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  1. #1
    Registered User chloekitt's Avatar
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    Question beginner, introduction and lots of questions!

    Hi all, newbie here. i apologize if this is a bit long but want to make sure i get all the information i need. a little backstory - I got my ball python about 1 1/2 months ago from Petsmart with a friend against my better judgement to adopt pets there. The snake was originally at his house, where I quickly learned that I wasnt happy with the way he was being taken care of and that he nor I had any idea what we were doing. Long story short the snake is now at my house and I have spent many hours reading up on proper care and in these forums. Since then I have learned alot, and made adjustments as quickly and the best I could with what I have so far. Im really enjoying learning about these beautiful reptiles and would love any help or suggestions to better my setup and give him the best life possible.

    So my handsome boys name is Vasuki, petsmart said he was a juvenile but had no specific age. When I first got him he hadnt eaten in 3 weeks (documented by petstore) and possibly longer before he arrived into their care, he definitely seemed thin (back very pointy, skin loose, slightly protruding spine) he wouldnt eat for me outside of the enclosure and after reading about it I decided I was ok with trying to feed in his tank and have not had an issue since. after his first meal he weighed 69g. since then he has eaten weekly, originally on petsmart f/t mice has been switched to f/t fuzzy rats by perfect prey. He has shed once which went perfectly (all one piece) and now weighs about 105g and is roughly 24 inches long, looks and feels so much better already

    He is in a 36x18x18 40-gallon glass tank with metal screen top (i know this is big for his size and not ideal for heating) but i have read of people still having success and I dont mind the extra effort it takes if i can keep it regulated and feeling secure for now until I can invest in a pvc enclosure or whatever seems to be a better fit. to combat the size - he has 3 hides 1 on each side, 1 in the middle + a humidity box, some foliage and a branch, and 3 sides of the glass are covered with paper from the outside to keep him feeling secure. he hasnt had any problems with eating or shedding, is comfortable being handled, and doesnt seem stressed from my current knowledge (but that is also why I am here) I handle him about 2x a week. I dont handle on feeding day and wait at least 48hrs after every feeding to handle again.

    Currently for heating I am using a night/day heat lamp on the warm side of the tank, the day bulb is 100watt desert uvb, and the night bulb is 100watt infrared bulb. I also have an 11x17 ultratherm undertank heatmatt on the warm side regulated with a BN-LINK Digital Thermostat. I am keeping track of temps and humidity on both sides with digital thermometer/hygrometers as well as an infrared laser temp gun to check surface temps and right now the cold side tempertures are 72-76F with 46% humidity and the warm side is 76-80F with 42% humidity and the hotspot/hide is about 80-84 degrees. the hot spot is at this temp because when i set my thermostat for the heat mat higher it seems to fluctuate within a 6 degree range up and down which is frustrating and i dont feel safe doing that (i am thinking about getting a herpstat if this doesnt work)
    i would really like to bump all of those temps up about 3-5 degrees. my humidty can stay around high 50s if i mist every day but dries up very quickly (I was misting 3-4x day during shed to keep it in the high 60s-70s). I am using eco-earth coconut fiber substrate about an inch or 2 thick, the metal screen top is mostly covered with foil tape other than above the hot side where the lamp is and extra ventilation (I made sure there is no way he can come in contact with the tape) my house sits at around 68F usually but can fluctuate up or down slightly especially in the winter.

    my questions for you are: what are your best suggestions for increasing heat and humidity? is there anything I am missing or could be doing better? does my substrate need to be deeper? would mixing sphagnum moss into the substrate work for humidity (or other suggestions for mixing substrate)? also is it normal for ball pythons to sit in their hides with there head out almost on alert/sometimes in a striking type position for an an hour or more at a time? or could that be defensive/feeling unsafe? what type of behaviors should i look for to notice if he feels unsafe or signs he is comfortable (of course every snake will be a little different, but just to get a better idea), most reliable resources for learning more about ball pythons outside of the forum? any other suggestions you can think of

  2. #2
    Registered User Spicey's Avatar
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    The first thing I would suggest is covering as much of the screen top as you can. I'll let the more experienced keepers go on from here since I only have a KSB and humidity is only an issue with him if it gets too high, but covering the top definitely helps keep the temps in his tank up. I also have styrofoam insulation on the outside of his tank (it's a 20 gallon).
    Always in Transition

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    2.0 Common Parakeets - Shut Up & You Heard Me
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    chloekitt (10-08-2020),Craiga 01453 (10-08-2020)

  4. #3
    BPnet Lifer Zincubus's Avatar
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    Re: beginner, introduction and lots of questions!

