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Winter's Coming... Heat?

Discussion in 'Ball Pythons' started by dankaholic256, Oct 7, 2008.

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  1. dankaholic256

    dankaholic256 Active Member

    Hey all. Winter's coming, and my basement is going to be getting a bit colder. Currently the only heating source I have is a heat lamp attached outside of the cage, and aimed more on the right side, where Joselyn's hide is.

    Should I get a heating pad as well, so if she get's too cold she can go somewhere? Or should I pick up a bigger heat lamp? I'm worried about too much heat ruining the humidity. What are other people doing?

    Thanks in advance for the help.

  2. Rich

    Rich Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    If you are using a heat lamp, what are you using for heat at night? Even if you were to get a stronger lamp, the night time temperatures would likely drop too much.

    I use under-tank-heaters with all of my snakes except my Boa. I also use ceramic heat emitters where needed.

    I would suggest getting the UTH. If it begins messing with the humidity, you will just need to play with methods for increasing the humidity more or less.
  3. titus

    titus Elite Member Premium Member

    If you keep a lot of herps or even just a few in the basement I've found it best just to heat the room if possible. A lot of extra heat isn't needed, just to keep the night temps up to a normal level. My reptile room is heated to at lest 16C at night during winter. Allows me not to need extra heating for my Geckos and low watt lamps for the snakes to keep proper temps while providing a safe winter rest period for my herps. Heating the room also keeps the ambient temp up. Heat mats normally don't heat the air too much and can lead to really low ambient night temps causing URIs in some herps.
  4. dankaholic256

    dankaholic256 Active Member

    I use a red light heat lamp that I leave on 24/7. Until now, heat hasn't been an issue, because I got her just a few months ago when it was warm all the time.

    As far as the undercage heaters go. How exactly do they work? And if I do use that should I also use the heat lamp?
  5. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    How cold is "a bit colder?"
    I agree with Titus. Get a small room heater to help keep the ambient temp a bit warmer.
    With an UTH you are only heating the surface directly above the heater, not the air in the cage itself.
    Even laying on a heated surface, breathing the colder air could set you up for respiratory problems.
  6. dankaholic256

    dankaholic256 Active Member

    Awesome, thanks. That was my fear. I'm not sure if anyone is familiar with those heat dishes? I got one from Costco, does a really good job of keeping a whole area warm, so if I just leave that by the cage, I'm hoping that does it. Even with warmer ambient air, is it worth having an undercage heater to give her an even warmer spot when she wants it? or is the heatlamp + the room heater enough?
  7. fire2225ems

    fire2225ems Subscribed User Premium Member

    Heat dish?
  8. dankaholic256

    dankaholic256 Active Member

  9. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Everything you are asking is going to be dependent on just how cool the room will get.
    I have a converted garage that I use and it has no heater in it. I use an oil filled radiator electric heater.
    Something like this
    Holmes HOH2505-U Oil-Filled Radiator Heater
    It would be cheaper to run and there is no danger of it starting a fire, unlike the unit you are showing.
  10. Maya

    Maya Elite Member

    I use a spray water bottle to maintain the humidity, I also wet his log hide and I have some moss in the middle of his cage.

    I am an amateur, experts please chime in if I am doing something wrong. I have aspen bedding, and I found that the under-cage heating isn't that efficient since the bedding acts as an insulator (any expert opinions on this?). I bought 2 heating mats and stuck it on to the side wall, they don't get very hot, I can comfortably place my hands on the inside. I checked this since Tiberius can lean against it if he wants to, although he seems very sensible and I have never seen him curled up against it. I also have a ceramic heat lamp that stays on all the time. All of this together keeps that corner at a steady 90 and humidity of about 50.
  11. dankaholic256

    dankaholic256 Active Member

    Thanks for the tips. Anyone willing to throw up some pics on photobucket or anything? I'd love to see the setups of your terrariums and your heating arrangements, just to get some ideas.
  12. Maya

    Maya Elite Member

    Anytime, Tiberius is willing to show off his Digs. Attached.

    Attached Files:

  13. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    Cage constructed for our male Ball Python. (open in picture) Bottom right hand 'cave' edge is flush with front panel (except for opening), and has a heater underneath, and is well insulated. Log cave at other end is not heated. Light is a fluorescent, so it doesn't give off much heat (never gets too cold where i live)

    I used to live in Michigan, and I had a lot of success insulating the (55 gallon) cage my Ball was in. You can get 1" thick insulating foam panels at the hardware store pretty cheap, cut them to size of your cage, and affix with masking tape (easily removed once weather warms). I did this to the sides, back, and bottom. Ambient room temp was about 40 F in the basement where the cage was. Ambient tank temp stayed 75-85 without much additional heating. It isn't very scenic, but it does work.

    You might also look into farrowing mats. (Pig farmers use them). They are large, flat, heaters that can fit under most tanks, and help maintain a decent temp. Mine is 24x24". I'm not sure what other sizes might be available.
  14. jimbud

    jimbud Active Member

    Need advice too - Re: Winters Coming... Heat?

