Need A Little Ball Python Advice

Fishbro5

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Hello everyone! So of course I thought I was going to get a Corn Snake then a Gecko but now I am looking into Ball Pythons. Theoretically if I were to get a Ball python I would have the basking spot/heat mat at 90-95 degrees. The ambient temperature SHOULD be 75-80 degrees right? My basement always stays at 69-70 degrees and my ambient temperature in the tank would be around that maybe a little more with 50-60% humidity. How could I get the ambient temperature up to par in the tank? I like sleeping in the cold but a room heater could work bumping up the room temperature? Any other suggestions?
 

stella1979

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I'm not terribly experienced. It's been more than 10 years since I had my ball python and less than 6 months since we've had a gecko. So, with that said, do take this with a grain of salt and please, as always, do follow up research.

I think your best bet would be a heat mat, sometimes referred to as under tank heaters, or possibly heat tape which is also used under the tank. One thing to know about under tank heating is that you must have a small gap under the tank to let warmth escape, or you risk hurting your reptile, burning the stand, and possibly starting a fire. This is why terrariums made by reptile manufacturers (like ExoTerra) sit flush on the corners only while between corners, the frame allows for a tiny gap between it and the stand. You can get little feet to go under the corners of a regular aquarium which will lift it slightly and provide the gap.

Most importantly, you'll need a thermostat which you'll plug the heater into which will regulate the temp/cut off power to the heater when the high temp is met. Unfortunately, malfunctioning heaters occur all too often, thus, I use a thermostat on all tanks, including fish tanks. Malfunctioning isn't even the biggest concern though... if you don't want to constantly monitor temp and be a slave to turning heaters on and off... get a thermostat. If you want to take no chances that heat will injure your pet... get a thermostat. And hey, it's Prime Day on Amazon so... get a thermostat and hopefully find deals on that as well as other needed items. Just, please, whatever heating devices you use, get a thermostat along with them.

Here's what I use on fish tanks, and what would work just fine on a reptile tank.
https://www.amazon.com/Inkbird-Max-1200W-Temperature-Controller-Greenhouse/dp/B01HXM5UAC/ref=sr_1_3?crid=1IWLJGPBEEHWR&keywords=inkbird+itc-308&qid=1563207453&s=gateway&sprefix=inkbird+itc,aps,150&sr=8-3

After spending a bunch on a little lizard and his big, fully planted and bioactive ExoTerra... I cheaped out on the thermostat here. I've been using Inkibirds for a couple of years now and this other option has been working well for me since March.
https://www.amazon.com/Century-Thermostat-Controller-Germination-40-108°F/dp/B01I15S6OM/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?keywords=reptile+thermostat&qid=1563207512&s=gateway&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1
 
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Fishbro5

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I'm not terribly experienced. It's been more than 10 years since I had my ball python and less than 6 months since we've had a gecko. So, with that said, do take this with a grain of salt and please, as always, do follow up research.

I think your best bet would be a heat mat, sometimes referred to as under tank heaters, or possibly heat tape which is also used under the tank. One thing to know about under tank heating is that you must have a small gap under the tank to let warmth escape, or you risk hurting your reptile, burning the stand, and possibly starting a fire. This is why terrariums made by reptile manufacturers (like ExoTerra) sit flush on the corners only while between corners, the frame allows for a tiny gap between it and the stand. You can get little feet to go under the corners of a regular aquarium which will lift it slightly and provide the gap.

Most importantly, you'll need a thermostat which you'll plug the heater into which will regulate the temp/cut off power to the heater when the high temp is met. Unfortunately, malfunctioning heaters occur all too often, thus, I use a thermostat on all tanks, including fish tanks. Malfunctioning isn't even the biggest concern though... if you don't want to constantly monitor temp and be a slave to turning heaters on and off... get a thermostat. If you want to take no chances that heat will injure your pet... get a thermostat. And hey, it's Prime Day on Amazon so... get a thermostat and hopefully find deals on that as well as other needed items. Just, please, whatever heating devices you use, get a thermostat along with them.

Here's what I use on fish tanks, and what would work just fine on a reptile tank.
https://www.amazon.com/Inkbird-Max-1200W-Temperature-Controller-Greenhouse/dp/B01HXM5UAC/ref=sr_1_3?crid=1IWLJGPBEEHWR&keywords=inkbird+itc-308&qid=1563207453&s=gateway&sprefix=inkbird+itc,aps,150&sr=8-3

After spending a bunch on a little lizard and his big, fully planted and bioactive ExoTerra... I cheaped out on the thermostat here. I've been using Inkibirds for a couple of years now and this other option has been working well for me since March.
https://www.amazon.com/Century-Thermostat-Controller-Germination-40-108°F/dp/B01I15S6OM/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?keywords=reptile+thermostat&qid=1563207512&s=gateway&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1
Ok thank you for the help, I was planning on using a heat mat with thermostat on the warm side but does it matter if the colder side is 70 degrees instead of the 75-80 that it is supposed to be? Isn’t the ambient temp supposed to be 75-80 or does it not matter if I have a heat source that is the proper temp for the snake to thermoregulate?

