Thursday, October 4, 2012

Assembling Your Snake's New Home

It is time to set up your Ball Python's new home!  This is one of my favorite parts.  This is a short list, but will get you up and running safely.  Feel free to question with specific issues below.

Wash your new enclosure thoroughly.  I recommend a 1 to 5 mix of regular dish soap to warm water.  Rinse well.  I also sanitize the enclosure with 1 to 10 bleach to water ratio and allow to air dry.  If you take these steps with the enclosure, plants, soak dish and any other fixture you purchased for the enclosure, you will be on your way to success.  Avoid attempting to wash substrate or vines.

Heater placement.  Graphic editing is not my forte.
After your enclosure is dry, peel the backing from the substrate heater and stick it to the bottom of the glass enclosure.  Place it in a corner so that your pet Ball Python will be able to properly thermoregulate.  Your Ball Python needs to thermoregulate, or "find" the proper temperature to properly digest and stay healthy.  Sorry about the $5.00 word there, but if you are reading any standard texts on Ball Python care, you will see that word.

Place substrate approximately 3/4 of an inch deep on the bottom of the enclosure.  If you purchased a "brick" of dried, compressed substrate that required soaking in water, squeeze as much water as you can out of the product before spreading it.  Your Ball Python doesn't need to be crawling around in "soup".

Place your recently cleaned and sanitized soak bowl directly over the substrate heater.  Sweep all of the substrate away from the location that you are placing the soak bowl, leaving it resting directly on the glass.  This serves two purposes; helping with enclosure humidity through evaporation, and preventing your snake from burrowing under the soak bowl and becoming injured.

Bury the base of any plants in the substrate, covering the "anchor" or rock attached to the base of the plant.  Your new snake will likely disturb these plants quite a bit, so for now be patient and let him/her be.

Place any vines you purchased SECURELY in the terrarium.  If you purchased plants or vines that adhere to the side of the glass, rub the suction cup with isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) and allow to dry before sticking.  This will help the cup to stick securely.  Since you thoroughly cleaned the glass prior to all of this, your plant should stick nicely.

Place the recently cleaned hide box or snake cave near the edge of the substrate heater's location, but not directly on top of it.

If a heat rock mysteriously appeared in your bag, I am sure that there is a table in the house with a short leg, or some papers on your desk that need a weight. :-)

Check that the screen top of your terrarium is secure...Ball Pythons are pretty strong, and if they detect that even a corner of the top isn't secure, you will spend some considerable time looking for them.

Attach thermometers/hygrometers to the glass.  I typically place these approximately 4 inches higher than the bottom of the enclosure.  This way, I get to monitor the snake's environment.  I  do have a couple of additional considerations concerning placement.  I like for the thermo/hygro to be opposite the substrate heater, and not to be close to other fixtures such as hide boxes, waterfalls etc.

Place the hood or lighting fixture.  Turn the lights on, plug up the substrate heater, fill the soak bowl and watch some cartoons.  Once the temp in the enclosure is close to 88 degrees F, start watching the thermo.  Make certain that the temp doesn't continue to climb.  If your humidity is lower than 65%, employ that spray bottle and purified water.  Give the enclosure a few mists and watch the humidity rise.  

If all is well, place your new Ball Python in their new home.  Once they are in, close the door(s) and lock it up.  Give your new pal at least 5 days of adjustment before handling, opening the enclosure only as necessary to replace water or in the event of some sort of emergency.  Try to avoid having the entire family tree standing closely to your snake's new home for during this acclimation period.  We really just want your new snake to adjust to normal household sights and smells.  Notice that I didn't mention sounds, right?  We'll jump on that train later.

Give 'em a name!

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