelf, piece for rails and leg, piece of square dowel for edges)
Strong wood glue/ hot glue gun
Non toxic paint (i.e acrylic) or sealant
Paint brush
Hand saw or jigsaw
Vice
Drill (hand or electric)
Sandpaper
Nails/ screws/ hammer/ screwdriver
Ruler
Pencil