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  1. #1
    Registered User Epheli's Avatar
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    New Royal, have some questions/concerns

    Hi all!
    First post here. A little bit of background, I used to keep two corn snakes back in 2006-ish, but had to give them up when I moved away. I've always loved snakes and, being in a better place now I've recently gotten a beautiful royal python, Albino Enchi morph. This is her (my partner is holding her):




    I did my research, as much as I could before getting her, and set up the viv beforehand. This is the setup:



    The warm side is on the right with the ceramic heat lamp, and is controlled with a thermostat. I also have a seperate digital thermometer measuring both sides of the viv and a hygrometer - you can see them all at the back of the tank.
    The substrate is this stuff:



    Apparently it's from the same tree as Aspen but is less dusty and powdery?
    The snake herself, the viv and all accessories came from the same reptile shop, However I had a lot of discrepencies between the advice that they gave me and stuff that I heard from a friend who also keeps a royal in a bioactive enclosure, as well as advice online and I have a couple of questions and things that I need to clarify.

    Oh, this is the thermostat and its current setting, this was also recommended and fitted by the reptile shop:



    And the current temps (IN is the hot end, OUT is the cold end):





    ------

    So, questions:

    1. With the current setup, the temperature for both ends tends to be about the same, hotter on the cool end during the day (I assume this is due to the light that they fitted), and a little cooler during the night. I'm worried that the viv doesn't have enough airflow. Can anyone advise? I was wondering whether to cut a hole on the cool end, and nail some mesh/ into it to create a bigger vent hole and hopefully cool that end off?

    1.a. I guess a follow up question is: Is this viv suitable for this snake?

    BTW, the hygrometer usually reads just north of 50%, rarely ever under that. When I spray mist the viv and the spagnum moss inside, it steams up and the hygrometer hits 99% (it only have 2 digits so "somewhere north of 100% humidity", settling down within a few hours)

    2. Is this substrate suitable for a non-bioactive enclosure? It's very aspen-like.

    3. She has been feeing fine (we've had her for about 5 or 6 weeks now) but the only poops she does are these tiny, hard, white lumps, not any "regular" poo - is that normal? She's been eating a smallish mouse every monday and hasn't refused a feed yet.

    4. Is her current food intake appropriate? These are the mice that we're feeding her, I don't know what they're officially called but here's a photo, they measure about 8cm long, nose to foot, as seen in these photos:




    She's currently eating one of these per week, on a Monday. I can't take her out to measure or weigh her right now because she only just fed yesterday, but there are a bunch of photos here:
    https://ibb.co/album/cApzBF

    Also, just an idle curiosity really but I wonder if she's blind or has poor vision? I know that albinos of certain species have this trait and her eyes are red, she bumps into things a lot. Also, because her eyes are always kinda cloudy and her skin is fairly pastel I've not been able to tell if she has gone into shed, though she hasn't shed yet (which is also kind of odd, I thought they tended to shed monthly-6 weeks-ish?)

    So - yeah. I mostly just wanted to check whether you all thought that the gear, food, substrate and viv that I was sold and have been recommended by the reptile shop is actually legit and and good, or if there are changes or improvements that I could make, and how to solve the issue with the temps being the same on both sides?

    Thank you all for your time!

    Edit: Also would it be worth taking her to a vet to get registered / get her on their books? Or is that generally not useful/needed for snakes?
    Last edited by Epheli; 08-27-2019 at 05:17 AM.

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  3. #2
    Registered User Epheli's Avatar
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    Oh, I also just used my laser thermometer to measure the aspen-alike o across the cage; it's uniformly around 33.4-33.9c on both the hot and cool ends, a bit warmer on top of the hides, and peaking at about 34.5 in the middle of the viv on the aspen, I have no idea why

  4. #3
    Registered User Lord Sorril's Avatar
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    Re: New Royal, have some questions/concerns

    Quote Originally Posted by Epheli View Post
    I did my research, as much as I could before getting her, and set up the viv beforehand...
    Awesome! The sign of a responsible pet owner!
    The warm side is on the right with the ceramic heat lamp, and is controlled with a thermostat.
    Where is the probe for the thermostat located? Is there a UTH, if so, how is it regulated?
    Oh, this is the thermostat and its current setting, this was also recommended and fitted by the reptile shop:
    90F should be your hot spot created by a UTH on a thermostat. Sure, you can use a CHE to make a 90F hot spot, but, then you would drive the ambient temps too high on the cool side unless the enclosure was large (or had really good ventilation). Everyone has their own preference, but, I try not to exceed 85F for ambient in the summer and 80F in the winter.

