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Old 07-20-17, 02:17 PM   #31 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping snakes without a hotspot

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Originally Posted by dannybgoode View Post
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.
"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."

Absolutely agree, but the idea states that the temperatures we offer are not too hot like a snake would experience in nature (it's chasing a core body temperature). I'm in North East Ohio and just went outside and temp gunned a log that's in direct sunlight in my backyard. It's 80 degree's outside, the log's surface temperature is 110 degrees F and it rained literally 30 minutes ago. I don't know of any keeper that, in the confines of even some of the larger enclosures we offer for most snake, that would feel comfortable offering a 110 degree spot. I'd imagine on a day like this I would find very few snakes basking because the temperature is kind of where it needs to be for them. The dark color of the snake would increase the ability to heat up tremendously.

The reason I think, that captive snakes will sit on a 90 degree hotspot for seemingly days on end is because it never gets so hot it has to move. If we think about how important security is to a snake it makes sense. Back in the BP example I used we see they'll sit in those termite mounds which are 87 degrees. Is the python there because the temp is that warm or because most animals avoid termite mounds because they don't want to be bitten? As we know the pythons are most active at night which in their home range is 75 degrees. I think the ball python just deals with that heat like all sub Saharan animals have to.

I think this is kind of similar to the movement going on over in the monitor and bearded dragon communities. 100 degrees just isn't hot enough of a spot for those animals, there are keepers experimenting with 120, 140, I've even seen 160 degrees F hot spots. Now these are totally different animals entirely but I think the basic idea behind it is similar. Here in Ohio that log was 30 degrees warmer than the air temperature, would it not be more natural in captivity that if we're offering a hot spot that it's closer to that 110 degree temperature? And why are we offering hot spots to species that we know in the wild, don't bask?

It's similar to cooking in a sense, the core temperature of the log isn't going to be as warm as the surface temperature, the heat hits the surface and gradually goes into say, a steak. A room temperature steak that is about an inch thick is going to take a while to reach 110 degrees in the center of it if the surface temperature of you're skillet is only 110 degrees.

I think of ambient heating sort of like sou vide method of cooking where the food is submerged in water set at the exact temperature you want the meat. A medium rare steak (130F) that is 1 inch thick takes an hour to reach a full temp of 130F in the same temperature water.

In the wild, a temperate snake has to use the skillet method, we look at a snake, if it is warming up from say a 65 degree night, it only has to reach that 80 degree core temperature. By sitting in the morning sun which as I just experimented can easily cause a dark surface to be 30 degrees warmer than the air temperature it makes even more sense. Then as the air temperature reaches a more optimal temp we don't see the snakes basking much.

The snakes in tropical areas where it's just hot, period no matter what you do, just have to deal with obnoxious heat until night time when they can do what they need to do.
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Old 07-20-17, 08:42 PM   #32 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping snakes without a hotspot

i worked for this breeder in his shop and his animals are all healthy and doing well. like you said, he has had great success with this method and i also use this method. i keep my room in the mid 80's and all my animals digest well, grow well, and have never gotten sick. I have 9 boa's and a ball python. i give the ball python a heat source but not the boa's. this breeder has been doing this a long time and knows what he's talking about. like others have said, people on the internet are not open to new ideas concerning husbandry. this breeder actually says that he has had greater success in breeding his boa's and pythons using this method than he had previously when he provided them with hotspots.
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Old 07-20-17, 08:56 PM   #33 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping snakes without a hotspot

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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
this breeder has everything from womas to carpets to indigos to taiwan beauties, all kept at the same constant temps and they are all doing well.
it seems odd at first, but he's been doing it this way successfully for years.
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Old 07-20-17, 09:28 PM   #34 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping snakes without a hotspot

I remember having a similar discussion about tortoises about a decade ago. There was a keeper that kept his tortoises at 85F with no gradient. The practice was justified based on a couple premises.

One is that reptiles exhibit behaviours that suggest thermoregulation. They seek heat when it is cold and retreat to cooler areas in extreme heat. The hypothesis drawn from this observation was that reptiles may seek to maintain a constant body temperature.

Then there were some field studies of wild tortoises in which internal temperatures were estimated using thermal cameras. There was a European species in the Iberian peninsula that was studied, and I believe a separate study of redfoots and yellowfoots in South America as well. All the tortoises had internal temperatures around 85F.

Thus the keeping of a wide variety of species at a constant temperature. The collection was reported to be quite healthy.

It is possible that snakes could thermoregulate to maintain a stable body temperature. They may need to bask when they've had a meal not because they need additional heat to digest, but because that extra mass requires additional heat to maintain their target body temperature.

Hot spots may also be used to induce a "fever" to combat illness, a standard immune response that doesn't necessarily refute the idea that a healthy collection may be kept at a constant temperature.

