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  1. #11
    BPnet Senior Member dakski's Avatar
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    Re: PVC cage ventilation

    First of all, as a learning point for all, more isn't always better. In other words, if snakes like it warm - say 88F hot spot, they don't like a 98F hot spot more! It could kill them. Humidity isn't as lethal as quickly, to say the least, but even snakes that like higher humidity, don't want it dripping wet all the time either. BRB, etc. are the exceptions, especially as babies. However, BP's, BI's, most Colubrids, etc. who like 50-70% don't like 90%+. It can also be a breeding ground for bacteria - high humidity and high temps.

    Now, WrongPython, to your point on the high humidity.

    If you don't want to go the fan route, here are some thoughts.

    You could try a different substrate. For an example, in my 6X2' Boa tanks, two (medium/average size) water bowls keep it between 50-60% humidity in my Boa tanks with paper substrate in the winter when it's 25% in the room. I have Boaphile tanks and have the doors for venting (that's his design) and closable vents on one side (I keep them closed in the winter and open if it gets over 65% for my BP, or over 60% for my corns (who have smaller bowls and smaller tanks but also Boaphile). Frankly, I am not sure if I ever opened the vents for my Boas.

    PVC tanks are designed to keep heat and humidity in and do a great job of that if a good tank. Unfortunately, sometimes too good a job, as you are experiencing. I know it's not pretty, but paper substrate is a possibility. I use it exclusively and keep animals that do not need to dig. Frank the BTS being the exception, as is Shayna the BP to some extent. They get crumbled paper and hides and either dig under the paper, dig in the crumbled paper, use the hides, or some combination.

    I use paper substrate because it's easy, clean, and oh, did I mention clean? I am immune suppressed having had a kidney transplant and cleanliness is priority number one for me, but also for the animals.

    If you don't want to use paper substrate, switching to something else (I am not expert here on what), or using a thinner layer could work. PVC cages are easy to clean with F10SC, for example, so if some waste gets below the substrate, a shot of F10SC and paper towels does the trick.

    Finally, once you get the humidity more under control, assuming you do not switch substrate, you can drill some holes in the side of the tank with a drill to add more ventilation. You can always cover those holes with masking tape/painters tape (ON THE OUTSIDE OF THE TANK), or any bigger tape that won't leave a residue, if humidity gets low.

    Good luck and keep us posted.

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  3. #12
    BPnet Veteran CALM Pythons's Avatar
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    Re: PVC cage ventilation

    I only use my Side Slits. Ive cover the ones on the back to control Humidity. I use Paper and with a 5qt water bowel I have 55% up to 65% when they are shedding by filling the bowl up and putting it over or under the heat source. During winter its under the heat, summer away from the heat. Im also east coast. Youíll be fine covering those but get your humidity regulated better. Up and down from 20% to 80% can dry a lung and then cause Respiratory problems when humidity goes up and bacteria is more prevalent.


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  5. #13
    Registered User WrongPython's Avatar
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    Re: PVC cage ventilation

    Figured I'd give an update on how things are going with this.

    I turned off the heat and lights for a few days, opened the doors, widened the background vent slits, and let everything air out. It seems to have worked! Humidity seems to be holding steady in a good boa range now with the cage doors closed and the heat and lights on. It actually got to the point that I decided to attempt a "soft move" with Adelita today, with her old enclosure on standby in the event things weren't working out.

    ...which, unfortunately, seems to be the case. I've now run into a heat distribution issue that hadn't manifested earlier -- the T5 light seems to be heating the enclosure to the degree that hot side ambients are being met without the RHP running, which means the hot spot on the basking ledge under the RHP isn't being created. [The T5 temps in at about 146 F under operation, for those interested]. I think I can resolve this issue by switching the T5's and RHP's positions so the T5 is now in the back, over the ledge, and generating the hot spot while the RHP guarantees ambients. This would entail deconstruction of the enclosure, however -- I would have to take the roof off to switch the RHP's and T5's positions, and I would have to find a way to un-screw and un-silicone the ledge from the background to shift it down to the minimum 12" it needs to be from the T5. Not really looking forward to doing all that without a spare set of hands and a power drill.

    I thought I'd put that out there in case anybody had any better ideas before I take the enclosure apart. In the mean time, it's back to the old digs for Adelita.
    0.1 Sonoran Boa sigma​: "Adelita" ('19 Hypo het. leopard)

  6. #14
    BPnet Senior Member Sauzo's Avatar
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    Re: PVC cage ventilation

    Quote Originally Posted by WrongPython View Post
    Figured I'd give an update on how things are going with this.

    I turned off the heat and lights for a few days, opened the doors, widened the background vent slits, and let everything air out. It seems to have worked! Humidity seems to be holding steady in a good boa range now with the cage doors closed and the heat and lights on. It actually got to the point that I decided to attempt a "soft move" with Adelita today, with her old enclosure on standby in the event things weren't working out.

