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  1. #1
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    Is my BP stressed/sick or am I just a worried snake mom?

    Hello! New here, but I love this community and these forums have answered a lot of questions for me! However, I feel like Iím reading a lot of mixed signals from various threads/sources, so i wanted to explain my EXACT situation in the hopes one of you wonderful snake parents can help me. Is there something wrong with my BP or am I just a worried mom?

    I adopted my noodle not even 5 days ago(it is Thursday and I got her Saturday). I got her from my cousin who I trust completely and has owned snakes in the past. She is a 3 year old beautiful BP who has been taken care of well and is very chill. I did about 2 weeks of deep research (including visiting reptile stores and speaking to people about them face to face) before i even brought her home and have tried to make sure she is healthy, safe, and HAPPY as possible. But I have noticed a couple things I think might be odd-
    they are barely noticeable and wouldnít even show up in a pic but Iíve noticed the following: Her skin seems slightly loose (it seems to kind of mush out a bit when she slides around- is this just the pressure of her own weight?), skin has a very light kind of a reflective gloss (but not noticeably DULL like what they say for a pre-shed), her belly has also felt kind of sticky and soft? Not very sticky, but just has this moist feel to it as opposed to her back skin. Plus some behavior things Iíll share below. None of these side effects seem drastic, but if anything seem like they could be WARNING signs of something starting to go bad? No other symptoms like stuff in her nose and she hasnít pooped that iíve seen since I got her but thatís probably cause she only ate 2 days ago (will explain what she ate later).

    Her set up is exactly this: plastic tub (a larger size about 20 gallon) with small holes drilled in it, Forest Floor cyprus substrate as I read it holds humidity well. Large UTH on one side hooked up to a thermostat that is set to keep the bottom about 92į- the probe is in the correct placement and she has not moved it (Iíve checked) and there is a cool side of the tank without the UTH. She spends an equal amount on each side, maybe even a little more on the cool side. Perfect sized cave-like hides on each side. A sturdy log she can climb for fun- which she does- and she has a large water dish big enough for her to curl in if she wanted to, but not excessively large. Fake branches on all sides and one side against wall so she doesnít feel exposed- very neat set up I think!

    I was worried then that maybe the AMBIENT air in her cage was cold because it is a larger box and the UTH is only on the bottom and sometimes my apartment temperature can be kind of cool (I live in LA though, so it probably never really drops below 70 in my room and her cage must be warmer than that?) but even to be safe the past couple days I have made sure to put the heater on if it does cool down in the house (remember she mostly hangs out on the cool side so I donít think sheís cold right?) Because I was nervous, I got a heatlamp as well to test out- it is elevated on a sturdy stand 8Ē above so it wonít burn the plastic- 75W purple reptile heating bulb. but even this, I have connected to a thermostat and the probe is inside her cage set to about 76į (i know this might be low, but remember also the UTH floor temp of 92, should the lamp still be higher than 76 maybe? i donít want it to be too hot). I also have a hygrometer on the back wall (on the inside of the cage donít worry) that is elevated from the floor so she canít move it, pee on it, get wet, etc and I am constantly checking that it is between 50-60%, usually it is on the higher end like 56%- I mist at least once a day. Could this hygrometer be inaccurate? however, iíve just noticed since iíve turned the heat lamp on 3 hours ago, it has dropped to 45%, so iíve misted it back up and turned off the heatlamp for now (can i turn it back on? and then just keep misting more and more since it dries it out?). SO just in case, I ALSO just ordered a digital thermostat/hygrometer so that I can be 100% certain of the ambient temps/humidity as well as a temp gun to measure surface temps. Could it be too cold though because of my bedroom temp?

    She ate 2 days ago and took to it so easily I was shocked- not picky at all. I barely even had to make the freshly killed small rat dance before she latched right onto it- from the store (she is a large girl at 3 yrs and the small rat made just the tiniest bulge in her belly so I think it was the right size relative to her body- correct me if I should feed her more or less. The reptile store offered to freshly kill a live feeder for me rather than frozen- the people there seemed kind and knowledge in reptiles).

