Although there are various high quality, beautifully manufactured and pre-fabricated snake racks and individual enclosures available on the market for purchase, I found that for my housing needs they left very little for personalizing a rack system to both fit and utilize the space that I have to work with to its full potential.  Price was also a concern when looking at pre-made racking systems, as they are significantly more expensive than having one built, or better yet, doing it yourself.  With a little hands-on and the most basic of skill, any person can build a snake rack system.  I decided very early on in this hobby that designing and constructing my own racks was the only way I could have both the quality and “usefulness” that I was looking for. In this section, I will discuss our snake racks systems, materials and assembly, air circulation, heating, and temperature controls units. When my wife and I moved into our new house, most of the racks that already existed had to be either rebuilt or modified to fit our new facility.  I decided to alter my previous designs slightly to allow for a racking system that was light, easy to move and most of all, modular to allow me the flexibility for different set-ups. There are plenty of different building materials that one could use to build a snake rack; steel tubing, different plastics, plywood, glass, or melamine.  I chose to use melamine for its durability (when used properly), ease of cleaning, and moisture resistance.  Melamine can be found in different thickness and sizes at any “big box” hardware store and can be cut to spec on site for a minimal fee. For the space we had to work with, (which may be different from the area you have to use), it was decided that we would take on the task of building two different sized racks; the first would be a hatchling rack utilizing the Rubbermaid shoebox bins #2218 (17”x11”x4.25”) to allow privacy for newborn babies and large enough to grow with the animal until it was time to move them to a larger bin.  The second rack would be an adult rack, with its much larger Rubbermaid #2221 bins (23”x17”x6”) for any animal from a yearling to full grown adults. For the hatchling racks, we decided to build “units” that would house 6 bins wide and three shelves high for a total of 18 bins per unit.  Each unit would get its own strip of 4” heat tape (8 watts per foot) and a temperature probe to properly monitor temperatures.  Four units would be stacked on top of one another to create one rack which holds 72 bins. In my research I had come across two general methods of providing heat to ball pythons in a rack system; the “back heat” method, which uses a larger width of heat tape, usually 11” (20 watts per foot) run down the back wall of the enclosure, and the “belly heat” method, which provides heat under the snakes bin on the shelf, which should cover roughly 1/4 to 1/3 of the floor space.  I chose to use belly heat on all of my racks.  Though more expensive to set up and more time consuming to install, I feel that belly heat is a far more accessible heat for ball pythons, as they spend their lives on their bellies.  Belly heat also does not allow for the wasted heat and energy that back heat does.  NOTE:  Flexwatt heat tape is a “use at your own risk” product as it is UL listed, but not CSA Approved.  To wire it, please make full use of the following links provided by the manufacturer:  http://www.calorique.com/documents/TIS/Tis104A1.pdf There are also many great websites that offer great step by step instructions on how to wire you Flexwatt. I have also seen quite a few different ways of wiring Flexwatt heat tape into racks in my research.  Most methods I found for wiring heat tape into a rack looked complicated, ugly and wasteful.  So again, I decided to go out on my own and devise a method in which to cut 5” grooves at the edges of each shelf staggered per level to allow for the “weaving” of the heat tape up through the shelf above it for one continuous piece of tape for each unit.  This way, the tape does not need to be re-wired for each level, using multiple pieces of tape per unit, it also does not stick out of the rack to allow butting of a unit right against a wall without fears of overheating, and can make my wiring job much easier.  I also decided  to router a channel the entire length of each shelf (5” wide to allow for “breathing room”) 1/8” deep to allow the heat tape to sit recessed into it to avoid being rubbed against the bin as they are being opened and closed, causing wear and tear on the tape.  Once the shelves were routered, I assembled the rack, leaving a ¼” gap between each bin and the shelf above it to eliminate another huge issue when working with melamine, moisture penetration, warping and swelling, leaving a unit completely useless.  The shelves are measured at 4 5/8” tall for this purpose.  I decided to fill that ¼” gap with a corrugated plastic sheet to prevent the humidity from penetrating the shelf above it.  This product looks identical to cardboard, but is white and plastic. It can be found at any ‘big box’ hardware store in various sizes.  I cut the plastic sheeting to the exact dimensions of my shelves and slid it in.  Moisture problem solved.   updated Feb 1, 2011