If you’re taking your pet snake to the vet or moving house, you’ll need a snake travel carrier. But snakes become stressed when moved around quickly, and when in unfamiliar places. This makes transporting snakes to a different place difficult.
Take a secure plastic tub, and create an air hole. Line the tub with the appropriate substrate and give the substrate a spray. Affix a thermometer to the inside of the tub, visible from the outside. Place them in a snake bag before putting them in the tub. Keep them in the shade. In cold weather, supply a hand warmer.
This is the ideal way to transport snakes, but not the only way that a snake can be moved safely. You could also use a portable plastic terrarium, a shift box, or a snake bag.
Best Way to Transport Snakes
Snakes are much more difficult to transport than other pets. While you can comfort most pets, you can’t comfort snakes, or offer them treats to make them happy. There’s no way around the fact that they don’t enjoy traveling, and are easily stressed.
But worse yet is that traveling is dangerous for snakes. They have exacting requirements for their temperature and humidity. If these aren’t met, they can die surprisingly quickly. This applies to overly hot and cold environments.
There are ways to transport snakes. Some are better than others, but your choice should depend on the context and the weather conditions. These are the most common:
- Snake bags. The perfect portable snake carrier. These are drawstring cloth bags. They’re comfortable for the snake and stop them from getting stressed.
- Portable plastic terrariums. Terraria come in all shapes and sizes, and some are small enough to travel with.
- Basic plastic tubs. Tupperware tubs with air holes in will do, if there’s no other option.
- A snake transport box/shift box. These are a tool developed to transport venomous snakes, but they can be used with any snake.
Each of these methods has its advantages. But perhaps the best way to transport snakes is to put them in a bag, then put the bag in a portable terrarium. This provides security and strength, plus a place for the snake to hide and feel secure.
Snake Bags for Traveling
Snake bags have been the go-to method of transporting snakes for decades. Back before snakes were kept as pets, anybody who wanted to catch one would use a bag. They would catch the snake with a hook before putting it inside.
Today, bags are still a useful way to take snakes around. When inside, the snake is relatively calm. Snakes like being inside enclosed spaces because it makes them feel safe.
The typical snake bag is made from breathable fabric. Often printed on the fabric is a warning, such as ‘Live Snake Inside.’ The bag has a drawstring that can be tied shut so the snake can’t escape.
An example of a basic snake bag is this one from IClover. This is one of the best bags for vet visits for snakes. It has a drawstring, a big picture of a snake, and the text ‘BEWARE OF SNAKE’—just in case. It’s made from durable canvas, which won’t irritate the snake, but is also strong.
This particular example is 20×28 inches. That might not be big enough for a full-grown, adult snake to sit comfortably. But snake bags come in different sizes. This six-pack from Augbunny is 9×12, while this one from Midwest is 18×36. Each has roughly the same reviews.
If you can’t afford a dedicated snake bag, don’t worry. You can use a pillowcase in a pinch. Get the snake inside using your snake hook and tie the top of the pillowcase shut. You may also need to do this if you don’t have the time to order and wait for a bag.
|Snakes feel safe in enclosed spaces.||The bag won’t protect the snake from bumps and bruises.|
|Snake bags are less expensive and easy to find online.||The bag won’t protect the snake from the elements, and they could get too hot or too cold.|
|Snake bags are easy to use, especially if you have a snake hook too.||You can’t see how the snake is doing without opening the bag.|
|If the snake goes to the toilet, it will make a big mess.|
Plastic Tubs for Traveling with a Snake
You could also consider using a plastic tub. A small plastic container would be fine for this purpose. The snake sits inside as it sits inside its enclosure.
These don’t have to be bought specifically for your snake. Any Tupperware tub would do. If the snake is going to be inside for a long period of time, you should drill a small hole in the top.
Pick a tub that has a lid which locks into place. This will stop the snake from getting loose while you’re transporting them. This one from is a 14-gallon example with a lid that snaps into place.
|You can check on your snake to see if they’re happy (if the tub is see-through).||If the snake can see all around, it may feel vulnerable and get defensive.|
|You don’t have to buy a tub, especially for the purpose. You may already have a suitable one at home.||Your snake might not fit in the tub, unless you buy a large one.|
|You can put things in the tub with them, e.g., substrate.||The lid of the tub may not be as secure as you think, and the snake could get out.|
|Plastic tubs retain temperature and humidity (although this could be a bad thing if the snake gets too hot).||Large tubs are more expensive than a snake bag.|
Plastic Terrariums for Traveling with a Snake
Last but not least, you could buy a small plastic terrarium for your snake. Like their regular enclosure, you could find one that fits them perfectly, but is easy to move. Plastic is lighter than glass and can be easily carried, snake and all.
Terrariums come with a lid with air holes. Some have a lid that can be secured in place, which you’ll need. Line the terrarium with a substrate and give it a spray before transporting your snake inside.
While most terrariums are designed to stay at home, some are made with travel in mind. This one from OMEM is custom-built for travel. It has built-in ventilation to allow a small amount of airflow, and is clear so you can see inside.
The lid secures in place, and has a small section that you can open on its own like a door. Something else useful is that they come in multiple sizes, so these are perfect for large or small snakes.
|You can find a portable terrarium of the exact correct size.||A terrarium is larger than a tub or a bag, so it may be awkward to carry.|
|The terrarium can be adjusted to meet the snake’s needs, i.e., with humidity and temperature.||Some terraria don’t come with secure, fastening lids. The snake could get loose if you aren’t careful.|
|If you provide enrichment inside their portable enclosure, they will feel safe and secure.|
|Plastic tubs retain temperature and humidity (although this could be a bad thing if the snake gets too hot).|
|You can see through the clear plastic of the sides so that you can keep an eye on the snake and their temperature.|
As you can see from the advantages and disadvantages of each method, there is no right answer. Each is good in its way. Consider your situation and figure out which is right for you.
