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Lighting & Heating Sources

Discussion in 'Ball Pythons' started by tsarina, Apr 27, 2018.

  1. tsarina

    tsarina Member

    What do you guys suggest for heating and light sources for a ball python in a large x wide Exo Terra terrarium? I currently have a LED bulb with a dome, I don't use it but it came with her set up when I bought her. I went out and bought her a heat lamp from Walmart (not the best place to purchase anything for a reptile, I know but it was kind of an emergency since the heat pad she came with was not giving her belly enough heat).

    So, I got her a rather large heating pad which covers about half of the entire tank and keeps the 'warm' side at about 80 degrees at belly level. The thermometer on the 'warm' side of her tank reads 80 degrees as well and on the 'cool' side it reads 78 degrees. I am unconcerned with the temperature on the cool side of the tank, it seems just right. I've also been keeping a damp towel folded on top of half of the tank lid (which is mesh) to help with the humidity and I mist the tank once a day. As for lighting, the heat lamp (GE incandescent heat bulb) is on all day, I put it about 6 inches away from the top of the tank so that there is no chance it can burn her. I just learned that the heat lamp is not suitable for night time so I turn it off at night and allow the UTH to be her only heat source. Not sure if that's enough though.

    I've read a few articles online and unfortunately since there is so much information on the internet concerning housing ball pythons and proper care for them, some of the information I found contradicts information I've found elsewhere. I have found a few consistencies, however. Many articles say that red light (incandescent) should be used only during the day. Most articles say that snakes need UVA and UVB light during the day as well. So, my questions are: What light would be recommended for use at night? And should I get a UVA/UVB light for during the daytime? Is the red incandescent light I have (which seems to give off ample heat) unnecessary if I get a UVA/UVB light?

    Also, on a related note, I have one hide for my ball python currently. I have ordered another that should arrive soon but for now, her hide sits smack in the middle of her tank. The top of the hide gets pretty warm and I am concerned that her hide is too warm. Although, she sits in her hide almost all day. When I first got her, she would sit in the farthest corner, behind the styrofoam background that comes with the Exo-Terra tank because her previous owner put her UTH in that corner. So, if she was too warm I assume she would hide behind the styrofoam on the cool side of the tank... right?

    Thanks in advance for any help! Tsarina and I appreciate it!
  2. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Ok first you need to keep in mind that any 12 year old with a computer can put up a caresheet.
    First thing to address is your temperature. The hot spot should be 90 to 95 degrees. 80 isn't warm enough.
    How are you measuring the temps and humidity?
    Ball pythons are nocturnal and the only light needed is enough to give them a day/night cycle. I just used the ambient light in the room. Uvb is not needed.
  3. tsarina

    tsarina Member

    Yeah, of course, that was a factor I considered - which is why I posted on this forum to see if the herp community had any information that may benefit Tsarina and I. I think it's important to mention that I plan on building her a suitable vivarium once I have the time and extra $$$ to fund it. After reading this article, I thought a vivarium might be the best choice for her enclosure. But let me know any thoughts, I would love to know what the general consensus is on sterile tank setup vs. bioactive, self-cleaning vivariums.

    I am using a thermometer I purchased at Petsmart to measure. It is not digital. I also have two 'strip' thermometers on the outside of the tank on either side. The analog thermometer sits on the inside of the tank, near the basking spot. It reads a little above the 80 degrees mark but after searching the forums I found that these thermometers give unreliable readings and if I had to guess, I would say the temperature inside the tank is more like 85+ degrees.

    Since this method is unreliable, I went ahead and ordered a digital thermometer and hygrometer off of Amazon. I purchased the Fluker's brand. I also ordered a ceramic heat bulb which comes with a thermometer as well. So I will keep the thermometer/hygrometer on the warm side of the tank and the extra thermometer that comes with the bulb on the cooler side. Hopefully, this gives me a more accurate reading.

    So, just to be sure, you're saying that a UVA-UVB light is not necessary? Will just the natural light (coming from the windows in her room), plus her the light from her heat lamp be enough? I've seen a few youtube videos that state heat lamps are not usually necessary for snakes but every single snake tank set up I have seen (on forums, youtube videos, articles, etc) feature a light fixture.
  4. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Nocturnal snakes do not require supplemental lighting. Having a window, or even the room light itself on during the day is enough.
    Heat lamps are not required as long as you can provide proper temps. There are other ways of doing it. Heat panels, CHEs etc.
    The reason you see heat lamps in videos is they are readily available and fairly cheap. The other options are considerably more expensive but they last for years.
    While plants might be visually appealing, they are not really appropriate. While you might get away with it with a hatching, a heavy bodied adult will destroy them.
    Darkbird likes this.
  5. tsarina

    tsarina Member

    Thanks for the help, Merlin!

    I'm probably going to use the ceramic bulb to heat her enclosure during the night, the red heat lamp for the day and since I already have a UVA bulb and dome, I will throw that on the opposite side of her cage for during the day. I have a timer so I will switch the heat sources at 7AM and 7PM.

    The heat mat I have simply does not get warm enough. I can hardly feel it inside the tank without her substrate layered pretty thick on top. Of course, with her substrate in the tank it hardly warms her belly at all.

    I think the humidity in her cage is pretty good. The Exo-Terra has the mesh top, so I've been laying a damp towel over half of the top. I mist her cage once/twice a day. It seems to be keeping the tank pretty humid. Of course, I won't know until my hygrometer comes in which should be on Monday. Thank god for Amazon Prime.
  6. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    You would be better off just to cover the top with plywood or foil. The wet rag will grow bacteria and mold.
    Darkbird likes this.
  7. Raigo

    Raigo Member

    My BP is in a plastic tote with holes for ventilation, a water bowl, a hide at each end and an UTH. I use reptibark and mist when they're in shed. That's really all you need as long as the tote is as long as the snake, mine was a picky eater when I got them from Petsmart and they're doing great now without the glass.

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