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  1. #1
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    Revamp?!?! Any help highly appreciated

    Hellooo! I've had my ball python for about 6 months now. He's in great health but being stubborn and having a hunger strike. Here is the deal...I moved in February and therefore updated his set up. He is now in a 40 gallon vivarium with a uhp to match the size. Problem is I was gifted his tank and its a perfect size but its made of glass and the top is screened therefore Im struggling with husbandry. I thought I did enough info digging before I bought him but that was stupid to assume of course because learning never stops!!
    I now regret not buying an animal plastics pvc home. I feel like his partial food problem is there is no way for me to keep the heat up and a solid humidity. The uth is junk so ive been keeping his heat lamp on at all times and i know this is messing up his cycles but ambient 70 degrees is too cold for half the day. I've been in contact with proproducts for an rhp and they have guided me to the correct watt/size.
    SOOO finally my question is this...Has anyone encased their glass tank with a reptile safe insulation and if so any advice? I don't want to ditch the large tank and waste it, so my idea was to spend some cash to improve it. I currently have some pink insulation bored cut and secured on all 3 sides of his tank..its a fail. So I'm planning on buying and cutting some 1/2" pvc board with some nontoxic heavyduty adhesive to the outside walls of the tank including securing the top therefore in part turning my glass terrarium into an insulated pvc home. Dumb idea or no?
    I'm holding back from contacting proproducts back and buying the rhp until there is a proper way to secure it to the top of my tank.

  2. #2
    Bogertophis's Avatar
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    How old & how big is your BP? A 40 gal. tank would be a nice size for an adult BP, but it's probably freaking him out (combined with the move) because it's too big, not to mention the trouble you're having with the temps. & humidity. If your BP is young, a hunger strike is not normal & can be dangerous for his health. You need to fix this asap.

    Screen tops can be modified- covered most of the way with foil or plexi, or anything that doesn't allow for all that air flow. Fixing the humidity also depends on choosing a substrate that holds humidity, &/or offering a humid hide in addition to the cool & warm side hides.

    Glass tanks can be insulated to keep heat in using all sorts of materials. That's not your biggest problem. You always want to set up a snake enclosure & test it out for a week or two, making sure the heat is adequate. It's stressing your snake to keep experimenting while he's trying to live there. Not sure about using an RHP with a tank, maybe someone else can offer advice about that, as I don't use them at all.

    BPs are ambush-predators, NOT active hunters. Especially when young, they prefer cozy quarters- without that, they often refuse to eat due to stress.
    Instead of a heat "lamp", try using a CHE (ceramic heat emitter) in a suitable metal dome- it puts out heat only, no light. BPs don't like bright lights anyway, & certainly not 24/7. And if adequate heat is a problem, you might want to keep the UTH running too- with the "warm side hide" over it.

    I hope you know that ALL heat sources need to be controlled by thermostat for safety?
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 04-30-2021 at 12:34 AM.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
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  4. #3
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    Re: Revamp?!?! Any help highly appreciated

    He is younger, hard to tell as the worker at the local reptile focused petstore didn't know much about ball pythons. Hes 2 1/2 feet long and his last feed he was around 300 g I believe the last time he was weighed (remember weighing him but lacked to log it). I guess hunger strike is an aggressive term because when he does feed he eats like a champ. His last meal was the largest he had and i noticed by his physical size it took him longer to digest than normal so I think that might be why hes refused the past few times I've tried to feed him, maybe i got ambitious and his meal was too large. I've factored in the move stressing him out and thats why I left him alone for some time before i attempted to feed or handle him.
    After a few failed attempts of feeding thats why im confused. hes had 3 perfect full sheds eye caps and everything. I gave him his time to adapt then started to handle him regularly and he seems to love it. He actually comes to me and noticeably recognizes my smell. we hang out outside of his enclosure frequently.
    I've tried covering 70% of the screen top before and continued to use insulation board because it was the winter. Now it's becoming spring and his behavior is fine his weight and physical appearance has hardly changed but i can't help but constantly stress about not being able to regulate humidity because I dont want him to contract an RI. Temps range from 78-82 and his humidity if im not home to spray dips to 45 (STRESS INITIATED). The main reason why i reached out to proproducts for an rhp was because the heat pads arent warming enough to the temp my thermostat reads via temp gun and im not risking burning his belly if he burrows by jacking it up any higher if for some reason it starts reading properly. UHP pads from reviews ive read seem to be pretty 50/50 and i think i ended up the /50 where they just dont work or i always end up with a junk one?! My thought process is (struggling with humidity because not warm enough ambient wise, insulation board and keep lamp on, [Losing humidity, or turn lamp off & getting] potentially too cold for too long) I feel like a crazy mom overprotecting my baby AHHHH also i forgot to mention because i was just ranting so sorry!! i use a 40/60 coconut fiber/sphagnum moss substrate
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 04-30-2021 at 11:03 AM. Reason: Warned for language in violation of TOS

