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Getting a ball python today!

Discussion in 'Not So Spineless Wonders' started by AmberDawnDays, Aug 7, 2018.

  1. AmberDawnDays

    AmberDawnDays Arachnoknight

    My 12 year old son asked for a snake and we decided to let him get one. The breeder by us just got one of his baby ball pythons to eat its 3rd meal a few days ago and said we can come and get it today. He says its a female. So we are headed to the pet shop to get everything we need today and then setting things up.

    I'm super excited, but just want to make sure I have everything figured out. We are getting a 50 gallon tank because the guy said that will fit the snake for life. I will use coco fiber for substate. We will have a UV light and heat lamp. We will have 2 hides, 1 for the cold side and 1 for the warm side. The same with the water dishes, 1 on each side. A spray bottle to mist the tank (twice daily - I've been told). A laser thermometer. Shrubbery and what else? What am I missing?

    Also, what is the best approach to tame a baby ball python? The breeder said handle it every day, except don't handle it within 2 or 3 days of eating. He also said feed it once a week in the beginning, but when do I start to stretch out the feedings? We will be feeding with frozen pinkies.

    Any advice and help is much appreciated. Thanks!
  2. AnimalNewbie

    AnimalNewbie Arachnobaron

    Well post a pic and we can see what size you should be feeding. Personally I’ve always found pinkies to be too small for most baby pythons and use fuzzies or hoppers. 50 gallon would fit it for life but like tarantulas they feel more secure in tight spaces so give it plenty of snug hides for it to hide in. Every day seems a bit excessive and that will probably stress out the snake quite a lot so keep it to every other day. You won’t need to stretch out feeding for a while. It’s not that big of a deal but I’d reccomend reptibark or aspen instead of loose substrate. UV is not needed and heat pads work better than heat lamps.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  3. AmberDawnDays

    AmberDawnDays Arachnoknight

    I was wondering about the enclosure size because even tarantula breeders at expos always try to tell me bigger is fine for tarantulas, but I learned differently here. So is a 20 gallon okay for a baby ball python instead of a 50? Or is getting a 50 gallon with lots of hides okay too?

    How long would it typically take to tame a baby? I know each is different, but I'm just looking for an average. :)

    Do UV lights help with coloration like I've read but they aren't actually necessary or are they just pointless?

    Why do you prefer a heat pad over a heat lamp? I like to know all the ins and outs of different options

    Also, I read that aspen was bad for ball pythons but cant remember why. Yikes. I know the internet and YouTube are full of crap advice, so I'm just trying to put it all together to make the best choice. Why do you prefer the substate you use?
  4. AnimalNewbie

    AnimalNewbie Arachnobaron

    I prefer the reptibark and aspen because most of the time the substrate pieces are too big for them to accidently swallow with the food item.
    it took me about a month or 2 to tame didn't really ever got bit . When there babies there a lot more feisty.
    UV is pointless for ballpythons there nocturnal and never really bask in the sun and get there heat from the ground which is why I prefer heatpads.
    I barely ever see mine both of those tank options are good
  5. basin79

    basin79 Arachnoemperor Active Member

    A suitable sized rub will work for a while. The important thing for a snake is that you get them feeling comfortable and they feed. So I'd use a rub with paper towel on the bottom first.

    Still use the 2 hide method. The kitchen roll allows you to now only clean out the enclosure easier but let's you actually see any droppings easier. As in you know your snake is eating, processing the food and getting rid of it.

    I'd recommend a heat mat connected to a thermostat (VITAL) for the rub.

    Get your little one established and you'll be laughing. Getting her established means leaving her alone. Let her settle in and get into a regular feeding regime.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  6. AmberDawnDays

    AmberDawnDays Arachnoknight

    This is Linda's enclosure. We ended up buying a kit from the store that was meant for ball python's. It came with a heat lamp and a heat pad. The guy at the store said put the lamp on one side and the heat pad on the other side and this will create a cold spot in the middle of the tank. Is this how I should do it or should I just not use the heat lamp? 20180807_210710.jpg

    Here she is. My son named her Linda. Like "listen Linda." I think it's a cute name.

    She's about as long as her 20 gallon tank. Maybe a touch shorter in length. The guy said she is eating live mice. I'll have to convert her over to frozen. Any tips on that?
  7. basin79

    basin79 Arachnoemperor Active Member

    You don't want a cool spot in the middle. You want a cool spot at the opposite end of the warm one.

    You're looking to create a thermal gradient. That way it allows your snake to decide how warm she wants to be. Really warm under the bulb all the way to cool at the opposite end. I much prefer ceramic bulbs for snakes in vivariums. They don't give off any light so can be on 24/7 connected to a pulse stat.

