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  1. #1
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    Interesting Ball Python Heating Options

    Good Evening,

    I am a new member, but have been keeping reptiles for most of my life (~22 years). Recently, I have become interested in building bioactive/naturalistic vivaria for my animals. I currently have a fully planted setup for my dart frogs and another for my panther chameleon.
    Panther chameleon vivarium that has successfully housed my panther chameleon for two years. Recently I added dozens of additional plant species.

    I have decided to make the switch for my 22 year old ball python as well. I got him when I was seven, and he has been in the same 1990's era plywood vivarium his entire life. It meets the often cited husbandry requirements for the species, but I am looking to upgrade to an enclosure where he can completely stretch out and have access to climbing branches and some other basic reptile enrichment items (probably a removable pond he can submerge in and some durable plants he can hide in, along with more hiding options than he currently has access to). I purchased the larger version of his current enclosure, and this new vivarium is about 3' x 3' x 2'.

    So here is my question: I am curious about ways to heat it that will not bake all my plants (ie, other than a ceramic heat emitter). I am planning to build up a backdrop using the spray foam method. Would it be reasonable to embed a heat cable into a spray foam ledge to create a hot hide for him? Or would that be a crazy fire hazard? I have not used heat cables in the past, only heat pads, ceramic heat emitters, and the typical incandescent heat lights. Realistically, mid summer where I live my house is likely to be 75-80 ambient temperature, which is roughly the target ambient temp for BPs. I was thinking that I could embed a ceramic heat emitter in the back of the vivarium and cover it with a heat guard so he can't touch it (for use in the winter) and then embed a head cable in a ledge to make a heated ledge for summer use. Alternatively, I could have the single ceramic heat emitter and rig it up to a dimmer switch so that I can just adjust the temperature manually as is needed. I am planning to put the vivarium directly on a carpeted floor, so I probably don't want to use a heat pad.

    Any thoughts or suggestions? Also, if anyone on the forum is known for making planted/bioactive/enriched python enclosures, I'd appreciate a referral. I can send them a DM, I have a few other questions to ask someone who has done this before.


    Last edited by connorology; 04-09-2019 at 10:03 PM.

  2. #2
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    Re: Interesting Ball Python Heating Options

    You may want to look into a radiant heat panel (RHP). Im not sure how well it would work with plants. I know they don't suck as much water out of the air as CHE's but I just don't know enough about growing plants to say if it would be okay for them. ProProducts makes high quality RHPs.. Reptile basics also makes a RHP that some seem to enjoy.

    Edit: Typos
    Last edited by Jmarshall; 04-09-2019 at 10:17 PM.
    1.0 Orange Dream x Lemonback x Super Enchi -Damian

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  3. #3
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    Foam is an insulator, so regardless of fire hazard, I wouldn't embed the cable in foam - you won't heat the enclosure.

    I don't have a bio-active for a BP, but my cornsnake and king each have one. The corn has an RHP on the top, and a magnetic ledge underneath to bask (a full grown BP will almost certainly need extra high strength magnets to make that hold, and may not use it, as it keeps the animal out in the open). For other heat, I have a t-stat regulated UTH pad siliconed to a flat piece of foam, and resting heat pad down, and the snake can curl up underneath. Wires go up and out the top. (Off label use , so to speak...I am NOT recommending this!!!, but it HAS worked fine for me, and 86F isn't much of a fire hazard.) A heat pad under the tank isn't going to heat effectively through a bio-active layer, so all heat sources need to be above that. Plants don't have to be everywhere, so a CHE/RHP, etc. can heat over a clear space, the plants in my viv just avoid growing there, and there is much less light on that end anyway. I think the viv is most dramatic when only partly lit, and I think the snakes prefer to have the option of shade.

    My two guys are hard on plants. The only survivors left are Hedera helix (English ivy), a bit of philodendron, and potos.
    Last edited by distaff; 04-09-2019 at 10:30 PM.

  4. The Following User Says Thank You to distaff For This Useful Post:

    Bogertophis (04-09-2019)

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