    As mentioned above covering the mesh will certainly help with stopping the heat escaping and keeping the humidity up ..


    Many Ball / Royal pythons will stay in their hides with their heads just sticking out apparently on watch ..


    You mentioned the size of the tank ..itís fine IF you can add some clutter ... branches are great as they well climb when the evenings come round plus add some fake silk / plastic foliage . It will look really naturally / attractive plus it encourages them to be active in the evening.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro




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  6. #4
    Registered User chloekitt's Avatar
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    Re: beginner, introduction and lots of questions!

    thank you for taking the time to read and reply

    I do have the foil tape covering most of the mesh top, which helped with my temps being even lower than they are now, as well as humidity, but it didnt seem to help more than a few degrees. I think i could still get away with covering a little bit more with the foil which I will try but, the insulation sounds like a good idea. Where did you get your insulation and how did you attach it to the tank?

    - - - Updated - - -

    thank you for taking the time to read and reply

    I do have the foil tape covering most of the mesh top, which helped with my temps being even lower than they are now, as well as humidity, but it didnt seem to help more than a few degrees. I think i could still get away with covering a little bit more with the foil which I will try but, the insulation sounds like a good idea. Where did you get your insulation and how did you attach it to the tank?

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    Spicey (10-08-2020)

  8. #5
    Registered User chloekitt's Avatar
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    Re: beginner, introduction and lots of questions!

    thank you for replying! the mesh is covered mostly with foil tape already but I will ad more. do you know anything about things i could change in the substrate that might work better?

    im glad that the 'guarding' type behavior is normal

    I am comfortable with how cluttered it is other than maybe adding one more piece of branch or foliage, occasionally he will explore around at night when it gets closer to feeding day but hes pretty quiet other than the occasional hide swaps haha

  9. #6
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    Re: beginner, introduction and lots of questions!

    Get a better thermostat 84 is too low for a hotspot and I agree 6 degrees is too much fluctuation I would recommend something with proportion pulse or dimming not simple on/off. Exoterra makes one in the $50-60 range cheapest one I've seen

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  10. #7
    Registered User chloekitt's Avatar
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    Re: beginner, introduction and lots of questions!

    Yes I agree 84 isnt good enough. I will look into the pulseing/dimming thermostats instead! i have been worried it is too cold, but I find it odd - if it was too cold you think he would spend more time on the warm side/hotspot to stay warm but he spends at least 50% of his time, if not more than that, on the cold side. I thought this might be because he was favoring one of the hides so i swapped them to make sure and he still spends the same amount of time on the cold side. though now i am thinking this could also be because it is more cluttered on the cold side; thats where i have his branch wrapped in foliage.

  11. #8
    Registered User Spicey's Avatar
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    Re: beginner, introduction and lots of questions!

    I bought a 4' by 8' sheet of 1/2" house-siding styrofoam (it's a lot of foam but it's not expensive) and cut panels out of it to fit the sides of the tank and just taped them against the glass (on the outside, obviously). You can probably find half-sheets somewhere.

    - - - Updated - - -
    Always in Transition

    1.0 Paradox Albino KSB - Spotticus
    2.0 Common Parakeets - Shut Up & You Heard Me
    1.0 Grey Chinchilla - Dusty
    0.1 Dutch Rabbit - Wendy

  12. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Spicey For This Useful Post:

    chloekitt (10-08-2020),Craiga 01453 (10-08-2020)

  13. #9
    Registered User Eltharion's Avatar
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    Re: beginner, introduction and lots of questions!

    I wouldn't recommend an exoterra thermostat, just because the one i bought recently stopped working for no* reason. I bought a Jumpstart thermostat on Amazon for 40 or 50 iirc. Its been great, and doesnt drop below 2 or 3 degrees to what I set it too before it kicks back on. It generally has a variance of no more than 1 or 2 degrees.

    I'm also using a 100w che and with the stand and wire cage socket I have for it I am able to keep a firm basking spot of about 92.4 degrees constantly.
    Last edited by Eltharion; 10-08-2020 at 11:46 PM.

  14. #10
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    Re: beginner, introduction and lots of questions!

    Quote Originally Posted by Eltharion View Post
    I wouldn't recommend an exoterra thermostat, just because the one i bought recently stopped working for no* reason. I bought a Jumpstart thermostat on Amazon for 40 or 50 iirc. Its been great, and doesnt drop below 2 or 3 degrees to what I set it too before it kicks back on. It generally has a variance of no more than 1 or 2 degrees.

    I'm also using a 100w che and with the stand and wire cage socket I have for it I am able to keep a firm basking spot of about 92.4 degrees constantly.
    Which exoterra are you talking about? there are two different types

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