  5. #4
    Registered User gerguera's Avatar
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    Re: Revamp?!?! Any help highly appreciated

    Quote Originally Posted by jazzhands View Post
    He is younger, hard to tell as the worker at the local reptile focused petstore didn't know much about ball pythons. Hes 2 1/2 feet long and his last feed he was around 300 g I believe the last time he was weighed (remember weighing him but lacked to log it). I guess hunger strike is an aggressive term because when he does feed he eats like a champ. His last meal was the largest he had and i noticed by his physical size it took him longer to digest than normal so I think that might be why hes refused the past few times I've tried to feed him, maybe i got ambitious and his meal was too large. I've factored in the move stressing him out and thats why I left him alone for some time before i attempted to feed or handle him.
    After a few failed attempts of feeding thats why im confused. hes had 3 perfect full sheds eye caps and everything. I gave him his time to adapt then started to handle him regularly and he seems to love it. He actually comes to me and noticeably recognizes my smell. we hang out outside of his enclosure frequently.
    I've tried covering 70% of the screen top before and continued to use insulation board because it was the winter. Now it's becoming spring and his behavior is fine his weight and physical appearance has hardly changed but i can't help but constantly stress about not being able to regulate humidity because I dont want him to contract an RI. Temps range from 78-82 and his humidity if im not home to spray dips to 45 (STRESS INITIATED). The main reason why i reached out to proproducts for an rhp was because the heat pads arent warming enough to the temp my thermostat reads via temp gun and im not risking burning his belly if he burrows by jacking it up any higher if for some reason it starts reading properly. UHP pads from reviews ive read seem to be pretty 50/50 and i think i ended up the /50 where they just dont work or i always end up with a junk one?! My thought process is (struggling with humidity because not warm enough ambient wise, insulation board and keep lamp on, fu** humidity is getting sucked up , turn lamp off for a few hours, fuuuuuu** potentially too cold for too long) I feel like a crazy mom overprotecting my baby AHHHH also i forgot to mention because i was just ranting so sorry!! i use a 40/60 coconut fiber/sphagnum moss substrate

    A 300 gram ball python is too small to be going on an extended hunger strike. A 40 gallon tank I feel is on the big side for him unless you purposefully provide enough clutter/hiding areas to not make the enclosure seem large and open. It can definitely be modified to work to properly house your ball python.
    You could invest in a reptifogger and set it up with a christmas tree timer in order to fog his tank every so often in order to auto regulate his humidity. Since he is currently living in it I would definitely experiment with it on a day off in order to keep a close eye on the humidity.
    As far as your UTH is concerned where do you have the thermostat probe placed to read the temperature? It should be placed in direct contact with the UTH and you set your desired temperature. Then you use your temperature gun on the inside of your tank over the substrate and you can move the substrate to the side to get the temperature of the glass directly above the UTH. This allows you to set your thermostat temperature to a safe and appropriate temperature for your ball pythons hot spot. If necessary to regulate ambient temperature I would also recommend using a Ceramic Heat Emitter, and unless the snake is being kept in a room with no windows you can use a light bulb to set up day and night time.
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  6. #5
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    Sounds like you need a thermostat- this is NOT a "temp gun." It sounds like, from your description, you aren't using a thermostat at all. This will cost you some money (like $50?), but will fix your temperature problem. I have two JumpStart thermostats (different setups, not in the same setup) and have not had issues with them. They are more expensive, but are not going to be garbage. UTHs, I have used Flukers, not sure which brand is "best" but haven't had a problem with mine. Maybe you got a bad UTH; whatever, they are pretty inexpensive. Get a different one. And attach it to a thermostat! You could kill you BP if you don't use a thermostat, and also, you know, burn down your house.

    So,
    Watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EDX59Zlto4
    - Get a thermostat (like I said. This is not a temp gun. It plugs into the wall, and the UTH plugs into it.)
    - Get a new UTH and plug it into the thermostat
    - Hides; you haven't mentioned having any
    - Don't feel bad not using the tank just because it was a gift. Clearly whoever gifted it to you didn't research. Your animal's life is more important than gifter's feelings or whatever? Personally, I say you will waste more money "upgrading" an inherently unsuitable tank when the alternative is better and cheaper. You say you are stressed about the humidity... Then get a better enclosure.
    - You can get a plastic tub from Target, which would be like, idk, $10 maximum? And it would be better than the tank you have. I would recommend this instead of just putting something on top of the screen to hold in more humidity, because a tub would be a more long-term solution. Also, because you have like totally freaked out your bp, it would feel more secure in a tub. Some people keep theirs in only tubs.