    ...which, unfortunately, seems to be the case. I've now run into a heat distribution issue that hadn't manifested earlier -- the T5 light seems to be heating the enclosure to the degree that hot side ambients are being met without the RHP running, which means the hot spot on the basking ledge under the RHP isn't being created. [The T5 temps in at about 146 F under operation, for those interested]. I think I can resolve this issue by switching the T5's and RHP's positions so the T5 is now in the back, over the ledge, and generating the hot spot while the RHP guarantees ambients. This would entail deconstruction of the enclosure, however -- I would have to take the roof off to switch the RHP's and T5's positions, and I would have to find a way to un-screw and un-silicone the ledge from the background to shift it down to the minimum 12" it needs to be from the T5. Not really looking forward to doing all that without a spare set of hands and a power drill.

    I thought I'd put that out there in case anybody had any better ideas before I take the enclosure apart. In the mean time, it's back to the old digs for Adelita.
    You are going to have a harder time creating a good gradient with a 3 foot cage. My advice is set the t-stat probe on the cool side of the cage and set the t-stat to around 78F and see how the boa acts. If it spends all the time on the cool end, itís too hot and vis versa.

    What is a T5 light? I am assuming you mean a T5 Animal Plastics cage? In a pvc cage, you need to use something that doesnít generate much heat like LED lighting.

    146F is going to cook your boa....literally. Anything over 120F for a prolonged time is going to create neurological issues.

    I personally use flexwatt for all my cages since flexwatt creates an awesome hot spot but doesnít heat the rest of the cage. And with m y cages stacked, the flexwatt from the cage above being sandwiched heats the top of the cage below it creating a perfect ambient temp of 78-80F.

    But anyways, like I said, I would use the RHP to maintain the ambient temps from the cool side and get either LEDs for lighting and if the RHP doesnít come on enough to create a basking spot, put some flexwatt on outside floor or buy a Kane heat pad which you can put inside the cage.
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  8. #15
    Registered User WhompingWillow's Avatar
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    Re: PVC cage ventilation

    Are you running a T5 aquarium light or reptile bulb in addition to the RHP? (If not, please ignore this whole reply.)

    If so, that's waaaaaay overkill. An appropriately sized RHP is usually adequate to create both a hot spot and a temperature gradient/good ambient temps in a PVC enclosure if your room ambient is on the warmer end. It might take some experimentation. As mentioned before, for lights you want to go with something that doesn't put off heat, like LEDs. If you aren't able to or comfortable just using an RHP for heat, heat tape or flexwatt can be used - on a thermostat of course - to create a belly hotspot. Hope this helps!
    Last edited by WhompingWillow; 01-12-2020 at 09:36 PM. Reason: Added some detail
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  10. #16
    Registered User WrongPython's Avatar
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    Re: PVC cage ventilation

    Thanks for the quick feedback, guys.

    For everyone's peace of mind, the 146 F was what the bulb temped at -- not any surfaces or ambients in the enclosure. Said bulb is behind a safety cage for good measure. Ambients were only hovering around 80-81 and surfaces around 83-85 while she was in there, as measured by a thermometer and a temp gun. I'm definitely not trying to cook my boa!

    The T5 is for an Arcadia Forest UV-B bulb in a VE fixture. While snakes don't need UV-B like lizards do, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest they benefit from it in other ways. I was willing put down the money to test it out. My boa seems to enjoy the light based on the couple of times I've taken her out and let her bask under it so far, so I'd like to leave it in and see how things go.

    I originally wanted to use an Arcadia deep heat projector (DHP) to provide a basking spot and let the T5 provide daytime ambients when I was designing the cage. However, something was up with the steam radiators in my flat (my flat only averaged around 64-66 F during the day last winter), so I decided to go with an RHP. Not too long after the RHP arrived and everything was set up, the heat in my flat was finally fixed (temps average 73-75 during the day now), to the point that the 100W RHP I'd ordered was borderline overkill just running by itself. Now that the substrate's dried out and evaporative cooling is no longer an issue, I've managed to get a good temperature gradient established this past week with just the RHP running. Things only break down once the T5 comes in to play.

    I'll admit, part of me is considering going back to my original plan and switching out the RHP for the DHP.
    0.1 Sonoran Boa sigma​: "Adelita" ('19 Hypo het. leopard)

  11. #17
    Registered User WrongPython's Avatar
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    Re: PVC cage ventilation

    Happy to say that the thermal gradient issue seems to have resolved!

    It turns out it wasn't the T5 light that was causing the thermal gradient to break down, but the Jungle Dawn LED bar I had lighting the cool side. The LEDs were 111 F under operation and effectively heating the cool side of the cage up to mid-range temps. Disconnected the LEDs, re-dialed the RHP, and my thermal gradient returned with both the RHP and UV-B light in operation! I'll let things run for three days to make sure it holds and let Adelita digest tomorrow night's meal, but it looks like things are finally ready for her to move in permanently.

    ...and now, I have a free LED bar for a planted viv for a sticky-footed friend that may or may not be joining me soon...
    0.1 Sonoran Boa sigma​: "Adelita" ('19 Hypo het. leopard)

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