    I thought I had things sorted out for Gomez my BP but it appears not. Merlin, you said you have a 150w ceramic and an under tank heater for a 55gal and temps are fine right? I have a 40gal with under tank heater (for 40-50gal) and 150w ceramic emitter and plastic covered pegboard on 85% of top to keep heat/humidity in.

    I've been keeping the ceramic on 24/7 and according to digital thermometers hot side ranges from 87 to 93 and cool side about 5 degrees cooler than the hot side, usually mid to low 80's. Humidity has been really low now that furnace is starting to kick on and off and I've taken to misting the tank twice a day which seems to be working. I religiously check temps and humidity several times a day morning, noon and night. The digital temp/humidity gauge are on the inside back of the tank about 3" from tank floor.

    Last night I turned off the ceramic and woke this morning with the ambient room temp 68.3 and the tank temp was only 69 hot side 67 cool side. With the under tank heater shouldn't the tank temps be at least 5 degrees or so higher than ambient room temp? I checked the Under Tank Heater and it seems to be working just fine. Even placed a pegboard sheet underneath a good part of the tank so the majority of heat isn't escaping from below while still allowing air flow.

    Gomez hangs out on the cooler side most of the time so I realize maybe the digital thermometers are off and am waiting for a PE-2 that I ordered to arrive so I can check everything accurately. I'm concerned that even tho I basically have the same set up as Merlin for a slightly smaller tank my temps seem to be really off. I feel like I wasted money on the thermostat since it's been on the highest setting since I installed it and temps don't get high enough for it to be useful. I need to get this all sorted out before winter hits and ambient room temps drop a bit further. Could really use some guidance here. :confused:


    PS Nice setups pictured above. Am still tweaking mine.

    Attached Files:

  15. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    Re: Need advice too - Re: Winters Coming... Heat?

    I haven't had a whole lot of luck with ceramic heaters because of their nature. they only emit heat, and heat rises, so when I've used them, they warm the top 6 inches of the cage, and a bunch of air above the cage. I have had better luck warming from the bottom up, and insulating top and sides. On tops of my tanks, I prefer to use heat lights, because they transmit the heat farther than the CHEs do. My Ball's winter setup was a 55 gal with one (very) warm end: a closed in stone-like cave that sat on top of a heater, and under a heat lamp. Averaged 85+ degrees. The cooler end had only heat from the bottom, and was about ten degrees cooler. The light was turned off at night, and gave a natural day/night temp gradient. the tank would cool about 5 degrees, but nothing too serious. she never had respiratory issues, or any other illnesses. a little temp flux isn't going to hurt your ball, just be weary of prolonged low temps.

    As a result, I have switched many of my tanks to wood or particle board. it is very self-insulating (much more so than glass) and use under-substrate heat cables. They give off more heat than a mat, and are a lot more flexible as to their applications, and can be used inside the cage, can withstand high humidity. A word of warning on heating elements in the cage - I avoid loose substrates because those cables to get very warm. I use a machine-washable rug, so the snakes can't ever come in contact with it, and it helps to disperse the heat a little better.

    Try putting some towels or blankets over the cage. They still let air through, but they will help insulate it a lot.
  16. jimbud

    jimbud Active Member

    Thanks Dragoness! Attached are JPGs of the area temps I checked with my new PE-2 both BEFORE and AFTER I made some changes to things. Seems the floor temps were WAY higher than I thought (and way higher than what the digital gauges read) which explains why Gomez was hanging on the cooler side most of the time. One of the AFTER changes is that I removed the cover I had been using which would explain why ambient air temp is a bit low.

    This seems to be my biggest area of confusion - ambient air temp. How to get proper temps without overheating the tank floor. Covering the top seems to have little effect other than raising humidity a bit and I am guessing either some insulation is needed on the sides or my little brain is just overthinking it and shouldn't rely on what the gauges say (maybe they're ****) now that I have a temp gun?

    I'm going to try the 100w infrared bulb again that I had been using and check temps with the PE-2 Monday afternoon once everything settles to see if a difference in ambient temp. May also use advice earlier in this thread and get some insulating sheets from Lowe's if this doesn't work out satisfactorily.

    I appreciate any and all responses! :)

    Attached Files:

  17. dankaholic256

    dankaholic256 Active Member

    Hey Jimbud, wanna link the gauges you bought recently? I have the cheap ones that stick to the sides and monitor humidity and temp, but I'm not convinced it's very accurate.

  18. jimbud

    jimbud Active Member

    I'm guessing you're talking about the PE-2 infrared temp gun I just got. I found it on eBay, brand new and with shipping was still cheaper than the cheapest price I could find. Paid $37 total with shipping. Just do a search on for Pro Exotics PE-2 and look for the vendor that has em for $31.99. I won the bid on Thursday afternoon and had it in my mailbox on Saturday.
  19. dankaholic256

    dankaholic256 Active Member

    That's awesome, and with that you can test any area temp in the terrarium?
  20. jimbud

    jimbud Active Member

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