Bio Active vivariums

Snakey Sue’s Serpent Sanctuary:

2016 was a busy year working in the Sanctuary.


All of the substrates in the vivariums were made bio active.

We purchased 24 slabs of coir, 8 bags of  top soil and two bags of play-sand plus tropical springtails, tropical woodlouse. We had a continual box of soaked coir on the go, to mix with the other ingredients.

Leaf litter came free and included some of our own woodlouse.

Sue  set up a plastic box to breed the insects and it has been very successful.

The aroma in the vivs is so much better – like the forest.

Dobi our largest Boa shed his skin and it was being munched up by the wood louse so it was left it in for them to finish off, still need to check for toilets especially with the larger snakes but any residue will be cleaned up by the insects so its make caring for the 50 snakes so much easier.


Rose and Bou

A video of Rose and Bou’s home two 500 watt heaters to keep them warm and two baths, lots of room to climb and stretch.


As we still have 50 snakes to care for and not much chance of rehoming the larger ones we have decided to create spaces that are large enough for them to climb about. Rose and Bou are lucky that they have their room but to create another space for the large male Boa Constrictors meant making a large hole between the two 7ft vivariums with a branch for them to climb about. Dobi the 9ft x 20 kilo boy needs a giant box for a bath so that takes up a lot of space in the bottom viv now that there is access to the top vivarium I placed BoBo in with Dobi and Moses. BoBo was the last Boa to come and live in the sanctuary  –  there’s not enough space for any more.


We will try to work on some of the other vivariums to give the other residents more room, they live in 4 x 2s, 5 x 2 and 6 x 2 but I would still like them to have more space to roam.

Snake Sanctuary News

Snake Sanctuary News:

Sue cannot take in any more large snakes but can sometimes make room for smaller breeds.

She recently had a request for a corn snake and managed to rehome not just one but two.

These two, Flo and Diago, had always lived together so it would have been cruel to separate them. A father and son came to see them and decided they were the right snakes for them. They decided to rename them Alexis and Sanchez.

They send Sue updates and photos which is always appreciated.

One corn snake that had been rehomed came back ( which has been a common occurrence, sadly) His name is Wills I housed him in Flo and Diagos 4ft vivarium and he has a companion Libby who came to live at the sanctuary in 2014 in bad health but has picked up tremendously.

Also a new corn snake whose name was Kaa but as we already have a Kaa in the sanctuary his name was changed to Justin, which seems to suit him. He is 11yrs old and is a lovely natured snake.

Sadly many of the snakes in the sanctuary have become old and passed over the rainbow bridge in the last few years, recently we lost Bully and Clover





Originally Flo & Diago Rehomed

Originally Flo & Diago Rehomed

Wills and Libby

Wills and Libby







Facebook access problem

Facebook access problem – Sue has no access to face book at present so the updates on the snake sanctuary from her fan page is not working, all updates will be posted here on the website from now on.

Snakey Sue’s Serpent Sanctuary – snake rescue

Snake rescue – It is with a sad and heavy heart we will not be taking in any new rescues.

For some time now many of the rescue snakes that Sue has rehomed have ended up back in the sanctuary, people just really are not prepared to keep them for the whole of their lives.

Snakes can live up to 30 yrs please think before purchasing or re-homing one.

Sue has been rescuing snakes for 20 yrs now and there comes a point when age creeps up (some of the snakes may outlive her!) also energy and finance are at a low level.

People are welcome to send a photo  and information about their snake/s by email and Sue will put the it onto this website for anyone who may be interested.  A donation to the sanctuary is appreciated for this service.

Sue has 55 snakes at present to care for, some are not likely to be chosen for re-homing and will live forever with Sue.

Although Sue still has some work it is not comparable to the amount she had before 2008 – work means meeting lots more people who may wish to re-home, creates the finance to keep the sanctuary running and educates people.

