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Your ideal ball python set up?

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FrothingMagpies
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Your ideal ball python set up?

Postby FrothingMagpies » Sun Feb 08, 2015 8:31 pm

Hi!
i've been wanting a ball python for a while, & put a deposit on a pastel banana male recently. I'm so excited to be able to bring him home! Naturally I've been researching them like crazy so I can give him the care he needs, but it seems like everyone sets up their terrariums quite differently & I'm not sure of whats best or why. So I'd really appreciate me if you could tell me what your set ups are like, why they are the way they are, suggested reading, what you think is absolutely always a bad idea or essential... Everything really! Especially what the deal is with plastic tubs vs glass or wooden terrariums? Whats the deal with ventilation? Am I right in thinking they need minimal ventilation to keep the environment humid enough? What would be the ideal ventilation system for them?
So far I'm thinking of using paper kitchen towels as substrate, I was going to use carefresh but theres been some recent issues with the newer bags being suspected of having baking soda in them, so thats not an option anymore. Obviously any substrate he could ingest is a huge no no.
UVBs seem to be completely unnecessary, heat rocks are dangerous, multiple hides would be appreciated especially a humid hide with sphagnum moss to help with shedding, a water bowl big enough to swim in seems like a good idea, something rough like a rock to help him pull off his skin during shedding, & a heat mat & basking spot are essential. I know they're mostly terrestrial, but I've come across a few people saying their python enjoys to climb branches on occasion, so I'll at least provide him with them so he has the chance to use them if he feels so inclined. Is all of that okay? Am I missing something huge or getting something very wrong? :')
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Re: Your ideal ball python set up?

Postby BlueBaby1023 » Sun Feb 08, 2015 8:47 pm

I'm interested in hearing this. Not that I can have snakes, but curious to say the least. I believe Carefresh does have baking soda, it's a common ingredient in small pet bedding to reduce rodent urine smell.
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Re: Your ideal ball python set up?

Postby minervasden » Sun Feb 08, 2015 10:19 pm

A short comment on cage type- In spite of what many ball people claim you can keep them in glass aquariums Balls do not HAVE to be in plastic bins. The important thing is that humidity, temperature, etc. is correct. A glass box and a plastic box are both boxes after all. A glass aquarium may have difficulty keeping humidity up if you live in an area like Utah. Here in Ohio I do not have humidity issues and have always used aquariums for smaller balls without problems. Ash could use aquariums and I could use a plastic tubs if we adapted and adjusted such as placing a strip of glass over part of a screen lid or putting screen panels in the tubs instead of simple air holes. Or adjusting the environment of an entire room.


I mean no disrespect to Ash or anyone else, but in my experience the benefits of racks and (most) tubs and are to the keeper more than to the snake. Bottom line just make sure whatever cage you choose is setup for the snake's needs. Example-Ash changed to tubs from glass tanks because she couldn't regulate them. That is being a good owner. I'm not against tubs when properly utilized. Obviously if you are a breeder you may need a rack(s) for all the offspring until they sell.

Hope I got across what I intended. I just don't feel like typing a long post.
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Re: Your ideal ball python set up?

Postby Ash » Mon Feb 09, 2015 1:34 am

I personally do think rack systems/tubs are best for ball pythons. They are very shy animals and in the wild they live pretty much in holes or dark places, and come out only at night. So they do like being in dark, in their hide, in a tight space. In fact, when my female was in a tank, she felt WAY too exposed and was stressed. Now that she is in her tub, she eats every single time and is not stressed at all.

A tub setup with a reliable thermometer/hygrometer and a temp probe connected to heat-tape/Flex-watt/or heating pad so you can monitor their temperatures.

Cool side should be around 83. And hot spot should be around 90. Belly heat is best, so overhead lamps (while they can provide nice ambient temps) are not ideal.

I do feel strongly that tubs are best. Now, that doesn't mean you can't put in decor. My snakes have multiple hides, paper towel rolls, and driftwood in their tubs, as well as water bowls.

Yes, it is very ideal for the keeper too, I won't admit that's not true. It makes keeping them much easier.

But, for certain species of snakes, especially ball pythons and other tropical snakes, I do definitely feel that rack systems or tubs are best. For native species like corns, kingsnakes, milks, hognoses, they are hardier in their native climate. So an overhead lamp totally works for them.
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Re: Your ideal ball python set up?