That all said, providing a gradient with a cool side, warm side, and hot spot is considerably more "idiot proof" than aiming to maintain one temperature. The gradient allows the animal to do all the work, induce fevers, etc. Using a single temperature approach is probably something that should only be done by experienced keepers for established animals. If I used a single temp approach I certainly wouldn't use it in quarantine, let those new animals that I don't know yet combat whatever they need to.

But still, it is an interesting question, that could be studied by an enterprising master's or PhD student with a thermal camera and access to some quality herping locations.
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Old 07-20-17, 11:37 PM   #35 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping snakes without a hotspot

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That all said, providing a gradient with a cool side, warm side, and hot spot is considerably more "idiot proof" than aiming to maintain one temperature. The gradient allows the animal to do all the work, induce fevers, etc. Using a single temperature approach is probably something that should only be done by experienced keepers for established animals. If I used a single temp approach I certainly wouldn't use it in quarantine, let those new animals that I don't know yet combat whatever they need to.
Really interesting stuff with the tortoises.

I have to agree pretty heartily with this last paragraph. I probably should have put a disclaimer in the beginning of my post that the theory in general is not something that a beginner should be going off of, especially if they don't have a lot of knowledge of how snakes act. I don't necessarily think it's a horrible thing for a beginner keeper to tighten up the temps in the various "zones" of the terrarium.

People on this forum haven't heard much about how I actually keep my snakes except for a few people that have actually PM'd me for advice on specific issues. I know one keeper on this forum keeps all of his snakes with ceramic heat emitters and I believe UVB lights as well, I'm not gonna mention any usernames because stuff like this has become controversial and quite frankly if he wants dragged into the discussion he'll show up lol.

There really is something to be said of experience. When I was a new keeper I thought I knew everything because I had read so much and done so much research, I never thought that in practice the rules sometimes go out the window (anyone remember back when people said mealworms would eat a lizard from the inside?) lol. I would give advice on random animals even though I only really kept frogs at the time. I think a lot of new keepers who do research on tons of animals prior to picking a specific one can end up doing this especially back when I was young and the internet was just so new lol.

Nowadays I try to the best of my ability to avoid talking with any sort of authority on something I haven't had experience with. My snake experience has been limited to colubrids, corns, rats, kings, gophers, garters, and a water snake for a week or two when I was a kid before my mom found out I had it (I told her my leopard frog would eat the feeder fish I bought). I worked at a pet store as a teen, but I've found that they don't let a kid take much of an active part in the actual care of the animals apart from cleaning up poop and scrubbing algae off of fish tanks. The only time I'll offer up information on something is if there aren't any replies and I feel as if my experience with other reptiles would help, mostly common sense, or "here's what I'd try" type stuff.

I'll tell you right now that if I'm ever going to consider buying a ball python the first person I'm PMing is Aaron_S. The link is right in the signature to see they are keeping some BEAUTIFUL animals. What's he doing, why? what are his conditions like where he's living, my situation is this what would you do if yours was similar etc. If I'm asking for advice on larger enclosures I'm asking dannybgoode.

Beginners who may have read this far, I can say that having resources like the ones mentioned above and others, finding people who you can trust and bother even taking the time is what makes this community so special. You don't see the mega breeders on here helping people out, just other keepers and maybe some smaller breeders who take the time out of their day to help others, discuss the animals we love so much and quite frankly give a crap about some random pet that might be 1000's of miles away.
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Old 07-20-17, 11:58 PM   #36 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping snakes without a hotspot

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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
Seems this statement I made as been proven wrong a few times. I'm happy to be corrected and even happier to have learnt something
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Old 07-21-17, 12:45 AM   #37 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping snakes without a hotspot

I think the theory only works when we're talking snakes. Every other reptile "type" I think would have to be taken individually. Maybe there is a lizard number, a frog number, salamander, maybe this is something that is unique to snakes, who knows, it's incredibly interesting to be honest. We now have a report of someone doing something similar with tortoises in the thread. Could there be a "general acceptable temp" for each various family of reptiles? Honestly who knows. I'm gonna say probably not but who knows.

I think that there is less of a physiological difference between most snake species to other snake species, tortoise to other tortoise species than there is with say lizards, turtles, and salamanders. And perhaps that is what lends this method to those two types of reptiles best.

Overall I think it's really interesting.
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Old 07-21-17, 01:00 AM   #38 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping snakes without a hotspot

I'm taking a trip to Dublin zoo today, if I bump into any of the keepers in the reptile section I'll ask if they have hotspots in they're vivs or just an all over ambient temp. This is one of the best threads that's been on here in a while, I'm really enjoying it.
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Old 07-21-17, 01:39 AM   #39 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping snakes without a hotspot

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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
No I think you raise a very important point here Dave. Snakes *survive* in sub optimal conditions. Snakes (as will most any animal) breed in sub optimal conditions. I don't see breeding in and of itself as a sign that a snake, or indeed any animal, is being kept well or otherwise.

