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Old 07-19-17, 10:36 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping snakes without a hotspot

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Originally Posted by dave himself View Post
Also you'd have take into consideration if you have a variety of different reptiles in our collection, all needing different temperatures. Another thing is if you have a heat failure on your system, every animal could be cooked or frozen depending on what goes wrong
The idea behind this 1 temp practice is to use it with the same species or a few species that all have relatively the same temperature requirements. For example, you'd have a room for North American colubrids as most would be able to handle the same temperatures.

I would believe if you go this route you'd have a generator hooked up to the room to stabilize should something happen to the power supply, much like we do with thermostats.

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I have to agree^. I believe the ONLY reason snakes need to thermoregulate is to digest food, and as long as they appear to be able to do so effectively, they don't need a heat source.

They may be snakes, but trust me, most species are perfectly happy sharing the same wonderful climate control we enjoy!
I would disagree with you. Snakes use heat as a way to combat illness as well. Ever keep a snake too cool? What do you think happens to them? RI usually pops up pretty quick.



All in all this isn't a new idea. It was pretty big about 5 - 10 years ago when people were housing large collections. It seems people have less and less animals these days and it's unlikely to occur in all but the larger breeders. It works for some.

I personally believe in heating the racks individually and hooking them up to thermostats. It's probably easier to replace/repair a single thermostat and or rack instead of an entire rooms HVAC system.
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Old 07-19-17, 10:47 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping snakes without a hotspot

One thing about reptile heaters that should be mentioned, is that most are not UL listed. That means if they burn down your house or kill your animals it is likely not covered by your insurance.
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Old 07-19-17, 10:50 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping snakes without a hotspot

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One thing about reptile heaters that should be mentioned, is that most are not UL listed. That means if they burn down your house or kill your animals it is likely not covered by your insurance.
Very good point.

There's also the fact that some people are running illegal businesses in a residential area that may not be zoned for it.
Of course this may not matter depending on local laws.
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Old 07-19-17, 10:54 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping snakes without a hotspot

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Originally Posted by Aaron_S View Post
The idea behind this 1 temp practice is to use it with the same species or a few species that all have relatively the same temperature requirements. For example, you'd have a room for North American colubrids as most would be able to handle the same temperatures.

I would believe if you go this route you'd have a generator hooked up to the room to stabilize should something happen to the power supply, much like we do with thermostats.



I would disagree with you. Snakes use heat as a way to combat illness as well. Ever keep a snake too cool? What do you think happens to them? RI usually pops up pretty quick.



All in all this isn't a new idea. It was pretty big about 5 - 10 years ago when people were housing large collections. It seems people have less and less animals these days and it's unlikely to occur in all but the larger breeders. It works for some.

I personally believe in heating the racks individually and hooking them up to thermostats. It's probably easier to replace/repair a single thermostat and or rack instead of an entire rooms HVAC system.
OK....Sooooo....when EXACTLY did you have an HVAC system failure, and how old was it at the time???. Now...you can lie all you want, but everybody here has had one for 15-20 years no problem.

So ...outside of a back-up generator, a viv is gonna get colder than a room a lot faster. I don't know about snakes getting sick from lack of a heat source.

Not saying it's a bad idea to provide a heat source, just that with the right circumstances, and the right species, it's very doable.

My 15 year old Texas ratsnake has spent about 20 minutes of her life on a heat rock....otherwise, she's been perfectly happy.

And I've had quite a few other snakes as well...but I don't do exotics that are maybe used to tropical temps.

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Old 07-19-17, 11:15 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping snakes without a hotspot

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OK....Sooooo....when EXACTLY did you have an HVAC system failure, and how old was it at the time???. Now...you can lie all you want, but everybody here has had one for 15-20 years no problem.

So ...outside of a back-up generator, a viv is gonna get colder than a room a lot faster. I don't know about snakes getting sick from lack of a heat source.

Not saying it's a bad idea to provide a heat source, just that with the right circumstances, and the right species, it's very doable.

My 15 year old Texas ratsnake has spent about 20 minutes of her life on a heat rock....otherwise, she's been perfectly happy.

And I've had quite a few other snakes as well...but I don't do exotics that are maybe used to tropical temps.
I'll go point by point.

1. I haven't had any issues. What I'm saying is if there IS an issue with it it'll cost more than a single thermostat or a new probe.

2. In general, rooms aren't insulated like an enclosure to keep in the level of humidity and heat that is required to keep these animals. Most people don't check into that sort of stuff and end up with mold or mildew in their walls because they didn't seal/check for proper insulation. We are talking exotic snakes, not a local Texas one.