Postby FrothingMagpies » Mon Feb 09, 2015 9:27 am

Thanks for all the advice!
I'm just starting off with this one python, seeing how things go, & maybe getting a few more down the line but not going into full-scale (heh, unintentional pun I swear) breeding. I mean I'm not going to lie, I'd love to get him a spider mate down the line because I love the babies that could come out of that pairing, but we'll see. What I'm saying is I'm not jumping straight into investing in a whole rack anytime soon.
I actually have two unused glass vivariums in the attic right now that would be fine for him when he gets a little bigger, but for now I might keep him in a large critter keeper, he's still only a baby & I don't want the bigger vivariums (if he goes in to one of those & not a tub) to scare him.
So you think a heat mat might be fine on it's own, once it's giving enough heat? I already have a digital thermometer & a hygrometer for the tree frog, so I might give the heat pads I have around the place a little test run today so see how warm they'd leave the tank. If I were to get a tub for him, is it better to cut off a section/sections & use a fine mesh, or just to drill a few holes in for ventilation?
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Re: Your ideal ball python set up?

Postby Ash » Mon Feb 09, 2015 6:27 pm

Oh, just saw again that you're in Ireland. I'm pretty sure heat-tape/Flex-watt is banned there, so yeah, you'll have to go with the heat pads. A "herpstat" is the best thing to use to monitor temps, but they can be pricey. You can find similar for cheaper at hardware stores, but a herpstat is easy because it's specifically for your reptile use. You can purchase them at The Bean Farm: http://beanfarm.com/index.php?cPath=1238&osCsid=4f0757cbe5fee55cb0e71be8b62f14db. The herspstats plug directly into your heat source, and you set the temperature you want, and then put a probe on the hot spot.

That's where pretty much all the breeders buy their stuff from, lol. In the ball groups on facebook, everyone knows about The Bean Farm, lol.

If you'll be using screen-top enclosures, make sure to really insulate them. You can do this with cardboard or styrofoam--cut a piece the size of the top of the tank and keep it attached there. Maybe even the back and sides you can do the same thing. Before I glued cardboard to my tanks, I just could NOT keep the heat and humidity in well. But once I did that, it worked well.

As Minervsa said, you can definitely keep them in tanks. It just gives the keeper more work to do, and honestly, a snake like a ball python won't benefit more from a tank with lots of hides than a rack system/tub system (so long as temps/humidity is the same). If you want to "watch" your snake, keep in mind ball pythons are mostly active at night. So most of the time, a happy ball python with be a hiding ball python, lol. A ball python that is constantly on the move is not comfortable with its surroundings, or it is searching for prey.

For tubs, only drill in a few holes. No wire mesh whenever possible with ball pythons. They can breathe just fine, and their oxygen intake is a lot different than ours. So they theoretically could probably be in an air-tight container for 2 days or so and still be okay--NOT that I recommend that, obviously! Drilling several holes along the front, back, and sides is enough--and you don't need to overdo it either. Drill holes toward the lower part of the tub, so that way the heat will stay in a bit better since heat rises.

As you said--humid hide is good and heat rocks aren't good either. And no UVB (carnivores do not require UVB). So you're definitely on the right track.

A water bowl is good for humidity, but keep in mind, if you do see your ball python soaking regularly in his bowl, he is trying to tell you something. Typically this means his husbandry is off. Every once in a while you'll get a weirdo who will just go chill in his bowl, but it almost always means it's either too hot, too dry, or they have mites. They may also be going into shed and are "letting you know" that they need it more humid in their enclosure/tub/tank.

In the ball group I'm a part of, one of the administrator's (breeds tons of snakes) says "ball pythons are as good at climbing as they are at falling." lol :lol: So branches aren't a necessity since they aren't naturally arboreal. Ball pythons are kind of... dumb, in an endearing sort of way, of course, so lots of times they'll just... drop off stuff, lol. Most of the times ball pythons will climb up on the branches because their keepers are using heat lamps (not ideal), and they are trying to get closer to the heat. But belly heat is what is most important. Heat lamps are mostly there for increasing the ambient temperature.

Aspen bedding is safe, even if a little is ingested. I use it for the hognoses and the kingsnake, but obviously it's a lot less expensive to use newspaper. But keep in mind that the ink from the newspaper will stain your snake sometimes. The ink will come off in the next shed, but it is annoying to look inside at your cute little baby and see a rainbow creature, lol. I do use paper towels now and again, but since I'm trying to save on money, I've been going with newspaper and what I have left of the aspen. ;)

Keepers who keep hundreds of balls sometimes keep theirs on the cypress mulch and haven't had any digestion issues with theirs. I'd still be hesitant and think better safe than sorry, you know? So I only used that for a while with my kingsnake when he was shedding lots and lots.

