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  1. #1
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    Red face (Semi) newbie here with many, MANY questions!

    Hello, I'm new to this board and figured this would be a good place to get some knowledge on ball pythons. I did have a corn snake a number of years ago but I was perhaps a bit in over my head at the time and had too many animals in general (several came from friends who gave them to me and a couple even reproduced) so in a move that I still regret to this day, it was among the animals I eventually rehomed. Fast forward to now and I feel it's almost time to give owning a scaly noodle another go. But this time, I want to do it right, by the book. Thusly I've dived into research and have watched videos and read articles from several sources to mentally download as much information as I can, but even then I like the more personal advice from such places as this.

    To start off, I currently have an empty 30 gallon tank (36"X12"X16") that's already on a nice cabinet stand and everything. It's for fish so the lid would have to be replaced, but the question is should I even bother or go straight for a recommended 40 gallon breeder that's both easier to access (since it's shorter) and offers more floor space that ball pythons enjoy. Or should I start with that if I get a baby and upgrade later since I've heard conflicting messaging in terms of "too much space" when snakes are young?

    Next is location and humidity. Where I live the weather conditions change frequently with the seasons (and even by the week/day sometimes) so I've been thinking of putting the enclosure in the basement where it's more stable (the basement is a finished one and I'm down here a lot by default). Would that be ideal? For reference I plan on using coconut fiber substrate since from what I've heard it strikes a nice balance of retaining humidity while not absorbing it too much and rotting, plus its visual appeal and safety if ingested on accident (as I'd like to do in-tank feeding, did out of tank feeding last time and would rather not again if possible).

    Then there's heating. Going to do a UTH, but then my question comes with lighting. I know ball pythons don't necessarily need it, but given mine will probably be living in the basement I'd like to give it light so it can have a proper day/night cycle. But with heating already covered, does that mean I can simply do something like attach a regular lightbulb to a lamp so it doesn't add too much heat? Or would that be too much still? Also, I've read that if you want more humidity you should put the water bowl over the UTH (I am aware you keep the UTH itself outside the tank though). Is that a good idea? Does it evaporate the water too fast or make the water too hot?

    As for general supplies I know to get things like an infrared temperature gun, humidity gauge, a timer device with thermometer (forget what they're called), hides, decor, ect. I have a general idea of what types I want to get but I'm open to suggestions and recommendations.

    With mice/rats, would it be more cost-effective to buy in bulk online or would it still be cheaper to do it locally since it'd for one snake? I fed live last time with my own colony (which was part of the "overwhelming" issue, got to see firsthand how cannibalistic mice can be) but will adhere to frozen/thawed this time. With that in mind, how long do they keep in the freezer? As in, could I buy a year's worth to store or do I need to buy in smaller batches? And is it okay to refreeze if the snake isn't hungry?

    And easily the least important part but I might as well put it here, but seeing as I'll only have one snake I'd like to have something with a little pizazz if you will. Have set my eyes on (and forgive me if I get terminologies wrong, have only recently even heard of the thousands of morphs let alone studied them) piebalds and axanthics. The ultimate prize would be a lightning pied (which from what I understand is a combination of the former two) but that's far and away beyond my budget and the others is already pushing it. Otherwise, a piebald with a half/third of white blotches or what I think is a "base" axanthic (the ones with the wild form pattern but in black/gray/white, looking as if it just crawled out of an old cartoon) would be my ideal choice if I can find one that doesn't break the bank.

    Thanks for reading, hoping to have a good time here with you all.

  2. #2
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    For a young Ball, that tank is WAY too big. If you insist on using the 30 gal then I would clutter the crop out of it, with hides, rocks, fake plants, branches, etc. Ball Pytbons like to hide and and big open spaces can stress them out. Highly recommend getting a smaller terrarium and work your way up.