Also, thank you for the advice and the inkbirdthermostat I think that is what I will get!
 

stella1979

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I wish I could be sure but I'm afraid to say that I began keeping a ball python when I was only a teenager and didn't know or follow the best practices. I kept a heat mat without a thermostat for night time temp regulations, (unplugged during the day) as well as a heat-emitting bulb for day time basking.... and just got lucky that my snake survived with me for the years that he did. As you can probably tell, I have a hard time giving specific advice because I do not recommend keeping them the way I did back then. Idk... I live in Florida, where it never gets very cold, and Jake did live with me for nearly 10 years... until a bad doctor told me during the nerve-wracking time of my first pregnancy, that my snake could severely hurt or even kill my unborn child. (Not true, ill-informed, fear-mongering, that doc's bad ways also landed me in the hospital for a week when I was heavily pregnant.) Jake then went to a much better home with a dear friend and reptile lover.

I have found Moon Valley Reptiles to a be a wonderful source of information for my current reptile, a crested gecko, so perhaps they also have info on snakes..? I'm unsure but just wanted to give you a good source before telling you that I have found incomplete and even somewhat bad advice at what is usually the first search result... I don't like bashing anyone in public so will just say that Reptiles Magazine may give some basics but should not be your first or only source of information.

Here's what I do know about Ball Pythons. They can get quite large so please know that those cute little babies may someday be as long as you. When they're little, they are quite shy so it's important to socialize them with regular, (I'd say daily), handling sessions... though not long sessions. Maybe start out with a few minutes and work up to maybe 15 minutes per day. If for whatever reason, the snake is not handled for long periods of time, you may find the snake becomes very grumpy when handled again... this means you're back at square one and will have to re-socialize your snake. Don't forget that the water bowl isn't only for drinking and should be large enough for the snake to get in... and, of course, should be kept clean with fresh water offered daily.

You are doing a great job at getting the research out of the way before getting the animal. Just be sure to reference different sources and find the common denominator... because unfortunately, what may be the big dogs, (like big box pet stores and popular magazines) may not be the best resource. I think if I were in your shoes, I'd search Dav Kauffman's YouTube Channel for Ball Python videos. I don't think Dav covers care, but he does showcase some of the best reptile breeders and you may find that these breeders have their own websites containing care information.

Edit: Being more specific to your question about the required cool temp, I should add... Jake had love of those reptile branded rocks with a totally flat bottom with a flat-ish top. It sat directly on the bottom glass with the heatmat beneath (on the outside of the bottom glass) and the bulb hanging above (outside the tank.) He had cork half rounds around the tank including on his warm rock. Sometimes he'd chill and or sleep inside either the cool or warm cork hides, sometimes he'd hang out on top of cork hides during the day, directly under the bulb... or not.

I had one of those old style dial thermometer/hygrometer monitors and don't remember numbers but this was a wide and deep enclosure with wood for three sides and a rather open metal mesh 'screen' top.

The important thing is... I live in a hot humid subtropical environment and the a/c is always on and never set higher than 74° F. I'm not sure about a ball pythons temp requirements but I wouldn't let the cool side set at a temp 10° warmer than recommended.
 
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Fishbro5

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I wish I could be sure but I'm afraid to say that I began keeping a ball python when I was only a teenager and didn't know or follow the best practices. I kept a heat mat without a thermostat for night time temp regulations, (unplugged during the day) as well as a heat-emitting bulb for day time basking.... and just got lucky that my snake survived with me for the years that he did. As you can probably tell, I have a hard time giving specific advice because I do not recommend keeping them the way I did back then. Idk... I live in Florida, where it never gets very cold, and Jake did live with me for nearly 10 years... until a bad doctor told me during the nerve-wracking time of my first pregnancy, that my snake could severely hurt or even kill my unborn child. (Not true, ill-informed, fear-mongering, that doc's bad ways also landed me in the hospital for a week when I was heavily pregnant.) Jake then went to a much better home with a dear friend and reptile lover.

I have found Moon Valley Reptiles to a be a wonderful source of information for my current reptile, a crested gecko, so perhaps they also have info on snakes..? I'm unsure but just wanted to give you a good source before telling you that I have found incomplete and even somewhat bad advice at what is usually the first search result... I don't like bashing anyone in public so will just say that Reptiles Magazine may give some basics but should not be your first or only source of information.

Here's what I do know about Ball Pythons. They can get quite large so please know that those cute little babies may someday be as long as you. When they're little, they are quite shy so it's important to socialize them with regular, (I'd say daily), handling sessions... though not long sessions. Maybe start out with a few minutes and work up to maybe 15 minutes per day. If for whatever reason, the snake is not handled for long periods of time, you may find the snake becomes very grumpy when handled again... this means you're back at square one and will have to re-socialize your snake. Don't forget that the water bowl isn't only for drinking and should be large enough for the snake to get in... and, of course, should be kept clean with fresh water offered daily.

You are doing a great job at getting the research out of the way before getting the animal. Just be sure to reference different sources and find the common denominator... because unfortunately, what may be the big dogs, (like big box pet stores and popular magazines) may not be the best resource. I think if I were in your shoes, I'd search Dav Kauffman's YouTube Channel for Ball Python videos. I don't think Dav covers care, but he does showcase some of the best reptile breeders and you may find that these breeders have their own websites containing care information.

