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  1. #1
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    Anything I'm missing on this regurg/vomit?

    Hey folks,
    We're 3 weeks into our first ball python and, of course, here I am asking about a regurgitation. If my understanding is right, we'd more accurately call it a vomit. This is our snake's second feeding since coming to us from the reptile store. The snake is young, 60g, and per the store was feeding on fuzzies at the store, although what they were actually feeding didn't look like fuzzies to me...they had full coats of white fur and were running all over the place, more like juveniles or small adults, and that seems perhaps a bit large to me based on circumference and a 10-15% prey-to-snake weight ratio. Normal bowel movement after the 1st feeding.

    We fed our snake, didn't handle at all for 24 hours, handled briefly for a cage cleaning at ~36 hours, all seemed normal the rest of the day through bedtime (~48 hours) and then the next morning (~54 hours post feeding) came down to find ONLY some loose fur, hind legs, and a tail in the water basin of his terrarium.

    His terrarium is glass 30"x12"x15", cardboard walls on 3 sides to limit his exposure, a wood hide on the warm side, a black plastic one on the cool side, 75w overhead IR light on the warm side as well as an UTH hooked up to a thermostat. Ground temperature on the warm side is consistently 80-85, with basking temperatures 90-95 by IR gun, air temperature on that side 75-80 degrees. Cool side with ground temperatures ~75 and air temperature about 71 per the room's ambient. Humidity is low right now, ~30-45% and I'm in the process of covering the lid which is mesh to better retain humidity.

    The day of his feeding, so 48 hours pre-vomit, I experimented with switching his IR light to a timer so that he was only getting UTH heat at night and I noticed that the ground temperature on the cool side was ~70 degrees. During those two nights, he seemed to be preferring his cool hide, so was likely spending more time in 70s although he did come out and bask intermittently on the warm side.

    His behavior up until regurgitation seemed very normal. Moved between warm and cool sides, peaked out of his hides, seemed relaxed. Since the regurgitation he had a rough 24 hours where he spent the majority of the time on his warm side, curled up on top of his wood hide and on top of a rock basking and curled up pretty tightly. Today he seems a bit more relaxed again, moving back and forth between hides intermittently, peaking his head out every so often again.

    Things I've changed in the aftermath...I have a larger heat mat coming, the existing one is only 6x8 which I think is too small by the rule-of-1/3 for a 30x12 terrarium, the new one is 12x8 which is closer to the right side and should give more belly heat on the warm side. I am keeping the IR light on 24/7 so that night temperatures aren't too cold. Of course I'm not handling him at all right now. I'm giving him a food holiday through Nov 11th which will be 2 weeks from his last feeding. I'm hesitant to go longer, because I'm admittedly concerned about giving such a young snake a long interval without any food, as I mentioned, he's only 60g at this time. Next feed will be a true fuzzy, I'll aim for 4-7g.

    My suspicion was that the heat lamp off at night was a bad decision on my part. The ambient in his room is 71 degrees and with the. 6x8 UTH, I think at night his warm side wasn't warm enough and his cool side in the low 70s, or possibly 60s inside his hide, was just too cold and his digestion slowed down. With the slowed digestion, with mouse still in there at 48 hours, his system vomited the remnants, hence only recovering just the hind feet and a tail with some hair. I'm hoping that bringing the heat up and not getting cool over night as well as improving the size of the UTH for better belly heat will improve things.

    Thoughts, suggestions, or things you feel I'm missing or completely off base on?

  2. #2
    BPnet Senior Member dakski's Avatar
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    Re: Anything I'm missing on this regurg/vomit?

    Long post, but I'll give a short answer.

    1. Your husbandry is off and that's probably why your BP regurgitated.

    Hot side - 86-89F

    Ambient - 80-84F

    Cool side - 78-80F

    ALL HEATING ELEMENTS MUST BE CONTROLLED BY A THERMOSTAT.

    From what I can see, your hot spot is too hot and the cool side too cool for your BP digest properly. Your BP had to choose and choose too cool over too hot.

    2. You are feeding the wrong prey item.

    See below - you should be feeding mouse hoppers at least.

    3. You need to wait to feed for 3 weeks. That's a long time for a snake that small that's already been fed the wrong food, but you don't really have a choice. You must wait that long for your BP to heal and be able to process another meal.