    I'll let someone else handle the temp and humidity questions. As I use a heat lamp, which is a less popular option. I have a basking bulb and UVA bulb set up with a timer, to give it adequate heat while maintaining a day/night cycle. The problem with heat lamps is that they fry up the humidity. So I lightly spray the tank a couple times a day as well as cover about half the lid with foil. Seems to work.
    Just so long as you have a heat gradient of 84-88 on the hot side and 78-83 on the cool side, with a 60-65% humidity.

    With the feed, it depends on what age snake you end up getting. If you buy a young ball I wouldn't buy a LARGE supply, as they'll steadily need to have larger and larger prey (or feeding them multiple prey items). If you can get them to eat F/T then definitely do that and keep them on it. Whatever prey you start feeding them, be sure to keep feeding them the same thing. So if you start feeding them rats (or if the person you get the snake from was feeding rats), keep feeding rats. Balls are notoriously picky eaters and likely won't eat a different prey item that's different from what they normally eat. Honestly, sometimes even different COLOR prey items can make a difference.

  3. #3
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    Re: (Semi) newbie here with many, MANY questions!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jakemh91 View Post
    For a young Ball, that tank is WAY too big. If you insist on using the 30 gal then I would clutter the crop out of it, with hides, rocks, fake plants, branches, etc. Ball Pytbons like to hide and and big open spaces can stress them out. Highly recommend getting a smaller terrarium and work your way up.

    I'll let someone else handle the temp and humidity questions. As I use a heat lamp, which is a less popular option. I have a basking bulb and UVA bulb set up with a timer, to give it adequate heat while maintaining a day/night cycle. The problem with heat lamps is that they fry up the humidity. So I lightly spray the tank a couple times a day as well as cover about half the lid with foil. Seems to work.
    Just so long as you have a heat gradient of 84-88 on the hot side and 78-83 on the cool side, with a 60-65% humidity.

    With the feed, it depends on what age snake you end up getting. If you buy a young ball I wouldn't buy a LARGE supply, as they'll steadily need to have larger and larger prey (or feeding them multiple prey items). If you can get them to eat F/T then definitely do that and keep them on it. Whatever prey you start feeding them, be sure to keep feeding them the same thing. So if you start feeding them rats (or if the person you get the snake from was feeding rats), keep feeding rats. Balls are notoriously picky eaters and likely won't eat a different prey item that's different from what they normally eat. Honestly, sometimes even different COLOR prey items can make a difference.
    I do have a 10 gallon as well in that case if it isn't too far the opposite direction and too small (though again I'd need to get a lid for it). With that in mind, how do I secure it properly since it wouldn't be the horizontal sliding type lid? Are their special clamps I can get to hold it down or do I just put something heavy enough on top?

    And yeah I rather figured if I get a young one to get food in small amounts since the size will change. Will definitely try to get one that's already eating rats at any rate, seems silly to start with mice since they won't be big enough for adulthood and I'm more than aware of their pickiness.

  4. #4
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    Re: (Semi) newbie here with many, MANY questions!

    Quote Originally Posted by Snagrio View Post
    Hello, I'm new to this board and figured this would be a good place to get some knowledge on ball pythons. I did have a corn snake a number of years ago but I was perhaps a bit in over my head at the time and had too many animals in general (several came from friends who gave them to me and a couple even reproduced) so in a move that I still regret to this day, it was among the animals I eventually rehomed. Fast forward to now and I feel it's almost time to give owning a scaly noodle another go. But this time, I want to do it right, by the book. Thusly I've dived into research and have watched videos and read articles from several sources to mentally download as much information as I can, but even then I like the more personal advice from such places as this.

    To start off, I currently have an empty 30 gallon tank (36"X12"X16") that's already on a nice cabinet stand and everything. It's for fish so the lid would have to be replaced, but the question is should I even bother or go straight for a recommended 40 gallon breeder that's both easier to access (since it's shorter) and offers more floor space that ball pythons enjoy. Or should I start with that if I get a baby and upgrade later since I've heard conflicting messaging in terms of "too much space" when snakes are young?

