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  1. #1
    Registered User Dezoruba's Avatar
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    Critique my setup

    I've realized my husbandry needs some serious help after an outbreak of RI in my collection. I'm out of ideas on how to improve my husbandry so I figured I'd post here and hopefully somebody more experienced can point out what I'm doing wrong. I'm trying to discover what mistakes I'm making that are resulting in the RIs. I have only been keeping ball pythons for about a year and I'm starting to realize I'm making a lot of mistakes. :/

    The setup: animal plastics rack with 41qt tubs and 3" flexwatt underneath. Herpstat thermostat. Paper towel as substrate.



    Larger animals have no hides


    Smaller ones get hides


    Water bowls are emptied/scrubbed out and refilled weekly (I should probably do that more often, right?)

    Temps: the temp across the bottom of my tubs is weirdly inconsistent. For that reason I can't get acurites to work very well for me and I just use a temp gun. I took a video of me using the temp gun along the hot spot in a tub so you can see what I mean. This is the temperature I've had it set at for a while. I cant get a good reading of the hot spot temp because of this and its driving me crazy! Please excuse the audio playing in the background! About two months ago I replaced the flexwatt in my rack with brand new tape to try and fix this fluctuation but it didn't help. No idea why it's like this


    For the cool side temp, it hovers around 75-78° but can on occasion drop as low as 72°. When it gets cold enough to do that I will turn on a space heater to bump it back up to 78°.

    Humidity: I have no problems with humidity. I live in a humid area and it's always between 50-70%. Always have perfect sheds. I think I may have not had good enough airflow before so today I drilled holes in the front of my tubs... I hadn't had holes before because I thought the gap at the top was enough but maybe not. About half the time I have the fan going in my snake room to try and promote good airflow.

    So I guess my questions/concerns are....
    1) how often should i realistically change out their water?
    2) what the heck is wrong with my hot spots? Why does the temp change so wildly over the flexwatt?
    3) could the lack of holes in my tubs have caused the RI?
    4)how can I keep my cool side temp more consistent?
    5) why are my snakes getting sick??


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  2. #2
    BPnet Lifer Zincubus's Avatar
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    Critique my setup

    Sorry ... I don't use RUBS or flexiwire so I have no advice on that score but I'm wondering if you could quickly post a few pix showing the layout of the heat flex flexiwire or whatever it's called .... just show how it's laid out and how it's positioned UNDER each rub .. I'm thinking that the other guys will be able to advise you better when they can see the complete layout .


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    Last edited by Zincubus; 01-07-2017 at 09:12 PM.




  3. #3
    BPnet Veteran Ax01's Avatar
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    here's what i think and some feedback:

    1. every other day or as soon as it gets dirty.
    2. not sure. but here's a few guesses/questions. A) your heat tape wired wrong. is it one long piece that u snaked through the rack? or is it several strips wired together? B) your temp gun is malfunctioning and/or needs to be calibrated. try your temp gun on another controlled hotspot. is it reading that accurately? C) your paper towel substrate is uneven over the tub and heat tape causing temp readings at different heights and angles
    3. i don't think so.
    4. keep a more stable ambient temp in the room u keep your snake rack. how often do u check your cool side/ambient temps? how long is it between checking temps that u feel the need to turn on the space heater? u could turn on the space heater and keep it on a thermostat so that it self-regulates or turns itself on whenever ambient temps dips below 78.
    5. how many snakes do u have and do u isolate/QT the sick ones? when did u separate the first sick snake? i hope u got it treated and didn't keep it in the same rack with the rest or your collection.

    additional feedback: i think your snakes needs hides or appropriate sized hides. the big snake u have pictured above is squeezed between the water bowl and side. unless he is trying to cool off, i think it wants a hide to snuggle into for security. similarly the smaller Banana u have is squeezed between the hide and back of tub. it is also looking for security. so a smaller, snuggier hide would help. neither of these BP's are on the hotspot, so they are getting cold (and possibly sick). put appropriate sized hides for them over the hotspot. they will use it as needed.
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  4. #4
    Registered User Dezoruba's Avatar
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    Re: Critique my setup

