Geek Chick

The Ikea Snake Rack Hack – Pax / Komplement


After over a year of discussion, consideration, measuring, further discussion, and more measuring I have finally settled on the solution to my Snake Rack needs. The space we initially had to work with was 149cm wide, meaning I’d have to remove the skirting boards in the room to fit them. Luckily, my spouse didn’t complain too loudly when I asked to use his home office for my expansion.

Really Useful Box Snake Rack - Not so useful...

Really Useful Box Snake Rack – Not so useful…

I keep snakes – a variety of colour morphs of Cornsnakes and Royal pythons (or Ball python to the Americans). For the past several years, they have lived comfortably in a home-made RUB rack. My home office, however, was less than comfortable. Taking the tubs in and out of the racks to feed involved full removal from the rack, then removal of the lid before feeding or watering could be done. This added extra time and effort which just wasn’t necessary in my eyes.

I researched the different professional snake racking systems available, such as the Vision racks. These are lovely looking racks… But! The cost was prohibitively high for me, if I wanted to afford any more snakes for my collection.

Many breeders on the assorted reptile forums I frequent have discussed their Ikea home-made racks. I read these posts religiously over the last year, just to make sure I had the correct technique, the right kit, the right heating, etc. My obsession will help you make a gorgeous, furniture grade snake rack for far less.

Ikea Pax Komplement Snake Rack

Ikea Pax Komplement Snake Rack with happy inhabitants

Tub Size

My adult royals like their 50L RUBs. They have plenty of floorspace, without being too large and overwhelming which might put them off their food. The 75 x 58 cm Ikea Komplement tubs have a larger floor space than a 50L RUB, as per the table below. Not enough of a difference to upset them, but plenty more wriggle room.

Dimensions Area
Really Useful Boxes 50L 71 cm Length x 44 cm Width (External) 3124 cm2
Ikea Komplement 75cm 75 cm Length x 58 cm Width (External) 4350 cm2

Shopping List

  • Man with Van (thanks to Simon at Building Envelope Evolution!)
  • 2 x Ikea Pax Wardrobes 75cm wide x 201cm tall
  • 12 Ikea Komplement 75cm x 58cm tubs without lids or rails
  • 8 of the 2 packs of Pax Shelves
  • [amazon_link id=”B007MADUCG” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]100 pack of screws – 6 gauge by 6.35cm screws[/amazon_link]
  • [amazon_link id=”B005IFXFMW” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]12 Thumb Turns[/amazon_link] – these work beautifully as locks. I have had zero escapes in the 9 months since building the rack.
  • [amazon_link id=”B002UEB0RQ” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]12 Habistat 20W heat mats – the 17″ x 11″ size fits and allows for a temperature gradient across the racks[/amazon_link]
  • [amazon_link id=”B0002AG0F2″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]5 x 4 plug socket surge protector[/amazon_link]
  • [amazon_link id=”B00308AZF4″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]4 x Habistat Twin Channel Thermostat[/amazon_link] as it allows for two thermostats in roughly the space of one.

Build Plan

I found it was easier to build one rack at a time.

  1. Assemble wardrobe carcass up to the point of fitting shelves. Don’t fit the shelves using the supplied plastic pieces. These are not strong enough to support full-grown Royal Pythons. Royals can get to 2 kilo each as adults!
  2. Place a heat-mat on the bottom of the rack, with the 17″ side butting against one side of the wardrobe. Duct tape the edges down, ensuring you don’t tape over the heat element. These mats have a margin of plastic around the edges – only tape on this clear margin!
  3. Place a Komplement lidless tub on the heat mat.
  4. Place 1 or 2 CDs on each corner of the Komplement tub. This will make sure that there is some leeway when pulling a tub out, but not enough room for a snake to escape when we place the shelf on top.
  5. By cutting a small corner from the shelf (at the back, on what will be the heat mat side) we make sure we can run cables to the central section which will hold all the wiring.
  6. Place shelf on top of the heat-mat/tub/cd sandwich. Make sure to run the heat mat cable upwards through the small opening you created in the shelf. If you don’t do this now, you will need to remove the plug from each heat mat and rewire them.
  7. Drill and screw 3 of the screws into each side.
  8. Move upwards to the next level, repeating steps 2 through 7 until you reach the top. Feel free to add one extra shelf and up to 3 additional tubs per rack.
  9. Move rack into place, plug-in the heat mats, thermostats, and consider thermometers for temperature monitoring.
  10. Make sure to run the rack for 48 hours before introducing any snakes to make sure there are no faults with any of the electrics as well as to make sure your temperatures remain steady.
  11. You have an awesome snake rack!

