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  1. #1
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    New bioactive themed enclosure for Spilotes sulphureus

    Finally – my new enclosure for my yellow-bellied puffing snake (Spilotes sulphureus) was delivered in March. There were many delays, some miscommunication and misunderstandings, so it took much longer than I had thought, but that’s another story.

    So here it is. Dimensions are 200 x 100 x 200 cm (ca 7 x 3 x 7 ft) length x width x height, PVC and glass. I covered the whole inside of it with coco mats, some of them with special pockets for planting small plants. The enclosure is set up as a bioactive enclosure, I will add the cleanup crew in a few weeks when the snakes have settled down a little. So there is a drainage layer of pebble stones and another layer of soil on top of it.

    I use a LED light as ambient light (FLUVAL, 115 cm, 33 Watts, 25000 Kelvin, 2260 lm, 2700 Lux at 45 cm distance), an Arcadia ProT5 6% Forest for additional light and ambient UVB (54 Watts, 7000 Kelvin, UVB 6%, UVA 30%) and a Bright Sun Metal Halide light as basking spot and main UVB and heat source (Bright Sun Jungle Flood 150 Watts, 67700 Lux at 60 cm distance).

    I used only plants from the same geographic region (Central / South America). In addition several branches for climbing and two cork tubes as additional hiding places, old / dry leaves to cover the ground.

    Some fun facts (materials I used):

    4 square meters of coco mats
    5 tubes of silicone to glue them at the walls (=2250 gramms)
    90 kg of pebble stones
    170 liters of soil

    Plants I use

    1 x Dieffenbachia seguine
    1 x Monstera deliciosa
    2 x Philodendron scandens
    2 x Monstera spec.
    1 x Calathea orbifolia
    1 x Calathea spec. (rufibarba?)

    I will add some bromeliads as well (into the pockets of the coco mats), but I don’t have much hope that they will survive for long (at least they didn’t in my Spilotes pullatus enclosure).

    When I finished the setup and added the snakes they could start to wreak havoc on my new enclosure.

    I added the two males I got in 2016, they were WC, but already with their former keeper for more than a year. They have grown to more than 250 cm (8 ft). They feed on large rats (150 – 200 g) and day-old chicken. My female is CB from 2017, so she has still some growing to do before she can join the boys.

    So here is the first batch of pictures

    The "naked" enclosure


    The coco mats


    Adding the Dieffenbachia seguine and Monstera deliciosa


    Adding pebble stones


    Dieffenbachia seguine


    Monstera deliciosa


    Monstera spec.


    Calathea orbifolia


    Calathea spec. (rufibarba?)


    The finished enclosure before the snakes came in


    Spilotes sulphureus male #1


    Spilotes sulphureus male #1


    Spilotes sulphureus male #1


    Spilotes sulphureus male #1


    Spilotes sulphureus male #1


    Spilotes sulphureus male #1


    Spilotes sulphureus male #1


    Spilotes sulphureus male #2


    Spilotes sulphureus male #2


    Spilotes sulphureus male #2
    Last edited by Roman; 05-11-2020 at 03:33 PM.
    1,0 Lampropeltis triangulum campbelli, 1,2 Gonyosoma oxycephalum, 1,2 Philodryas baroni, 1,2 Spilotes pullatus, 2,1 Spilotes sulphureus, 0,1 Gonyosoma boulengeri, 1,1 Zamenis longissimus, 0,1 Malpolon sp., 1,1 Malpolon monspessulanus

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  3. #2
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    New update about my Spilotes sulphureus enclosure

    The new enclosure is up and running for nearly two months now, so time for an update.

    Plants and equipment

    As I had suspected the snakes did their best to destroy the plants during the first days. The Dieffenbachia lost all but one of their leaves within two days and the large Monstera didn’t do much better – it was almost a work of art how both of them broke leaf after leaf during their exploring in their new environment. The other plants did better and were not that much affected.

    Since then the Dieffenbachia and the Monstera are recovering and got their first batch of new leaves, so I hope they will be OK over time. I did add some additional small plants into the pockets in the back wall and side walls, some bromeliads, Philodendron and other plants from Central or South America. So far they are doing good, I had to replace some of the bromeliads from one place to another because the snakes used the original pocked as an anchor for climbing and pushed the plants out of it.

    I also added additional climbing branches, so the snakes can use more of the available volume. One branch was of particular importance. There is a narrow ledge above the doors for the E-profiles of the sliding doors, just broad enough for the snakes to climb on and stretch out. The problem was that they didn’t have any support apart from this ledge, the result were several snakes dropping from nearly 180 cm (6 ft) to the ground. They didn’t hurt themselves, but the loud noise of a snake tumbling down and crashing into the glass doors always startled me, especially since this is my (home-)office where I currently work all the time. So I added a branch running parallel to this ledge which the snakes use instead, so far they didn’t fall from that.

