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  1. #1
    Registered User spiralout_keepgoing's Avatar
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    Unhappy Another new dad worry post; first BP

    So I've been looking around the forum before posting in hopes it'd ease some of my anxiety since getting my new girl almost two weeks ago. But I'm finding I'm still unsure about some stuff and I'd feel better just asking directly, especially since at this rate I feel I've bugged the breeder I bought from a enough and don't want to overload her with questions/thoughts that come from anxiety.

    So details first - I got a perfectly healthy, recently fed (at the time of purchase) piebald female who is about 6 months. I don't have the exact weight atm, but she was just around 100g if not a bit less when I get her. She was fed and finished shedding a not long before I picked her up.

    She is being kept in a 19L plastic tub I fitted with holes, and it's got two hides, plenty of foliage and a tree branch I cured in the oven before getting her, plus a water dish. The hides themselves are somewhat transparent, so I put cardboard along the outside of the enclosure to help her feel less exposed. I keep her enclosure in a spot I wouldn't call high traffic necessarily, but I also have been checking in on her a lot.

    I'm using a heat mat and it's on a thermostat (though it's a pulse thermostat and I already bought a proportional one that should arrive tomorrow). I've been struggling with the current set up to keep temps consistent, feel like I've been battling to keep her warm spot set correctly, but have been managing to get it at the right temps more or less with tweaking but I also don't want to keep disturbing her before her first meal. Humidity has mostly been fine other than a couple times she splashed water everywhere and caused huge spikes. When this happened, I felt compelled to change out her paper towels and dry her stuff off because I was worried the temps weren't right to help mitigate possible bacteria build up

    So here's my anxieties -

    I tried feeding her Sunday night (she's on live feed) and she wouldn't even come out of her hide. Maybe I did it too early in the evening, so I'm going to try again tomorrow. She never really even see the mouse, only shifted in her hide a little bit. No idea if she even smelled it. And I'm going to do my best to just leave her alone completely all day today and tomorrow before trying to feed.

    But I'm worried that because I've been fiddling with her environment so much between getting temps right, removing moisture, and even trying out a new hide last night that wasn't see through, that she's not going to eat.

    Another two behaviors I want to point it - The first week or so she spent most of her time in the hides which is great. Now she's spending very little time in them, and will either hang out on top of them or just on the floor. She didn't take to the new hides i added yesterday so I'm trying one of each, the new hide on the warm side and the old hide on the cool side.

    At night, but also yesterday in the afternoon, she spends her time exploring and scooting around, but also spends a fair amount of time pointing up to the ceiling and investigating. I don't think she's really pushing, but I do wonder if she's trying to get out because it's not comfy. She doesn't do this ALL the time though, mostly only at night and yesterday intermittently throughout the day.

    This morning she's not in any hides and just hanging out sprawled on the floor and over some foliage.

    I guess this is in part a vent post, and I hope it's okay that my first post is like this. I'd love any tips or reassurance if possible, and happy to provide any and all info about her set up and the last week and a half of keeping her. I love her very much, and only hope to give her the best life.

  2. #2
    BPnet Veteran Homebody's Avatar
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    Re: Another new dad worry post; first BP

    Please post pics of your set up. This thread will show you how: https://ball-pythons.net/forums/show...-Post-Pictures. In addition, what are the warm and cool side temperatures? Aside from the spikes, what's the level of her humidity? The more info we have the better the advice we'll give.

    I suggest holding off on feeding at least until Sunday. Repeated attempts to feed a snake that doesn't want to eat will stress your snake and make her less likely to feed. Between now and then, you'll want to get the temps and humidity dialed in. She'll feel much better eating if her temps and humidity are correct.

    I understand your anxiety. Been there. This is the worst part. I assure you, once you've got everything in the enclosure properly set up, it's pretty much easy sailing.
    Last edited by Homebody; 02-27-2024 at 02:43 PM.
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  4. #3
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    When did you bring this snake home? And when did she last eat? (date) For best results, no handling until after she's eating reliably (at least 3 times for you, without refusals unless in blue).

    If she's been with you less than a week, it's too soon to feed her- snakes need time to settle in- new homes are scary, snakes don't understand where their familiar world disappeared to.
    Waiting a week (or two, even) is fine before feeding a new snake.

    Also, don't keep offering a stressed snake food. When they refuse, wait a week before offering again. Be patient!