    Glass isn't ideal as it doesn’t hold heat in well compared to wood or fibreglass but is fine. Personally I'd use some foil backed insulation board on the back and sides to minimise heat loss.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  8. basin79

    basin79 Arachnoemperor Active Member

    Regarding switching from live to F/T. First of all just try her with a F/T. She might very well take it. If not it gets a little messy. Live mice to mice you've literally just killed yourself to mice that are F/T. Some snakes require a dead mouse to be braided to get them to switch. Literally cut open the mouse skull to expose the brain.

    There's also the daisy chain option which can work. Live mouse in, when your snake has nearly finished eating it you hold a F/T mouse against the first mouse. The snake should eat that mouse too.

    See if she'll take a F/T mouse first. You can defrost it than warm the mouse up with a hairdryer slightly to make your lass more interested.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2018
    • Helpful Helpful x 1
  9. AmberDawnDays

    AmberDawnDays Arachnoknight

    Also my son
    So I should put the light over on the same side as the heat pad? Should I get another heat pad too, so the entire one side is covered in heat pad? Also I'm assuming I can just go and get a ceramic bulb or do these types of bulbs require a completely different light? I have to admit, the red light is annoying. It won't bother my son either way to have the red light on in his room though because his bed is a loft bed and the tank is under the loft. His bed is hung with led lights underneath that he almost always leaves on anyways. So another question I have is whether Linda requires complete darkness to light cycles? Does he need to turn off his lights under the loft for Linda at night?

    Where do I get foil backed insulation? Do I make my own with styrofoam that I glue foil too or is there premade stuff out there? Then I'm assuming I would get aquarium scenic paper to disguise the foil?

    I didn't know there were wood or fiber glass enclosures? Where would I find one of those? I'm more likely to make what we have work for now, but I am interested in these other options for the future when we upsize the enclosure, especially since my son paid half on this project. Being that he's 12 and earns his money on a tiny paper route, this was several months of his income just to pay half.

    I really hope that Linda takes the F/T mice. I definitely don't want to be killing or braining a mouse. And is it healthy to let a 12 year old do something like that? I'm hesitant to let him do that. I wonder if the pet shop would do it for me? Push comes to shove, I would do it, but yikes... let's just hope she goes for F/T. She's only eaten 3x, so the guy says. I think she looks big for only 3 feedings though. She is a few months old.

    Also, my son had a good conversation with a guy at a pet shop who feeds his live and went on about the hunting experience for snakes and F/T takes that away. My son is all for feeding live now, but after a conversation I started on Facebook, I found out 2 of my friends have snakes. One has horror stories about live feedings, related vet visits, and she even had to put a snake down over an eye injury that got infected. So I fully intend to switch Linda to F/T and I'm sure once I tell my son these stories (when he wakes up) that he will agree.

    Thanks for all your help!
  10. basin79

    basin79 Arachnoemperor Active Member

    First off the live feeding bit. The pet shop owner is talking absolute garbage. Watch a retic or even my little tri coloured hognose take F/T prey and tell me they don't think it's alive.

    You've brought up the main reason why live feeding is wrong in my opinion. Injuries to your pet. So many don't understand that a mouse/rat/rabbit etcetera will fight for their lives and are more than capable of causing awful wounds. "Even" if they're only superficial there's the chance of infection at worse. At best your beautiful snake with her perfect scakes is scared for life.

    To be honest I'd have just gone with a RUB and heat mat as your growing enclosure. Would have cost you a fraction of your setup and been ideal. You have to be careful with heat mats and glass used underneath. Between the thick glass and substrate there's a real chance of thermal blocking.

    I'm assuming you've got a dimmer stat running your red bulb? They'll work with a ceramic but pulse it the best option. Ceramic bulbs need a special fitting adapter due to their heat and heat resistant wiring. They get ridiculously hot but are fantastic. No light means they can run 24/7 and be your only heat source when set up right.

    Foil backed insulation boards can be bought from a builders merchants. They're absolutely fantastic.

    Obviously I don't know the pet shop you bought your snake from but many are absolutely numb/ignorant/greedy. Either giving awful advice or making the new pet owner buy things that they just don't need. Of course there are some absolutely phenomenonal pet shops too.

    Wooden vivariums are the most popular and cheapest. They come in a variety of sizes and are ideal for the majority of reptiles. Fibreglass vivs are a lot more expensive and aren't needed for most. Those that use them tend to have snakes that either require high humidity or cause a lot of mess that could "blow" a traditional wooden viv. That typed a wooden viv can be customised/modded to be fine.

    I'm not being a prat but it really doesn't read like you did alot of homework on your snake before buying. Most have been guilty of buying a pet though including me without thoroughly researching it first.