    The snakes

    The snakes are doing great in their new enclosure. They usually prefer the higher branches and will come down to the ground only occasionally. Both have eaten without hesitation in their new environment and male #2 did shed a few days ago without any problems, male #1 will do so in the next couple of days.

    There have been some remarkable changes in behavior in comparison to their former, much smaller enclosure. Both of them are much more active, which is really not surprising since the new enclosure is so much larger and especially higher than the old one was. They will use the whole volume they got during their active phase, going up one branch and down another. They also use the hot spot below the UVB Metal Halide light to bask for quite some time each day, especially during digestion.

    They have also calmed down within two days. In their old enclosure they were wary whenever I opened the front door, sometimes bordering on defensiveness and outright aggressive behavior. Now they will watch me what I am about to do, but I can do my maintenance literally right in front of their nose without any wariness. Several times both of them went on a walk out of their enclosure to have a look into the rest of my office during the time I spray water. I can just pick them up before they get under/behind some furniture without any hissing or biting, something which was not possible when they were still in the old enclosure.

    They never used their water bowl since they are in the new enclosure. In the old one they spent sometimes days submerged in their water bowl, now I haven’t even seen them drink from it, much less taking a bath.

    Territorial behavior

    After the initial exploration of the new environment the snakes surprised me – they started to fight, obviously for dominance over the new territory. Don’t get me wrong, I know that male snakes of many species will fight for their territory, I described it for my Spilotes pullatus several years ago. But these two males have been together in the same enclosure since 2016 and the keeper I got them from had had them together another year before and they had never shown anything like it during all this time.

    Both males are about the same size and weight, they are pretty even in both categories. The territorial fighting started three days after they came into the new enclosure. Male #2 was the “dominant” male who tried to chase male #1 away. Whenever male #1 tried to get to one of the upper branches or the cork tube in the upper right corner of the enclosure male #2 started to crawl over him, pushing down on him. Male #2 would go all over male #1, but he tried to push the last third of the body most intensively, I suppose to “encourage” male #1 to evade the pressure and go away. I saw the same with two male Spilotes pullatus, here the dominant male would also bite the other one into the last part of the body, this biting didn’t happen with my male Spilotes sulphureus. Male #1 was always passive, he never tried to fight back.

    This behavior lasted for 16 days, on and off, one or two days of near constant harassment of male #1 by male #2, followed by several days when both would share the same resting place without any issues, only to start fighting again a few days later. After a little over 2 weeks the behavior stopped, they are now peacefully together once again.

    I hadn’t expected this, because the males have been together so long and came into the new enclosure within 5 minutes from each other. If I had put to new males together I would have expected this infighting, but not with these snakes. I wonder if they will also start to fight when I introduce my female in a year or two – probably yes.

    Other additions

    I did it again – the nasty multispecies cohabitation…

    When all the commotion ebbed down and the bioactive helpers started to spread I started to think about adding some frogs to the mix, especially since my Dendrobates tinctorius do very well with my Spilotes pullatus, but they let some fruit flies escape on occasion, some of them found their way into the new enclosure and would swarm around my face as soon as I opened the door of the enclosure. When I started to do some research I found a small species, the mimic poison frog (Ranitomeya imitator). Currently the ground of the enclosure is still relatively bare, the ground covering plants have still a long way to go before they can provide enough cover for bigger frogs like Dendrobates tinctorius or Phyllobates. However, Ranitomeya will only grow to a maximum size of 2 cm (< 1 in), so tiny frogs like this can easily hide under the dead leaves and some additional hides – at least that’s what I thought. I got a trio (most likely 1.2) three weeks ago. They are German CB born 2019 and are (nearly) mature.

    Ranitomeya imitator can be found in several different color variations, my frogs are “Jeberos” (or alternatively “Varadero”) morph. They are really attractive little frogs, quite active. They found the bromeliads in the middle of the back wall within a few hours and made them their new home. It is quite impressive to see these little frogs climb a vertical wall as easily as going on a (horizontal) walkway. From there they will go to hunt for fruit flies on the wall or some of the plants, but also using the branches or going down to the ground to hunt for springtails.

    Since a week the male has started to call early in the morning and right after water spraying, let’s see if I really got some females as well…

    The snakes completely ignore the frogs, they are simply too small to be even considered a meal.

