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  1. #1
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    Help with new setup

    Hello all,

    I am sorry to post this post as I know all this information can probably be found elsewhere. I typically do not like to do this until I have researched everything out. I am in a bit of emergency situation, however, and am looking for some advice. I have done a little bit of research but have not had time to do much and have no experience. Let me explain my situation.

    I was contacted by a friend last night and told that they are fed up with caring for any animals and have two ball pythons that they refuse to care for anymore. They have apparently been trying to get rid of them for about a month and have not been able to so they were either finding someone to give them to last night or would resort to something more drastic (didn't give me details). I calmed them down, asked a few questions, and, being the animal lover that I am, agreed to take these snakes from them. I normally would never do this without having done a lot of research or knowing a lot about them prior to bringing an animal into my home but felt like this was an emergency situation for the health of the animals so I took them in. We are not completely without knowledge but also do not feel comfortable in the situation we are in. My wife's sister had a ball python for a couple years while they were growing up so my wife has at least been around them although she has never cared for them at all. My wife and kids love snakes, but we have never had them because I have a mild fear of them...that I will obviously need to get over very soon. My love of animals will help with that.

    While we do not have any knowledge about caring for ball pythons, we do have a lot of experience caring for animals. We currently have a fairly large animal collection (that we love). This collection includes 3 small dogs, 2 guinea pigs (a male and female that my 13-year-old son is breeding with our help), 2 red-ear slider turtles (rescues that that are now trying to breed but have not begun laying), 3 tanks of African Cichlids along with 2 growout tanks for the babies, a saltwater tank with a pair of tomato clownfish and lots of coral, 3 red-eyed tree frogs (cooling down and are about a month away from moving to a rain chamber for breeding), 1 Vietnamese mossy frog (that was a rescue), 13 leopard geckos (5 male and 8 female...all breeding), a bunch of guppies that came with the turtles, one betta, 15 dart frogs (3 groups of 5...2 groups are breeding and the last group is just past the froglet stage), and a group of 6 mourning geckos (just now beginning to lay eggs).

    My limited experience in research for these ball pythons has left me confused and with too many opinions so I am looking here for advice to get this jump started so I am caring for these correctly from the start and can then do what works for me and is best for the snakes. I will continue to research and learn all I can until I feel completely comfortable caring for them after I have initially set up the basic care for them to be healthy and happy. I have a few questions on the enclosure and the feeding. Keep in mind that I do not know the morph of these snakes yet, I am told that one is female and about 3 feet long and one is male and about 2.5 feet long and that both were purchased at the same time (with the intention to breed this year) and are about a year old. From what I can tell (again without much experience), the snakes appear to be healthy.

    First, the enclosure. I was given 32 quart Sterilite containers with one hide and a small water dish (maybe 3-4 inches in diameter). Each snake is in its own container and there is a layer of aspen shavings on the bottom of the container. Each container has a locking lid but a huge pile of paper on the top to keep the snakes from escaping (which I personally do not like and would like to replace these containers due to this issue. In my research there are lots of opinions on what is okay for a habitat. I have seen or been told the following in a couple hours of research: Use the containers they are in and that will be good for their entire lives, keep one for the male but upgrade the female to a 43 quart Sterilite container, put them together in a 40 gallon or larger aquarium with a locking lid, put them in their own enclosures but make sure they are at least 40 gallon aquariums with locking lids, put them in their own enclosures but they do not need more than 20 gallons with locking lids, and put them in their own enclosures using a 20 gallon long aquarium with locking lids or larger. As you can tell, I have received a lot of advice and am very confused now. Can anyone shed any light on what to do?

    Also on the enclosure, I have received a lot of advice about putting anywhere from 1-3 hides, different sizes of hides and keeping the water dish I have vs getting something larger. I have been told to use aspen shavings, use a mixture of that and coconut fiber, and to use other bedding. I have also been told different temperatures (anywhere from 75-95 degrees) and what type of enclosure is best for to humidity and the comfort of the snake (I was told that the snake is more comfortable in a space with a lower ceiling by someone so to use the Sterlite containers). I do have heat tape and am currently keeping them at 90 degrees along with my leopard geckos but will get heat mats or something else specifically for the snakes when I figure it all out. Can anyone help me figure all of that out, please?

