African House Snake Care Sheet

African House Snake Care Sheet

African house snakes (Boaedon fuliginosus) are 2-4’ long, nocturnal, terrestrial snakes native to sub-Saharan Africa. They can be found in a wide variety of habitats, including scrub, woodland, savanna, and grassland. They are also known as brown house snakes.

African house snakes have slender bodies with an oval head, smooth scales, and large, round eyes with vertical pupils. Coloring and pattern can be quite variable, but they generally have a light brown to black based color with a pale stripe extending from the snout to the ear on both sides. Some individuals have spots, blotches, and additional striping, and may have alternative colors like orange or dark green.

African house snakes are generally considered to be hardy and relatively docile, making them beginner-level pet snakes. With good care, they have an average lifespan of 9 years, but may live longer.

Minimum terrarium size for African house snakes

The absolute minimum terrarium size for an African house snake is 36”L x 18”W x 16”H. Of course, larger is always better! It’s important to provide plenty of room for the snake to stretch out fully, explore, and exercise.

African house snakes are prone to escape, particularly as juveniles. They are slender enough to even escape through the gap between sliding doors! Make sure to thoroughly secure your enclosure to prevent potential tragedy.

Cohabitation (keeping multiple African house snakes in one enclosure) is not recommended, as there is a risk of cannibalism.

Do African house snakes need UVB?

Technically they can survive without it, but we still recommend providing appropriate UVB lighting for African house snakes. UVB lighting helps provide a clear day/night cycle, provides all of the vitamin D that your pet needs, strengthens the immune system, facilitates better digestion, and other benefits. 

The best UVB bulbs for African house snakes are:

  • Zoo Med Reptisun T5 HO 5.0
  • Arcadia Forest 6%

For best results, use a bulb half the length of the enclosure and house it in a reflective fixture like the Zoo Med T5 HO Reptisun Hood. Position the lamp on the same side of the terrarium as the heat lamp, no closer than 6” above the basking surface.

UVB is blocked by glass and plastic, so placing the terrarium in front of a window doesn’t count as “free UVB” — in fact it can make your terrarium too hot due to the greenhouse effect. Don’t forget to replace your bulb every 12 months!

Lights should be on for about 12 hours every day and turned off at night.

Best temperature for African house snakes

Like other reptiles, African house snakes are cold-blooded, which means that they rely on external temperatures to manage their own body temperature and metabolism. A reptile’s enclosure should offer a range of temperatures to allow them to thermoregulate effectively.

Specifically speaking, African house snakes should have a basking temperature of 90°F. On the other side of the enclosure, the temperature should be around 70-75°F. Temperatures should be measured with two digital probe thermometers.

Provide heat for your snake with at least one halogen flood heat bulbs, placed over the basking area (ex: a piece of flagstone or stone paver) to evenly heat the snake’s entire body. Do not use ceramic heat emitters (CHEs), red bulbs, or blue bulbs, as these are not as effective. 

The warm hide should be placed directly below the basking surface. If the heat lamp is not enough to get the warm hide to an appropriate temperature, use a heat mat connected to a thermostat to control the warm hide temperature.

Best humidity levels for African house snakes

African house snakes need an average humidity of 40-60%. There should also be a humid hide for your snake, lined with moistened sphagnum moss. Humidity should be measured via digital probe hygrometer, with the probe placed in the middle of the terrarium.

Increase humidity by misting your snake’s enclosure 1x/day with a spray bottle. Mist each evening after the lights turn off, then again in the morning if needed. Mixing water directly into the substrate also helps with maintaining humidity.

Best substrate for African house snakes

Providing a thick layer of naturalistic substrate (“bedding”) will help cushion your snake’s body, maintain correct humidity levels, and also helps make your enclosure more attractive! We recommend the following substrates for African house snakes:

Layering clean, chemical-free leaf litter on top of the substrate can also help with humidity.

Substrate should be at least 2” deep and completely replaced every 3-4 months. Remove poop and urates daily, along with contaminated substrate.

How to decorate an African house snake terrarium

An empty terrarium makes for a bored snake, reducing its quality of life. Keep your pet entertained and engaged with its environment with the strategic use of décor items that encourage it to exercise natural behaviors!

At bare minimum, an African house snake terrarium must contain substrate, a water bowl, and a place for the snake to hide. However, it’s best to include other items such as:

What to feed to an African house snake

African house snakes are carnivorous, which means that they need to eat whole animal prey in order to get the right nutrition. Here is a basic feeding schedule based on snake age:

  • Juveniles should be fed once per week.
  • Adults should be fed once every two weeks.

Prey items should be around 10% of the snake’s weight or no more than 1.5x its width at its widest point. Although live prey can be offered, it’s best to use frozen whenever possible. Prey should be thawed in a BPA-free plastic bag in warm water until it reaches ~100°F, then use a pair of soft-tipped feeding tweezers to offer it to your snake.

One of the keys to great nutrition is variety, so aside from offering mice and rats, young hamsters, gerbils, button quail, and even feeder lizards can also be used to create nutritional variety in your snake’s diet.


African house snakes can survive without dietary supplements, but using them every once in a while can help prevent your snake from developing a nutritional deficiency, helping it to live healthier. We recommend Repashy Calcium Plus LoD, lightly dusted on the prey item before offering.


Of course, don’t forget a water bowl for your snake to drink from and soak in! This bowl should be large enough for the snake to soak its entire body when desired. Change the water daily and scrub the bowl with a reptile-safe disinfectant weekly, or whenever it becomes soiled.

How to handle your African house snake

Reptiles generally don’t appreciate petting and handling in the same way that dogs and cats do. That being said, African house snakes generally tolerate human interaction pretty well! When picking up your African house snake, be gentle and try to pick it up from the side or below rather than from above. Avoid forcible restraint. Support as much of its body as possible, and NEVER pick it up by its tail, as this can damage its spine!

*This care sheet contains only very basic information. Although it’s a good introduction, please further your research with high-quality sources. The more you know, the better you will be able to care for your pet!

"File:Boaedon fuliginosus.jpg" by The original uploader was Dawson at English Wikipedia. is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5

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