Ball python heating and humidity
Ball pythons, like all snakes are cold blooded and require heat from the external environment to regulate their own body temperature for movement, digestion etc. As they are an African snake they require relatively high temperatures and therefore external heating is required. Ball pythons do well with a warm basking spot of 90-93f, an ambient temperature of approximately 85f and a cool spot of approximately 75-80f.
There are a few options to achieve these temperatures which we look at below, and I add my own personal opinion on some points. Please remember for safety and peace of mind all heating equipment should be used with a thermostat, no exceptions.
Ceramic bulbs are a great option as they work to increase the ambient air temperature. They can be mounted to the top of the vivarium - inside a mesh guard – and will heat the entire vivarium. They are best used in slightly longer vivaria so there is enough length to allow for both a warm area and a cool area. Ideally these should be used in conjunction with a pulse thermostat, however cheaper on/off style thermostats will suffice. Ceramic bulbs are a personal favourite of mine.
Light bulbs are another option favoured by keepers, a well lit vivarium is usually a more attractive one, and the bulbs do produce heat too. You should however bear in mind that these are timid snakes which do not like to be in bright enclosure, if you are going to use a visible light bulb preferably use a coloured (red or blue) bulb as they produce less light and are generally more aesthetically pleasing any way. Light bulbs should be mounted in a similar fashion to the ceramic bulbs, in a guard but this time used in conjunction with a dimming thermostat.
Heat mats are another personal favourite, used underneath the vivarium (or under a false floor) they allow the creation of warm spots and basking areas. The heat mat should cover no more than 40% of the floor of the vivarium, allowing the snake plenty of room to escape the heat). As with other heating methods, you should never allow the snake to come in direct contact with the heat mat. The best way to do this is using a false floor, simply a sheet of cheap wood cut to the size of the bottom of the vivarium (inside measurement) which sits on top of the heat mat, sandwiching it between the wood and the bottom of the vivarium. Alternatively you can just use it underneath the vivarium. Substrate can then be used on top.
Those are the three most popular heating methods employed by hobbyists, there are other options but this guide doesn’t go in to them.
These snakes require an ambient humidity of about 50-60%, you can achieve this with a light misting once a week. I wouldn’t bother with cheap commercial hydrometers, they are rarely accurate.
You will need to increase the humidity when you see the snake is about to shed, see the sloughing page for more information.
Its as simple as that!
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