    Next is location and humidity. Where I live the weather conditions change frequently with the seasons (and even by the week/day sometimes) so I've been thinking of putting the enclosure in the basement where it's more stable (the basement is a finished one and I'm down here a lot by default). Would that be ideal? For reference I plan on using coconut fiber substrate since from what I've heard it strikes a nice balance of retaining humidity while not absorbing it too much and rotting, plus its visual appeal and safety if ingested on accident (as I'd like to do in-tank feeding, did out of tank feeding last time and would rather not again if possible).

    Then there's heating. Going to do a UTH, but then my question comes with lighting. I know ball pythons don't necessarily need it, but given mine will probably be living in the basement I'd like to give it light so it can have a proper day/night cycle. But with heating already covered, does that mean I can simply do something like attach a regular lightbulb to a lamp so it doesn't add too much heat? Or would that be too much still? Also, I've read that if you want more humidity you should put the water bowl over the UTH (I am aware you keep the UTH itself outside the tank though). Is that a good idea? Does it evaporate the water too fast or make the water too hot?

    As for general supplies I know to get things like an infrared temperature gun, humidity gauge, a timer device with thermometer (forget what they're called), hides, decor, ect. I have a general idea of what types I want to get but I'm open to suggestions and recommendations.

    With mice/rats, would it be more cost-effective to buy in bulk online or would it still be cheaper to do it locally since it'd for one snake? I fed live last time with my own colony (which was part of the "overwhelming" issue, got to see firsthand how cannibalistic mice can be) but will adhere to frozen/thawed this time. With that in mind, how long do they keep in the freezer? As in, could I buy a year's worth to store or do I need to buy in smaller batches? And is it okay to refreeze if the snake isn't hungry?

    And easily the least important part but I might as well put it here, but seeing as I'll only have one snake I'd like to have something with a little pizazz if you will. Have set my eyes on (and forgive me if I get terminologies wrong, have only recently even heard of the thousands of morphs let alone studied them) piebalds and axanthics. The ultimate prize would be a lightning pied (which from what I understand is a combination of the former two) but that's far and away beyond my budget and the others is already pushing it. Otherwise, a piebald with a half/third of white blotches or what I think is a "base" axanthic (the ones with the wild form pattern but in black/gray/white, looking as if it just crawled out of an old cartoon) would be my ideal choice if I can find one that doesn't break the bank.

    Thanks for reading, hoping to have a good time here with you all.
    I think 30 should be fine. Just make sure to clutter it so that it can feel smaller if you do end up getting one thatís younger. It is better to go with the 10 gallon if you get a hatchling but I wouldnít say that a 30 gallon would never work. My 9 month old female(who is really small for her age (~185g) is in a 35 gallon and is doing great. I had her in something smaller since this tank is still too big for her, but she doesnít seem to mind, and honestly just seems to enjoy exploring a lot more than my other ones.

    I see nothing wrong with your snake in the basement. I found that with funding the right substrate it was trial and error for me. Coco fibre sounds good, and hopefully thatís the one for you. If not, know thatís thereís many other options.

    A UTH is great and having a water bowl over it might help with humidity a little, but not a lot. And ideally you should be replacing the water daily so you shouldnít have a problem if the water overheating or evaporating too fast. If youíre looking for a big difference, I would invest in making a humidity box for your snake.

    And personally, I wouldnít bother with lighting unless you need it so that the ambient temps can be higher. Too strong of light can cause bps to be stressed so itís probably best to not even bother with it. However if you want to, you definitely can, just watch your snake and see if it does become stressed from it.

    In terms of lighting and heating: because you have a UTH, itís not really required for you to have a heat lamp that also creates a hot spot on one side of the enclosure. All I would worry about is that your UTH is at around 90, and that your ambient temps, throughout the enclosure is no less than 75. If your ambient temps are less than that, then it would be important to add a heat lamp.


    Another thing to add to your supply list is a temperate controller. That should always be plugged into your UTH. And make sure to keep the UTH on at all times. If you know that then thatís great, just wanted to make sure when you said ďtimer device with thermometerĒ.

