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  1. #1
    Registered User Vegan.Hiker's Avatar
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    New member and my new enclosure

    Hello everyone. Iíve been a lurker here for a while but thought Iíd make an account and I introduce myself and my BP Rosie. Iíd like to thank everyone here for being such a vast source of information and expertise. Iíve referred back to this forum countless times when researching BPís over the past year and a half.

    A little background about myself, Rosie if my first BP but I have cared for snakes throughout my life. While I have always been a dog person, when I was a freshman in College 25 years ago (Iím now 41), I stumbled upon a tiny brown snake in a parking lot that was close to death. It was barely responsive (it was a cold NJ day) and it just hung from the pencil that I used to pick him up. Taking him to the vet, researching his species, and nursing him back to health was the experience that got me hooked on snakes. Since then I have cared for a garter snake, Texas rat snake, green tree snake, corn snake, and an adult Colombian Red Tail Boa. I was without a snake for several years until I acquired Rosie, a female Pewter hatchling a year ago. I got her from a great breeder/hobbyist (Cold Blooded Freaks on Morph Market).

    As far as what I want out of the experience. I have no interest in acquiring more than one snake, no interest in breeding, and not interested in the rarity of morph. The breeder allowed me to handle several of her hatchlings and I went with the one that I felt the best connection with based on disposition. I know that BPís can live over 30 years in captivity, so I knew going in she would be my last snake. My interest is in providing her with the best possible quality of life for her entire lifespan. Just like my 2 dogs and cat, my wife and I consider her a member of the family and are committed to take best possible care for her for the long haul.

    I just finished upgrading her to a new setup since she outgrew her old 10 gallon enclosure. For her new setup, I decided to go with a glass terrarium. Iím well aware of the advantages of pvc and rubber tubs but I wanted a permanent, potentially 30 year solution which means it needs to be a permanent fixture in my home. I was confident that through well-thought our design, I could negate the cons of a glass enclosure and still have the aesthetic qualities that my wife and I wanted (no visible wires, equipment, etc.). Itís just my opinion that things like manually misting, putting foil covered cardboard on top, etc. are not permanent, long-term, sustainable solutions. I wanted her setup to not only provide reliable, perfect husbandry, but also have it as automated as possible. I wanted a naturalistic look as close to her natural environment as possible, but after much debate decided against the bioactive route and opted for the sterile route. Again, just my preference.

    I am a woodworker and have a fully outfitted wood shop so I was able to build her stand and top myself, customized to the dimensions of the terrarium I chose to purchase. I wish I took some pictures of the build as I was building the stand and top but I hadnít planned on creating a thread about it at the time.

    The terrarium I decided to go with is the ďThriveĒ (40 gallon terrarium). I believe Thrive is the PetSmart brand but I wanted a glass front-opening enclosure and the Exo Terra has a well documented poor design on the top mesh and is known to melt under a CHE. The Thrive terrarium on the other hand has a rather thick, rigid metal screen top which seems like a much better quality to me (more on that later). The terrarium is a standard 36x18x18 size so I built the stand and top customized to those dimensions. I had enough eastern white pine in my wood stash and scrap bin where I did not need to buy anything.

    The terrarium is located in my office which has a rustic feel to it. Hardwood floors, 100 year old reclaimed roll top desk, and framed prints of Adirondack mountains. The wall where her new enclosure would go was previously occupied by a bookshelf holding my hiking/backpacking books and maps, so my wife requested that her new stand also served double duty as a bookshelf and that it match the old roll top desk.

    Here is a picture of the finished product.



    The tank is heated with a UTH on one end with the probe placed flush between the heat mat and the stand with the indented styrofoam method which lightly presses the probe directly on the heat mat. A separate thermometer probe is secured to the glass with 100% silicone (the plastic base of the probe is siliconed, not the actual probe) inside her warm hide. The UTH is of course controlled by a thermostat. The surface temp in her hide stays an accurate, reliable 91* give or take a degree above/below based on ambient room temps. I use only a very thin layer of substrate in her hide (coco husk) so the temp is true to the probe reading on the inside. Since the thermostat probe is mobiles underneath the outside of the tank, there is no risk of spiked temps based on the probe getting moved or wet. My infrared temp gun confirms the temp stays a consistent 91*

    For the cool side and ambient temp, I have 3 of the smaller 5.5Ē diameter 100w rated lamps with CHEís affixed to the top using the Zilla spring mounts. I keep a 100w CHE in the middle lamp and 75w CHEís in the outride lamps. All 3 are controlled by thermostat to keep the ambient temps 78-82 on the cold end and around 80 in the middle and warm end (give or take a degree up or down depending on the ambient room temp.)

    Now, about the problem with the thicker Thrive metal mesh top. It is not as permeable as a regular zilla or similar terrarium screen top, so during setup, I noticed that the top got wayyyy too hot under the CHEís inside of the tank where Rosie could touch. My temp gun read those spots on the top inside at about 450* F (Yikes!). Obviously, I didnít add her until all the kinds of the setup were up and running and resolved. My solution to this was to purchase a Zilla 20 gallon screen top and attach it upside down affixing it with twist ties. This worked out well, creating about an inch barrier between the Thrive screen and the Zilla screen and the Zilla screen does not hit more than 100* at its hottest point with all 3 CHEís at full blast.

    Here is a pics of the thick Thrive screen top.



    Obviously with 3 CHEís, a glass enclosure, and cold NJ winters, I would have to have a good solution to maintain the ideal humidity. I decided to go with the Pets Pioneer 4L reptile humidifier and an Ink Bird humidistat. I chose this one because it not only got great reviews, but can also be filled/topped off by pouring directly into a wife funnel type top with a small watering can. No need to disconnect anything. Itís also whisper quiet which is nice.