    I am also wary of the CHE that is installed inside the enclosure. I've never done it myself because CHE's heat up really hot and that wire metal cage would just conduct the heat to the snake (if it touched).
    So, questions:

    1. With the current setup, the temperature for both ends tends to be about the same, hotter on the cool end during the day (I assume this is due to the light that they fitted), and a little cooler during the night. I'm worried that the viv doesn't have enough airflow. Can anyone advise? I was wondering whether to cut a hole on the cool end, and nail some mesh/ into it to create a bigger vent hole and hopefully cool that end off?
    I suspect heat from the CHE is being trapped inside and raising the overall temp to the one set on the thermostat. If you turn the thermostat down to 85F your temps should go down proportionately. As for drilling vent holes: What is your terrarium made out of? I would not want to drill/cut holes in certain materials.
    1.a. I guess a follow up question is: Is this viv suitable for this snake?
    Sure, you don't really need a 'cool' side as long as you have a Under Tank Heater on a thermostat to generate a hot spot.
    BTW, the hygrometer usually reads just north of 50%, rarely ever under that. When I spray mist the viv and the spagnum moss inside, it steams up and the hygrometer hits 99% (it only have 2 digits so "somewhere north of 100% humidity", settling down within a few hours)
    You can get/make a hide and stuff it full of moist sphagnum moss (or paper towels) as an artificially high humidity setting. If your water bowl is large enough for your snake to submerge in: I would not be concerned with low humidity at all.
    2. Is this substrate suitable for a non-bioactive enclosure? It's very aspen-like.
    I'm not familiar with that substrate.
    3. She has been feeing fine (we've had her for about 5 or 6 weeks now) but the only poops she does are these tiny, hard, white lumps, not any "regular" poo - is that normal? She's been eating a smallish mouse every monday and hasn't refused a feed yet.
    The white hard lumps are urate waste material produced during digestion. They are processed faster than normal 'brown' waste that you are expecting which you can expect on a less frequent basis.
    4. Is her current food intake appropriate? These are the mice that we're feeding her, I don't know what they're officially called but here's a photo, they measure about 8cm long, nose to foot, as seen in these photos:
    A lot of people will give you a lot of answers and some will show you a feeding chart. Until the snake reaches full size personally I would offer her smaller prey items-as much as she will eat at one time. Start by offering two and then scale the food offerings accordingly. (That is just how I do it)
    Also, just an idle curiosity really but I wonder if she's blind or has poor vision?
    Albinos are more sensitive to light so if she is exposed to bright light then she might have difficulty seeing. All snakes have reduced visibility during the shedding process. I've observed some ball pythons to be a bit clumsy too...so there is that...

    Edit: Also would it be worth taking her to a vet to get registered / get her on their books? Or is that generally not useful/needed for snakes?
    I would save your money until you have a perceived issue.

    Best of luck!
    *.* TNTC

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  6. #4
    Registered User SilasHorn'sHerptiles's Avatar
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    Re: New Royal, have some questions/concerns

    You may already know this but make sure to check on the aspen and cork bark. In humid environments they both tend to mold. Good alternatives are things like spiderwood and coconut husk if you do have molding issues. Wish you the best. Your viv looks awesome.

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  8. #5
    Registered User Epheli's Avatar
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    Re: New Royal, have some questions/concerns

    Thank you for your reply!

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Sorril View Post
    Awesome! The sign of a responsible pet owner!
    Where is the probe for the thermostat located? Is there a UTH, if so, how is it regulated?
    The thermostat sensor is in the middle-bottom back of the tank, stapled to the back of the viv - here's a photo:



    The little probe at the bottom right by the vent hole is for the thermostat controlling the temps, the thing that I've fixed about half way up is the hygrometer.
    I also have a probe on the back wall for the hot end (right) and cool end (left):





    What's a UTH? I'm guessing a heat mat? I don't have one of those, the reptile shop said that they're not recommended and that I should use the lamp instead - I remember this being a (pardon the pun) hot topic debate back when I had corns over a decade ago!