3. Snakes get sick from a lack of proper heat. Again we aren't talking about catching a snake in our backyard. Common sense would dictate that for the most part (aside from when air conditioning is on) that a local snake species can be fine in local temperatures/humidity. But we're on a forum that has people from around the globe who keep snakes from around the globe so we have to discuss big picture here.

4. Yup. You spend 15 years, every minute and hour watching your snake and know it's never spent more than 20 minutes on a "heat rock" (God awful product that is).

5. Again, this is about all species. I accept your premise on your local snakes but that's where the discussion ends for you. When you have more experience in what we're talking about (considering the OP mentioned specifically boas and pythons) you can come to the adult discussion again.

If you'd like to refute my points again and try to point out where/how I'm wrong feel free. I don't think you'll get far.
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Old 07-19-17, 11:55 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping snakes without a hotspot

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I'll go point by point.

1. I haven't had any issues. What I'm saying is if there IS an issue with it it'll cost more than a single thermostat or a new probe.

2. In general, rooms aren't insulated like an enclosure to keep in the level of humidity and heat that is required to keep these animals. Most people don't check into that sort of stuff and end up with mold or mildew in their walls because they didn't seal/check for proper insulation. We are talking exotic snakes, not a local Texas one.

3. Snakes get sick from a lack of proper heat. Again we aren't talking about catching a snake in our backyard. Common sense would dictate that for the most part (aside from when air conditioning is on) that a local snake species can be fine in local temperatures/humidity. But we're on a forum that has people from around the globe who keep snakes from around the globe so we have to discuss big picture here.

4. Yup. You spend 15 years, every minute and hour watching your snake and know it's never spent more than 20 minutes on a "heat rock" (God awful product that is).

5. Again, this is about all species. I accept your premise on your local snakes but that's where the discussion ends for you. When you have more experience in what we're talking about (considering the OP mentioned specifically boas and pythons) you can come to the adult discussion again.

If you'd like to refute my points again and try to point out where/how I'm wrong feel free. I don't think you'll get far.
Oh snap. This could be interesting.
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Old 07-20-17, 12:59 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping snakes without a hotspot

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I was recently speaking to a local breeder( a well known and respected one at that) and he was telling me how he keeps his entire collection at a constant temperature without offering the opportunity for the animals to thermo regulate. I was curious as to what everyone thinks of this. I wonder how this affects the animals long term??. I personally feel uncomfortable not letting my snakes cool off and warm up as wanted. Btw he breeds various boas and pythons
This is absolutely more common than anyone knows. The reason it isn't talked about more is because forum warriors have a habit of not approaching new ideas in reptile care with an open mind. That and it is kind of a more advanced husbandry topic. I know one respected breeder and is actually a reptile zoo curator who advocated that 79-82 degrees F period. He was a pretty big name in the carpet pythons other morelia back when those were first beginning to grow in popularity. I reached out to him on facebook a while ago and he kept rattle snakes, pythons, colubrids, basically every type of snake at that same temperature. The results he had and continues to have in particular are quite astounding in my opinion.

The basic theory was as follows:

- That a snake is aiming for optimal core body temperature which is in that 80 degree range.
- A snake only moves when something is wrong, temp isn't correct, hungry, thirsty, needs to mate.
- In the realms of a small box a snake will sit on a hot end or cold end for seemingly no reason for lengths of time.
- The most important thing in a snakes mind is security. Many keepers offer only 2 hides, one sitting directly on a hot spot and the other one on the cold side of the tank.
- The heat we offer snakes never gets too hot like a snake experiences in the wild, so a snake will sit in a warm hide with a core body temperature of 85-90 degrees F so the snake then metabolizes both water and food much more quickly than an animal would in the wild because a wild snake sits in the sun and then moves off when the sun becomes too hot. The body of the snake then holds this heat in as it moves off to go hunting and such gradually decreasing in temp until it needs to heat up again.
- The previous point was explained to be the primary reason that so many people have issues with their animals not having appropriate sheds. The animal's humidity isn't the primary issue its that the animal is under hydrated because the warm temperatures are causing them to metabolize water much more than usual.
- That being cold blooded is an advantage for snakes, they require less food, less water, and less expending of energy.
- Tropical snakes in particular do not need horribly hot and humid conditions, they merely endure these in the wild.
- If kept at these temperatures ambient 50-60% humidity is adequate.
- Lower temperatures slow metabolism which means that a more natural feeding schedule is appropriate.