    My number 1 recommendation would be to join a good dedicated reptile forum. There will be hundreds if not thousands of threads on royal/ball pythons. Maybe even a few stickies to read.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  11. AmberDawnDays

    AmberDawnDays Arachnoknight

    I have been researching for at least 18 months. The issue is that everywhere I look, whoever I talk to, every store, every breeder, every YouTube video, literally EVERYTHING says something different. I'm trying to find someone that can tell me something that makes sense. I'm being told completely opposite information everywhere I look. Regardless the snake will be properly taken care of. I have 100% complete confidence in that. I'm simply trying to get approval or disapproval on what I have so I can fix things before it's gone on for too long. I truly appreciate your help. I promise you though, I've been researching. The reason why I didn't go with a tub is because we wanted this to look nice on display in Ethan's room. I know it's possible to make a glass tank work, so that's mainly the help I'm looking for. Thank you for all your help. :)
    • Like Like x 1
  12. basin79

    basin79 Arachnoemperor Active Member

    Then apologies. The reason I suggest a good reptile forum is there will be loads of helpful keepers. The majority of breeders use tiny drawer systems called racks. I detest them but that's a discussion that has been to the moon and back.

    I understand that a RUB doesn't look particularly nice as they aren't as transparent as glass but they're absolutely phenomenonal. I have my tri coloured hognose in a 145lt and it's brilliant. I grew on my retics in them too. The great thing about a RUB is once a snake outgrows it they become handy to pop your snake into if you're cleaning out the main enclosure or even to take to the vet should it be required.

    Have a nosey on RFUK. It's English but a snake is a snake.
    • Funny Funny x 1
  13. AmberDawnDays

    AmberDawnDays Arachnoknight

    I started the ball python research back in 2016 when I held one for the 1st time and fell in love. My hubs didn't want to get one, so my research was mainly curiosity. I didn't think I'd be getting one anytime soon. Well then our son asked for one, and he never asks for anything. For him to ask and save so much money, we figured he could have one, because we knew he was serious about having one and caring for it. I still think its hilarious how my husband didn't want me to take on another animal but as soon as our son wanted it, he agreed. I was of course super happy. But we did kind of have to hurry and get an enclosure setup because the breeder fed the third meal sooner than we thought would happen. I had hoped to have things setup at least a couple days prior, but it didn't work out that way. It also doesn't help that the info from the breeder seems to be wrong and also info from my 2 snake keeping friends are all different, yet everyone's snakes are thriving. So it does get confusing. But the people here on AB ddint steer me wrong with my Ts, so that's why I came here first. I figured I'd get some direction from someone
    • Like Like x 1
  14. Thistles

    Thistles Arachnobroad

    It’s so easy to keep a BP. Don’t stress or overthink it, and don’t listen to pet stores.

    Light and heat pad at the same end, with a hide. I don’t even use a light, just a heat pad, but I use a tub.

    Water and another hide at the other end. I use a dog bowl so Regina can hide under her water dish.

    Aspen or cypress mulch as substrate.

    Feed F/T for the snake’s safety. They DO NOT (generally) need live. People who like to see the snake kill something are creative about justifying it, but all you’re doing is risking a pathogen or a bite while making a mouse suffer.

    I use a big tub too, but I understand wanting something pretty. Glass is fine, just more expensive and not as easy to climate control.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Helpful Helpful x 1
  15. AmberDawnDays

    AmberDawnDays Arachnoknight

    Thank you! That's my problem. I let the pet store and breeder confuse me from things I've read. I know pet stores are always wrong. I only second guessed myself because the person I spoke with said he's had pet snakes since he was 12.

    I have light and heat pad right now on the same end to achieve 90° measured with a laser pointer thermometer. The cold side is running about 75° so I will insulate the back today.

    My son has an alarm set for twice a day misting, but I think we may buy a piece of acrylic and drill holes in it to cover the screen area. Is this a viable option? Have people done this and it work?

    We have a water dish in the middle and on the far end of the cold side. The substrate is cypress shavings.

    I agree F/T is the best option. We will be switching her over first thing.
  16. AnimalNewbie

    AnimalNewbie Arachnobaron

    The acrylic idea would work.
    I wouldn’t reccomend letting your son brain a mouse though it does get messy and it might be a bit traumatizing but if you think your sons ready for it I see no problem. Red light is better than an actual light because they can’t see red light but with an actual light it’s like someone’s constantly blinding it with light however all you really need is a heat pad.
  17. AmberDawnDays

    AmberDawnDays Arachnoknight

    It's a red light. :)

    I'm hoping we don't have to brain a mouse. *Finger crossed*
    • Like Like x 1
  18. AnimalNewbie

    AnimalNewbie Arachnobaron

    just be prepared.
    Mine was a bit picky but instead of braining the mouse i just cut it enough so it started bleeding a little.
    Sucky thing is you might have to go through this process again when switching to rats