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Posted by MsTT on May 13, 2003 at 14:38:38:
In Reply to: Any Ideas for shift boxes? posted by maxgold on May 13, 2003 at 07:42:01:
:I am getting ready to build a few shift boxes for small cobras. Can anyone give me some specs, pics, or ideas?
You can get complicated with them if you like - I've seen some interesting designs in zoos that hook up to the cages with sliding doors, have removable solid partitions and plexiglass or mesh underneath, and even some squeeze boxes that zoos use to give injections through.
My criteria for a good shift box goes like this. It has to be easily taken apart if I want to get my hands on the snake, and easily cleanable in the dishwasher for maximum sterility. It has to be easy to close, bag or otherwise secure from a distance with a hook. It has to be tight enough that whatever species inside it can't pop right out.
The last criteria is actually the easiest to manage. I'm not kidding when I say an adult black mamba really cannot break out of a cereal box, and a 10' king can't bust a 12-pack soda box, at least not in the short period of time you can secure the paper box and move it to a second and more secure box. Nor do they attempt to do so. They just aren't designed for that kind of effort, either physically or psychologically. A hide box is as much a behavioral tool as a physical one, and it doesn't need to be made of locking titanium steel. The wonderful advantage of paper is that it is disposable, reducing the chances of passing around diseases if you have new animals in quarantine.
I often do use the disposables, but the one caveat is that if the snake has wet down the box with fecal matter or by swimming in the waterbowl, it is likely to fall apart as you are taping it up. Consequently the safest protocol for paper hide boxes is to reach a Pro Bagger or a homemade bagstick tool in the cage and push the whole box inside with a hook. Also the odd snake may surprise you someday and decide to whip out of the hide box in response to your messing around with it. So keep your hands away from an open hide box. Secure it from a distance with a hook by whatever means are appropriate for the box design.
My next favorite design for a hide box involves plastic. For small snakes, the very simple expedient of two Cool Whip tubs works great. One of the tubs has a hole cut into it and is kept inside the cage. The other tub does not and is kept outside the cage. When you know the snake is "at home" you place the non-holed tub on top of the other tub to block the hole and move the snake to a second secure container while you clean up.
Move up in size for bigger snakes. Find an opaque plastic container with a reasonably tight fitting lid, and devise a way to temporarily block the exit hole you cut. If you decide to use the "bag the hide box" protocol you don't need to get fancy with sliding doors and latches.
The point of a hide box is not permanent secure containment. I would never leave a snake unattended for an hour (or even a minute) taped up in a cardboard box or a margarine tub. The point of a hide box is to contain the snake long enough for you to move it to a second secure container with minimum fuss. Even a paper box will fulfill that function behaviorally if not physically for long enough to allow you to push the box into a bag with a hook.
Obviously you should not be reaching in to pick up the paper boxes because there is always the chance that the snake managed to wet the bottom and it will fall out on you. Nor should you trust the plastic boxes to be fully secure containment. But the advantage to paper and plastic is hygiene. Paper is disposable and plastic goes through the dishwasher. And both will do quite nicely to help you contain a snake inside a second secure container just by pushing the box with a hook.