    IMPORTANT: BPs don't usually come out of their hides to eat. They're ambush predators & they like to eat after dark, by grabbing prey that just happens to walk by near where they're hiding. When hungry, they're often peeking out of their hide in the evening- they prefer dim lights & minimal activity on your part or nearby- try to blend in when you watch.

    Feed a new snake the same as they were raised eating: live, if fed live, or pre-killed fresh or f/t (frozen thawed-) if they were raised on that; & feed rats or mice, the same as before, & try to get the same size for at least the first 3 feedings for best results. We can help you with tips to get her on f/t a bit later, when the time is right.

    When snakes are "looking up", it's often because they're sniffing the fresh air coming in thru screen or vents. Try to relax- snakes need time to settle into new places.

    What exactly is she eating? (big difference between rats or mice with eyes open or closed)
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 02-27-2024 at 02:49 PM.
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  6. #4
    Registered User spiralout_keepgoing's Avatar
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    Re: Another new dad worry post; first BP

    Quote Originally Posted by Homebody View Post
    Please post pics of your set up. This thread will show you how: https://ball-pythons.net/forums/show...-Post-Pictures. In addition, what are the warm and cool side temperatures? Aside from the spikes, what's the level of her humidity? The more info we have the better the advice we'll give.

    I suggest holding off on feeding at least until Sunday. Repeated attempts to feed a snake that doesn't want to eat will stress your snake and make her less likely to feed. Between now and then, you'll want to get the temps and humidity dialed in. She'll feel much better eating if her temps and humidity are correct.

    I understand your anxiety. Been there. This is the worst part. I assure you, once you've got everything in the enclosure properly set up, it's pretty much easy sailing.
    Below is a photo of her set up. It's pretty snug, and when she's fully stretched out meets the rule of thumb I've read about. I have a 20gal on standby that I'm working to get all cluttered and cozy for when I'm ready to move her over. My thinking is to make it dense for her to feel safe despite it's size. And like I said, I put cardboard on all four sides to add a sense of security when in hide or skulking the floor.

    But for now, this is her home. The black hide she's currently in is on the hot side, connected to an inkbird pulse themostat (soon to be replaced by a vivarium ve-200 proportional thermostat). A note - The thermometer is taped to the heat pad itself under the tank, it's not glued inside the tank.

    The hide on the cool side is one of two of the same hide, I just replaced one with the black hide to see how she'd like it. I have one for the cool side, but it's a little bit shorter so I can keep the branch in there for now, however I decided to keep the transparent one in there for now since it's familiar from the last week and half.

    Temps read about right to me, her hide is coming in between 87-90, and tapers to about 75 at the coolest end. This has taken some real trial and error to get, but I think for now it's fine. I just don't know if these temps are staying consistent always because of the pulse thermostat.

    The thermometer/hygrometer was reading 73 ambient (it's not directly on the ground so I'm guessing it's reading the air) and humidity 68. I seem to be able to keep the humidity between 60 on the low end and 73 on the high end, save for when she spilled water everywhere Otherwise the only other spike I saw was when she pooped several days back. I've cleaned up the poop since.

    Lastly, I got her on February 17th. She was fed on February 13th by the breeder. And I can't find the date of her last shed but it was before I got her, I think before she was fed on the 13th.

    (Oh one othere note - some of the foliage I've moved around or she's redecorated as well. There's some fake plants on the side that she decided look better there for now lol)
    Last edited by spiralout_keepgoing; 02-27-2024 at 03:15 PM.

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  8. #5
    Registered User spiralout_keepgoing's Avatar
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    Re: Another new dad worry post; first BP

    Quote Originally Posted by Bogertophis View Post
    When did you bring this snake home? And when did she last eat? (date) For best results, no handling until after she's eating reliably (at least 3 times for you, without refusals unless in blue).

    If she's been with you less than a week, it's too soon to feed her- snakes need time to settle in- new homes are scary, snakes don't understand where their familiar world disappeared to.
    Waiting a week (or two, even) is fine before feeding a new snake.

    Also, don't keep offering a stressed snake food. When they refuse, wait a week before offering again. Be patient!

    IMPORTANT: BPs don't usually come out of their hides to eat. They're ambush predators & they like to eat after dark, by grabbing prey that just happens to walk by near where they're hiding. When hungry, they're often peeking out of their hide in the evening- they prefer dim lights & minimal activity on your part or nearby- try to blend in when you watch.