Edit: Being more specific to your question about the required cool temp, I should add... Jake had love of those reptile branded rocks with a totally flat bottom with a flat-ish top. It sat directly on the bottom glass with the heatmat beneath (on the outside of the bottom glass) and the bulb hanging above (outside the tank.) He had cork half rounds around the tank including on his warm rock. Sometimes he'd chill and or sleep inside either the cool or warm cork hides, sometimes he'd hang out on top of cork hides during the day, directly under the bulb... or not.

I had one of those old style dial thermometer/hygrometer monitors and don't remember numbers but this was a wide and deep enclosure with wood for three sides and a rather open metal mesh 'screen' top.

The important thing is... I live in a hot humid subtropical environment and the a/c is always on and never set higher than 74° F. I'm not sure about a ball pythons temp requirements but I wouldn't let the cool side set at a temp 10° warmer than recommended.
Ok thank you so much for the help! I’ll keep researching and researching!
 

Kysarkel000

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Idk if this is bad practice, but I only have a heat mat for my snake and i don't really monitor the cool side of the tank unless we have extreme temperatures. If the snake is cold, it'll move closer to the warm side and if it's too hot, it'll move closer to the cool side untill it finds the perfect in-between. I keep a water dish on the warm side to help with the humidity, plus I'll know that it's not too cold to soak in.

I live in NW Washington, and our general temp is 45-60°F and drops down to single digits in winter and up to tripple digits in the summer for about 2 weeks each. During these times, I use an air conditioner or heater to keep the house cozy. I've been told that if your comfortable with the temp in your house, the snake will be fine (as long as it also has the heat mat)
 

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Idk if this is bad practice, but I only have a heat mat for my snake and i don't really monitor the cool side of the tank unless we have extreme temperatures. If the snake is cold, it'll move closer to the warm side and if it's too hot, it'll move closer to the cool side untill it finds the perfect in-between. I keep a water dish on the warm side to help with the humidity, plus I'll know that it's not too cold to soak in.

I live in NW Washington, and our general temp is 45-60°F and drops down to single digits in winter and up to tripple digits in the summer for about 2 weeks each. During these times, I use an air conditioner or heater to keep the house cozy. I've been told that if your comfortable with the temp in your house, the snake will be fine (as long as it also has the heat mat)
I just wanted to say be careful keeping your water dish on the warm side! I would honestly keep it on the cool side. You often see snakes in pet stores literally eating themselves in their water dish because they can’t escape the heat. Display tanks are so small that they have no choice but to have the water dish under the heat lamp so the snake has no way of soaking to cool down and thermoregulate. Tanks smaller than a 40 gallon breeder are harder to maintain a proper temperature gradient.

And yes, 70 degrees ambient temperature is too low. It should never drop below 75 for a ball python because then you’re at serious risk for respiratory infections. The ambient temperature should ideally be 78-80 degrees and a “basking” spot of 88-96 degrees. I say “basking” because ball pythons don’t really lay out on rocks and bask like other snakes do. They tend to hide and take in heat from the ground, utilizing belly heat, so that’s why a heat mat is preferred. But the issue with heat mats is they don’t get the ambient temperature up enough and they’re not as consistent, so usually a heat light or ceramic heat emitter is also required. I would use all of these things with a thermostat so you’re able to maintain temperatures safely.


A drop in temperature at night and during the winter is totally normal and actually very healthy for your snake. You just have to make sure they aren’t too low (72 degrees is where my limit would be).
 
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Fishbro5

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Ok so here is what I think I will do. Use a heat mat with a thermostat on the warm side set to 94 as well as a ceramic heat emitter set to 80 with a thermostat. Since the ceramic heat emitter could possibly mess with humidity I will of course use a humidity box the snake. Should I turn off the heat emitter at night and leave the heat mat on?
 
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Fishbro5

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Also, is it possible to start a young ball python in a 40 breeder that is decked out with hides, leaves, etc, or should I just not risk it being nervous and start it in a small tank then upgrade?
 

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I’ve done a fair bit of research on balls and snakes in general myself, here’s what I’ve learned.

Except for burrowers like sand boas and hog noses, you don’t actually need under-tank heating. If you have sufficient overhead heat, your snake can get all the belly heat it needs, and it warms the air in the enclosure as well, which is more important. In the wild their belly heat also comes from above, else they’d only live in hot springs.

As for humidity, glass enclosures are terrible at holding it in. PVC enclosures are infinitely better and plenty of them have mounts for CHEs and the like. Other than that, coconut fiber, frequent misting, and such are helpful in maintaining humidity. Humid hides are good and helpful, but they’re not exactly meant to be the norm. You should have adequate humidity at all times throughout the enclosure. The humid hide is only needed for sheds, especially bad ones. For ball pythons, you need a minimum 60 percent humidity at all times. Too low and they can get stuck shed and respiratory infections, which aren’t pleasant to deal with.

Good luck with your noodle, my friend!
 
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