    Now for feeding. I know I should only feed mice or rats (with rats being preferred). They have been feeding them live rats but have not fed them in about 10 days. They say the snakes are very picky and will not eat frozen but I am not sure how much they tried or what they did to feed them exactly. I need to figure that out very soon as, from what I read, they should be eating every 7 days at this age. This is where I need advice. First, frozen or thawed? Second, do I need to get tongs for feeding and how long/what type is best? Third, what size rat do I need to get to feed them at the size they are at? Fourth, can anyone tell me where is a good place to get these or are they something I should raise to feed (I currently raise all my bugs for the other reptiles and frogs I keep in order to keep costs down and to know that what I am feeding is healthy for them and does not have anything that can harm them). Fifth, what time of day should they be fed?

    As I am completely new to this, any advice would be great (either from the questions I already asked or anything else you have learned from your experience). Please share anything you are able and willing to.

    Thank you for your help and advice in advance and I look forward to working with you more as I try to successfully give these amazing animals the best care possible.

  2. #2
    Registered User Lord Sorril's Avatar
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    Re: Help with new setup

    Everyone is going to give you different advice as there are many acceptable ways to keep ball pythons.

    First question: Do you want to set them up permanently at your residence, or are you setting them up temporarily until you can rehome them?

    Edit: What is your budget?
    Last edited by Lord Sorril; 01-08-2020 at 02:33 PM.
    *.* TNTC

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  4. #3
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    Re: Help with new setup

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Sorril View Post
    Everyone is going to give you different advice as there are many acceptable ways to keep ball pythons.

    First question: Do you want to set them up permanently at your residence, or are you setting them up temporarily until you can rehome them?

    Edit: What is your budget?
    Hello and thank you for the reply,

    Yes, I know I may get a lot of different advice but can sort through it easier if given here than researching across hundreds of posts and lots of sites. I will do that later but since I feel that this is a sort of a faster-than-desired setup, I am looking for quick help.

    The plan is to keep them permanently at my residence.

    I would like to spend as little as possible but will spend as much as is necessary to make sure they are comfortable and happy as well. I can put in the work and time and can DIY some things if necessary too. Right now I am looking for the minimum possible while still making them comfortable and happy and will add as needed.

    Thank you again for the response.

  5. #4
    Registered User Lord Sorril's Avatar
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    Re: Help with new setup

    Quote Originally Posted by PaysonHobbyist View Post
    While we do not have any knowledge about caring for ball pythons, we do have a lot of experience caring for animals. We currently have a fairly large animal collection...3 small dogs, 2 guinea pigs (a male and female that my 13-year-old son is breeding with our help), 2 red-ear slider turtles (rescues that that are now trying to breed but have not begun laying), 3 tanks of African Cichlids along with 2 growout tanks for the babies, a saltwater tank with a pair of tomato clownfish and lots of coral, 3 red-eyed tree frogs (cooling down and are about a month away from moving to a rain chamber for breeding), 1 Vietnamese mossy frog (that was a rescue), 13 leopard geckos (5 male and 8 female...all breeding), a bunch of guppies that came with the turtles, one betta, 15 dart frogs (3 groups of 5...2 groups are breeding and the last group is just past the froglet stage), and a group of 6 mourning geckos (just now beginning to lay eggs).
    I just re-read this: You love to breed reptiles (all your reptiles) and it just so happens you get a *pair* of rescue ball pythons. Wow! What an amazing coincidence...
    The plan is to keep them permanently at my residence.

    I would like to spend as little as possible
    Hmmmm….I don't go cheap on my set ups...so someone else will have to chime in with the low cost options.
    Last edited by Lord Sorril; 01-08-2020 at 04:23 PM.
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  6. #5
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    For now the 32-qt tubs with a strip of heat tape REGULATED BY A THERMOSTAT with one hide and a water bowl will serve just fine as current/future quarantine setups. Quarantine should last for 90 days.

    Since you plan to keep these two and ball pythons are like potato chips (you don't stop at just one or two), I would either build or buy a 41-qt rack.

  7. #6
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    Re: Help with new setup

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Sorril View Post
    I just re-read this: You love to breed reptiles (all your reptiles) and it just so happens you get a *pair* of rescue ball pythons. Wow! What an amazing coincidence...
    Hmmmm….I don't go cheap on my set ups...so someone else will have to chime in with the low cost options.
    Right. I know it is not a coincidence. This friend knows I breed animals so I am sure they definitely came to me with that in mind. I know their original goal was originally to breed them, which is why they had a male and female. They are not old enough to put together for breeding or any other reason so I would not consider them a "pair". Having said that, whatever happened with these friends happened and they decided they no longer want them so I ended up with them. Not a coincidence, but it is what happened with me.