So many people know so little about snakes or reptiles in general; yes it’s exciting to see mobile zoos but how much can you learn about any one animal and many being mammals like ourselves. For 20 years Sue has been asked the same questions about the snakes she takes out:

  • Have they had their fangs removed? (90% of types of snakes are constrictors, Sue keeps none of the 10% of venomous snakes only venomous snakes have fangs)
  • Do they have teeth? (their teeth are the only way they can catch their prey before constricting, no-one is going to feed them soup in the wild)
  • Do they have bones? ( they have a skeleton, a skull, a backbone, up to 400 sets of ribs, boas and pythons have a mini pelvis and pairs of spurs like minute legs)
  • Why isn’t it strangling you? (most snakes are constrictors, they need to be big enough to wrap around their prey three or four times to kill it, they know nothing about necks, humans strangle humans)
  • But they kill you don’t they? (after 20yrs of keeping snakes Sue is still alive)
  • Will it bite me? (Sue will not take out any nervous snakes, snakes are not aggressive but they can be nervous, we are top predator so they have reason to be afraid of us, treat a snake with love and compassion and it has no need to be afraid therefore no need to bite anyone, we are not prey)
  • Can they breathe in the cotton carrying bag? (many people have forgotten the difference between fabric and plastic)
  • They shed their skins, yuck (So do humans)

Sue loves the educational work that she does but it seems more and more that adults don’t actually want to be educated, they would rather live in fear which in turn prevents the education of children as the adults hold the purse strings.


News update on Sanctuary

It is with a heavy heart I have decided to stop taking in any more rescues, I made this decision a 6 weeks ago and in that time I have been asked to take in at least 20 large boas and pythons, making the decision even more difficult. I have run out of space and energy to care for them all, there are still 72 living here with me at home. I will care for the snakes that I have and attempt to re-home some, although re-homing has become a problem especially for large snakes.

My dream of opening a public space whereupon a charge could be made to keep the sanctuary running,  but no-one else appears to have an expansive enough mind to see what a wonderful space for education, tourism and work experience it would be in this little seaside town; it has not fallen into place and I do not have sufficient will, on my own, to attempt to push for it.

goraise to support the sanctuary

If you shop online, can you please help raise money for Herpetological Educational Rescue Project.  You buy the same things at the same price, and the only cost is to the retailer.  To get started just visit

Boa care sheet

Boa constrictors can grow to 3mtrs (although I have never had one grow larger than 2mtrs) and Rainbow Boas 1.5mtrs . They all come from South America so they need a home to match the conditions in that country.

Until they are two years old the vivarium size need be no larger than 2΄ square. This home must have ventilation but no hole big enough for the baby snake to escape from, most first problems arise from snakes escaping. They sometimes escape by pushing between the two glass doors so check that there isn’t room for the snake to escape that way.  Glass tanks are never advisable as temps cannot be controlled properly, a wooden vivarium with glass sliding doors is the best habitat.

Hemp, Aspen or Orchid bark are all suitable substrates, these snakes need a some humidity so substrate that doesn’t go mouldy is essential.  This can be spot cleaned for about two months or until you think the whole lot needs throwing out and start with fresh. There are recommended cleansing fluids available from reptile shops, some pet shops and from Veterinary Surgeries. At the sanctuary we use the best F10.

Dependant on their appetite and growth rate a new home would probably be needed in about 2 to 3 years. The size needed when the snake is about 5 years old would be approx. 6΄ x 2΄ x  2 ΄ personally I prefer to give a snake as much room as possible for stretching, with plenty of furniture and hides.

Various heat sources are available and whilst the snake is young a heat-mat placed underneath the vivarium but with an airspace which means putting the viv. on top of two small plinths either side to lift it a little so that it does not rest on the mat. Alternatively you could stick the mat onto the side or the back of the viv. With packing tape. There are other forms of heating equipment, which although more expensive are safer, as heatmats can be a fire hazard (they are not supposed to be left on indefinitely) If I use heatmats I always keep them on a timer. In the larger vivarium it will be necessary to purchase a ceramic heater with casing to prevent the snake from burning itself by wrapping around it. the heater needs to be able to keep a stable temp of 29c in the hot spot, I ususally purchase a 250watt ceramic heater for this purpose also a Habistat temperature regulator is absolutely necessary; no extra light is necessary if the snake is in a normally lit room, light bulbs also give off heat so the vivarium may become too hot and a snake can wrap itself around an unprotected bulb and burn itself. If you do decide to use a light or heat bulb it should be covered with a metal cage so that the snake cannot wrap around it. A thermometer (preferably digital) is necessary to keep an eye on the temperature which can range between 21 cool end, 30c warm end.