    And just saying your UTH is a bad one, doesn't mean you can't/shouldn't use one; go get a different one. I can't imagine leaving a light on all the time or turning it on and off periodically. That really bugs me, and is torture for your snake. That alone would cause a hunger strike.

    Actually while I'm at it, just watch this too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNpljc5aH1k

  7. #6
    Registered User Erie_herps's Avatar
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    If you're going to use a 40 gallon tank then add a lot of clutter, hides, dishes, etc. To raise humidity and heat you can just add tin/aluminum foil to the top, then you can add or remove it to reach the desired effect.

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  9. #7
    Registered User Hugsplox's Avatar
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    Re: Revamp?!?! Any help highly appreciated

    Quote Originally Posted by Bogertophis View Post
    How old & how big is your BP? A 40 gal. tank would be a nice size for an adult BP, but it's probably freaking him out (combined with the move) because it's too big, not to mention the trouble you're having with the temps. & humidity. If your BP is young, a hunger strike is not normal & can be dangerous for his health. You need to fix this asap.

    Screen tops can be modified- covered most of the way with foil or plexi, or anything that doesn't allow for all that air flow. Fixing the humidity also depends on choosing a substrate that holds humidity, &/or offering a humid hide in addition to the cool & warm side hides.

    Glass tanks can be insulated to keep heat in using all sorts of materials. That's not your biggest problem. You always want to set up a snake enclosure & test it out for a week or two, making sure the heat is adequate. It's stressing your snake to keep experimenting while he's trying to live there. Not sure about using an RHP with a tank, maybe someone else can offer advice about that, as I don't use them at all.

    BPs are ambush-predators, NOT active hunters. Especially when young, they prefer cozy quarters- without that, they often refuse to eat due to stress.
    Instead of a heat "lamp", try using a CHE (ceramic heat emitter) in a suitable metal dome- it puts out heat only, no light. BPs don't like bright lights anyway, & certainly not 24/7. And if adequate heat is a problem, you might want to keep the UTH running too- with the "warm side hide" over it.

    I hope you know that ALL heat sources need to be controlled by thermostat for safety?
    I think Bogertophis covered all the big hitter items about converting a 40 for BP use. You're gonna get people who tell me you to move to a tub because it's better, this isn't entirely true. You can make your enclosure work, and it can work well, you just to invest the time, and very little money into it.

    Here's how mine was set up before upgrading to a PVC enclosure:

    1. Three sides covered by black paper. This was to block off the sides to make the BP feel more secure, I liked how the black looked but obviously you can do whatever color you want. Around that I used something similar to this to insulate the tank.
    https://www.amazon.com/Reflective-In...39809377&psc=1

    2. Cover most of the top with a few sheets of aluminum foil, held down with duct tape. Again I used black here to match the rest of the set up. I left just enough space for an appropriate fixture, with a 100w CHE controlled by a thermostat which handled ambient temperature. A UTH under a hide also controlled by a thermostat took care of the hot spot, and a big water bowl on top of that warm hide. The CHE would heat the water up just enough to cause some evaporation, which helped maintain humidity, and misting once or twice a day maintained the rest.

    3. Substrate is up to you, I used Forest Floor and Reptibark later, personally I prefer Reptibark but again whatever works for you. Lastly, either purchase or DIY yourself a humid hide. This can be done with a tupperware container big enough for your snake to get into, and some moss, or you can purchase a premade one online. This will give your BP a humid place to go in the event that it goes into shed, or if your humidity drops during the day.

    There's nothing wrong with using a tub if that's what you want to do, but a glass enclosure is perfectly acceptable if you do it correctly. Plenty of clutter, fake plants, cork bark, multiple hides, you can make that enclosure work for him. It'll just take some effort on your part. Going out and buying a tub may be an easier option but considering he's already not eating, I don't know that moving him into yet another new closure regardless of reasoning is the right move.
    Last edited by Hugsplox; 04-30-2021 at 09:03 AM.

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  11. #8
    Registered User Caitlin's Avatar
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    You've gotten good advice. I just want to add that a UTH is NOT meant to provide ambient heat (the overall heat level in the enclosure). A UTH is just one tool in setting up your overall temperature gradient. It's great for helping to make a warm spot at the warmest point of the gradient. I love UTH for creating warm spots in tubs or tanks, and they are quite safe as long as they are properly regulated by a thermostat. I recommend UltraTherm UTH - they're extremely well-made; probably the best in the business. You can get them on Amazon or from Reptile Basics or The Bean Farm.

