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Viv Build For Stenophis Betsileanus

Discussion in 'General Construction' started by Dragoness, Oct 29, 2016.

  1. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    After doing some research on my mystery snake, Stenophis betsileanus, and through some trial and error, I have finally figured how what habitat the snake does best in.

    For starters, he (or she) flees from heat. Goes off feed if heated past 80ºF

    Turns out these guys are from the highland rainforest areas of central Madagascar, where nights are cool and humid. In other words he needs to be kept much like a chameleon (good ventilation and humidity) but also cool temps.

    With that in mind, I picked up an enclosure with a screen lid, because he absolutely needs good air flow.

    Started with a terrarium I picked up at a local expo. It has sliding doors, and a screen lid.

    Cut Egg Crate to fit the bottom (and zip tied it to souffle cups to boost it off the floor of the cage, and provide a reservoir for runoff.)

    Painted the back and some of the sides black, to hide the foam I will be using.

    Laid the terrarium on it's back and positioned the pieces of wood and cork the way I wanted them.

    Applied Great Stuff expanding foam

    Waited overnight to trim the foam into smoother more natural contours.

    Applied clear silicon caulk and coir to the foam. My first try was to mix the caulk and coir into a claylike consistency. It made application simple, but it did not have perfect ahderence, and I did have to go back and touch it up a little after it had cured.

    Background mostly finished (still wet in this picture). Adde sphagnum moss to the egg crate. This will keep the soil from falling through the crate, as well as wicking the water up out of the reservoir to keep the soil most for the live plants I will be adding.

    I created wicks out of the sphagnum, and poked them through the egg crate down into the reservoir before covering the egg crate completely.


    Glued some Sphagnum moss onto some of the branches as an accent, as well as using it to patch up some of the holes or spots I missed. Added soil and live plants.

    Still needs a top-dressing for the soil (will help the soil hold moisture, while keeping the 'floor' of the cage dry enough for the snake to spend time there without developing fungal issues.)

    Also going to root some cuttings of a few of my Hoyas and plant them in there.

    The foam shrank quite a bit, and ended up pulling away from the walls of the terrarium. I ended up having to fill cracks with coir, sphagnum and silicon.

    It will still be a few weeks before I move the snake into this cage. I want the plants to have time to settle in.
    kriminaal, Darkbird and Rich like this.
  2. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    Fantastic build! How will you maintain the required humidity in there?
    I know people have always said chams need screened enclosures but of more recently I've seen breeders are leaning away from that.
    Unless of course you're in the humid southern states.
  3. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    So far, I have been misting it several times a day (always at night and in the morning, at minimum, more if I am home) using R/O water (to prevent/minimize hardwater residue on the glass)

    There are also sphagnum 'wicks' extending down into the reservoir, they help keep the soil moist for the live plants growing in there. The plants have all shown signs of good root growth since planting, too.

    I often see condensation and water droplets on the glass, even hours after misting, so I think the humidity is probably adequate. I won't know for sure until I add the hygrometer. I have to pick up a bunch of things at the next show to finish off this cage (snake is not yet living in it)

    Thermostat (will be running a CHE on it.)
    top-dressing for the soil - probably fir bark.
    Springtails for the soil (already has isopods)

    Considering the time of year, I am tempted to add some leaf litter to the mix as well.

    My goal is to create a tank with an ambient temp around 70ºF and a few warm spots that are around 80ºF, and adequate ventilation and humidity (I'm not exactly certain what range they should be in, but 40-60% seems a good start)
  4. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    Interesting. Very true that reservoir would help a lot.
  5. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    it's kind of a cross between self-watering flower pots, and having a false bottom viv.
  6. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    Finished the build. Added springtails and isopods to the viv, then added top dressing in the form of fir bark and oak leaves.

    Have set up a CHE to heat, which is run on a thermostat with probe. I will be tweaking (as needed) the equipment over the next week or so until I am happy with the temps maintained within the cage.

    The snake will be introduced then. Right now he is shedding, and overdue for a meal, so after all of that is done, I can move him in :)


  7. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    Looks great. He's going to enjoy the new digs.
  8. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    I hope so.

    temps need to stay between around 68ºF and 78ºF for me to be happy.

    So far (and it's only been a couple hours) it's spot on.

    Most distant corners of the tank from the CHE are reading no lower than 67ºF (as measured with temp gun). Elevated basking areas and branches are topping out in the low 80s.
  9. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    I think it's doing good so far - last night the probe on the floor of the cage registered a low temp of 69ºF, which is perfect!

    Now if he (or she) would just shed, we could get on with this upgrade.
  10. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    Snake has shed.

    Snake has eaten another meal.

    Time for introductions! (vid coming soon)
  11. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

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