Overall I was kind of taken aback when I first heard about the way he was keeping his snakes, turns out lots of other breeders are as well, he was just the most vocal about it.

To the validity of the theory, I'm a believer. Now this is all anecdotal because quite frankly the scientific community gives two turds about the squabbles of the captive husbandry of snakes, they aren't going to study something like this because they are trying to save these animals in the wild.

But if we think about it. Just the very basics, where it is hot and humid all the time snakes do not bask and are primarily nocturnal. Where it is hot and dry, snakes are primarily crepuscular edging more towards nocturnal (morning and evening) as to avoid the extremes of day heat, night cold. Where it is cooler in the upper ranges of snake territory across the globe we find diurnal species who bask frequently and retire at night. The in-between areas (not desert not tropical) we'll find snakes of many types as we gradually get closer from one to the other.

You can even kind of see this in individual wide ranging species in the wild. Lets take the bull snake, this snake's range extends all the way from just South East of Calgary, Alberta Canada down to the Gulf of Mexico in Texas. The average temperature of Calgary Canada is 50 degrees F in May, getting to an average of 63F in July and August and cooling to an average of 54F in September. Every other month there is obnoxiously cold on average.

Now lets look at say, Dallas Texas. They have a longer warm season, April averages out at 77F, the 90's from June to August and then finally 80F in October.

Now we can look at the behavior of the same species in two entirely different environments. If you ask someone who lives in Alberta Canada to go catch a bull snake they will have to go out in the day time in order to find them moving about. If you ask someone to search for a bull snake down in Texas they are going to have to look in the morning/evening hours because finding a snake in the dark is hard unless you're driving.

We can see that these same snakes are avoiding the cold/chasing the heat in the North. But running from the heat in the hotter South. I can't find the study but I remember looking for a study or something to confirm my thoughts. There is a study of bull snakes in Indiana and in Texas. They found that in each case, at the start of spring for the most part the animals were diurnal gradually moving to a more nocturnal lifestyle as the summer progressed and the weather got much hotter. This also mirrors the habits of many of the small mammals that they feed off of as well (no one likes 90 degree heat).

Lets just say the very basic logic behind it makes sense.

Lets look at another relatively wide ranging species. The Ball Python which more people are much more familiar with. This species ranges along the Southern coast of West Africa all the way over into Sudan. Now going East to West we can check out a few weather averages, Kumasi, Ghana has the seasons switched. Now here are the highs 89F in December, 90-91 from January to April gradually going down to 82F in August and gradually back up again to the hot season again. The lows are in the 75-76F range during the night during the hottest part of the year and 72F in the cooler months.

This temperature is more or less consistent across the entire range of Ball Pythons. For sake of more detail lets look at two more cities, Abuja Nigeria we have highs in the 90's throughout the hot season, we have low 80's in the cooler season. With the lows mirroring Kumasi in the 70's. We find this same phenomenon Arua Sudan.

What is the one thing we know about Ball Pythons? They are about as exclusively nocturnal as snakes get. Ball Pythons in the wild are most active in that 76-80 degree range. Remember, we were using the lows for each of these locations which occur at night. So if the low is lower-mid 70's we can expect the average temp at night to be a bit higher.

When we look at the captive husbandry of ball pythons what do we constantly see on caresheets? 77-80F cool end, 80-83 ambient with a 90 degree hot spot. What wild ball python is going out in the day to experience 90 degree anything? I know people mention them being found in termite mounds, which are supposedly kept at a constant 87 degrees F based on my research. But are we to believe that every ball python has their own termite mound that they never leave? How common is it to actually find a ball python in a termite mound. The only thing I could find for sure is that they are known to aestivate (reverse hibernation for when it's hot to conserve water) in these chambers. Could it be that the snakes can't possibly operate at those high temperatures and find enough food to replace the energy they expend living at those temperatures?

Even across continents/species/genus it appears that most snakes ( I won't say all but I've had this discussion before and I've brought up many more species ) are chasing essentially the same conditions.

-In Practice

People have a horrible time of maintaining their cage temperatures regardless of what kind of cage they are using, we see questions about it every day on the forums. The only way that someone can 100% adopt a strategy like this would be to have a dedicated snake room.

