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  1. #1
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    Newbie & uncertain about my temperatures/husbandry

    So I recently adopted my first ever snake, and I am very excited about it. I did tons of research into proper care and husbandry but I'm still a little unsure about my heating system. I live in the Pacific Northwest, and I am a college student so my house is generally unheated and rather cold (think about 65*F). I am housing my ball python, Pixie, in a 10 gallon glass terrarium with a locking lid as she is only about 70g. I covered the back and side walls with construction paper to make it a little less open.

    During the day I have a 75watt UVA/UVB light which I mainly use to maintain a day/night cycle with a light timer. For heating, I have an ExoTerra 10-20 gallon heat mat underneath the bottom on one side of the tank (on the outside, using the peg feet for proper ventilation) and I have the thermostat probe on the glass on the inside (I secured it using aquarium silicone) which I keep set at 90*F. Because I was a little worried about the ambient temperature I got a Zoo Med Mini UTH which I put on the side wall (on the same side as the other heating mat) and because there isn't substrate in between the vertical glass and the snake I keep that thermostat set at about 83*F just to be a little extra careful.

    Even with the two heating mats, my ambient temperature probe which is set on the back in about the middle of the tank, is consistently reading about 65-70*F. I have tried covering half of the top with a towel to hold in a little more heat but it doesn't seem to help very much. I might be a little bit over-concerned but I would rather get a few more opinions that to just continue worrying about it. Pixie spend 95% of her time curled up leaning on the wall with the mini heat mat and sitting on the UTH, so basically the warmest part of the enclosure. She seems very healthy, and has been eating Hopper Mice for me every 5 days without issue, which I know is a good indicator of health for ball pythons.
    I am currently using aspen shavings as a substrate (about 0.5 inch), but I'm considering switching to something that might hold heat and humidity better.

    Let me know what you think about my setup/if you have any advice. If I can improve my husbandry in any way that will make Pixie happier and healthier, I'm all ears and ready to learn from your experience.

    Thanks so much!

  2. #2
    BPnet Veteran Craiga 01453's Avatar
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    Hello! Welcome to the forum and the wonderful world of snake keeping!!

    There are a few things I picked out which are a bit off.

    First, the thermostat probe goes OUTSIDE the enclosure. It should be sandwiched between the UTH and the glass.
    Keeping it inside it will be moved (probably eventually, even silicone in place), laid on, peed on, etc...which will all give inaccurate readings. Those inaccurate readings could potentially cause very dangerous heat spikes which could burn or even kill a snake.

    Second, UTHs are designed solely to provide a hot spot and not for ambient temps. So that side one is as good as useless.

    Third, substrate shouldn't matter when reading your surface temps. You should be reading the actual glass surface, not the substrate. Snakes can and will burrow, push substrate around, etc... and reach the glass. So it's important to measure the actual surface temps with a temp gun.

    65-70 Is way too cool for a BP. 75 should be the absolute minimum. But low 80s is preferred.

    As for substrate, personally don't like aspen. It d7esnt hold humidity well at all. I use a blend of eco earth and repti-bark. It holds humidity well, absorbs odor and looks naturalistic.

    Lastly, hoppers are too small for your BP. They eat hoppers right out of the egg for their first few meals only, typically 3-5 meals, and quickly move up to small adult mice. is beautiful...

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  3. The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to Craiga 01453 For This Useful Post:

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  4. #3
    Registered User RickyNY's Avatar
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    Put your thermostat probe on the outside glass, sandwiched between the glass and the heating mat.
    Now, about ambient temps: Heating mats do very little for ambient temps. Get a CHE with and ceramic socket lamp.



    You will need another thermostat (not a thermometer) to control the heat and achieve 80F ambient temp.
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  6. #4
    Registered User Dianne's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie & uncertain about my temperatures/husbandry

    And to help hold heat in the tank, Id look at insulating it. The easiest would probably be foam-core* (poster board with a foam center) that you can pick up at Wal-Mart or any craft store. Id do this for three sides of the tank, plus one piece covered in aluminum foil for the lid...just leave enough room for your heat lamp and a bit of ventilation. This should help boost ambient temperature and the covered lid will help hold in humidity.

    *You can also use cardboard, bubble wrap, or rigid insulation (found at a hardware store, looks like stiff pink styrofoam).

  7. The Following User Says Thank You to Dianne For This Useful Post:

    pixie's_person (11-08-2018)

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