    Quote Originally Posted by Ax01 View Post
    here's what i think and some feedback:

    1. every other day or as soon as it gets dirty.
    2. not sure. but here's a few guesses/questions. A) your heat tape wired wrong. is it one long piece that u snaked through the rack? or is it several strips wired together? B) your temp gun is malfunctioning and/or needs to be calibrated. try your temp gun on another controlled hotspot. is it reading that accurately? C) your paper towel substrate is uneven over the tub and heat tape causing temp readings at different heights and angles
    3. i don't think so.
    4. keep a more stable ambient temp in the room u keep your snake rack. how often do u check your cool side/ambient temps? how long is it between checking temps that u feel the need to turn on the space heater? u could turn on the space heater and keep it on a thermostat so that it self-regulates or turns itself on whenever ambient temps dips below 78.
    5. how many snakes do u have and do u isolate/QT the sick ones? when did u separate the first sick snake? i hope u got it treated and didn't keep it in the same rack with the rest or your collection.

    additional feedback: i think your snakes needs hides or appropriate sized hides. the big snake u have pictured above is squeezed between the water bowl and side. unless he is trying to cool off, i think it wants a hide to snuggle into for security. similarly the smaller Banana u have is squeezed between the hide and back of tub. it is also looking for security. so a smaller, snuggier hide would help. neither of these BP's are on the hotspot, so they are getting cold (and possibly sick). put appropriate sized hides for them over the hotspot. they will use it as needed.
    Hey thanks for the feedback! I really appreciate it. To answer some of the points you made:
    • the flexwatt is one long strip that I got pre-wired from Animal Plastics. I thought it was the heat tape messing up too so I replaced it but it still does the same thing. Do you think switching over to a particle substrate could help? I have a couple blocks of coconut husk laying around I can use - I just love the ease of paper towel, haha.
    • I also doubted my temp gun so I bought a new one and also borrowed my friends and they all did the same thing. I did the trick where you fill a glass with ice water and it accurately read that temp as 32°.
    • I'm in the process of moving out of my parents house right now - the snakes stay in my room at home but I stay at my fiances place. I run home twice a day to check on them and that's when I check their temps. That's a great idea to put the space heater on a thermostat.
    • I have 6 balls in my room at home. Unfortunately I only have the one room and wasn't able to move my original sick snake when I realized she was sick... my vet told me it would be okay as long as I never went from touching her straight to touching the others because the RI wouldn't spread through the air, but that's very likely wrong now that I think about it. So I just never took 2 snakes out at once and always washed and sanitized my hands between handling/feeding/cleaning. They're all still in the one rack but hopefully I can get another rack set up at my fiances place soon and move the sick ones over here.
    • regarding hides: the big normal is around 4200 grams now and I haven't found a hide that fits her, haha. For a while I was cutting cardboard boxes for her but she always got on top of them and flattened them till they were unusual. Her position in the pic is kinda unusual for her, she's normally curled up in the back directly over the hot spot. I think you're right about the banana - I'll give him some smaller hides tonight!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ax01 View Post
    here's what i think and some feedback:

    1. every other day or as soon as it gets dirty.
    2. not sure. but here's a few guesses/questions. A) your heat tape wired wrong. is it one long piece that u snaked through the rack? or is it several strips wired together? B) your temp gun is malfunctioning and/or needs to be calibrated. try your temp gun on another controlled hotspot. is it reading that accurately? C) your paper towel substrate is uneven over the tub and heat tape causing temp readings at different heights and angles
    3. i don't think so.
    4. keep a more stable ambient temp in the room u keep your snake rack. how often do u check your cool side/ambient temps? how long is it between checking temps that u feel the need to turn on the space heater? u could turn on the space heater and keep it on a thermostat so that it self-regulates or turns itself on whenever ambient temps dips below 78.
    5. how many snakes do u have and do u isolate/QT the sick ones? when did u separate the first sick snake? i hope u got it treated and didn't keep it in the same rack with the rest or your collection.

