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  1. #1
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    Question BP Husbandry Help!

    Hey everyone! I recently got two baby ball pythons. I did so much research and felt like I had everything prepared for their arrival, but am having a few problems I could use help with. They are currently in two separate 20g glass tanks. (I know the arguments regarding glass but I like the look and its what I'm working with until I can afford PVC). I currently have a piece of glass covering around 3/4 of each screen top to keep in heat/humidity. Using a mix of eco-earth and forest floor for substrate. Two hides, logs, water dish, lots of plants, cork bark, and leaf litter. Here are my problems:

    1. They each have an UTH (heat mat) controlled by separate thermostats but I'm having trouble getting both their hot spot warm enough. The probe is currently sandwiched in between the glass and mat. I know its causing some doming and the mat isn't laying flush with the glass. I'm not sure how to help this. I have cranked up the heat but its still not getting warm enough (averaging 85. I know, I know, that's why I'm asking for help). I'm checking temps using a infrared heat gun. I've also checked under the substrate to make sure the glass isn't too hot. I will try thinning out the substrate a bit but I don't know if my heat mat just sucks? Should I ditch the mat and get heat tape?

    2. I can't get my ambient temp to regulate. Because my house is kept a bit cooler, I've added a CHE to raise the ambient temp but it causes it to spike and fall. I don't have them on thermostats YET but am only turning them on when I am home and can watch the temperates. Is a thermostat the solution or are there other ways of helping this? Also, does anyone recommend a good hydrometer/ thermometer? seems hard to find something reliable.

    3. Is it okay if the humidity fluctuates? I am misting twice a day and have added small amounts of sphagnum moss but because of how irregular the heat is, so is the humidity. According to my gauge it ranges anywhere from 47-70% humidity. I don't want to cause any respiratory or scale rot issues.

    I love my new babies and just want to give them the best life possible. I know that my set up has nearly everything they need to be happy (barring a better enclosures) but need help with some stability.

    Thank you in advance for any advice, sorry it was long winded.

  2. #2
    Registered User ApathyAngel's Avatar
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    Re: BP Husbandry Help!

    Glass can definitely be finicky, and can take a little bit of effort to get it right, but it can definitely be done. Glass is by far my favorite type of enclosure, and (in my opinion, anyway) worth the extra work.

    Don't use glass to cover the top, though. It may help keep in humidity, but won't help with heat. Try plexiglass or aluminum foil, or even plastic wrap.

    I'm wondering what UTHs and CHEs you have, though, and what your UTH is set to. Because in my 36x18 tank, I only set my CHE to 86 to keep the ambient temp in the right range, and my husband keeps the house at 70. Even so, between the CHE and the UTH set to 93, my hot spot is at 90-91 and my ambient temp is 88 at the warm side. I'm wondering if your UTH and CHE are too small for the size of your tanks.

    I don't have experience with heat tape, someone with more expertise can tell you if that's a better option in your setup. But with both a UTH and a CHE, you really shouldn't be having a problem keeping the temp up. Usually, it causes the opposite problem, and using them both together can cause overheating if not regulated and monitored.

    Do you have a thermometer measuring the ambient temp? Temp guns are absolutely crucial, but I like the added security (especially in glass tanks) of having a stick-on digital thermometer and hydrometer set about an inch or two above the substrate on both the warm and cool side. Really helps me fine tune the environment in the tank.

    47% humidity isn't bad, the main thing to look for is if they're having complete sheds. Still mist twice a day, but maybe mist slightly less if it's spiking the humidity up that high. You really only need it as high as 70% when they're shedding.

    You also don't want the tank too wet, that can cause problems. Around 50% should be fine.

    But yeah, get the CHEs on thermostats, that'll help solve the spiking and falling temps. It keeps the temps within 2 or 3 degrees, depending on the brand of the thermostat. But while the CHEs are on, you really shouldn't have a problem getting the hot spot and ambient temp warm enough and keeping the temp stable. If you're still having problems, it's most likely because the heaters aren't powerful enough to counteract the cool temp of your house.

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  4. #3
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    Re: BP Husbandry Help!

    I favor glass enclosures too, and use them for all of our reptiles except for our hatchling, who's in a tub for ease of husbandry.

    I echo everything ApathyAngel said + the option to cover cardboard in foil and/or cut wood to perfectly sit on the screen (we use melamine). Additionally, once you get your CHE on a thermostat, that should solve the ambient temp problem.

    What brand of UTH are you using? No need to ditch the UTH for heat tape if you get the right ones. I set our thermostats at 90/91 and that will usually get our hotspots to 88-89 when read by IR. Changing the cover should really help with the ambient temp and the humidity. If you place the CHE slightly closer to the water bowl, that can help with humidity until you figure out where perfect placement is.

    Good luck with your new babies!
    /chris

    ---
    0.1 Catahoula Leopard Dog / Zooey
    ---
    1.0 Leopard Gecko / Leonard
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    1.0 Normal Ball Python / Edward
    1.0 Banana Ball Python / Bartholomew
    1.0 Blue Eyed Leucistic Ball Python / Alfredo

  5. #4
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    Re: BP Husbandry Help!

