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Hi! Opinions About Semi-atypical Starter Snakes...

Discussion in 'Snakes - General' started by giveuptheghost, Oct 12, 2011.

  1. giveuptheghost

    giveuptheghost Well-Known Member

    So a lot of people around the interwebs seem to be fond of Radiant Heat Panels. Would that be used in addition to a UTH or light? Or is it sufficient by itself to heat an average size adult enclosure for either of the species I'm considering, particularly JC since I am leaning that way?

    ETA: And what size panel would I want?
     
  2. annaj328

    annaj328 Elite Member

    heat panels can be used all on their own. they heat the surfaces of items in the cage, not just the air, which is more like the way sunlight works. i have one in my jcp's cage and it provides the perfect heat gradient.
     
  3. Horselover

    Horselover Elite Member

    You need to make a list of what snakes you're interested in, and then compare their husbandry requirements. You don't want to end up with a snake and the realize that you can't provide adaquate care.
     
  4. giveuptheghost

    giveuptheghost Well-Known Member

    I've done as much. I spent a lot of time researching proper cage setups for different species, and which species would be suitable for my particular situation, etc. all before ever signing up at this forum. I came here to further understand the potential setup I would need for the species I have narrowed it down to. I'm aware of the differences between Carpets and BRBs though, and will make allowance for that in planning. I intend to have everything set up before I pick up a snake at all.

    In any case, I'm leaning more toward a Jungle Carpet, or possible a Irian Jaya, or cross of the two.

    This brings me to my next question in fact, which is are all soft woods advised against using for a home-built cage? Because Home Depot has tese vented freize boards made of Western Hemlock that would make it really easy to put vents in the side of a cage built of something else, maybe oak. But the frieze boards seem to only come in hemlock. So would it be problematic to have two strips of hemlock in an otherwise hardwood enclosure?
     
  5. annaj328

    annaj328 Elite Member

    i have an 80 watt heat panel in my 4x2x2. you can contact most companies and tell them what temp your going for, the dimensions of your cage and your room temp and they will tell you what size you need.

    i dont know anything about hemlock. I know your supposed to stay away from pine and cedar due to the oils causing health problems for the snakes but other than that idk.
     
  6. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Since you are going to be sealing it anyway you can use whatever wood you like for building material. Just stay away from the pressure treated lumber that is used for deck and fences.
     
  7. giveuptheghost

    giveuptheghost Well-Known Member

    So I could use cedar and it would be alright as long as it's well-sealed? Plywood is typically pressure treated, isn't it? A lot of people build them out of plywoods it seems. Are there any particularly recommended woods then?
     
  8. CountTripula

    CountTripula Elite Member

    no never use Cedar it has toxins that are poisonous to reptiles
     
  9. giveuptheghost

    giveuptheghost Well-Known Member

    Right, well, that's what I thought, hence my looking only at hardwoods. But then Merlin said it didn't matter because it will be sealed, so... yeah... :confused:
     
  10. CountTripula

    CountTripula Elite Member

    Merlin will probably clarify what he meant... but i would never use ceder nor pine.
     
  11. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    You can build with any type of wood you want, though clearly, some are better than others. If you seal it, fumes are no longer a problem. Cedar and pine left unsealed, will fill a tank with fumes that are hazardous. Whether it's the walls, or the shavings you use as bedding.
     
  12. giveuptheghost

    giveuptheghost Well-Known Member

    How big should a JC be before being moved to it's adult enclosure (putting said enclosure at something like 40" x 24" x 24")?

    And prior to that, what size Sterilite tub would be recommended? There were some on sale at Fred Meyer the other day that were something like 24 x 15 x 12. Would that be an alright size for a baby or juvenile?

    And would a small heat pad be the best way to heat that?
     
  13. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    as long as the large adult enclosure is escape proof for the snake, and you provide for it's environment, there is no reason the snake cannot go in as soon as it is out of quarantine. I would provide several hides to choose from, plenty of foliage (real or fake, but fake lasts longer) to hide in, a couple of water dishes, and lots of climbing structures.
     
  14. giveuptheghost

    giveuptheghost Well-Known Member

    Ok, well, that would make it even easier. lol I was under the impression that baby snakes shouldn't be in enclosures that are too large for them for their personal sense of safety. Although obviously in the wild they are dealing with a large environment right off the bat, so...

    So... all new information considered, my updated plan is something along the lines of...

