As the title suggests this thread will be about my snake room, its inhabitants, and my many snake related DIY projects. I am very much about function over form so my projects are not pretty, there are no fancy trims or wood stains, but they are functional, durable and built to last a very long time. Feel free to steal any idea you see here, ask questions, or offer suggestions on how to improve any given project.
I'll start here with the ultimate DIY herp project, making baby herps! My first Ball Python breeding project was nothing too fancy, a male Bumblebee and a normal female. I was shooting for a female Bumblebee to hold back. The first thing I needed were racks for the adults so off to the lumber yard I went. I built two racks, one a seven tub 28 quart rack and the other a seven tub 41 quart rack. Design for both was simple and straightforward, eight shelves, two sides and the back cut from 3/4 inch Birch plywood all sealed with water based Minwax polyurethane and held together with 1.5 inch #8 screws to make each seven slot rack. The 28 quart rack uses three wide inch heat tape and the 41 quart rack uses eleven inch wide heat tape. Both use one long piece of heat tape snaked from bottom to top along each self in a shallow channel cut with a router and tacked down with silicon so that at no point does a tub come into direct contact with the heat tape. Here the two racks are sitting next to a 28 quart Boaphile rack. I actually wound up using the Boaphile for the Pythons and the 28 quart plywood rack for colubrids, but nevermind that.
Here is the male. He does not approve of having his picture taken.
And here is the female as I found her the morning of May 22nd. As of this post all of my BPs are Craigslist rescues (with the exception of the hatchlings, obviously). Most of them came to me with a history of eating and shedding problems. They all shed great now and with one exception they are great eaters. The one exception is an allegedly 100% het albino female who I was hoping to breed to an allegedly 100% het albino male this fall, but those plans are on hold until she decides to be a good eater. The male is a veritable garbage disposal, I wish she would learn from his example. I have a female Spider and a male Pinstripe that should be ready to go this fall so I may shoot for a Spinner in the meantime, or I may just skip this year. I have some time to make up my mind.
Here are the eggs in their custom made incubator. The incubator probably cost me less than $20, not including the thermostat. The cooler I had already (I'm really not sure how it wound up in my hands, odds are an old roommate left it behind years ago). I laid a few feet of eleven inch heat tape down one side, across the bottom and then up the other side. I cut the head off of a small extension cord, attached two heat tape connectors with a bit of solder, attached the connectors to the heat tape and sealed everything up with electrical tape. Some masking tape to hold the heat tape in place, a few bottles of water, and a 6 quart tub filled halfway with Perlite round out the materials list.
On the eggs themselves: She laid eight initially, seven good and one slug, and passed two more slugs a couple weeks later for a total of ten. The good eggs were not exactly beautiful, most had spots that were not fully calcified. If anyone has any insight on why she laid so many slugs and why the good eggs had non-calcified spots, and suggestions on how to improve the quality of clutches going forward I'm all ears (or eyes in this case, but you get my meaning). This was her first time if that could have anything to do with it. It was also my first time. In November I reduced the hot spot by five degrees at night in the breeder rack (it stays around 91-92 normally) and paired the male Bee and normal female once a week, just after dark. They locked within a couple hours almost every time and I'd remove the male the next morning if they were done, on the few occasions I didn't see a lock I'd remove the male on the third morning. I stopped dropping the temps at the first of March and stopped pairing them after the second week of March, she was huge by then. Her pre-lay shed was on April 21st. The evening of May 21st I peeked into her tub a couple hours after dark to see she was laying, I left her alone until the next morning to be sure she was done before removing the eggs. She weighed 2020 grams at the first of November and ate like a champ on medium rats every Sunday night until abruptly going off feed after a final rat the first day of March.
Here is the little slot I cut in the cooler to run the wires.
Now for the final piece of this breeding project, the nursery! Now I realize a 28 tub rack is a bit overkill for a single Ball Python clutch but I'm planning on using this thing for a very long time and for many different critters. This rack is obviously a bit more complex in design than the other racks. Getting all of 21 of the dividers exactly the same size was a major pain, complicated by the fact I cut them all almost an eighth of an inch too tall. I intended to cut them about one thirty-second too tall so I could sand out the little irregularities that invariably show up with a palm sander, but sanding almost an eighth of an inch of material off of essentially a 14 by 16 inch block of plywood with a little quarter sheet palm sander seemed to take an eternity. Not fun. But in the end the fit is perfect so all's well that ends well. Same as the other racks the whole thing is built with 3/4 inch Birch plywood, sealed with water based Minwax polyurethane and assembled with 1.5 inch #8 screws. It's heated with one long piece of three inch heat tape tacked down with silicon in a routered channel and uses 6 quart tubs.
Here you can see the heat tape that runs along the back of each shelf and up the sides.
The Taiwanese Beauty was very curious about all this picture taking, no doubt convinced all the movement outside his enclosure surely meant food was on the way. I told him to go back to sleep. He didn't listen.