Any Questions?

Comments? Questions? Please post them below.

Author: Beth

Beth is a Geek Chick with a passion for technology, reptile keeping, video gaming, quilting and knitting.


  1. how many tubs that size can one single wardrobe hold, just i see u left a space at top middle and bottom?

    • Hi Barry,

      If you ensure you begin fitting the shelves from the bottom up, you should be able to fit a total of 9 tubs per rack. I’ve wired all my heat mats to thermostats in the middle section, this could easily be another tub if you wire up to the top. The bottom and top sections are empty on mine to save low bending. I find I need a step ladder to access the snakes above eye height.

      So, I could technically keep 18 snakes in my 2 racks. Someone better break it to my husband! 😉

      Thanks for commenting!

      • thanks for the reply. thats ideal then. think i will need to go up to ikea and have a look into these lol. looks great by the way

  2. Hi,

    Your rack looks fantastic! I Have 5 snakes at the moment and they are all in separate vivs with separate heat mats and thermostats and as I’m planning to breed I’m going to end up with vies everywhere not to mention the cost. I’ve been looking all over for advice on racks as I had no clue where to start and this is the best.
    Thank you!
    Naomi :)

    • Hi Naomi,

      Thanks for your feedback! :) I’m glad to help, and it sounds like you’re only an Ikea trip away, as you have mats and stats! :)

      With an initial 5 snakes, you’ll only need 1 wardrobe to start. I’d suggest planning for expansion as you mention you’re planning to breed. If you intend to use all 9 possible tubs in the near future, I’d suggest setting up all the shelves at once.

      I’m finding my single loose CD wasn’t enough height gap between tub and shelf, and I would at least double it if I could do it again.

      Good luck, and please let me know how you get on! Pics are always good. 😉


  3. Brilliant! I’ve been thinking about building a rack for a while and I’m definitely going to try this plan :) How much did it cost you all in? (if you dont mind e asking that is…)

  4. I went on and searched the name but it didn’t come up is there another name

  5. hi beth, i have been to ikea and have brought the pax wardrobe, some shelves and some komplement boxes. i have build the frame and am about to add the shelves and boxes. i have 1.1.0 normal adult royals, 1.0.0 2012 pastel and 0.1.0 2012 spider.

    i will try and post some pics soon


  6. Hi Beth i am looking to build a rack soon for my King and Milksnakes and this looks perfect,Just one question,the wardrobe is 75cm wide and you say that it houses the 75cm long tubs,Is this a typo or is the wardrobe slightly larger than 75cm?Can you understand the confussion,if the overall measurement of the wardrobe is 75 then the tubs are perhaps slightly smaller?If you get where im coming from?
    Many thanks

  7. Hi Beth, great design and will definitely try it, can’t quite understand why you use thumb turns. I keep Carpet Pythons and they are strong snakes but can’t see them pushing these tubs anywhere. Love your comments regarding Apple Snake racks, how very true.

    • Hi Mike,

      Thanks for the excellent feedback.

      The thumb turns may be overkill. I have a couple small dogs, so lean towards caution. I had a royal escape from a Sterilite tub before making these racks.

      Do let me know how you get on. Pictures would be great!

      Kind regards,

  8. Great post, im going to give it a try!

  9. Hi Beth,

    I think your rack hack is outstanding!! Thanks so much for posting your guide! I’m due to try making one in the next few weeks. I was just wondering where you place your thermostat and thermometer probes?

    Also, do you think that using 2 cds as spacers is enough as I saw in one of your posts that you think 1 is not enough?

    Many thanks, Giles

  10. What are the ambient tub temps? Looking at a rack, but I am concerned about ambient temps.

    • I keep my racks in a room at the same temperature as the rest of the house. Temps stay within expected range in the tubs, with an appropriate cold to warm temperature gradient.

      • So they sit at ambient room temp… Cheers, wasn’t sure if racks would create any ambient heat as mats are. Not designed that way… I was hoping that some of the heat would radiate from the surfaces and effect the air temps… Trying to work out a way to maintain ambient temps without having to heat the room for breeding.

  11. Hi Beth,

    Thanks for the article. I was in the process of building the 236 high one for my office and was wondering about the spacing for lidless. You gave me the answer, and the answer to “how do i latch them closed”.

    Incidentally do you add any air holes to the tubs at all?

    I’m about to start routering my shelves for heat cable instead of mats.

  12. Hi Beth, thanks for some great ideas. You say in step one not to use the plastic pieces supplied for the shelf… What did you you instead to make them stronger?

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