    Your snake probably isn't eating for one, or a combination, of reasons: the enclosure doesn't offer enough clutter and hiding spots for him to feel secure; he's too cold (your average temps are overall too chilly); you are handling him too much; you are offering food too often, or you are offering a size he doesn't want (stop being 'ambitious' about feeder size and refer to the feeding charts on this site); he's stressed because you are running a light in his face all the time; you are regulating humidity poorly (spraying or misting or fogging is a lousy way to establish and maintain humidity).

    It sounds like you are not using a thermostat. BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING ELSE, GET A THERMOSTAT TO REGULATE TEMPERATURES. GET TWO IF YOU ARE USING A CHE AND A UTH. I really can't emphasize this too strongly. With no thermostat, you snake is at great risk of burns or neurological damage from unregulated heat sources. If you are using a thermostat, I apologize for the caps. I just couldn't tell from your posts, and a thermostat is a life-or-death matter.

    As others have mentioned, you can successfully set up a tank for a Ball Python, but it can be a hassle. A tub would be easier while you save up for a nice PVC enclosure. But if you decide to stick with the tank, it can definitely work. The HVAC tape on the screen that others have mentioned works well.

    If you set your heating elements up properly you shouldn't need to insulate the tank unless you are dealing with winter temperatures in a cold climate. However, to help your snake feel more secure, you might cover three sides of the enclosure with construction paper or dark plastic film.

    Your substrate mix sounds fine. I'd suggest making it deeper - you want at least 2". Don't waste time misting. Pour a cup or so of water into it and stir it around thoroughly about once a week, until it is just slightly damp to the touch but doesn't drip water when you squeeze it. Fluff it daily; spot-clean it daily. Misting doesn't do anything but artificially spike humidity; foggers and misters are great for creating clouds of bacteria.

    A shallow, wide water bowl placed directly under your heat source can help with additional evaporation.

    You can also make a humidity hide so that your snake can choose a more humid micro-environment when he wants to.

    Stop handling him for now. Focus on getting his temperature gradient set up properly and on providing him with appropriate hides, clutter, and an overall sense of security. Don't bother him with offering food until you get temperature sorted out - if he eats and is chilled, you risk regurgitation and that's dangerous. But don't delay, either. At his size he shouldn't be refusing to eat.

    If setting up the tank correctly feels like too much of a struggle at the moment, get him set up in a Sterilite or Iris tub. We can help with that.

    Hang in there; I know it can be a little overwhelming to take in as much information as we are sharing with you here. Ask questions when you need to.
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  13. #9
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    One quick note about UTH & substrate: in the post above, it was suggested to make the substrate deeper (for their sense of "security" & to hold humidity) BUT, if it's deep, the heat from a UTH has trouble rising at all- the deep substrate is acting as insulation, preventing the heat from rising into the cage where the snake needs it.

    So for the best of both worlds, try keeping the substrate shallow over the UTH & putting the "warm hide" over it (or over at least part of it) to help contain the warmth. The rest of the tank (or enclosure) is fine with deeper substrate- it's just that UTH tends to be low wattage, & no matter what, it must be controlled (t-stat!) to a max. of 90* so your snake doesn't suffer thermal burns or neurological damage.

    What I'm saying is, you don't want to crank up the UTH (trying to raise the ambient temperature) because even if you think it's safe (covered by deep substrate), understand that your snake can be counted on to push the substrate around & it then becomes a serious danger to them if it's not regulated by a thermostat to a maximum of 89*-90*. Please get a thermostat (or 2), A.S.A.P.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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    Re: Revamp?!?! Any help highly appreciated

    Quote Originally Posted by Bogertophis View Post
    One quick note about UTH & substrate: in the post above, it was suggested to make the substrate deeper (for their sense of "security" & to hold humidity) BUT, if it's deep, the heat from a UTH has trouble rising at all- the deep substrate is acting as insulation, preventing the heat from rising into the cage where the snake needs it.

    So for the best of both worlds, try keeping the substrate shallow over the UTH & putting the "warm hide" over it (or over at least part of it) to help contain the warmth. The rest of the tank (or enclosure) is fine with deeper substrate- it's just that UTH tends to be low wattage, & no matter what, it must be controlled (t-stat!) to a max. of 90* so your snake doesn't suffer thermal burns or neurological damage.

    What I'm saying is, you don't want to crank up the UTH (trying to raise the ambient temperature) because even if you think it's safe (covered by deep substrate), understand that your snake can be counted on to push the substrate around & it then becomes a serious danger to them if it's not regulated by a thermostat to a maximum of 89*-90*. Please get a thermostat (or 2), A.S.A.P.
    Yea I should have specified, I had deep substrate, like 4 inches, except over the UTH. Over the UTH I had a very thin layer, which of course the BP moved to just lay straight on the glass. I was trying to simulate a burrow by semi-burying the warm hide like this. It seemed to work pretty well and I ended up doing this with all the hides.

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