    I am also wary of the CHE that is installed inside the enclosure. I've never done it myself because CHE's heat up really hot and that wire metal cage would just conduct the heat to the snake (if it touched).
    I suspect heat from the CHE is being trapped inside and raising the overall temp to the one set on the thermostat. If you turn the thermostat down to 85F your temps should go down proportionately. As for drilling vent holes: What is your terrarium made out of? I would not want to drill/cut holes in certain materials.
    Sure, you don't really need a 'cool' side as long as you have a Under Tank Heater on a thermostat to generate a hot spot.
    What's a CHE? I'm guessing that's the ceramic lamp? Good to know though - I've tried to measure the temp on the metal but it's just reporting 33C, it might be too narrow for the laser to properly report the heat, or more likely - the bedroom is so hot at the moment that the thermostat isn't actually currently running >_<
    That was my guess too wrt the heat being trapped - it's only a 3ft enclosure. It's made of wood, I'm not sure but I assume it's a pressed fibreboard with veneer on the top, it's some kind of wood anyway. I was thinking of cutting a hole with a jigsaw a few inches square and getting some thick mesh to staple to the outside, but I don't know if that would make it *too* drafty?

    Thank you for the temp tip though, I'll try that. 31C in F is apparently nearly 88 so it's probably running on the hot side for the poor snakie.
    If I got a heat mat, do you have any recommendations as to wattage, brand, and wether I should place it under the (thick wood) viv or under the substrate inside the viv? Should I run one in tandem with the lamp or without?

    The current ventilation is minimal tbh - the small vent at the bottom back and the two on the top left and right, as seen here:



    You can get/make a hide and stuff it full of moist sphagnum moss (or paper towels) as an artificially high humidity setting. If your water bowl is large enough for your snake to submerge in: I would not be concerned with low humidity at all.
    I'm not familiar with that substrate.
    She has two hides, but if there is spagnum moss in them she won't go inside, so I've put it around the viv instead. The humidity is never really below 50, and when I mist it it goes above 99, she also has a large water bowl that she could easily soak herself in (though she has not done so to my knowledge in the time I've had her)
    The substrate is very similar to aspen tbh, the shop people said it's less dusty and just better overall but I don't know, might just be salesman talk.

    The white hard lumps are urate waste material produced during digestion. They are processed faster than normal 'brown' waste that you are expecting which you can expect on a less frequent basis.
    That's what I thought - should I be concerned that she's eaten 5 feeds so far of that size of mouse once weekly and not produced any "regular" waste yet?


    A lot of people will give you a lot of answers and some will show you a feeding chart. Until the snake reaches full size personally I would offer her smaller prey items-as much as she will eat at one time. Start by offering two and then scale the food offerings accordingly. (That is just how I do it)
    Should I maybe feed her a mouse, and then if she still comes to the exit of her hide maybe try to feed her another, on feed days? Or will that be too much food for her?

    Thank you again for your help!

    Oh, one more question. Her cloaca looks and has always looked like this:



    IIRC from my cornsnake days, snakes have a hemipenes that can come out of the cloaca, however as a female snake I assume she would not have this. She also seems to have two holes? Am I missing something here, could this be an illness or was she mis-sexed?
    Sorry for all the questions, still learning days!


    Also SilasHorn - thank you for the headsup, I didn't know that - I haven't seen any mould yet but I will keep an eye out. I also have giant african land snails and they use a kind of coconut.. coir? I think it's called. Would that make a good substrate / mixed in with the aspen or something?

    Thank you again!

    - - - Updated - - -

    Oh P.s. the thermostat sensor was fitted there by the reptile shop staff, the two thermometer sensors and the hygrometer one were fitted by me

  9. #6
    Registered User Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Just a few things...

    UTH = Under Tank Heater (ie heat mat)

    "2 holes"? Those are spurs* on either side of the cloaca (aka vent). *Vestigial remnants of thigh bones, from when snakes evolved from lizards; male snakes can & will use these to stroke a female they want to mate with...flirting is not just for humans.

    The hemipenes of a male snake are actually inverted & carried internally in their tail below the vent...not normally seen unless there's a medical issue like a
    prolapse. Their presence in the male snake does slightly change the shape of the tail, once you know what to look for, compared to females.

    And those are rat pups in your bag of food, not mice. Probably best to keep feeding her rats ONLY, since some BPs prefer mice, & then won't eat rats, which are
    most convenient as your snake gets bigger. You want to feed ONE item of appropriate size to a BP, since they often won't accept a second one at the same meal,
    even if the first one was too small. An adult BP will NOT be full from eating one large mouse, whereas a small or medium rat will be just perfect. BPs are picky
    enough without giving them "reasons" to be more so...