    ENCLOSURE: A home-built wood cage, with one side glass (obviously). Made of a non-chemically treated wood, preferably not pine or cedar, but since it will be sealed with several coats to protect against moisture, that isn't imperative. Approx. 40" x 24" x "24". With vents on either side of the cage. Still curious as to what sorts of wood other DIY cage builders have used. Also, any particular types of sealants I should avoid? Obviously I'll need to let the cage dry for a week at least, I'll probably let it go for a couple before I put the snake inside it.

    HEAT: A radiant heat panel on one end of the cage. Still not sure what size would be best for this enclosure. A digital temp and humidity gauge on either end of the cage. A temp gun also seems like a practical investment. And a thermostat to hook the RHP up to for safety.

    ACCESSORIES: A few branches, some fake plants, at least 2 hides, one on the cool end and one on the hot end. I was thinking of putting a shelf in the enclosure as well, which would be behind some hanging fake foilage, providing a passive hide of sorts. A large water dish.

    LIGHT: Lighting will be hard to say until the cage is constructed, I think. The RHP should provide enough heat, so incandescent bulbs aren't necessary, but a fluorescent might be for my viewing pleasure. Also, a bulb for night viewing-- the Night Glo one seems like a good option, since it would effect the heat as much as a red bulb would. Whether or not to have the bulb inside the enclosure, and in a cage, or outside the enclosure in a lamp is something else I'm not sure of. If it's inside, it seems like it will light the cage better. Exterior means I need to cut a space for the lamp in the top of the enclosure, and insert a heat resistant screen of some sort for it to rest on, and I'm not sure if it will light it as effectively... but I think it would do well enough. And it would be safer for the animal. Not to mention it wouldn't look as ugly as a caged bulb inside the enclosure.

    SUBSTRATE: I'm thinking eco-earth, but I'm still reading a fair bit about this. I know I don't want to use aspen or newspaper. I want a dirt mixture of some sort. I've been told that it would be more cost-effective to buy it from a garden store and bake it than to buy it from a pet store. I'm just nervous about accidentally using anything with fertilizer or something in it. I was looking at bags of orchid bark the other day at Fred Meyer and it didn't say anything on the bag about fertilizer, but it also didn't say anything about it being all-natural or anything so... I don't know. It didn't have an ingredients list so I could be sure it was just orchid bark, and not orchid bark mixed with cedar or pine or something. But finding some sort of bark mulch that I could mix with some peat moss sounds like a good course of action. We'll see. Still trying to figure this one out.


    So... how does all that sounds to any experienced JC keepers? Good? Terrible? Alright, but you would change A, B, and C?

    Thanks so much for putting up with my constant questions!
     
  15. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    Yeah, baby snakes are born into the big wide world, and do just fine in it. I do not buy the "too big for a little snake" cage argument. As long as it is well-furnished, any size cage will do. There is no such thing as "too big" in my books.

    As to sealants, I have heard wonderful things about Minwax Polycrylic, as it is water based, low odor, and tends to dry, and stop stinking much sooner than regular polyurethane. I have not tried it yet, because i have not done any projects recently, but I will be using it on my next ones.

    A shelf would absolutely be utilized by the snake. I'd make it just a couple inches from the ceiling, so he can still feel secure, just enough you can get your hand in if you need to remove the snake. My JCP will sometimes use his foliage as a hide, and with his pattern, it breaks up very well, and hides him amazingly. I'll try to snap a pic next time I see him doing it. I find it is cheaper to get fake plants at a crafts/florists store. Often it is the same thing for a third the price. Just be sure you don't get anything that is perfumed (which is usually only a problem with the obnoxious-looking flowers, not so much with the vines, ferns, bamboo, etc)

    I light my JCP cage with a small fluorescent fixture right inside the cage. It is hooked up to a timer, and the cord runs through a notch in the back. It's mounted directly to the ceiling of the cage. You should be able to find something similar for under $20 (Depending on size - I think I paid $9 for mine.) being sold as an under cabinet fluorescent fixture. They do not do well in high humidity environments (I tried one on my carnivorous plant terrarium, and it died in a couple months) but in the much more moderate humidity level in my JCP cage, it has lasted over a year. Replacement bulbs for the kind I have are only about $5 too, so very affordable, since JCP do not need specific wavelengths.

    When looking for soils, also look into peat moss, as it is very dirt-like. Organic soils will not have pesticides, but many will contain poultry litter (Chicken poop) as a natural fertilizer. There is a brand found at some wal*mart stores that is called EarthGro, and runs a buck and change a bag, and is generally free of anything (for that price, you know they aren't putting anything extra in) I have used several bags of their stuff with my herps, without problems.
     