    In the meantime, get your husbandry correct.

    There's always a possibility that something is wrong with the BP, but 90% of the time, regurgitation occurs due to poor husbandry or too large a meal. The latter doesn't seem to be the case here.

  3. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to dakski For This Useful Post:

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    Re: Anything I'm missing on this regurg/vomit?

    Thanks so much for the reply. To clarify, while the shop called the mouse a fuzzy, by everything I see online, it was a hopper. So whatever he ate at the shop, presumably hoppers, and then the two hoppers he took at my home (well, 1.5 perhaps if I cross my fingers that he digested the majority of the mouse that didn't come up). That was why I considered stepping down to a fuzzy for the next feed, since several of the posts and topics I read suggested stepping down a size for the next feeding.

    To clarify on your specific temperatures, when you say hot side and cool side, do you mean ground temperature? I ask because you also specify only a single ambient, so I'm reading that as suggesting 80-84 for the enclosure's air temperature with ground 78-80 on the cool and 86-89 on the warm side. Correct me if I'm reading incorrectly.

    For temperature control, the room is individually controlled and at 72 outside the enclosure, I can obviously bring that up as necessary. The UTH is on an Inkbird set to 90 degrees but as mentioned, that's not the temperature on top of substrate. I didn't go any higher on the UTH in case he burrows and contacts the bottom.

  5. #4
    BPnet Senior Member dakski's Avatar
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    Re: Anything I'm missing on this regurg/vomit?

    You are welcome.

    Ground temperature is 95% of the battle. You want the middle of the tank to average between 80-84F. Ambient might be the wrong word. The key is that there is a gradient. So if the hot side is 86-90F and the middle is 80-84F and the cool side is 78-80F, your BP can always find a comfortable spot whether he/she needs to digest or just wants to chill out (literally and figuratively).

    Your BP will burrow if needed. If it's 90F on the heat pad where it meets the bottom of the tank, that's fine. If it's 85F above the substrate, for example, he/she will burrow to get to the warmer temps if he/she needs. It should not be above 90F anywhere your BP can reach.

    Finally, I am not sure what an Inkbird is, but I am going to assume that it's a thermostat, is that correct?

    If all you have is a UTH for heat, how are you keeping the cool side and middle of the tank heated?

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    Re: Anything I'm missing on this regurg/vomit?

    Yes, an Inkbird is a digital thermostat, I have a probe linked to it that's connected to the underside of the glass where the UTH is so that the pad turns off when the heat exceeds 90F.

    Right now, I have all the heat (the UTH and an overhead IR bulb) on the warm side so the heat on the cool side is entirely from crossover heat (i.e. as my BP gets further towards the cool side, he's further away from heat sources and the temperature falls). The IR bulb is a 75W which I'm planning to step down to a 60W since the warm side does seem pretty uniformly in the high 80s or low 90s. The bulb is the only thing not on a thermostat/rheostat.

    With the adjustments I've made today (insulating the top), the air temperature on the warm side is now 92, too hot, but the air temperature on the cool side is more acceptable at 79. Ground temperature on the warm side is steadily 87-91 measured by IR gun, including inside his hide where it's 88. Ground temperatures on the cool side get as low as 70F, but that might rise since the air temperature there is now 78. With the new UTH pad I have coming, it will extend just a bit further across the floor of the tank.

    Do you find it's a better set up to have two different UTH each linked to their own thermostat so one can heat the "cool" end and one heats the "warm"? I hadn't seen that in my research, most folks seemed to recommend heating one side and letting distance define the cooling side.
    Last edited by tempo36; 11-01-2020 at 10:40 PM.

  7. #6
    BPnet Senior Member dakski's Avatar
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    Re: Anything I'm missing on this regurg/vomit?

    Quote Originally Posted by tempo36 View Post
    Do you find it's a better set up to have two different UTH each linked to their own thermostat so one can heat the "cool" end and one heats the "warm"? I hadn't seen that in my research, most folks seemed to recommend heating one side and letting distance define the cooling side.
    UTH only warm the ground above them, they do not warm the air. What you say above is true for well insulated enclosures, like PVC tanks, such as Boaphile, AP, etc. In a glass tank with a screen top, this is less of the case. However, most PVC enclosures, when the room temp is well below what the average temp in the tank needs to be, or even the cool side, will use a Radiant Heat Panel (RHP) to heat both the hot spot/hot side and the air in the enclosure.