    Iíve also noticed she seems very active and not timid like Iíve heard ball pythons are supposed to be. Itís mostly while I handled her today (but she is also pretty active at night slithering around her cage and crawling over stuff like her vines and poking her head to the top of the cage- does this mean sheís uncomfortable and looking for a way out???). I donít handle her too much and definitely not once after eating 2 days ago to upset her stomach. but when I handle her, she doesnít tense up or try to get away from me at all. she just hangs onto me and extends her neck upwards or outwards towards certain things like sheís ďsniffing aroundĒ or curious and her tongue is very often flickering like a madman- which I read means theyíre comfortable and curious as itís how they sense changes in the air or something. She seems to actually enjoy rubbing along me (i have a very warm skin temp for a hooman) and hanging onto me while she ďexploresĒ with her head- I stay very still and kind of just support her neck when she looks around and let her body hold my arm and let her do whatever she wants. Is this friendly/happy behavior?? I read somewhere it actually means sheís stressed out and that she should be balled up and timid?? Iím so confused, because it seems to me like she actually enjoys it, but people online are like ďyour snake HATES being held! Leave them alone ALWAYS!Ē. Obviously I wouldnít handle her every day- probably more once MAYBE twice a week if I really canít keep my hands off her.

    I notice every little thing about her (in total: slightly stretchy skin, lightly glossy look in some areas, ďoutgoingĒ behavior?) but I just canít tell if sheís okay or not?! And I read a lot of contradictory things and some people make certain things seem MUCH bigger deals than others and I just want her to be absolutely spoiled and as healthy and content as a little noodle could ever possibly be- spare no expense! Am I just overly worried or could she be too cold? too hot? too humid? not humid enough? Also keeping in mind sheís only been with me 5 days so I would never let these symptoms draw out, which is why Iím so desperate for an answer if she is in trouble or if Iím paranoid!

    Thank you for your patience with this long post and please please let me know what you think- even if you have to tell me Iím a complete idiot and have gotten everything wrong! I have MINIMAL experience as a reptile mom, but I love my slippery little friend very much already and only want the best for her.

  2. #2
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    Re: Is my BP stressed/sick or am I just a worried snake mom?

    P.S. I apologize this is SO long winded, but I would really appreciate some patience and insight from you awesome people!

  3. #3
    Registered User Dianne's Avatar
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    Re: Is my BP stressed/sick or am I just a worried snake mom?

    First a question to clarify where your thermostat probe is for you uth...it should be outside the enclosure between the tub and the uth (preferable), or outside the tub on the bottom of the uth if it is adhered to the bottom of the tub/cage. Also you want to check the surface temperature for the bottom of the tub just above the uth with a temp gun (usually $10 on Amazon) rather than the surface of the substrate. Also never trust the thermostat temperature alone as there can be a variance between what the probe reads and the actual surface temperature. Snakes can and do burrow into the substrate so they are directly on the heated surface.

    The cool end temperature is low at 70F as you want to aim for 80F. Your uth mostly provides belly heat and isnít a good way to boist ambient temps, especially in a cool room. The light can be left on but will affect humidity. I would place it about midway on the tub so that the uth is your hot spot, the bulb is a warm zone, then you have the cool end. You can continue spraying to boost humidity or add a humid hide. I just purchased a product called Reptile Prime to use in some humid hides as my cages are running drier than normal due to increased use of my heat pump. Also there could be inaccuracy of the hygrometer if it is the stick on analog type. The digital should be more accurate...many of us use a brand called Acurite ($6-10 on Amazon).

    As for the moist or sticky feel of her belly, that can be from sitting in moist substrate. You donít want it too moist as that can cause skin issues, but what you are describing doesnít seem like that would be the issue. There really shouldnít be loose skin per se, though they can have some wiggle to the skin...we shouldnít feed them Ďtil they look like bratwurst. If you can post some pictures of her and the setup, that would help. I use a free app called Tapatalk...works well for the technologically challenged like me. LOL As for shedding, they get dull when in ďblueĒ (preshed) but will go back clear just before shedding. Once you see it the first time, youíll know better what to watch for going forward.

    As for differing opinions, thatís pretty much par for the course. Some people are adamant about their choices, and thatís okay, but youíll learn about lots of ways to accomplish the same results. As for handling, itís more for our pleasure than theirs, but most snakes adjust and tolerate it, and I believe some do enjoy being out and exploring. If the snake stays balled up (hiding head and exhibiting fear) or is frantically trying to get away, I try to keep handling sessions short 5-15 minutes. They will learn you arenít a threat and begin exploring, crawling on you like youíre a heated tree, and generally trying to smell (tongue flicks) and get into everything (keep an eye out for cracks and small openings...they can get into incredibly small spaces). The flight response is a pretty obvious difference than calm exploration.