  16. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    No plywood is not pressure treated. The pressure treated materials are those that are used for decks and fencing outside. You can tell the pressure treated stuff because it will be odd colored and feel oily.

    Hmm I must be falling down on the job. I thought I was pretty clear. LOL!
    Pine and cedar are just fine for building materials. With the sealants nothing is going to be coming in or out of the wood.
    The problem with pine or cedar BEDDING, is that there is a heck of a lot of surface area on all those slivers of wood exposed to allow the emission of fumes. And the animal is crawling around with its nose in it!
     
  17. giveuptheghost

    giveuptheghost Well-Known Member

    Ok, so, to update you all on my plannings and such...

    I've switched back to saving for a plastic enclosure. After talking with a guy at a local reptile shop, he convinced me that, though expensive, they will last the lifetime of the animal, the same cannot be said for wood, in most cases. He also said most wood cages start to smell after awhile. They keep their king cobra in one at the shop, just because they have it and want to make use of it, but he wouldn't go for a wood cage again and once that one needs to go, the cobra will be moved to a plastic cage.

    Point 2, he was quite adamant that a JC wouldn't be great on account of just how nippy they are, for a first-time snake owner. He suggested the BRB, without my even mentioning it, as a better alternative because boas tend to be more laid back than pythons overall. The humidity requirements would make a plastic cage better in that setup as well.

    I'm still getting mixed advice all around as far as putting a baby snake in an adult-sized enclosure. Dragoness said that she didn't bother with that and it worked out fine. Others have said that baby snakes tend to freak out and may not eat, etc. in an enclosure that is too spacious. So, if I get a sterilite bin for him as a baby, I wanted to know roughly what size bin I should stick with for him to be comfortable, but still have room to grow. Also, at what size can he be moved into an adult enclosure?

    Looking at the vision cages, which of these size options would be best for an adult BRB:

    36" W x 23" D x 21" H
    48" W x 16" D x 21" H
    48" W x 28" D x 18" H

    I know bigger is always better for these sorts of things, but I'm wondering if the top option would be big enough for a snake to be comfortable in. I don't want him cramped, but if I can avoid the 4 foot long cages, I will. But if it's a must, I'll do it, so...yeah...

    Also, is anyone familiar with this company: Showcase Cages - Reptile Cages - Reptile Cage - Cage Locks - Snake cages - Iguana Cages - Bearded Dragon Cage - Plastic Cage - Reptile Supplies - Reptile Accessories - Reptiles - Snake Cage - Animal Cages - cage - cages - Plastic cages
    I like that they have some color options, but wanted to know if anyone here had used them before and has anything to say about them in comparison with Vision cages.

    Substrate is also still a tough one for me as well. They use aspen at the reptile shop and provide a humid hide for their BRB. Well, I don't want him in the hide all the time though. And I'm not fond of aspen bedding in general, as it makes me sneeze. I was thinking paper towels when in his bin, and then moving up to a dirt substrate of some form (eco earth or something) in the adult enclosure. But would aspen work if there was damp spaghnum moss in a few areas? By work I mean would it keep humidity up enough that he wouldn't feel the need to be in his humid hide at all times.

    And lastly, what is the best way to heat the sterilite tubs? Is an undertank heater safe to use on them? (with a thermostat, obvious) It seems like the only option, really.

    So, yeah, still wanting people's tidbits on cage sizes, substrate, and heating mostly.

    Oh, and lastly, do any BRB owners have particular breeders they've had good experiences with? I'm hoping to get one at my local reptile show in January, but I wanted to know some breeders to look out for and/or avoid. Plus, if it comes to me having to have an animal shipped to me, I also want to know who has the best reputation.


    As always, thanks for all your feedback!
     
  18. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    There is going to be a bit of trial and error involved in foding the right balance. My BRB gets her whole cage sprayed, and has multiple hides. I try to always leave at least one hide dry, but the rest get at least dampened. Her overall humidity remains high, but she still hides. It's the general nature of snakes to want to be out of sight. She does not hide as much as my other snakes though, until she is opaque (her behavior is as much a cue as her color for me. She won't leave her hide when she is opaque, but comes and goes from it daily when she is normal.) Try your idea of aspen and moss. If it doesn't worm, try something else. I use eco-earth, and it works great.
    I use human heating pads on my plastic tubs. They are typically available at drug stores, but watch out for the ones with auto shutoff features (I seem to only be able to find the right kind at CVS nowadays. I'm sure they can be ordered online). Because they are intended for use on humans, they are a lot more regulated, and a lot safer.
     

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