I recently bought a ball python and have been fact checking the information I was given on how to care for it. My biggest concern is the humidity. At first I was seeing people say around 50%-60% for humidity, but I've recently read that as low as 40%-50% should be fine as long as it sheds well. I have a 40 gallon tank, with a 150 watt infrared bulb for heat. In the heating corner it is currently 86* with 39% humidity.
Having also read that humidity is important for the shedding process I'm concerned that it may be too low. Should I just focus on keeping the temp. up and wait for the first shed to see if I need higher humidity? And if so, what would you guys consider to be optimal temperatures for the basking side and cooling side?
I know snakes have a fairly long lifespan, and I would love to be able to still have this guy when I'm 50.
Mesh top terrariums are bad for humidity, get a wet towel and cover the top everywhere except where the heat lamp is, it'll help keep the humidity up but you will have to keep getting it wet, a more constant solution is to put a plexiglass sheet on top of the screen.
I actually just saw a video saying the exact same thing. I'll look into the plexiglass for the future, I'm running short on money after getting the snake.
I'm thinking about shooting for a 10% increase in humidity, so 50% in the basking, and 55-60% in the cool.
It seems already about half its full size, I didn't want to get a smaller tank, only to replace it later, plus it was $1/gallon. I'm setting it up with a bunch of stuff to slide around and hide in so it doesn't feel to open and insecure. I know I made beginner mistakes, but I'm trying to fix those as fast as I can to ensure the well being of the snake.
Wow, the humidity has already climbed from 49% to 56% in the cool zone in just 2 minutes. Such a simple solution.
I also have one more question. The guy at the store told me to get a UVB light and do a 12/12 shift of on/off. Or as close as I can. Online I've seen this split about 50/50 as to whether they actually need the UVB light, with some people saying they don't, and that the bright light actually irritates the python. So should I keep or return the light, and just use the natural light from my room window to simulate day/night?
I was doing a lot of research for a friend who wanted a BP, and I've seen more often than not that getting an under tank heater (UTH) is much more recommended. You stick it under the glass of the tank on one side so they have a gradient of heat to travel to. As long as you have a change in day/night from windows for them this should be ideal.
I live in carpeted apartment on s 2nd floor, what's the possibility of fire with a UTH on carpet? And not to argue, but in my research I've seen many saying that the UTH doesn't reach the temps. that people are aiming for and they need the light anyways. Of course to make the ground itself warmer for the python I'll consider getting one if there's minimal risk for my living situation.
If you can get a small sterilite tub and put some damp paper towels and cut a hole in the side with the lid on top.
They don't need UVB but if you're displaying your snake it makes it look much prettier.
For the day/night cycle it doesn't need it. As long as it has a heat source, you can just use the light from your window
Was about to reply with this.
Whenever you can, switch your snake to a sterilite tub. They're fairly cheap ($15-20) and hold in humidity better than your average tank.
Also, ball pythons need belly heat, not basking heat. Get a UTH or, even better, heat tape.
From what I've read about UTH's and heat tape, Unless they're able to be regularly monitored, they often get too hot and burn the snakes. I typically leave my place at 5am and dont get home until between 3:30 or 6pm because of work, and the fact that I have no car. If they do indeed need to be monitored like I've read, I just can't pull that off as of yet. I can't trust anyone in my apartment because they'll just get too stoned and forget.
So far it's seemed to enjoy the hot spot I had for it at around 90*, the substrate around that area and inside the hide was fairly warm as well. Today it's sticking to the cooler, more humid side inside the vines.
I've got a thermometer in the middle of the tank right now, reading 80*. So the cool side is likely closer to 75. I'm still using the towels for humidity control, but will keep these other suggestions in mind when I get a chance to buy some more stuff.
Well yes, you need a rheostat/thermostat with UTHs/heat tape. I use a digital Vivarium Electronics, but that was a $125 commitment. It's great piece of mind, though: controls temp by itself, and has a night mode module too.
Also, unless it's a digital thermometer, it's probably off. I bought these $2 combo thermometer/hygrometer (humidity) off eBay and they work perfectly.
If you can't afford a thermostat yet, get one of these puppies, they're only $10/20 or so.
Point is, ball pythons need belly heat, not basking heat. You're wasting electricity and making your snake uncomfortable with your current set-up.