    Last but not least...Welcome! Ball pythons are loads of fun and very addictive. This is a great group with a lot of experienced keepers that are willing to share their knowledge. Almost everyone tries to be very conscientious about providing information to new keepers and pointing out when something is outside the normal or proven way of doing something. Ultimately we all share a love and passion for these amazing creatures.
    Duncan - 1992 0.1 Colombian redtail;
    Hudson - 1988 1.0 Colombian rainbow;
    Yang - 2002 1.0 Corn snake;
    Merlin - 2000 1.0 Solomon Island ground boa;
    Eli - 1990 1.0 Normal ball python;
    Buttercup - 2015 1.0 Albino ball python;
    Artemis - 2015 0.1 Dragonfly ball python;
    Orion - 2015 1.0 Banana Pinstripe ball python;
    Button - 2018 1.0 Blue Eyed Lucy ball python;
    Piper - 2018 0.1 Piebald ball python;
    Belle - 2018 0.1 Lemonblast ball python;
    Sabrina - 2017 0.1 Mojave ball python;
    Selene - 2017 0.1 Banana Mojave ball python;
    Loki - 2018 1.0 Pastel Mystic Potion

  4. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to Dianne For This Useful Post:

    Bogertophis (01-11-2019),craigafrechette (01-11-2019),dr del (01-11-2019),Sonny1318 (01-11-2019)

  5. #4
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    Re: Is my BP stressed/sick or am I just a worried snake mom?

    Learnt this the hard way about ambient temps mine picked up a ri from it, my friend whoís a herp vet came and helped me set everything up perfect he is now ri free after 3 weeks. ( this was 2 months ago )


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  6. #5
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    Re: Is my BP stressed/sick or am I just a worried snake mom?

    Thank you so much for your reply! You've helped alleviate my stress and brought up very great points BTW her name is Nagini (from Harry Potter), I forgot to introduce her before.

    The probe for the UTH is in fact on the inside of her tub- on the bottom. So I should move it to the OUTSIDE, correct? Now that the UTH is already stuck on there, I should stick the probe under the mat now? If I unstick it to put the probe between the UTH and the bottom of the tub, the UTH will probably lose the "stick", right(and potentially fall off later)? If I should buy a new one all together to restick it with the probe in between, I can definitely do that, if that would be the safest option.

    Yes, I had the feeling it was a cheaper hygrometer and could be inaccurate, so I have already ordered the temp gun (of course the shipping is running late now, but hopefully it comes in today)! But I also ordered a 2 pack of the digital thermometer/hygrometer combined. Each digital monitor has 2 probes- one for temp and one for humidity. I was thinking of placing one set of probes on the lower end of the warm side and the other on the higher end of the cool side, to get a more wide-spread read of her tub, rather than in just one place. Does that sound about right? These are also still on their way.

    Great, so I will keep the heat lamp on a little more until the digital thermometer comes to read exactly what the ambient temp is. I have also been making sure my house's heater is set to 74 so at the very least the room around her tub is warmer now. As for the humidity, I have read that "Sphagnum Moss" helps to hold humidity really well if a heat lamp is sucking the air dry. Do you think this might help? If so, should I just get some and spread it in various patches around her tub so that the humidity is wide spread? I was thinking about getting a humid hide as well anyways- even if I just bring it out for her to use before shedding.

    For her sticky belly, that would be very possible. When I first set up her tub, I over-anticipated how humid it should be and I read somewhere that you can mist down the substrate before putting in to boost the humidity. So, I did that, but I think the Forest Floor substrate was already moist enough on its own, so it was very humid at first- luckily I set it up a day early, so I was able to let it air out before I put her inside. But since that was only 5 days ago, the substrate might still be a bit moist. It is MUCH dryer now, though. I'll continue to monitor

    I will add some pics of her and her tub when I get home from work today just in case you can notice anything I didn't!

    I keep her handling sessions short even if I think she's enjoying it, just because obviously she can't speak and I could be wrong, but in general she seems very tolerant and curious. I'll keep the handling to basically just once a week, for a short period!

    Last question- let's say her tub ambient temp has been down to 74 before I am making all these adjustments. Would she be severely affected by this after a couple days? Essentially, how long can she stay too cool without it severely damaging her health? Obviously I will be remedying all of this ASAP, but just for my own peace of mind that she should be okay after the last 5 days of "sub-par" conditions.

    I cannot thank you enough for your time and kindness! You have been very helpful!