    You probably want a Ceramic Heat Emitter (CHE) to both warm the middle of the tanks both air and ground. In this instance, you will almost definitely not need a second UTH. I would consider a CHE for the hot side/middle area. You need to run that off a thermostat as well IMO, although some people use a dimmer and/or a low wattage CHE. I say get a good thermostat now that can run two devices because down the road you will need that anyway when you upgrade your BP's tank, hopefully to something more suited to a BP that keeps heat and humidity in better.

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    Re: Anything I'm missing on this regurg/vomit?

    Again, thanks for the advice.

    OK, so what I'm going to try is a dual device thermostat (Inkbird ITC-608T), one output to control the UTH and one to control a CHE. Right now, the thermostats I can afford are On/Off as opposed to adaptive. Do you see this as being a problem with a CHE? My understanding of CHE is that they take a while to warm up and cool down, so if it's cycling on and the temperature hits the high end, it will shut off but continue to radiate heat a while, once it's cool, the temperatures are going to slowly creep back down at which point it will kick on again but will take some time to come back up to temperature. To me, that yo-yo of heat seems problematic, and moreso because of the CHE, but I'm not sure how to get around it without a significantly more expensive thermostat that can modulate at the wattage level rather than simply On/Off (and certainly if you know of a thermostat that modulates wattage that's less expensive than a herpstat, I'm all ears!)

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    Re: Anything I'm missing on this regurg/vomit?

    Answered my own question on that one...pulse or proportional thermostats only. I guess a Vivarium VE-300x2 it is and we'll cross our fingers.

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    Re: Anything I'm missing on this regurg/vomit?

    So the VE-300x2 is set up linked to the UTH and the CHE. Current temperatures are:

    Air (hot): 88F (by air probe linked to the VE)
    Basking: 94F (by IR)
    Air (cold) 80F (by air probe)
    Ground (cold) ~75F (by IR)

    UTH heat set to 89F also linked to the VE

    So I feel like my basking temperatures are perhaps a bit high, but that's where the CHE puts them in order to bring the air temperature up to 88. I feel like ground temperature on cold side is still low, but I'm much happier with the air temperature over there at ~80. I'm not sure how one would adjust things in order to cool the basking area without cooling the air as well. Suggestions? Or am I getting close enough where my BP should be able to move himself around between hides in a way that he can find what he needs?

    Of note, he IS moving himself right now between cool and warm hides. I usually find him in the cool hide in the AM and much of the day and then moved to the warm side in the evening and at night. I haven't caught him drinking which worries me, I feel like his spine is showing a bit more than I'd like, but I also know it's a tenuous place to be in to have a young snake fasting after a vomiting episode.

  11. #10
    BPnet Senior Member dakski's Avatar
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    Re: Anything I'm missing on this regurg/vomit?

    Quote Originally Posted by tempo36 View Post
    So the VE-300x2 is set up linked to the UTH and the CHE. Current temperatures are:

    Air (hot): 88F (by air probe linked to the VE)
    Basking: 94F (by IR)
    Air (cold) 80F (by air probe)
    Ground (cold) ~75F (by IR)

    UTH heat set to 89F also linked to the VE

    So I feel like my basking temperatures are perhaps a bit high, but that's where the CHE puts them in order to bring the air temperature up to 88. I feel like ground temperature on cold side is still low, but I'm much happier with the air temperature over there at ~80. I'm not sure how one would adjust things in order to cool the basking area without cooling the air as well. Suggestions? Or am I getting close enough where my BP should be able to move himself around between hides in a way that he can find what he needs?

    Of note, he IS moving himself right now between cool and warm hides. I usually find him in the cool hide in the AM and much of the day and then moved to the warm side in the evening and at night. I haven't caught him drinking which worries me, I feel like his spine is showing a bit more than I'd like, but I also know it's a tenuous place to be in to have a young snake fasting after a vomiting episode.
    Don't be so worried about the air temp.

    Basking spot should be no more than 90F.

    If you have to move the CHE closer to the cool side to get the cool side up, that's fine as long as the UTH provides a good ground temp.

    You are the right track though.

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