Oh and if anyone is wondering, the thermometer is an AcuRite 00613A1 Indoor Humidity Monitor. I only have one that I move every hour or so to check the levels. Planning on getting two more so I can just have in the 3 main spots(being the basking hide, the center, and the cool hide)
I highly recommend the VE-200. The 300 line comes with built in night drop, which saves you about $25-30 since without it, you have to buy the night probe separately + a light dimmer from a hardware store.
And the VE is just the thermostat/regulator right? What kind of UTH would you recommend? This snake is like my baby now, I want it to be as comfortable as possible.
Also, since it just happened as I'm typing this, how resilient are they to falling? I'm not sure how much he weighs, but he seems rather young, although he's just short of 2 feet long already. He often climbs up towards the heat lamp, or the other corners trying to get out, and after a few minutes it usually results in a thud to the floor.
Problem with manuals is that they tend to go out a lot (I went through three Repti-stats until I did the math, said fuck it, and bought a VE) and that you have to adjust them *manually*. Which means you need a heat gun.
(I mean, having a heat gun is always a good bet, but if it's complete peace of mind you want, having to check a manual three times a day is not it)
Also, you can always buy VEs used. People in eBay are always getting rid of theirs (because upgrades)
I do plan on making reptile care a hobby of mine now that I can afford something like this. I'll probably go with the VE-200, because chances are by April I'll have another snake or two, or maybe a lizard, since by that time I should know what I'm doing and hopefully have everything setup correctly. However, I will keep that in mind for the future if I keep any specific tanks seperate from the others.
I prefer heat tape over UTHs as they last much, much longer/you can trim it as needed. A friend of mine went five years with the same roll of heat tape. UTHs, however, hardly ever last longer than six months.
There's an online store that sells the entire kit (heat tape + wall plug + foil tape + insulators) for only $20. Can't find it at the moment, though.
Also, likely the only change you need to make with a VE heat setting is Winter vs Spring/Summer. I'm keeping my heat tape with the VE at 95 F right now because my house is older and thus my room keeps dropping to 72 F instead of the 75 F it's usually at.
You should get a job with them, you've pretty much sold me on the idea of it.
That definitely sounds like a good deal to me.
So I'd set up the heat tape, then the VE somehow connects to the tape and regulates the temperature of it? That seems pretty great.
Yea my apartment keeps doing the same thing. It doesn't help that my roommate thinks 71* is too hot, and that he's my uncle, and pays a little more rent than me....God I can't wait to move out.
Anyways, thanks a lot for the info. I used to look up care information for snakes when I was younger, I just never realized it was this complicated for a beginner. Hopefully I can get everything soon. But for now he doesn't seem too unhappy. Now I just need to get the humidity in the hot zone up, since it drops below 50% whenever it gets over 90. But he always goes there once it warms up, so maybe it's ok. The rest of the tank rest down to about 77-80. This whole experience is making realize I should never have children.
The heat tape has a wall plug that you plug directly into the back of the VE thermostat. The thermostat controls the heat output.
For now, you can make your BP a moist hide. Get some terrarium/sphagnum moss, a tupperware she can fit in, and cut a hole into the lid. Sand down any sharp edges on the hole with fine grit sand paper.
Or just buy a moist hide off eBay, if you're lazy.
(Here's the one I made. She likes to rest her head outside it. And poop in it, because it's warm and moist and that stimulates their bowl movements.)
It's a good thing I'm a carpenter, I have tools to make that really easy. (yay for hole saws) Hole in the lid, moss inside. Simple. I can do that. And I can go get some moss because there's a petco right across the street. Since it's a plastic container, should it be the cooler hide, or will it be fine under the lamp(until I get the tape)?
If you don't have moss at the moment, moist paper towels will do.
But a block of these puppies is only $9.99 on eBay and it'll last you months. I bought a half-sized block of these, and it lasted me six months. Sphagnum moss doesn't mold; I just had to get rid of it because my leopard geckos and my ball python flattened theirs.
It also greatly helps with sheds.
Between the hotter side and cooler side; the heat will keep it humid, but not so hot that the water evaporates completely and leaves the moss dry.
If you see condensation on the lid, you're doing it right.
Also, my stepdad is a foreman, so I too had the tools to make that perfect hole.
