Hi all! So currently I don't own any reptiles. I spent the last of my money on college and am now living at home, working part-time, and trying to save up enough to move out on my own and when I do, I will finally be able to get the pets I want (gradually, not all at once, and finances permitting obviously). Of course, if I find a way to convince my mother to allow me to get a snake, then I wouldn't have to wait so long... ANYWAY, I wanted to get some people's opinions on several things because I am a planner and even if it'll be several months, possibly over a year before I can actually get a snake, I will have every detail worked out before he comes home. For starters, my personal, hands-on experience with reptiles is somewhat limited. Aside from catching alligator lizards and garter snakes as a kid, it's basically handing and caring for the reptiles at Petco, where I work. So as far as snakes are concerned, this means baby corn snakes and ball pythons. That said, I'm not particularly interested in either of those species. I want a python or boa, not a colubrid, but since I don't see myself as the sort of person who will slowly acquire a vast collection of snakes, I want a snake that is both interesting and pretty. I've done a fair amount of reading online and in several books from the library on recommendations for starter snakes, and in addition to the usual colubrids and Ball Pythons, quite a few people mention Red Tails. However, I think they might get a tad big for me. Size-wise, and beauty-wise, I'm rather intrigued by Jungle Carpet Pythons and Brazilian Rainbow Boas. If I get a male in either species, he shouldn't get longer than 7 feet (and that would only be a very big boy, in my understanding). A lot of people seem to say that Jungle's aren't bad beginner snakes. BRBs get a more difficult rap, but it seems that is only because of the humidity issues. And I think that, so long as I get a proper cage set up, that shouldn't be a huge problem. Some people say they can be irritable adults, but frankly, one takes that risk when one adopts a kitten. And I've known plenty of ****y Balls and Corns, so that's just a risk you take. At least, neither species seems to have the reputation that Emeralds or Chondros have for being irascible, which is why, gorgeous as they are, I know it would probably not be a good idea for me to get one. As a baby or juvenile, I'd probably go the shoebox rout, with paper towels and hide and a water dish. But for the adult habitats, I was thinking either a home-made cage (my dad is a contractor and we could build a nice wood cage) or one of the plastic ones-- either the Vision Cages or maybe Showcase Cages. Does anyone have any particular recommendations or criticism of either of these companies? Vision seems more popular, but the Showcase ones come in more color options and seem to be the same sort of thing. Or is there another recommended brand with a similar setup (3 walls, one window) that isn't priced higher than these? If I went with a BRB, I'd probably cover one of the back vents to increase humidity. I seem to be getting different opinions all over the place as to where to place the water dish-- in the cool end, warm end, or in the middle-- so any thoughts there? Also, half the things I've read say not to use incandescent bulbs because they'll dry out the air, but others said not to use heat mats because they could burn the snake. Heat rocks seem to be an obvious no, though. And fluorescent is unnecessary, except for my viewing pleasure. What night-lights could I use for viewing that wouldn't have a tremendous affect on the ambient cage temperature? And is there a preference between the black lights or the red lights for viewing either of these species at night? And if incandescent bulbs are OK, what wattage would be best for an adult-size terrarium? Substrate is another area I keep getting mixed opinions on and all I know is I want something that is appropriate for the animal, looks natural, and, since it would need to retain moisture fairly well, I don't want it to rot. In other words, I'm not up for newspaper (except probably in the baby shoebox habitat). Substrate seems a little less of an issue for the JC, since the humidity req's aren't as strict, but nevertheless, I'm curious as to people's preferences for either species. Which brings me to another point-- if I went with a home-made wood cage, what sealants are recommended to resist the inevitable water damage? I thought maybe lining the interior with linoleum? At least the bottom will nee to be lined with something. A stain just won't cut it long term. Also, would a 36 x 24 x 24 work well for both of these species? Or would a 48 x 18 x 24 be better for a BRB? Anyway, I think I'll end it there for now. I'm sure I'll have plenty more questions coming up soon, especially since I have all this time to plot and plan. One last, unrelated question... in people's sigs, where they list their pets, you do it with 3 digits separated by periods (i.e., 0.1.0 Bearded Dragons). I assume one number is the quantity of animals, but I can't figure them out otherwise. I thought one was maybe age, but that didn't seem right. It's probably really obvious and just going over my head, but I figured I'd just ask and that'll be that. Thanks for reading my ridiculously long post (if you made it this far)!