    I think for just one snake, itís way cheaper to buy it locally since you shouldnít be keeping the mice/rat frozen for more than 6 months(although I only go with 3 months to be safe). And itís best to find a local mice/rat breeder that sells frozen since theyíll be cheaper than local pet stores. Iíve looked into online but it costs me $30-50 shipping fee, on top of the mice I have to buy. I donít remember what the mathematical term is, but in the end Iíd have to buy over a years supply of rats in order for the online cost to be cheaper than buying it locally. Of course the price might be different where you live, but I would try to do some math and calculate what ends up being cheaper.

    And definitely do not refreeze the rat! Once the rat is thawed out, bacteria will be all over it! Feed it to your snake, and leave it overnight in the enclosure if you want, but definitely donít leave it longer and do not refreeze.

  5. #5
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    Re: (Semi) newbie here with many, MANY questions!

    Quote Originally Posted by Snagrio View Post
    I do have a 10 gallon as well in that case if it isn't too far the opposite direction and too small (though again I'd need to get a lid for it). With that in mind, how do I secure it properly since it wouldn't be the horizontal sliding type lid? Are their special clamps I can get to hold it down or do I just put something heavy enough on top?
    There are some simple clamps you can buy at many pet stores, otherwise a specific lid with locks online that matches the dimensions of your enclosure will work too. Some people have said that placing heavy object on the lid would work, but personally, I wouldnít trust it.

  6. #6
    Registered User Caitlin's Avatar
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    The thing with enclosure size and a young BP is that...it depends on the individual snake. But it's a safe generalization to say that when they are little guys they will be more comfortable and feed more reliably in small enclosures. Some youngsters do OK in larger enclosures as long as there are plenty of hides and clutter. Others just can't cope and will get stressed and refuse to eat.

    Since you have a 10 gallon handy I'd start with that. You can get a screen lid plus clamps on Amazon or from your local pet shop. Just a UTH (on a thermostat, of course) will be fine as long as you don't keep your ambient temperatures too low.
    1.0 Jungle Carpet Python 'Ziggy'
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  7. #7
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    Re: (Semi) newbie here with many, MANY questions!

    Quote Originally Posted by Faith.luu View Post
    I think 30 should be fine. Just make sure to clutter it so that it can feel smaller if you do end up getting one thatís younger. It is better to go with the 10 gallon if you get a hatchling but I wouldnít say that a 30 gallon would never work. My 9 month old female(who is really small for her age (~185g) is in a 35 gallon and is doing great. I had her in something smaller since this tank is still too big for her, but she doesnít seem to mind, and honestly just seems to enjoy exploring a lot more than my other ones.

    I see nothing wrong with your snake in the basement. I found that with funding the right substrate it was trial and error for me. Coco fibre sounds good, and hopefully thatís the one for you. If not, know thatís thereís many other options.

    A UTH is great and having a water bowl over it might help with humidity a little, but not a lot. And ideally you should be replacing the water daily so you shouldnít have a problem if the water overheating or evaporating too fast. If youíre looking for a big difference, I would invest in making a humidity box for your snake.

    And personally, I wouldnít bother with lighting unless you need it so that the ambient temps can be higher. Too strong of light can cause bps to be stressed so itís probably best to not even bother with it. However if you want to, you definitely can, just watch your snake and see if it does become stressed from it.

    In terms of lighting and heating: because you have a UTH, itís not really required for you to have a heat lamp that also creates a hot spot on one side of the enclosure. All I would worry about is that your UTH is at around 90, and that your ambient temps, throughout the enclosure is no less than 75. If your ambient temps are less than that, then it would be important to add a heat lamp.


    Another thing to add to your supply list is a temperate controller. That should always be plugged into your UTH. And make sure to keep the UTH on at all times. If you know that then thatís great, just wanted to make sure when you said ďtimer device with thermometerĒ.

