When Quitting Is the Answer: The Snake Terrarium

After you invest in something, it can be hard to jump ship, even if there is a far better option lying right under your nose. But even if you are out some materials and time, sometimes it is better to re-purpose those items and do yourself a favor: choose the easy road.

My apartment is a very animal friendly space. Meet the critters: Sherlock is a 1.5 year old Ball Python who be-stills my heart with his yawns and tongue flicks.


Hilina’i and Ginger are my playful rats who when not begging for treats or going on coffee shop outings are probably on their wheel, constantly reminding me of their presence.

I am currently out a foster cat since my last was adopted, but soon another feline will be on the prowl in my apartment as I work to get him or her into a forever home.

All of my critters are post worthy, Sherlock the snake and his living space will be the focus here. It is time for him to begin moving on up in the tank department, his old tank will not cut it when he fleshes out to his three foot glory.

I have been looking into building him a big terrarium for a while now, but massive fish tanks are just too expensive to buy new, and on a part time budget caring for myself, my car, and the critters, I can’t afford to spend a fortune on something I could make cheaply from a cabinet and some glass. So, I did my homework, picked up a $10 metal shelf unit at the thrift store (I have an irrational fear that my below tank heating pads will set wood on fire), $20 worth of glass and a glass cutter at Home Depot, and got to work. I cut the glass, taped up the sides, and tested the doors. YES! they slid.

Now I just had to find some snake safe paint. That, my friends, was a internet nightmare. Every time I went to find what would be safe, it would either a) be out of production, b) not work on metal, or c) be crazy expensive. Looking at the browsers were giving me a headache. Then I had ventilation to worry about, and how to make it accessible for the clumsiest snake on the plant. So I had the project sit on my floor for days, untouched.

Then, by chance, I was at the Scrap Exchange (only the best store in Durham), when there I saw it. The solution to all of my problems for $15. The only issue, I would have to scrap all the work I had done up to that point. There, on the warehouse floor, was a giant 4 ft by 18 in 55 gallon fish tank. Instead of construction, and fumes, and fear for my snake, I could just leave with this, buy a prefab lid online, add clips, and be done.

Any rational bystander would tell you the obvious, get the tank. But anyone who has ever built something, attempted to cook something in the kitchen, or even tried in vain to craft knows how hard is to give up if you have been putting hours into something else (no matter how failed or difficult it may be) it can feel like there isn’t even the option of quitting.

The truth, you can. I allowed myself to quit my first attempt, and Sherlock gets to live in a huge new space, instead of waiting weeks. My metal shelf is now incorporated into my reading nook, and the float glass is awaiting my kiln projects. In the homesteading/DIY world, there is one lesson that must be learned before any headway will be made, if there is truly a better option, it is okay to quit.

Now here is Sherlock in the garden:


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