I love the banana morph. :) A pastel banana should be brighter and even prettier than just a regular banana. And the spider bananas look really cool too. Do you know the genetics behind the banana? Just making sure, in case you do wish to use him as a breeder: they throw weird sex ratios in the clutches--and 9.5/10 you get males. Females are rare, but once you have a female banana, they'll produce an equal ratio of both. Weird. So if you bred your banana to a spider, I can almost guarantee you, the entire clutch would all be boys. Female bananas are more expensive since they produce both sexes equally.

How is the market over there, if you don't mind me asking? I don't know how many ball breeders there are over in Ireland, so sometimes I know animals are priced higher. If you don't feel comfortable saying the price you paid, that's more than fine too. Over here in the US they are dropping in price since almost every banana being produced is a male and therefore not worth as much. It might be better over in Europe though--I don't know how much or if they've "over-bred" the banana gene like we did here in the US.

I do really want a banana, lol. They're a beautiful morph, but don't fit into my breeding plans. But you can get some amazing combos with them.

Be sure to post pics when you get your baby. :)
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Re: Your ideal ball python set up?

Postby minervasden » Mon Feb 09, 2015 6:52 pm

Ash wrote:But keep in mind that the ink from the newspaper will stain your snake sometimes. The ink will come off in the next shed, but it is annoying to look inside at your cute little baby and see a rainbow creature, lol.


The fresher the newspaper, the more ink will transfer off. Letting the paper age can help with that.
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Re: Your ideal ball python set up?

Postby Ash » Mon Feb 09, 2015 11:16 pm

That would be great, lol. I'll hold onto the colored newspaper for a while. The ink made my high white pied rainbow, lol.
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Re: Your ideal ball python set up?

Postby FrothingMagpies » Mon Feb 23, 2015 5:47 pm

Thank you so much for all the advice!
I already have the exoterra digital hygrometer & thermometer for my other guys, will they be okay for a ball too do you think? If not I guess I'll be heading over to the bean farm then!

So it would be better to give the vivarium only a small section of mesh on the roof when I'm building it? As for humidity, maybe I'm asking a really stupid question here, but if Balls appreciate a humid enviornment so much is the main reason no one uses coco husk/ plantation soil/ sphagnum moss as a substrate because of a risk of impaction? As far as I understand, sphagnum moss is fine in a damp/humid hide so why isn't it used for the whole terrarium?

He doesn't really have to be a display animal, I'm pretty happy if he wants to spend all day hiding away! I think I'll definitely start him out in a rub anyway, he may be too small for the tanks I have right now, in time I guess I can just see what he does better in. Though it seems getting the temperature & humidity inside the tank is more important than what it's made of.

Aww, I can't wait to have a not-so-bright but sweet snake! Loveably dense animals are always going to be a major soft spot for me, if he can't climb branches then I guess I'll be leaving them out of the tank for him :') I think I'll be needing a heat lamp for him even if his heat mat is giving off enough underbelly heat, my room is pretty cold so he'd probably end up miserably huddled on his mat the whole time (though that sounds like what a happy ball with do anyway... But you get the point!)

Not too sure of his genetics tbh, he came into the shop with a few other banana morphs from a breeder who needed some extra money just before christmas apparently. The shop has dealt with the breeder before & apparently all of his animals are very healthy & well cared for so far as they've seen, at the time that was my main concern & I was just really surprised to see bananas come up at all! You're right, Ireland really doesn't have a lot of unusual morphs, it's mostly normals, pastels, lessers, things like that. I just double checked, I think he may be a banana lemon pastel actually? I can't seem to find pictures of others of that morph to compare him to or see what he'll look like when he's older. Do their colours typically darken or grow paler?

The market over here is a bit wierd, two years ago a banana would have cost you €2500ish (so, $2800ish?) but theres been a massive crash in prices, I think because too many people bred them at once & now the market is saturated in them, like you're saying they are over with you too. Even so, my guy was pretty cheap, he cost €500, on the continent they would still cost between €600 - 800. Which still seems like a HUGE amount of money to me because well, I'm a student. But I've wanted a banana for ages, animals are my passion & I don't spend my money or time on much else other than animals, plants & art so to me it's not something I mind investing in. I mean, I still wouldn't tell my friends what I spent on him because they'd think I was mad, but we just have different passions I guess. Also, I would absolutely love to possibly work part time at the shop he's in when I move back up there, I would learn so much there I think, so it also gives me an excuse to build up a relationship with the owner who is really lovely. Last time I was there they mentioned their little daughter has a dairy allergy so I pulled a mini chocolate soy carton out of my bag for her & she was so happy :') it'd be so much fun to be a part of the reptile community there!
I probably won't be getting massively into ball pythons, honestly I'd be happy to call it quits with this one cutie. But I am still toying with the idea of breeding when I know more. I'll ask if they know much about his genetics when I'm next there, I know there was a banana pinstripe & a banana fire in his clutch anyway if that tells you anything?