However I do believe that parts of this care strategy can be adopted by someone who doesn't have a full room and I personally have with my snakes (Only Baird's Rat Snakes at the moment, soon to change!) and have been very happy with it having zero shedding issues since I began utilizing it. Basically I use a larger heating pad set at a lower temperature than what most people would. What this does is essentially tighten up my temperature gradient. My ambient air temp above the heat pad is typically in the 81-83 range on the very edge of enclosure depending on the day/if the fan is running, the glass typically is at 85 or so. The cooler side has a bit more fluctuation based on room temp but its in the 76-77 range the majority of the time on that edge of the enclosure. I've found that working the heat from a lower number much more spread out in the cage is easier to manage than trying to manage the temperature in the cage from a tiny hot spot.

I honestly was worried that this would essentially cause my snake to never move and be even more boring than some snakes usually are. But I have to say that it seemingly brought out the true individual personalities of each of my snakes. My male is secretive only coming out when he's hungry. My female is bold as can be often laying out watching me hoping it's feeding day (It was yesterday Lucy calm down). They explore their enclosures looking for a way out and otherwise there hasn't been much of a change from other snakes in the past than the shedding issues that I've had in past with other snakes I'm just not experiencing with mine.

The only old habit that is dying hard is that I moisten the moss in one of the hides when I notice they are in blue, the person who educated me on this said it's not necessary however. I can say that I've always done this with my snakes, yet back then with the hot spots I'd still occasionally have an eye cap or some other stupid thing. This has just been my experience so far with the method. Going on 2 1/2 years since I got back into the hobby after a few year hiatus due to military service.


-Conclusion

In a world where the confirmed longest lived corn snake was a wild caught animal from the 70's or 80's (can't remember which) a time when people used heat lamps and had shedding issues all over the place with every species, I'm beginning to think that there is just more than one way to skin a cat when it comes to snake husbandry and people REALLY like the way they skin that cat. We see it all over the community particularly in forums with all manner of reptile species.

That said, the earlier forum warrior comment wasn't meant for anyone in particular on this forum. In fact I'd say that in terms of discussing new ideas, presenting alternative theories, or simply asking questions is met mostly with curiosity, proper debate and interest. Some communities will bite a newcomers head off for being a bit confused about something, I know we've all seen it if we've been in the hobby for more than a few years.

When I ask people why they are keeping their snakes a certain way and they'll often say because its natural, well little boxes aren't natural. I'm never going to buy a bull snake and keep it with ambient temperatures in the upper 60's because that's what happens in Canada. And when someone is keeping their snake in a rubber maid shoe box on paper with no overhead light tells me about what's natural it's kind of a little bit laughable.

We've over the years decided what's natural based on how easy it is. Picking and choosing what we want as new products release and make our lives easier once again. The snake hobby almost as a whole decided that "belly heat" is natural, why? What snake in the amazon river basin is getting belly heat? We decided it's natural because heating pads and flex watt are easier to deal with than lamps are. The only reason is that we discovered that they don't need UVB like a lizard does, otherwise every single one of us would be using lamps still.

The point is, my methods are different than many. We all have different sources of information, have read different caresheets, own different books and we ALL do things differently, based on our personal climates, housing situations, etc. I'm not going to look at someone keeping their snakes in tubs and scoff because I feel the animals should have decorations, I wouldn't expect someone who keeps their snakes in tubs to scoff at someone with a nicely decorated or even planted vivarium for their snakes. Because in the end, the result is what matters, I'm not gonna tell someone who's snakes I can see are plenty healthy on the forums that they are doing something incorrect especially if they've been doing it over a long enough timeline.

Anyways I think most people who've been around a while know what a healthy snake looks like. In my eyes that's the ultimate test. If someone has healthy animals, they are feeding, breeding and thriving. I don't care if your snake is in a tub, a vivarium, a 10x10x10ft natural setup with every gizmo and gadget to make it replicate the natural weather of wherever the snake is from. A healthy snake is a healthy snake. We all can claim to know what's best but only the snakes truly know and the only hints we get are those factors I've mentioned.

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Old 07-20-17, 03:28 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping snakes without a hotspot

Lots of Interresting reading here and different views
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Old 07-20-17, 04:40 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping snakes without a hotspot

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Lots of Interresting reading here and different views
Absolutely, I'm happy to see good discussion on the topic with varying views. It seems as though many different methods work for different people, as reptile keepers I think in general we're a little hard headed and set in our ways when it comes to husbandry. Like someone previously mentioned some forums would jump down people's throats for doing something different than what they consider to be the proper method. Glad to see this isn't what's going on here

On another note...I've kept many species of fish in my life (fresh water, saltwater, tropical and cold water). Fish are ectothermic yet we don't provide them with an opportunity to thermoregulate. I realize this is impractical in an aquarium if not nearly impossible. We keep them at a steady 78-82F range and they thrive. In nature fish often feed and remain in warmer/shallower water to digest before returning to deeper/cooler waters. I fail to see why snakes would differ.
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Old 07-20-17, 08:10 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping snakes without a hotspot

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I have to agree^. I believe the ONLY reason snakes need to thermoregulate is to digest food, and as long as they appear to be able to do so effectively, they don't need a heat source.
No offence intended, but I disagree strongly with the statement bolded above, as heat is also used by these animals to aid in their immune responses in regards to both resistance to pathogens as well as battling ailments.