Look at puppy farms (which *some* reptile breeders are akin to). They sure breed a lot of dogs but I don't see people rushing out to copy their methods and propgate their practices on the internet. Yet people hear X snake breeder does y so y just be a great way of keeping snakes. No y method just means that breeder can churn out a lot of animals for less money (and note comment isn't aimed at any individual in particular).

There may well be a single temperature that a range of species will do ok at but for example using the figure of 85f (a little over 29c) that's been quoted here - that would kill my persicus and would be far too hot for a number of Asian and European species.

As a daytime temperature too cool (optimally speaking) for most Australian species and too warm for almost all species as a nighttime temperature. Almost nowhere on earth is it that warm throughout the night.

Also provide a single temperature is likely to discourage movement. Most capture snakes are under-exercised as it is and anything that further discourages movement and care exploration is a negative imo.

I can quite see why it's done and for similar species perhaps it works but I don't think it's good practice for the reasons I mention in this and other posts on this thread.
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Old 07-21-17, 03:13 AM   #40 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping snakes without a hotspot

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No I think you raise a very important point here Dave. Snakes *survive* in sub optimal conditions. Snakes (as will most any animal) breed in sub optimal conditions. I don't see breeding in and of itself as a sign that a snake, or indeed any animal, is being kept well or otherwise.

Look at puppy farms (which *some* reptile breeders are akin to). They sure breed a lot of dogs but I don't see people rushing out to copy their methods and propgate their practices on the internet. Yet people hear X snake breeder does y so y just be a great way of keeping snakes. No y method just means that breeder can churn out a lot of animals for less money (and note comment isn't aimed at any individual in particular).

There may well be a single temperature that a range of species will do ok at but for example using the figure of 85f (a little over 29c) that's been quoted here - that would kill my persicus and would be far too hot for a number of Asian and European species.

As a daytime temperature too cool (optimally speaking) for most Australian species and too warm for almost all species as a nighttime temperature. Almost nowhere on earth is it that warm throughout the night.

Also provide a single temperature is likely to discourage movement. Most capture snakes are under-exercised as it is and anything that further discourages movement and care exploration is a negative imo.

I can quite see why it's done and for similar species perhaps it works but I don't think it's good practice for the reasons I mention in this and other posts on this thread.
I believe that 85F was for the person who brought up a tortoise keeper. The main idea with the snake theory is that cool (by reptile standards) 79-82F
(26.111-27.777C). The breeder I spoke with's specialty was Morelia which is carpet pythons, chondros and the like which are all from Australia.

Before I finish the thought, I think it's great we have international people on this forum. European and American snake keeping is about as different as can be and a lot of primarily American communities have very different standards than those in Europe. I've read The Art of Keeping Snakes, written by a European snake keeper/herpetologist (I think he is anyways). I believe that many of it's theories to be correct as well. Mainly, belly heat is a stupid construct of the reptile community.

For you Danny, would a temperature of 80F (26.6C) read as too hot for night time, too cold for day? I don't think they would. I feel that you likely have this exact temperature somewhere in your terrariums and that many successful snake keepers who don't have lots of problems do whether intentionally or unintentionally.

Sidenote to anyone still reading, challenge mode: where on earth is there a temp of 85 at night! I agree with Danny on this, 85 at night would be insane.

Another Australian species whom the person I spoke with had tons of success with, Diamond Pythons. The crown jewel to many in the python world and has a reputation as being incredibly difficult to work with. Here are the average temps for the southern range of that species: Weather and temperature averages for Eden, Australia , the average temp is clearly much lower than the 80 degrees that is in this theory.

Now how is this explained, clearly as previously mentioned surface temps in the sun can be much higher than the ambient temps. So the max temp we're looking at based on the daily highs in this area (75F) would be about 100 degrees? or so. Easily allowing for these species to reach the 80 core temp described in the theory.

I've found that a mostly single temp, hasn't inhibited the movements of my snakes. This is only me I can speak for sure on. But the animals have other motivating factors other than temperature for reasons to move. Feeding, breeding, etc. I'm of the ilk who thinks that snakes will actively just explore, searching for opportunities for food, breeding, etc. I agree with you wholeheartedly that snakes in captivity suffer from a lack of movement room and in general to be fair, activity volume that a wild snake would experience. I think that room is a good thing to have available for any reptile, any animal to be fair.

What I'm trying to do is combine the two methodologies. I think there is a middle ground that is the TRUE optimal situation for a snake.

Anyways I'm up late again. Just some thoughts for you?
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Old 07-21-17, 05:30 AM   #41 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping snakes without a hotspot

Ah, I'm glad you mentioned diamonds as they illustrate the point well. Yes they need to be kept much cooler than other Australian pythons. And note my male olive regurged at a not much lower temperature than 26c (hottest part of the viv was 23-24c) due to a stat failure so the margin for error can be narrow.