    additional feedback: i think your snakes needs hides or appropriate sized hides. the big snake u have pictured above is squeezed between the water bowl and side. unless he is trying to cool off, i think it wants a hide to snuggle into for security. similarly the smaller Banana u have is squeezed between the hide and back of tub. it is also looking for security. so a smaller, snuggier hide would help. neither of these BP's are on the hotspot, so they are getting cold (and possibly sick). put appropriate sized hides for them over the hotspot. they will use it as needed.

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  5. #5
    BPnet Veteran Ax01's Avatar
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    Re: Critique my setup

    could be your thermostat. what kind is it and where did u place the probe? substrate shouldn't really matter. a snake will push it aside or get under it if it wanted to. the range of temps bouncing between 83-93degrees is crazy. often there's a 1-3degree leeway, but a 10degree one is kinda unusual. at the extreme end, it's a little hot. u don't want your BP's sitting on a hotspot over 95 for an extended period as it will get burned. maybe other forumers will chime in to help troubleshoot your heat tape issue.

    also QT all sick animals. why risk it? and 4200grams?! wow!! whatta big girl!
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  6. #6
    Registered User Dezoruba's Avatar
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    Re: Critique my setup

    Quote Originally Posted by Ax01 View Post
    could be your thermostat. what kind is it and where did u place the probe? substrate shouldn't really matter. a snake will push it aside or get under it if it wanted to. the range of temps bouncing between 83-93degrees is crazy. often there's a 1-3degree leeway, but a 10degree one is kinda unusual. at the extreme end, it's a little hot. u don't want your BP's sitting on a hotspot over 95 for an extended period as it will get burned. maybe other forumers will chime in to help troubleshoot your heat tape issue.

    also QT all sick animals. why risk it? and 4200grams?! wow!! whatta big girl!
    Herpstat 1, probe is positioned on the heat tape on the middle shelf. Secured with foil tape on the wire.

    She is huge lol! She was ~2900 when I bought her a year ago and grew that much feeding on medium rats (on the small end of medium) once a week.

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    Last edited by Dezoruba; 01-10-2017 at 07:56 PM.

  7. #7
    BPnet Lifer zina10's Avatar
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    Here goes...

    The temps DO fluctuate a along a heat tape. Shouldn't be wildly, though.

    Also, your heatgun probably measures the temp on the paper towel. Which seems slightly above the bottom of the tub, since nothing is "pushing it down". Lift the paper towel and then measure the bottom of the tub directly. Once your snake is on top of the paper towel and pushes it down, it might be warmer.

    Actually, your husbandry really doesn't seem that bad ...???

    RI's are usually viral. If left untreated to long or sometimes even when treated, bacterial infection can also set in. Some strains can be difficult to treat and if you don't use the correct meds or you don't use them long enough, you just create a "super bug".

    Have you ever had a culture run on what organism is actually rampant in your BP's and which medicine eradicates it ?

    If this was me, I would do the following:

    Take 2 of the worst (health wise) snake to the vet, have a culture done on each one ! Start ALL snakes on a good broad spectrum antibiotic. Treat all of them at the same time. Once the culture comes back adjust the meds (type, length of treatment, etc) as needed. Again, treat them all.

    During all of this, keep everything super clean. Clean and SANITIZE the tubs daily or at least every other day. Purchase a safe but highly effective Sanitzer like F10, it kills all kinds of bad stuff. Also wipe the rack down with it. Even though you are treating all snakes, still wash your hands thoroughly and sanitize them between handling each snake.

    Might be a lot of effort and expense for a few weeks, but perhaps you will knock this out once and for all.

    After all this, quarantine any new or sick snake.

    Good luck
    Zina

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