    I have the humidifier hosing split into two lines and I drilled holes in the top and used some pvc elbows and attachments to secure them. See pictures below:





    I experimented with the settings and tested with multiple hygrometers to pinpoint the best humidistat setting and probe location. I found that what worked best was setting the humidistat to 57.5% with a 7.5% interval. This means that when the humidity drops to 50% it kicks on and shuts off at 57.5%. The reason I found this setting ideal is that the humidity continues to rise another 2-3% after the humidifier shuts off. This keeps the humidity a constant 50-60% at all times. I will bump it up another 10 degrees when she goes into blue.

    The mist from the humidifier can be seen falling from the two entry points like a fog rolling in and looks really cool. Most importantly, I have 100% control of her humidity at all times. Even though it is winter here in NJ and the CHEís are blasting close to non stop, I have only had to top off the 4L humidifier tank about once per week and it is still at least half full each time.

    The top is designed to slide out easily so I can access the fixtures and humidifier lines easily. The top was designed so the heat lamps which get very hot have at least an inch of space between them all around and above, with the zilla apring mounts keeping them in place. While I did use an oil-based stain (Sark Walnut) and oil-based varnish (Arm-R-Seal Semi-Gloss Urethane) on the stand and outside of the top, I wanted to be sure that there was no chemical smell on the inside, so the inside of the top is not stained and is coated with a non-toxic water-based Polycrylic. The underside of the top, while mostly ventilated on the back half and raised 3 inches over the screen in the front, has a plastic Poly sheet screwed to it (from a poster frame) to help insulate humidity and protect the wood from the higher humidity.

    Top slid forward to access lamps and hoses:



    I also incorporated a breadboard style into the design since my wife recommended it.


    Iím going to have to stop here but will finish posting the rest later tonight since my wife wants to watch a movie with her. In a little bit Iíll post some pics of the internal design of her hides which I made to look similar to the termite mounds Iím West Africa. Iíll also post some pics of my girl hanging out in her new enclosure.

    TO BE CONTINUED...

    Thanks for looking.

    uh-oh.. I see the images didnít post. I will look into how to fix that later tonight. Sorry for screwing they up and for the delay fixing it.
    Last edited by mlededee; 01-29-2020 at 10:04 PM. Reason: Inserting photos

  2. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Vegan.Hiker For This Useful Post:

    Bogertophis (01-29-2020),lew-e (02-01-2020)

  3. #2
    Registered User Vegan.Hiker's Avatar
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    Ok figured out how to add to my gallery and then link to the thread. Sorry about that.

    Last edited by Vegan.Hiker; 01-29-2020 at 12:12 AM.

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  5. #3
    Registered User Vegan.Hiker's Avatar
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    Thick metal screen on top of Thrive terrarium and the zilla 20L screen zip locked upside down underneath to create the 1Ē buffer for safety.


  6. #4
    Registered User Bogertophis's Avatar
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    You did a beautiful job on the set-up, matching wood & all that. You've obviously put a lot of thought into this...I suspect you have a very happy
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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    Vegan.Hiker (01-29-2020)

  8. #5
    Registered User Vegan.Hiker's Avatar
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    Sockets drilled and plumbing with rubber gaskets for the humidifier lines.


  9. #6
    Registered User wnateg's Avatar
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    One snake? No way.

    Setup looks great.
    0.1.0 Cat "Anna"
    -----
    0.1.0 Emerald Tree Boa "Samantha"
    0.1.0 Merauke Scrub Python "Victoria"
    0.1.0 Titanium Reticulated Python "Alice"
    -----
    0.0.1 Antilles Pink Toe Tarantula "Katherine"
    -----
    0.0.1 Alligator Snapping Turtle "Deborah"


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    Vegan.Hiker (01-29-2020)

  11. #7
    Registered User Vegan.Hiker's Avatar
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    The top slid partially forward to access lamps and hoses...




    So all the wires run down the back into a hole drilled behind the bottom basket on the bookshelf. That basket is where all the electronics are located except for the humidistat and humidifier which are located on the outside left of the stand. Since that side of the stand is about 1.5" from the corner of the room it's never in sight but I still have easy access to it.


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  13. #8
    Registered User Vegan.Hiker's Avatar
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    A few more of the stand.. Sorry for all of the pics..






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  15. #9
    Registered User Vegan.Hiker's Avatar
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    I can't recall the brand name of the resin hides that I am using. They are identical but look different due to the angles they are placed in the terrarium. I wanted everything to be modular with very few pieces for cleaning, so the hide on the left has a piece of mopani wood screwed to the top (no sharp points, don't worry), and there is a half inch hole drilled through in the back corner for inserting the fake pothos plant. The hide on the right is basically the same but without the mopani wood and the hole drilled directly into the back corner of the resin hide where it is secured inside with 2 small drilled holes and a twist tie. I built a simple wooden stand for the branch so it will stay balanced and stable even as my girl grows. I drilled a few small holes just big enough to insert the tips of a few pothos twigs with leaves in the hole with some silicone to permanently hold it.

    So everything in the tank easily comes out in 3 pieces (4 if you count the water dish which I might replace if I find something I look better. Being able to remove everything in 3 pieces makes cleaning and re-setting it up much easier.

    I also sponged the resin hides I bought with espresso colored non-toxic water-based acrylic paint to get the color to not only match the color of a termite mound where BP's live in nature, but also blend better into the setup.


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  17. #10
    Registered User Vegan.Hiker's Avatar
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    And finally some pics of Rosie exploring her new environment. She moved in about 2 weeks ago and has resumed eating without any hesitation and had her first shed in the tank.







    Last edited by Vegan.Hiker; 01-29-2020 at 01:23 AM.

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