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  1. #1
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    Getting the Temps right

    Hi everyone,

    This is my first time owning a ball python and I had thought I'd done enough research, asked another friend who owned a healthy ball python, and read through this blog in particular to feel I had a good grasp of how to take care of my new baby.

    But that's just not happening. My banana ball python is almost 5 months old now and his name is Coconut. I've had him since early November and he's currently housed in a 40 gallon glass tank (I got the tank for free, great condition so would really rather not have to switch if I don't have to). I know it's a bit big for him now but i've filled it with good branches, lots of plastic plants and two hidey holes that he likes to go in between. His substrate is eco earth and he's got a medium water bowl that I'm keeping in the middle of the tank. I've got a 30-40 gallon repitherm U.T.H connected to a Jumpstart temp controller set at 93 (the reader is directly on top of the glass with about an inch of substrate in between the bottom and the snake). I have two thermometers (one is also a humidity reader) on both sides of the tank. I also have a mister and a 100 watt C.H.L on standby.

    When Coconut was first with me I had tried to get the temps to where the care guides had asked; 80-85 for the cool side and 85-90 for the warm side. And with the ceramic heat lamp and a towel placed over half of the top I was able to reach those temperatures perfectly. The problem was the humidity, it was so hard to keep that where it needed to be. It would always dip into the 40-30 range no matter how much I misted or placed the water bowl. It was a constant struggle to get it where it needed to be and sure enough, when Coconut had his first shed with me it was a stuck shed that wasn't fun for either of us.

    So I decided to take away the ceramic heat bulb because it was just taking away too much humidity, and where I live the humidity is usually in the 70's year round, so sure enough, now the humidity is absolutely perfect. We've been reading in the 70's for the last couple of days, no misting needed, no towel on top to keep it in. The only issue now is my temp on the cool side is reading 74 degrees which I know is a bit of a danger zone for ball pythons.

    However, I think the part that i'm missing here is *where* the temps need to be right. Most guides I read online advocate for just an UTH or a lamp, not usually both, or multiples of either. I would also assume that it's more crucial for the temperatures to be correct right on top of the substrate rather than the air at the top of the cage. My reader right now is maybe a fourth of an inch above the substrate but i'm thinking of changing to a temp gun soon to get better measurement.

    Basically, when i'm looking for right temps, does it have to be the entire cage that's in that control zone? Or just where the snake actually lives, IE, right at the bottom of the cage. I've been thinking of buying another UTH and another temp controller and setting those on the cool side set to 80 if i'm only worried about the substrate reaching those temps, but if it has to be the entire cage then how do you guys do it? What is your setup that keeps the humidity high and the temps right?

    Coconut's personality has been great btw through all of this. He's been super lax and chill which pretty much everything I do, and is getting really adjusted to being handled. I usually take him out 2-3 times a week right now just to get acclimated.

    Any help or tips is really appreciated! Thank you!

  2. #2
    BPnet Veteran KevinK's Avatar
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    Re: Getting the Temps right

    So if you have too much humidity while being able to reach proper temps with the towel setup, then you should be thinking about switching to a different substrate that carries little to low humidity. If your humidity actually stays at about 70% year round I’d be thinking about aspen or paper as you have no need for extra humidity generated by the substrate.

    Yes, ambient air temperature is important however and no a uth on the cold side (from my experience) doesn’t raise ambient air temperature very much, at least not to the extent of a lamp or CHE.

    A lot of these answers your seeking are found only with troubleshooting and trial and error on your part. It can be very frustrating to nail it down, but once you do, you can check off one of the most difficult things about snake ownership. There is nothing wrong with tanks BUT by design they are not intended for reptiles so you have to be a bit more creative and experimental.


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    jmcrook (01-09-2021)

  4. #3
    BPnet Veteran KevinK's Avatar
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    Re: Getting the Temps right

    Furthermore (upon reading more of your post) if aspen and paper leave you with too dry of an environment...try a different humid substrate but try a slower releasing one. Eco earth dries out fast under a bulb...try repti-chip which is coconut chunk that holds and releases humidity slower than eco earth.


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