    I am not planning to "go cheap" on my setup either but initially I am wanting to incur as little cost with this setup until I have a chance to do research and feel comfortable with whatever I end up with. I will put in the necessary money but, yes, I would love to have lower cost options that work just as well. I would like multiple options and opinions so I can decide what works best for me and the pythons.

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    Re: Help with new setup

    Quote Originally Posted by bcr229 View Post
    For now the 32-qt tubs with a strip of heat tape REGULATED BY A THERMOSTAT with one hide and a water bowl will serve just fine as current/future quarantine setups. Quarantine should last for 90 days.

    Since you plan to keep these two and ball pythons are like potato chips (you don't stop at just one or two), I would either build or buy a 41-qt rack.
    Thank you for the advice.

    Yes, I regulate my heat tape with a thermostat as well. Currently I have that for my leopard geckos, which is why the ball pythons ended up where they did.

    As you can see, all animals are "like potato chips" with me. Can you explain the best setup inside the containers if I do end up with a 41-qt rack? How many hides? What else should be in there? Best substrate? Do both the male and female go in 41-qt containers permanently in the future? What temperature and humidity is best?

    I always quarantine my animals as well. That is a good idea to keep the tubs for that and also is very good information. I appreciate that.

    Also, any advice on feeding? This is my most pressing issue right now if the current setup is okay for them for now.

    Thank you.

  9. #8
    bcr229's Avatar
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    Depending on the size of the critter in my 41 qt rack it will get either no hide or one hide. With just one I find the snake will "turtle" it onto and off of the heat as needed if I put the water bowl up front.

    Personally I prefer to feed f/t. A good rule of thumb is to feed a rat that is 10% of the BP's body weight weekly, up until the snake is 500 grams, and a small rat every week or so thereafter. If the snakes are still young and growing I would try ASAP to get them off of live feeders as they'll be hungrier and more inclined to eat rather than if you wait until they are adults. Offer live a few times to make sure they're acclimated to their new homes and then start converting them. Also if they refuse the f/t for a few weeks don't worry about it, they won't starve.

  10. #9
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    Re: Help with new setup

    Any substrate that can hold moisture, like reptile prime and reptibark are good. Even newspaper or paper towels work for quarantine. NOT aspen. It molds when wet.

    A tub with a hot side (heating pad about 90° with a hide over it, and an identical hide on the cool side of the tub). Ambient temps all around at 78-80 degrees. Humidity at 50-60%, higher when shedding. You can tell because their eyes go blue.
    I would suggest a larger water dish. Pythons will occasionally climb in them, especially if humidity is too low for shedding. If the tubs are too open, add more hides and things to clutter it up. Hides should be snug on the snake, with only one opening so they feel secure. They should be identical so they do not choose safety over thermoregulation.

    There is a really good feeding chart on here that tells sizes and frequency of feeding. I would check that out.

    Also, in case I missed it above....
    House the snakes separately. Pythons are solitary. They only go together when breeding and are then separated again. And honestly, I hope you dont try to breed them for a long time so that you can learn all you can about them to be successful in any breeding ventures.

    Good luck with your new snakes.

    Sent from my LM-X220 using Tapatalk

  11. #10
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    Re: Help with new setup

    Quote Originally Posted by Turningstar View Post
    Any substrate that can hold moisture, like reptile prime and reptibark are good. Even newspaper or paper towels work for quarantine. NOT aspen. It molds when wet.

    A tub with a hot side (heating pad about 90° with a hide over it, and an identical hide on the cool side of the tub). Ambient temps all around at 78-80 degrees. Humidity at 50-60%, higher when shedding. You can tell because their eyes go blue.
    I would suggest a larger water dish. Pythons will occasionally climb in them, especially if humidity is too low for shedding. If the tubs are too open, add more hides and things to clutter it up. Hides should be snug on the snake, with only one opening so they feel secure. They should be identical so they do not choose safety over thermoregulation.

    There is a really good feeding chart on here that tells sizes and frequency of feeding. I would check that out.

    Also, in case I missed it above....
    House the snakes separately. Pythons are solitary. They only go together when breeding and are then separated again. And honestly, I hope you dont try to breed them for a long time so that you can learn all you can about them to be successful in any breeding ventures.

    Good luck with your new snakes.

    Sent from my LM-X220 using Tapatalk

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