Good discussion.

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Old 07-20-17, 08:36 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping snakes without a hotspot

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. Lets take the bull snake, this snake's range extends all the way from just South East of Calgary, Alberta Canada down to the Gulf of Mexico in Texas. The average temperature of Calgary Canada is 50 degrees F in May, getting to an average of 63F in July and August and cooling to an average of 54F in September.
No idea where you retrieved this information, but average temps in Calgary for May as an example is 55-66F, and in July 76-90F, so although I can't/won't refute the rest of your post, some of these temperature averages that you mentioned are debatable depending on what source of information was used. Otherwise an excellent post.

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Old 07-20-17, 12:14 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping snakes without a hotspot

There's one very important aspect that is being overlooked here and why I still fundamentally disagree with a lot of what's been posted.

So, you see a snake basking on a rock or some hard ground or a branch. It's easy 3pm and the air temperature is a nice 26c.

What is the temperature of the rock, ground, branch whatever. It'll be at least several degrees warmer than the air temperature and in some cases 40-50c. Air temperature is a really bad measure of what a snake is wanting to bask at.

Get a decent thermometer and a temp gun and take some measurements yourselves and see - especially those of you lucky enough to live somewhere wild snakes are common. See a snake and zap its being spot with a temp gun and see just how warm the ground is.

Where my T lepidus is outside I measured the air temp at around 24c and the ground in the sun in his enclosure at 33c.

He sometimes basks where it is warmest and sometimes hides where the ground is cooler but the air temp is pretty consistent during the day.

Keeping snakes at low air temperature can often mean the 'ground' is way too cold.
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Old 07-20-17, 12:31 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping snakes without a hotspot

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There's one very important aspect that is being overlooked here and why I still fundamentally disagree with a lot of what's been posted.

So, you see a snake basking on a rock or some hard ground or a branch. It's easy 3pm and the air temperature is a nice 26c.

What is the temperature of the rock, ground, branch whatever. It'll be at least several degrees warmer than the air temperature and in some cases 40-50c. Air temperature is a really bad measure of what a snake is wanting to bask at.

Get a decent thermometer and a temp gun and take some measurements yourselves and see - especially those of you lucky enough to live somewhere wild snakes are common. See a snake and zap its being spot with a temp gun and see just how warm the ground is.

Where my T lepidus is outside I measured the air temp at around 24c and the ground in the sun in his enclosure at 33c.

He sometimes basks where it is warmest and sometimes hides where the ground is cooler but the air temp is pretty consistent during the day.

Keeping snakes at low air temperature can often mean the 'ground' is way too cold.
Over the last few years I've come to a similar conclusion. Hot spots and the animals will do the rest. I believe that these animals can't sit in one spot for too long or a predator will snatch them up quick so they goto the hottest spot, get warm and off they go.

With that said I understand where and why people are using a single temp room. I don't see any harm in it considering people have done it with multitude of animals and have had great results for the most part.
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Old 07-20-17, 01:43 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping snakes without a hotspot

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No idea where you retrieved this information, but average temps in Calgary for May as an example is 55-66F, and in July 76-90F, so although I can't/won't refute the rest of your post, some of these temperature averages that you mentioned are debatable depending on what source of information was used. Otherwise an excellent post.
Those were purely averages. Not for day or night. Multiple sites had the same information in regards to those averages. The daytime highs might be 76-90 in July. But we can look at the weather forecast there this week and it's got highs of low-mid 80's but at night it's in the low 50's. That 30 degree swing is what draws the average down. The average I used was just as an example of how snakes up north are chasing the heat while snakes down south are running from it.
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Old 07-20-17, 01:52 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping snakes without a hotspot

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Those were purely averages. Not for day or night. Multiple sites had the same information in regards to those averages. The daytime highs might be 76-90 in July. But we can look at the weather forecast there this week and it's got highs of low-mid 80's but at night it's in the low 50's. That 30 degree swing is what draws the average down. The average I used was just as an example of how snakes up north are chasing the heat while snakes down south are running from it.
Ah, I see.
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