The baby snakes will eat rat pups every 10 to 14 days. As the snake grows you need to increase the size of the food to weamer rats and then later moving on to  larger rats, an adult snake can eat quite a couple of large rats about once a month, these can be bought frozen and I would always advise to defrost at room temperature, not to use a microwave. You can also buy vitamin supplements from the sources already mentioned.

Do not worry unduly if the snake does not eat, a snake can go without food for up to four months. Only be concerned if the snake looks under the weather.

Some snakes will still eat even when going into a slough (skin shed) most will not. You will know when the snake is going to shed, first its eyes go grey and milky and the skin becomes duller or darker.

Handle your snake often as this will make it more sociable, except when it has just eaten, as it may regurgitate (be sick), leave the snake at least 5 days to rest after its meal and when it’s sloughing. Clean water must always be available, a bowl large enough for the snake to bathe in if it wants. I try, always, to give my snakes two bowls, one for bathing and a smaller one for drinking, a lid on the bathing bowl with an entrance hole makes it more attractive as then it becomes a hiding place too, I find Boas love to bathe. Sometimes a light misting with water is also appreciated.

Boas like a very slightly humid environment so it’s necessary to give the snake a box, with its lid, but with a hole cut into the lid big enough for the snake to go in, fill with damp peat and moss, this is especially appreciated when the snake is in slough (skin shedding). By the 4th or 5th year the snake will become sexually mature, as the snake grows older it will often go without food for two months or more at mating time, especially male snakes, don’t worry. But if you do, you can always ring me.

If you keep two snakes together never feed them together, an awful accident can happen where both snakes go for the same food. Take one snake out of the vivarium and  feed them separately.

Never touch their food with your fingers and then place your hand near the snake, it will probably think your hand is its food and bite it by mistake. Always use tweezers or some other tool to pick up the snakes food.

It can be a good idea to keep a separate container for feeding the snake, as it will get used to this idea and never think that a hand is the food coming into its house

Mites can sometimes appear on your snake, the eggs are as small as dust so they can be picked up in reptile shops or anywhere where there are other snakes. If you notice your snake lying in it’s water bowl all the time, it may be trying to drown the mites and you will notice the little black insects on it’s body and in the water. Put the snake overnight in a box, with a lid and airholes, half full of tepid water (refer to viv temps) put a smear of vegetable oil on the snakes face as the mites can migrate there but cannot live in oil. Clean the viv with reputable cleansing fluid, pour boiling water over the furniture in the viv i.e. the bowl, bark etc. Then replace everything including the snake, the next day. Continue to keep an eye on your snake as these insects suck their blood, can make the snake very ill and even kill it.

Keep a look out in the shop where you buy reptile food and accessories, as this is the most common place to pick them up, the eggs are like dust.

If your snake brings up it’s food (regurgitation) don’t feed it again for two weeks as it’s stomach will be sore and it could make the snake ill.

Boas are one of  my favourite snakes as they do get to know you and can make a really lovely animal companion, especially when they whisper in your ear.

P.S. This is a general care sheet for all types of Boa

 Always try to imagine how you would feel in the same circumstance as the snake, e.g. left all alone for days without sensing anything different, no wind, rain, sunshine. They can be very sensitive to the slightest movement or vibration and become nervous, without stimulation.


One of the female rescue boas had babies, Boas produce live young so we now have some for sale and looking for good homes.


Merry Hissmass and Happy New Year

Merry Hissmass and Happy New Year from us and the snakes:

Two photos of myself and volunteers with our Santa hats on. Charley who is second from right in the photo created this at college and one of Bou who kindly allowed me to place a mini Santa hat on her head, then posed prettily 🙂


Merry Hissmass and Happy New Year from us and the snakes:

Merry Hissmass and Happy New Year from us and the snakes:

Two photos of myself and volunteers with our Santa hats on. Charley who is second from right in the photo created this at college and one of Bou who kindly allowed me to place a mini Santa hat on her head, then posed prettily 🙂


Donations for non profits

Donations for non profits – Snakey Sue finds it really rewarding to help people with any problems they may have with caring for their snake which she has always been happy to give freely but the snakes at the sanctuary would be most pleased if a small donation could be placed into the paypal donation box on the home page for this advice as it helps pay their bills – thank you