    Feed a new snake the same as they were raised eating: live, if fed live, or pre-killed fresh or f/t (frozen thawed-) if they were raised on that; & feed rats or mice, the same as before, & try to get the same size for at least the first 3 feedings for best results. We can help you with tips to get her on f/t a bit later, when the time is right.

    When snakes are "looking up", it's often because they're sniffing the fresh air coming in thru screen or vents. Try to relax- snakes need time to settle into new places.

    What exactly is she eating? (big difference between rats or mice with eyes open or closed)

    Oh and I forgot to answer this so I'll just do it in a separate post if that's okay -

    She's been eating mice currently. And I offered her a mouse the other day.

    I mentioned to the breeder that she didn't take and was told to try 3 days later by her, I assumed given how much time there will have now been between last feeding and this upcoming one.

    And for fun, here's a photo of my girl.

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  10. #6
    Bogertophis's Avatar
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    That black thing doesn't qualify as a hide- it's way too open. You want something like this (below) with a lower ceiling, & only one door that is slightly bigger than the snake's body.

    https://www.reptilebasics.com/hide-boxes https://www.reptilebasics.com/medium-hide-box You want a hide that's a little bigger than the snake's coiled body, but if you get one that's much larger, you can also make it "cozier" for them by crumpling up some paper to wad into one end- & so you don't need to buy new hides constantly while your snake's grow.

    These (from Reptile Basics) work great & come in many sizes, but similar ones are available by other brands too, or for the time being, even cardboard boxes of the right size & a doorway cut can work just fine, though when they get dirty, you obviously cannot clean cardboard, so they're disposable rather than washable.

    Hides are very important for a snake's sense of security. Get this right before you try feeding again, okay?

    What size mouse??? Eyes open or closed? It matters because mice (or rats) with eyes open DO BITE BACK in self-defense, & should only be offered with close supervision. Even then, if it's a hopper with eyes open for longer than a day, they can hurt your snake faster than you can intervene, so just be aware & make sure your snake is really ready to eat (ready to make a kill) before putting in an active hopper mouse.

    And from the age & size of your snake, I'd assume it's on hopper mice- most hatchling BPs are big enough to take hoppers so many are started on them. FYI, never leave them in with your snake overnight, if your snake doesn't take it while you're watching, take the mouse out before you leave or sleep, etc.

    (Hoppers are weaned, eating on their own, very active, eyes open, about half the size of mature adult mice.)

    Another thing to consider (for helping a new snake relax & feel "at home") is to make their new home very similar to how they were kept by the breeder. If you didn't see that in person, you can always ask. Many new owners understandably want to provide space that a new snake just isn't ready for. Many breeders use racks with more privacy, & not a lot of space or furnishings. At this point though, while it would help to ask & to know, you don't want to keep making changes with this new snake already home with you- the time to make changes would have been prior to bringing her home. For now, it would help to know, so you understand why she's not wanting to eat yet.
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 02-27-2024 at 03:33 PM.
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  12. #7
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    Re: Another new dad worry post; first BP

    Quote Originally Posted by Bogertophis View Post
    That black thing doesn't qualify as a hide- it's way too open. You want something like this (below) with a lower ceiling, & only one door that is slightly bigger than the snake's body.

    https://www.reptilebasics.com/hide-boxes https://www.reptilebasics.com/medium-hide-box You want a hide that's a little bigger than the snake's coiled body, but if you get one that's much larger, you can also make it "cozier" for them by crumpling up some paper to wad into one end- & so you don't need to buy new hides constantly while your snake's grow.

    These (from Reptile Basics) work great & come in many sizes, but similar ones are available by other brands too, or for the time being, even cardboard boxes of the right size & a doorway cut can work just fine, though when they get dirty, you obviously cannot clean cardboard, so they're disposable rather than washable.

    Hides are very important for a snake's sense of security. Get this right before you try feeding again, okay?

    What size mouse??? Eyes open or closed? It matters because mice (or rats) with eyes open DO BITE BACK in self-defense, & should only be offered with close supervision. Even then, if it's a hopper with eyes open for longer than a day, they can hurt your snake faster than you can intervene, so just be aware & make sure your snake is really ready to eat (ready to make a kill) before putting in an active hopper mouse.

    And from the age & size of your snake, I'd assume it's on hopper mice- most hatchling BPs are big enough to take hoppers so many are started on them. FYI, never leave them in with your snake overnight, if your snake doesn't take it while you're watching, take the mouse out before you leave or sleep, etc.

    (Hoppers are weaned, eating on their own, very active, eyes open, about half the size of mature adult mice.)