It is a perfect hole, I saw that. It occurred to me however that all of our dishes belong to my uncle, I probably cant use one his tupperware bowls for this. Would something like Vitamin Water/Gatorade bottle that's been thoroughly cleaned work for a week? I get payed Friday, but if I can rig up something similar for 5 days I will.
No mold, long lasting. Inexpensive. The things pet stores won't tell you because they want your money. Thank you for this.
It will, but be advised that it's harder to get snakes out of vertical containers than horizontal. For example, my BP loves paper towel rolls, but the only way to get her out of them is to tear them up.
No problem! Just trying to help someone out! I wish someone had told me all this, I would've saved myself around $300 had I just gone with a VE thermostat + a heat tape set-up from the beginning.
Seriously. I spent $240 initially(really lucky it was half off reptiles, and $1/gallon) and then I spent $20 last night. Plus my friend bought the tank and two things for it, which was $70 total. I'm going to find the receipt and replace what I have and hopefully get some money back.
And about getting it out, I try to only mess with him when he's already roaming around, because I want him to get used to the tank with few interruptions. It got little hectic this morning, but my cousin held him today and he behaved really well. I have space that I turn on whenever he comes out so he stays warm. So I'll this bottle I found for the next few days.
Quick checklist to make sure I didn't forget anything: Roll of heat tape, VE-200, Moss, Tupperware hide, 2 more Acurite thermostats. And something to keep the humidity inside. Lots of options, apparently.
Doesn't even have to be Accurite. These $3 work just as well. They are, however, Celsius only.
Oh, forgot to tell you, a VE-200 is better than a VE-100 on your heat tape because it powers down the electricity flowing into the heat tape ( pulse proportional), rather than shutting it on and off (which is all the VE-100 can do). Constant shutting electronics on and off is hard on them.
And yeah, I'm selling all my extra stuff I gathered from this venture. So far I've gotten rid of two heat lamps, a bunch of decor, and about to get rid of a 20gal and a 10gal. All at a loss, sadly.
Well I just bought the moss, and some more vines because it seemed to like that this morning. Going to set up the make shift moist hide right now. I might actually keep my lights, since I'm probably going to buy some geckos, lizards or a skink rather soon. This petco has this gnarly looking Blue Tongued Skink for under $200. The guy said it's not too friendly, but it looks like a tiny Komodo. And if I could have a Komodo, I would, so this seems like the next best thing, assuming it's still there in a month or two.
And the power flow rather than on/off is definitely more appealing to me. I remember learning at young age that too much on and off can essentially halve the life of things. I might stick with the Acurite just because I already have one, and I like the way they're laid out. Only thing I dont like is that there's no backlight. At least not the one I have.
Yeah, well like >>2040548 said they derive the majority of their heat from their stomachs in order to digest (just like leopard geckos actually) but I definitely wouldn't recommend leaving a UTH on a carpet.... if there's any way you could put it on a desk or something it would be fine though.
I might be able to rig something up. It'll be a lot of medium-heavy lifting, but I can put my tv on the floor and put him on my nightstands. Would you suggest the same for heat tape? I'm probably going to go with the heat tape + VE-200 combo
yeah airflow is just as important for heat tape as it is for standard UTH. inexpensive tank stand can be cobbled together with plastic shelving; the kind hardware stores and office supply stores sell. pic related. those things come in pieces and are adjustable.
what i have done in the past is to take a module like shown in pic, but only use the bottom level. if it's too narrow but both bottom and top levels side by side and put tank on top. I like these because they allow lots of air to flow to the bottom of the tank.
I can't believe I hadn't thought of this. Already found one at home depot for $30. Four racks, and the perfect size. I never would've thought plastic stands would be that resilient to direct heat. I'll go get one of these on friday, and then I'll be prepared for the next 4 reptiles as well.
At the temperatures used to heat herp tanks, there is no threat of melting those shelves. However it is always good safety practice to put small feet on the corners of your tank to raise it slightly (1/8" is plenty).
Good to know. I'm really looking forward to getting a more self-regulated setup. I just walked into my room to check the hot spot temp, because he's there's about 90% of the time, and it was at 101. I prefer to keep it around 90-95 since that's the average of what I've seen most people say. I don't want to have to worry about him getting too hot anymore, and once I have the tape I can use the lamp to keep the cool side from getting too cold, since it's much easier to monitor it in the 70's.