What are your breeding plans? :) just out of curiousity!

I have crappy cameraphone pictures of him but sadly it's too banjaxed to let me upload them anywhere :'D
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Re: Your ideal ball python set up?

Postby FrothingMagpies » Tue Mar 03, 2015 7:49 am

I finally managed to get the awful pictures onto my laptop, they're pretty bad but they're all I have of the noodle so far, I can't wait to actually pick him up & take good ones!
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Re: Your ideal ball python set up?

Postby Ash » Tue Mar 03, 2015 3:43 pm

Aaah, what a cutie! I'm really jealous. :P Bananas are one of the funnest colors. I hope you will love him when he arrives. Planning on any names yet?
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Re: Your ideal ball python set up?

Postby Ash » Tue Mar 03, 2015 3:53 pm

This website will be your best friend when it comes to identifying morphs: http://www.worldofballpythons.com//

Yours looks a lot more like a regular banana, but they're still really fun-looking. And I like that they get black spots as they age.

Regular banana: http://www.worldofballpythons.com/morphs/banana-ball/

Here's a banana lemon blast (pastel/pinstripe) just for comparison:
http://www.worldofballpythons.com/morphs/banana-lemon-blast/
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Re: Your ideal ball python set up?

Postby FrothingMagpies » Tue Mar 03, 2015 7:35 pm

I love how that site has a snake generator, soooo helpful for learning about their genetics! (though I guess it's more complicated in real life as there is their family trees to consider?) Thank you!
I think you could be right, he possibly is a regular banana, but thats what I originally wanted so either way I'm very happy with him :D bananas aren't common here, I can't remember if I already said it so sorry for repeating myself if I did, but I think these were the first bananas the shop has had in, & the owner isn't really so interested in bananas in particular so it's possible he got the morph mixed up? I'm dying for the spots to come in, they'll be so cute!
For names I'm considering Baba Ghanoush, Hummus or Lentil! It's a bit of an in-joke, the friend who went with me to go look at the babies couldn't really figure out if she liked snakes or not & said she'd probably relax around them more if they had cuter names. She's vegetarian & we're both pretty into our wierd snacks, so I said I'd make him a vegetarian too if it made him any cuter for her (don't worry, he's getting his rodents! I might be veggie, but my pets are all getting species appropriate diets, there's no wildly anaemic carnivores staggering around my house lol).
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Re: Your ideal ball python set up?

Postby Ash » Tue Mar 03, 2015 8:01 pm

lol, That's hilarious. I love those names. :lol:

Their genetics are easy to understand if you know basic Punnet Squares. There's only a few morphs that are still a bit confusing how they could about, but they're definitely not the norm. He'll throw you bananas and normals if you bred him to a normal.

Knowing is ancestry is only helpful if you know the breeder was selectively breeding the small things--polygenes. He is still a banana, but say the breeder only bred for like... 10 generations high-yellow bananas. Then yours would be a high yellow banana, but still a banana. But since he is a banana, my guess is he was not selectively bred for those traits. If he turns out a gorgeous boy though, you may definitely want to see if you can pass some of those genes on to the babies and then breed them back to him.

:)
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Re: Your ideal ball python set up?

Postby FrothingMagpies » Wed Mar 04, 2015 11:36 am

If I end up getting more pythons I'll probably keep up that theme of names, I'm sure there'll be a tofu at some point too :P

I think he's slightly pale for a banana, what do you think would be a good pairing for him, in theory, to have vibrant, bright babies?Or at least to produce good bananas/ banana morphs anyway, without diluting their colour? Banana spiders would be gorgeous, but I'm wary of the spider wobble.

If I bred his babies directly back to him wouldn't that be too close of an inbreeding? I know line breeding is fine once you know what you're doing & don't breed animals too close to each other, like brother & sister, but I can't say I know enough about it myself to confidently say whats a good idea & what isn't with those pairings.
I'll probably be asking for your opinion on if he's worth breeding from when he's an adult, I have a few more years until he's mature enough to breed to do my reading up if he is :)

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