    Another thing to consider (for helping a new snake relax & feel "at home") is to make their new home very similar to how they were kept by the breeder. If you didn't see that in person, you can always ask. Many new owners understandably want to provide space that a new snake just isn't ready for. Many breeders use racks with more privacy, & not a lot of space or furnishings. At this point though, while it would help to ask & to know, you don't want to keep making changes with this new snake already home with you- the time to make changes would have been prior to bringing her home. For now, it would help to know, so you understand why she's not wanting to eat yet.

    I appreciate all of this info. My breeder didn't really say much about the hides I made previously other than covering the enclosure with cardboard to mitigate that they were see through.

    But I'll order these ones right away for now, it appears the small sized ones are about the same as what I have now but with the proper design. I have some bigger ones I had made that have a more proper doorway and are larger with a low ceiling, but they won't fit inside the enclosure without taking up most of the space and leave no room for a water bowl.

    I'll come back and respond to the food related stuff in just a bit. About to head out the door to go walk my partners dog and run errands. I appreciate you greatly.

    EDIT - Sorry one quick question before I go - Do you still feel like she'll be okay without a meal between now and when these arrive in the mail? I imagine they'll get here soon since I ordered my new thermostat from the same place and it's saying it'll get here tomorrow. I just don't want to starve her. She doesn't look malnourished to me or anything but still.
    Last edited by spiralout_keepgoing; 02-27-2024 at 03:38 PM.

  13. #8
    Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Honestly, a good hide on the cooler side* & a good hide on the warmer side*, with a water bowl in the middle, & maybe some "leafy cover" like you already have around it is pretty much all you need. The hides have to feel secure though, to a snake- like the ones shown above. They don't go for what humans put in "House Beautiful" magazine- they don't want wide dramatic doorways or high ceilings.

    (*I hope you have the temperatures correctly adjusted? You want about 77* F. on the cool side & 88-89* F. on the warmer side. And be sure you're measuring the temperature of the floor, with no more than 1/2" of substrate if​ you're using UTH to heat-??? Understand that a snake that's not warm enough- in their opinion- is likely to refuse food- so temperatures are supremely important.)

    Btw, UTH = under tank heat

    And covering the sides for privacy is a good idea too- this snake was likely housed in a rack previously.
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 02-27-2024 at 03:51 PM.
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  15. #9
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    Re: Another new dad worry post; first BP

    Quote Originally Posted by spiralout_keepgoing View Post
    Sorry one quick question before I go - Do you still feel like she'll be okay without a meal between now and when these arrive in the mail? I imagine they'll get here soon since I ordered my new thermostat from the same place and it's saying it'll get here tomorrow. I just don't want to starve her. She doesn't look malnourished to me or anything but still.
    Starving a snake is like freezing a penguin. It's possible, but it ain't easy. So, focus on getting her enclosure properly set up. Then, leave her alone for a bit. Then, feed.
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  17. #10
    Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Re: Another new dad worry post; first BP

    Quote Originally Posted by spiralout_keepgoing View Post
    I appreciate all of this info. My breeder didn't really say much about the hides I made previously other than covering the enclosure with cardboard to mitigate that they were see through.

    But I'll order these ones right away for now, it appears the small sized ones are about the same as what I have now but with the proper design. I have some bigger ones I had made that have a more proper doorway and are larger with a low ceiling, but they won't fit inside the enclosure without taking up most of the space and leave no room for a water bowl.

    I'll come back and respond to the food related stuff in just a bit. About to head out the door to go walk my partners dog and run errands. I appreciate you greatly.

    EDIT - Sorry one quick question before I go - Do you still feel like she'll be okay without a meal between now and when these arrive in the mail? I imagine they'll get here soon since I ordered my new thermostat from the same place and it's saying it'll get here tomorrow. I just don't want to starve her. She doesn't look malnourished to me or anything but still.

    I would guess that the breeder didn't even use hides, just had them in a small rack (privacy from the surrounding sides of the rack).

    Before you order, measure roughly the size of this coiled snake & add some space- you can always pad a hide that's a little too big- just something that will work for a while. BPs are snakes that often like "back pressure"- so they know predators can't sneak up on them- they feel safe.

    Yes, she's FINE without a meal for now- she just refused a meal & she's still not settled in. See my previous post. And whenever a snake refuses a meal, always wait about a week before offering again, because constantly offering food just stresses them into refusing longer. Snakes are not designed to eat all the time- fasting is what they do for survival, & they're good at it.
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