    - - - Updated - - -

    Thanks for your insight! I definitely don't want her to get sick and will be making adjustments ASAP to make sure she is nice and warm!

  7. #6
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    Re: Is my BP stressed/sick or am I just a worried snake mom?

    Substrate
    Tub
    UTH
    Probe
    Styrofoam

    You'll need a temp gun. When your temp gun measures 90į on the tub that's the proper setting for your thermostat even though it may be set at 100į.
    Last edited by SMTHook; 01-11-2019 at 11:12 PM.

  8. #7
    Registered User MR Snakes's Avatar
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    Welcome. Are you a writer by chance?

  9. #8
    Registered User Dianne's Avatar
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    Re: Is my BP stressed/sick or am I just a worried snake mom?

    As SMTHook provided, you donít have to unstick the uth, just set it up like this....

    Quote Originally Posted by SMTHook View Post
    Substrate
    Tub
    UTH
    Probe
    Styrofoam

    You'll need a temp gun. When your temp gun measures 90į on the tub that's the proper setting for your thermostat even though it may be set at 100į.
    The temp gun is a must, and Iíd also recommend that you check several points across the surface of the heat mat as some will have varying hot spots. Two of my quarantine tubs are set up with Ultratherm heat mats and Jumpstart thermostats where thermostat reading and surface temp of tub floor pretty much match to within one degree. The third tub has a Petsmart heat mat which runs 5-6 degrees hotter than the thermostat reading...it also is more variable on temperature gradient across the length and width of the heat mat than my Ultratherms. It will be discarded after this use.

    Sounds like a good plan on thermometer/hygrometer probe placement. Some of us use two measurements, like you plan to do, and some just use one for ambient with spot checking by temp gun. Either works well, with everyone spot checking hot spots and cool ends with temp guns. Iím in the single Acurite thermometer/hygrometer camp because the only snake I have that doesnít move it everywhere is my 7í boa...all the little guys push it all over the cage.

    Sphagnum moss is great to boost humidity, you can place patches around the tub or create a humid hide with it loosely stuffed into a closed container with an access hole cut in. You would soak the moss, then squeeze out the excess water. It should feel damp but not soggy. You can rinse and reuse for a while unless your little leaves a deposit in it. As for the mid-70ís temperatures, I donít think it will do any harm for a short term drop, they would experience this in nature, just not for prolonged periods. Plus you have the hot spot for thermoregulation.

    As for handling, you will learn her personality and body language. Lots of folks handle their snakes daily or every other day, with around a 48 hour break after theyíve been fed to allow digestion. I handle some of mine weekly, some only occasionally because they clearly want to be left alone. As long as she is calmly exploring or just sitting there relaxing, I donít think you have anything to worry about. A couple of the biggest indicators of they are stressed is trying to flee (fast movements, minimal tongue flicks) or curled into a tight ball hiding their head so the big predator wonít eat them. Another indicator could be refusing to feed, but that doesnít seem to be an issue here either. Iíd say continue to enjoy yourself. Youíre already demonstrating good observation skills, asking the right questions, and putting Naginiís needs first.

    And weíre all glad to help. Just be warned, they are addictive.
    Duncan - 1992 0.1 Colombian redtail;
    Hudson - 1988 1.0 Colombian rainbow;
    Yang - 2002 1.0 Corn snake;
    Merlin - 2000 1.0 Solomon Island ground boa;
    Eli - 1990 1.0 Normal ball python;
    Buttercup - 2015 1.0 Albino ball python;
    Artemis - 2015 0.1 Dragonfly ball python;
    Orion - 2015 1.0 Banana Pinstripe ball python;
    Button - 2018 1.0 Blue Eyed Lucy ball python;
    Piper - 2018 0.1 Piebald ball python;
    Belle - 2018 0.1 Lemonblast ball python;
    Sabrina - 2017 0.1 Mojave ball python;
    Selene - 2017 0.1 Banana Mojave ball python;
    Loki - 2018 1.0 Pastel Mystic Potion

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    Re: Is my BP stressed/sick or am I just a worried snake mom?

    Thank you! Yes, that actually answered another one of my questions (why is my thermostat set so high, but the temp is not matching?). So I'll just keep the thermostat high as long as I get the correct temps. I got the temp gun btw! All good now!

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    Re: Is my BP stressed/sick or am I just a worried snake mom?

    I like to think of myself as one! Not by profession, but I've been writing pieces for as long as I've been able to write! Why do you ask?

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