    I think for just one snake, itís way cheaper to buy it locally since you shouldnít be keeping the mice/rat frozen for more than 6 months(although I only go with 3 months to be safe). And itís best to find a local mice/rat breeder that sells frozen since theyíll be cheaper than local pet stores. Iíve looked into online but it costs me $30-50 shipping fee, on top of the mice I have to buy. I donít remember what the mathematical term is, but in the end Iíd have to buy over a years supply of rats in order for the online cost to be cheaper than buying it locally. Of course the price might be different where you live, but I would try to do some math and calculate what ends up being cheaper.

    And definitely do not refreeze the rat! Once the rat is thawed out, bacteria will be all over it! Feed it to your snake, and leave it overnight in the enclosure if you want, but definitely donít leave it longer and do not refreeze.
    I guess a better layman term would've been "regulator." The ones that connect with the UTH and has a probe you attach close to the heat source so you can set a temperature on the device to keep it at the desired range. IIRC there are models with an extra probe to measure humidity too.

    As for lighting I suppose it isn't too much of an issue then. There are window wells that let in some sunlight during the day so it wouldn't be in perpetual darkness (I'll be sure to place the tank out of direct sunlight though of course).

    And yeah I forgot that I already checked online rodent places and the shipping fees alone would probably cost what I'd normally pay for a year for a single snake. But as for the thawing part, how do you prevent wasting a mouse/rat if a snake goes off feed? Are there ways to tell if they're hungry or is there simply going to be moments where you have to toss out a food item and try with another one later? Not too big a deal if so (plenty of young trees in my yard to bury carcasses that would enjoy the extra fertilizer) but might as well ask regardless. That and I need to brush up on my research of snake behavior so I can read things like stress and discomfort more accurately when the time comes.

    Also been having more thoughts on bedding. Seems like everyone has a different opinion on the stuff and I'm honestly at a loss now. I have tons of newspaper so that'd be a nice free option but then it doesn't look as nice and doesn't hold moisture as well. But then I see people mention how coconut fiber has gotten stuck in their snake's mouths and how its humidity-holding properties aren't as important for ball pythons compared to other more humidity-loving reptiles so it's like...

  8. #8
    BPnet Senior Member Mr. Misha's Avatar
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    Re: (Semi) newbie here with many, MANY questions!

    I'm a big proponent of PVC enclosures and would highly recommend them if it's financially feasible.

    Check out the T8 write up in the stickied post.

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  10. #9
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    Re: (Semi) newbie here with many, MANY questions!

    Quote Originally Posted by Snagrio View Post
    And yeah I forgot that I already checked online rodent places and the shipping fees alone would probably cost what I'd normally pay for a year for a single snake. But as for the thawing part, how do you prevent wasting a mouse/rat if a snake goes off feed? Are there ways to tell if they're hungry or is there simply going to be moments where you have to toss out a food item and try with another one later? Not too big a deal if so (plenty of young trees in my yard to bury carcasses that would enjoy the extra fertilizer) but might as well ask regardless. That and I need to brush up on my research of snake behavior so I can read things like stress and discomfort more accurately when the time comes.

    Sometimes you just can't tell when a snake is not going to want to eat, so you should count on having to waste prey items occasionally. In the long run, it's still cheaper than feeding a cat or dog.
    Always in Transition

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  11. #10
    Registered User Caitlin's Avatar
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    Re: (Semi) newbie here with many, MANY questions!

    Quote Originally Posted by Spicey View Post
    Sometimes you just can't tell when a snake is not going to want to eat, so you should count on having to waste prey items occasionally. In the long run, it's still cheaper than feeding a cat or dog.
    My solution to avoid wasting food is a Kingsnake!
    1.0 Jungle Carpet Python 'Ziggy'
    0.1 Brazilian Rainbow Boa 'Mara'
    1.1 Tarahumara Mountain Boas 'Paco' and 'Frida'
    1.0 Stimson's Python 'Jake'
    1.1 Children's Pythons 'Miso' and 'Ozzy'
    1.0 Anthill Python 'Cricket'
    1.0 Ball Python (BEL) 'Sugar'
    1.0 Gray-banded Kingsnake 'Nacho'
    1.0 Green Tree Python (Aru) 'Jade'

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