    Thank you so much for your reply. I will switch to plexiglass. I'm a sucker for aestetics and foil/plastic wrap is not the nicest lol.

    At the moment I'm using a Pangea UTH and a 40w CHE. When the CHE is on, it is more than enough to raise my ambient temperature (almost too high sometimes). When the CHE is off, ambient rests around 75F. When its on, there is no limit how hot it can get. The problem isn't getting the ambient temp high enough. The struggle is the stability of it. I obviously need to put it on a thermostat on the CHE and it would solve that problem.

    The main thing is getting the right ground temp from the UTH. It is set at nearly 100F and I'm still only reading around 84-86F on the glass and top of substrate (mind you my thermostat varies 4 degrees so it tends to need to be set slightly higher). I'm also concerned about the doming happening due to the thermostat probe being in between the glass and mat. My tank is slightly lifted to allow airflow and therefore does not have anything to press the mat against the glass.

    I do have a stick on thermometer in each one but I obviously need to move it lower in the tank and add one on the cool side. Does your thermometer have a probe? What brand of thermostat do you use? I've only had them less than a week so no sheds yet but I will check. I'm only misting as needed, and nothing is staying damp. The humidity spikes usually happen just after I've misted and the CHE is on.

    Small conclusion: plexiglass, maybe a better heat mat, get CHE's on thermostats and get more thermometers.

  6. #5
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    Re: BP Husbandry Help!

    oh and last thought: where are you placing the probe/how far down for the CHE thermostat? It kind of negates having any sort of probe inside, though I realise that's where it needs to be. I worry about water/it being moved causing a temperature spike.

  7. #6
    Registered User ApathyAngel's Avatar
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    Re: BP Husbandry Help!

    Yep, that's a good small conclusion.

    I'm not familiar with that brand of UTH, but it sounds like your substrate is too thick. If there's a 15-degree difference between the UTH and the top of the substrate, there's something wrong.

    I'm using BN Link thermostats (they're cheap) and it has a 3 degree range, so I set the UTH to 93 and it kicks on when the temp drops to 90.

    I'm using an Aiicioo UTH, and it's worked just fine, I don't have problems with it.

    As far as the doming, I'm not sure what you mean. You said the probe is in the center, right? Between the mat and the glass?

    Doing this will create a lump in the center of the mat, where the probe is, but the entire mat should have adhesive on it, so it should still stick to the glass just fine. You don't want anything else holding the mat to the glass. If you don't allow air flow, the uth may overheat even with a thermostat regulating it (I learned that the hard way once, when a big uth overheated and cracked the glass in my 100 gallon retic tank. Paying to replace that wasn't fun).

    But yeah, there will be a lump, but I don't know what you mean by doming. If it's not staying against the glass, maybe your mat is too small or the adhesive is crappy. It may be worth getting a different one.

    Yeah, the CHE thermostat probe needs to be inside the tank. I keep it about 2 inches above the substrate, in the back corner (hidden from view by the warm hide), directly under the CHE. My girl leaves the cord alone, so I just use the built-in cord hole in the top of my tank and slide the lever over to keep the cord taut and straight. If your snakes are more active, you may need to actually adhere the cord to the glass. And if the probe is right against the corner, it's very unnoticeable so it doesn't mess with aesthetics. Especially if you've got the hide in front of it.

    Because yeah, I totally understand what you mean by aesthetics. I'm a sucker for it, as well. That's why I feel that the finicky-ness of a glass container is worth the extra work. It just looks so nice. I've got my girl on her own table in my kitchen, and it looks great. And it's so freaking cute when I'm cooking and I glance over and see her face at the entrance of her hide, just watching me.

    I can absolutely appreciate tubs for their ease and practicality, but glass just looks amazing. Not even pvc can beat the look of glass, in my opinion.

  8. #7
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    Re: BP Husbandry Help!

    Wait...you're measuring the temperature of the GLASS and not the top of the substrate right?? BPs will burrow, so you want to be measuring the glass.
    /chris

    ---
    0.1 Catahoula Leopard Dog / Zooey
    ---
    1.0 Leopard Gecko / Leonard
    ---
    1.0 Normal Ball Python / Edward
    1.0 Banana Ball Python / Bartholomew
    1.0 Blue Eyed Leucistic Ball Python / Alfredo

  9. #8
    Registered User littlemaxbigworld's Avatar
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    Lots of good answers here! Just thought Iíd add what Iíve done for my screen too until my PVC arrives - I cut the right size of tinfoil and placed it on the screen I needed covered and then cut a piece of cardboard to keep it snug in place and worked great. Obviously dint have the cardboard touching the CHE, but itís helped a ton with humidity and temperature even with my heat lamp! Maybe thatíll help. Or maybe someone have the same idea and because I just woke up from a nap my brain is still mushy.

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