    OK, thanks for reading, now some pictures of the current state of the enclosure, the snakes and the frogs


    The current state of the enclosure




    Spilotes sulphureus male #1


    Spilotes sulphureus male #1


    Spilotes sulphureus male #2


    Spilotes sulphureus male #1


    Ranitomeya imitator (female?)


    Ranitomeya imitator


    Ranitomeya imitator


    Ranitomeya imitator


    Ranitomeya imitator


    Ranitomeya imitator


    Ranitomeya imitator


    Ranitomeya imitator
    Last edited by Roman; 05-11-2020 at 03:46 PM.
    1,0 Lampropeltis triangulum campbelli, 1,2 Gonyosoma oxycephalum, 1,2 Philodryas baroni, 1,2 Spilotes pullatus, 2,1 Spilotes sulphureus, 0,1 Gonyosoma boulengeri, 1,1 Zamenis longissimus, 0,1 Malpolon sp., 1,1 Malpolon monspessulanus

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  5. #3
    BPnet Veteran Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Very impressive...& those snakes are massively lucky! Not so sure cohabbing them is a good idea though, even though "it's been done before" the stress might
    shorten their lives or impact their health? Just my opinion... "boys will be boys".
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 05-11-2020 at 03:58 PM.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

  6. #4
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    Re: New bioactive themed enclosure for Spilotes sulphureus

    Oh, I dont think so, after the initial clash they have calmed down again, right now they share their favorite hiding place (the cork tube in the upper branches). As I said, they completely ignore the presence of the frogs and the frogs are completely unimpressed by the snakes.
    1,0 Lampropeltis triangulum campbelli, 1,2 Gonyosoma oxycephalum, 1,2 Philodryas baroni, 1,2 Spilotes pullatus, 2,1 Spilotes sulphureus, 0,1 Gonyosoma boulengeri, 1,1 Zamenis longissimus, 0,1 Malpolon sp., 1,1 Malpolon monspessulanus

  7. #5
    Registered User vivi's Avatar
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    That is super awesome looking, I love your choice of plants.
    vivi

  8. #6
    Registered User WrongPython's Avatar
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    Re: New bioactive themed enclosure for Spilotes sulphureus

    That is an awesome enclosure!

    Has the heating/lighting combination continued to work for you? I ask because I anticipate building something along the lines of a 6'x2'x3' naturalistic enclosure for my longicauda boa in the future, and I'm thinking of switching over to a basking light as a heat source (for the near-infrared) and only using a RHP as a backup. Has the metal halide + T5 combination been enough to keep ambient temperatures where they need to be? I'm running a 24" Arcadia ProT5 6% Forest in the 4'x2'x2' I have set up right now, and when my room is warm, it's enough to keep warm side ambients where they need to be without the RHP kicking on (which has led to some juggling to keep a basking spot).
    0.1 Sonoran Boa sigma​: "Adelita" ('19 Hypo het. leopard)
    1.0 Boa imperator longicauda: "Kuzco" ('19 het. anery)

  9. #7
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    Re: New bioactive themed enclosure for Spilotes sulphureus

    So far the heating/lighting is quite good. I have a temperature range from ca 29 C / 84 F on the branch right below the 150 W Metal halide light, 25 C / 77 F at their cork tube at the other side of the enclosure down to ca 23 C / 73 F at ground level. During summer time I might have to switch off the Metal halide light to prevent overheating, but other than that it should be fine. If I really need more heat I can still add another 70 W Metal halide light to add another hotspot and provide more warmth.

    The LED light and the Arcadia ProT5 6% Forest are there to provide the ambient light and (in case of the Arcadia) additional UVB, but the main (only) source of heat and the primary source of UVB is the Bright Sun Metal halide light. I use this kind of arrangement in each of my enclosures to provide a hotspot which is also the brightest spot in the enclosure, so the snakes can associate light and heat. I dont use any other kind of heating in any of my enclosures.

    So for your 6 x 2 x 3 enclosure a 70 W Metal halide light should provide enough heat for your boa and if you place it to one side you create a nice hot basking spot on one side and a thermogradient to the other, cool side.
    1,0 Lampropeltis triangulum campbelli, 1,2 Gonyosoma oxycephalum, 1,2 Philodryas baroni, 1,2 Spilotes pullatus, 2,1 Spilotes sulphureus, 0,1 Gonyosoma boulengeri, 1,1 Zamenis longissimus, 0,1 Malpolon sp., 1,1 Malpolon monspessulanus

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  11. #8
    BPnet Lifer Gio's Avatar
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    Missed this.
    Im totally digging the look and appreciate the work that went into that.

    Well done 👍

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