    Also, when snakes eat young rodents (like rat pups) they are mostly digestible (little hair, tiny bones) so there is very little waste. It's very NORMAL that they may
    eat many times before bothering to expel any feces...very common question, don't worry about this.
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 08-27-2019 at 11:57 AM.
    Many friends in low places...

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  11. #7
    Registered User Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Corn snakes do not have spurs, by the way...thus, ball pythons are the more "primitive" snakes.

    And I also don't advise taking an apparently healthy snake to the vet for a check-up- you'll expose the snake to more germs & plenty of stress, for no reason.
    Many friends in low places...

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  13. #8
    Registered User Epheli's Avatar
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    Thank you both for your replies, all good to know, you learn something new every day!
    I forgot to mention in my last post but my snake dimensions (I took her out for a gentle check) are:
    3.5cm thick at the widest point (quite a bit bigger than the small rats I think)
    297g weight
    60cm-ish long (it's hard to straighten a snake )

    Given this, should I maybe move up to the next size of rat?

    Also, I distinctly remember the reptile shop owner saying that they were mice but my reciept does indeed say "Frozen rat fuzzies/fluffs", what's the next size up from that?

  14. #9
    Registered User Lord Sorril's Avatar
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    Re: New Royal, have some questions/concerns

    Quote Originally Posted by Epheli View Post
    The thermostat sensor is in the middle-bottom back of the tank, stapled to the back of the viv
    Since the CHE (Ceramic Heat Emitter) has to throw off enough heat to reach the bottom middle of the enclosure-it is not surprising that it is regulating the temps of your entire setup. That is fine if your CHE is going to control ambient temperatures only.
    I was thinking of cutting a hole with a jigsaw a few inches square and getting some thick mesh to staple to the outside, but I don't know if that would make it *too* drafty?
    Given the fact that your humidity drops after being brought to 99% by misting: This would indicate that your ventilation is exchanging the air sufficiently to drop the moisture content (since the water has to go somewhere). Those pre-installed vents look great-as is-for air exchange.
    If I got a heat mat, do you have any recommendations as to wattage, brand, and wether I should place it under the (thick wood) viv or under the substrate inside the viv? Should I run one in tandem with the lamp or without?
    I'm in the USA-I use Flukers Heat Mats (hundreds of them). The general consensus for heating mats is 30% of the enclosures floor space. Regardless of enclosure size I use the Flukers 6"x11" version for a hot spot on all my adult ball pythons without issue. Since the wattage of the Under Tank Heater (UTH) is different than the CHE-unless your thermostat can handle multiple zones you would need a separate thermostat. The UTH would be placed outside the enclosure on the bottom of the glass. The probe for the UTH thermostat would be sandwiched between the heating mat and the glass bottom substrate portion of the enclosure. The UTH will also require some level of air circulation on the bottom as well or else risk a greatly shortened lifespan.
    ...should I be concerned that she's eaten 5 feeds so far of that size of mouse once weekly and not produced any "regular" waste yet?
    No, young snakes can be very efficient at digestion. If you notice your snake becomes abnormally bloated near the tail section for a period of weeks then it may be a cause for concern.
    Should I maybe feed her a mouse, and then if she still comes to the exit of her hide maybe try to feed her another, on feed days?
    Yes, that would be a plan. If you can feed them in succession one after the next-that would be best-as opposed to disturbing the snake multiple times. And as Bogertophis mentioned those are rats pictured. You want to stick with those as it will be convenient as the snake gets larger.

    As for rat sizes: I can't comment on measurements. I won't feed prey items larger than the thickest part of the snakes body. Different pet shops will call different size prey items different things, for rats you can have: Pinkies, Fuzzies, Pups, Weaned, Small, Medium, Large, X-Large, Jumbo, Retired Breeder/XL Jumbo. I have never felt the need to feed anything larger than a Medium Rat to even my largest ball pythons.
    *.* TNTC

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  16. #10
    Registered User wnateg's Avatar
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    Yes, I think it's been mostly covered, but depending on your temps after adding the UTH, if you need to keep the CHE to raise ambient, you can put it on a dimmer. Then use the thermostat for the UTH.

    Also, you may not necessarily have to mist, if you keep your water on the hot side. Depending on the room humidity, it may be fine.
    Last edited by wnateg; 08-27-2019 at 03:41 PM.
    0.1.0 Cat "Anna"
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    0.1.0 Jayapura Scrub Python "Victoria"
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