Snake Shift Box for Traveling
Shift boxes are custom-made by breeders and owners. They’re usually made by people who own venomous snakes. They prioritize safety, both when getting the snake in the box, and when traveling.
The idea of a shift box is that you put the box in the snake’s enclosure. They will get inside on their own, so you don’t have to pick them up and move them. This isn’t necessary with non-venomous snakes unless you have a particularly aggressive specimen.
The boxes are usually wooden in construction. They have a lid on hinges that opens upwards, that can be secured with a padlock. There is a hole in the front that the snake gets in through. This hole can be secured shut like the lid.
The box itself can be set up with substrate, moisture and a thermometer like any other box.
|The emphasis of a shift box is on safety, of both you and your snake.||You can’t buy shift boxes from online stores.|
|A shift box can be customized in any way you see fit.||To get a shift box you need to make it yourself, or contact a snake owner/breeder. The quality may be lower than if a manufacturer made it.|
How to Transport a Snake
There is no ideal method to transport a snake. Which method you use depends on your snake and the weather you will have to transport them in. However, there is a way that most owners use, and which is generally successful.
- Prepare your terrarium or tub by drilling air holes.
- Fit the tub with a small thermometer visible from the outside.
- Line the tub with a small layer of substrate.
- Give the tub a spray so that the humidity level stays high.
- Get the snake into its snake bag.
- Put the snake bag into a plastic terrarium or tub. Leave the drawstring of the bag open, so that the snake can get in or out if it wants.
- Travel with the tub in the shade rather than in the sun.
This method seeks to recreate the snake’s enclosure, but on the move. It looks after each of their needs: temperature, humidity, substrate, and their desire to hide.
At all times keep the snake in the shade. While it may be too cool for them, a sealed tub will overheat quickly when left in the sun.
According to a paper in the Journal of Experimental Biology, snakes have a limited ability to thermoregulate using blood flow. But this is nowhere near as effective as the thermoregulation a mammal can achieve.
And even though the moving day is stressful, don’t let it stress out your snake. When you carry their bag or box, don’t move them too quickly. Be careful not to drop them, too, when you rush.
How to Take Your Snake Out of a Travel Box
When you arrive at your destination, you’ll have to get the snake out. However, this is easier said than done. The snake will likely be irritated: they’re in an unfamiliar environment with new smells, and have spent the last hour or two being jostled around.
They may be nippy when you take them out of the box. This is especially the case if the snake is usually cage aggressive. That’s why you should consider bringing a snake hook with you.
The hook will enable you to take the snake out with a minimum of fuss. For more information, see our guide to the best snake hooks and how to use them.
How to Transport a Snake Safely
When traveling, snakes are vulnerable. The heat and cold can kill them quickly. Or, if you’re not careful, you could accidentally hit the snake or have something fall on them. This means you have to consider your snake’s safety carefully.
How to Transport a Snake in Cold Weather
Traveling in cold weather is especially dangerous for a snake. They’re cold-blooded (ectothermic), so they need to be kept warm. In an enclosure, you can monitor their temperature. But when you’re traveling, it’s not so easy.
This affects snakes when they are shipped internationally, as they are treated as cargo, so may not be somewhere warm. But it can affect any snake whatever way you travel. You should pick a solid box as these withstand heat better than a bag.
The easiest thing to do is to put a hand warmer in with each snake. These are the kind that you microwave and crack, which stay warm for hours, or even days.
These are perfect because they aren’t too hot, but they do provide some warmth. You could also use a hot water bottle filled with warm water.
You shouldn’t ship or transport your snakes with any electrical, battery-powered heating system. It would likely get too hot for the snake and give them burns. In the worst-case scenario, it could set the box or package on fire.
Alternatively, consider waiting until the weather improves. If tomorrow is forecast to be a more suitable temperature, perhaps you could wait until then.
How to Transport a Snake in Warm Weather
In warm weather, you have the opposite problem. Snakes are as vulnerable to overheating as they are to the cold.
If you do need to travel with your snake in warm weather, put them in a bag. Bags are breathable and will keep your snake cooler. Leave them in the shade where the sun won’t warm them up too much.
However, if you’re traveling in a car, beware. You might think you’re doing the snake a favor by running the air conditioning. But they might get too cold. If they are going to be somewhere that has air conditioning, a plastic tub might be best, as it maintains a steadier temperature.
How to Move with Snakes
Moving with a pet snake is even more of a challenge. You need something that is:
- Secure, that the snake can’t escape from
- Strong, so your snake doesn’t get squashed by other boxes
- Comfortable for the snake, as they may need to be in there a long time
This means that plastic tubs or terraria are the best choices for moving house with a snake. They are solid and secure, so that the snake won’t be harmed in the moving process. You can also make them more at home with substrate and enrichment.
However, that’s not all you have to think about. Don’t let movers handle the box that your snake is in. They may not know that there’s a snake inside, and it could be dangerous for everyone. Mark the box appropriately so that everybody’s aware of the risk.
Or, they might know there’s a snake inside, but won’t appreciate that they have to be careful with the animal. Even the best movers break things sometimes.
If possible, travel along with your pet. Don’t leave them in the back of a moving van with nobody to look after them. Keep them in the backseat of your car where you can monitor them as you travel.