This again imo shows that even a couple of degrees can have an impact on ultimate well being. 26 may be fine for say a regius but 28 is preferable for an Imperator (note these are not meant to be accurate numbers - merely for illustration). Sure the Imperator will survive at 26 but it is not optimal for it and vice versa.

As to night temperatures again for some species (tropical) the nighttime can be as stifling as the day with little variation but for desert species and say kings and milks from mountainous regions the day / night variation can be very great indeed. So yes, for some species 26c 24/7 may be within wild parameters for others it'd be out by several factors.

Note as well even 26c would be too hot for some species (again my persicus likes it around 22-23 as do a number of Asian rats and European colubrids).

For the record I heat my room to around 22c and then have each viv with a species specific hot spots and temperature variation on a daily cycle.

I want to get even more advanced than this but that's a project I'm working on which I will reveal in due course.

Finally regardless of why snakes thermoregulate in the wild the fact is they do. Millions of years of evolution makes it so. Again imo they should be able to practice this in captivity also given this.
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Old 07-21-17, 08:21 AM   #42 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping snakes without a hotspot

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Originally Posted by jjhill001 View Post
Really interesting stuff with the tortoises.

I have to agree pretty heartily with this last paragraph. I probably should have put a disclaimer in the beginning of my post that the theory in general is not something that a beginner should be going off of, especially if they don't have a lot of knowledge of how snakes act. I don't necessarily think it's a horrible thing for a beginner keeper to tighten up the temps in the various "zones" of the terrarium.

People on this forum haven't heard much about how I actually keep my snakes except for a few people that have actually PM'd me for advice on specific issues. I know one keeper on this forum keeps all of his snakes with ceramic heat emitters and I believe UVB lights as well, I'm not gonna mention any usernames because stuff like this has become controversial and quite frankly if he wants dragged into the discussion he'll show up lol.

There really is something to be said of experience. When I was a new keeper I thought I knew everything because I had read so much and done so much research, I never thought that in practice the rules sometimes go out the window (anyone remember back when people said mealworms would eat a lizard from the inside?) lol. I would give advice on random animals even though I only really kept frogs at the time. I think a lot of new keepers who do research on tons of animals prior to picking a specific one can end up doing this especially back when I was young and the internet was just so new lol.

Nowadays I try to the best of my ability to avoid talking with any sort of authority on something I haven't had experience with. My snake experience has been limited to colubrids, corns, rats, kings, gophers, garters, and a water snake for a week or two when I was a kid before my mom found out I had it (I told her my leopard frog would eat the feeder fish I bought). I worked at a pet store as a teen, but I've found that they don't let a kid take much of an active part in the actual care of the animals apart from cleaning up poop and scrubbing algae off of fish tanks. The only time I'll offer up information on something is if there aren't any replies and I feel as if my experience with other reptiles would help, mostly common sense, or "here's what I'd try" type stuff.

I'll tell you right now that if I'm ever going to consider buying a ball python the first person I'm PMing is Aaron_S. The link is right in the signature to see they are keeping some BEAUTIFUL animals. What's he doing, why? what are his conditions like where he's living, my situation is this what would you do if yours was similar etc. If I'm asking for advice on larger enclosures I'm asking dannybgoode.

Beginners who may have read this far, I can say that having resources like the ones mentioned above and others, finding people who you can trust and bother even taking the time is what makes this community so special. You don't see the mega breeders on here helping people out, just other keepers and maybe some smaller breeders who take the time out of their day to help others, discuss the animals we love so much and quite frankly give a crap about some random pet that might be 1000's of miles away.
I'm going to go point by point but I really appreciate the compliment.

1. I also agree that this is a method for experienced keepers. No one has begrudged the breeder the OP mentioned for using this method. It's worked for them and that's great.

2. A lot of new keepers did/do that still to this day. I am guilty of doing some of it when I was in my mid-teens after my research and working for a pet store. Oddly, people still think mealworms can eat your animal from the inside out (less so than before but it's still out there). I've grown to be more open to listening to others and when I meet new people do my best to encourage their hobby choices/passion as long as the animal isn't in any danger/harm. (I try to even do it on the forum when someone's new until they show their ignorance or stupidity. Then I'm done with them.)

3. I agree here as well. I've never really done the bioactive set up so I'd reach out to those I know who do/did to ask some questions about it and get their guidance.


In general, I agree and I'm happy that someone mentioned the bearded dragon community has caught onto what the monitor community has been doing with really high hot spots. I've thought for the past few years that a bearded dragon kept similar to a savannah monitor would be an awesome pet to have. They'd burrow, bask, be really interesting to watch. On the flip side, I doubt you'd have the lazy, calm things we have today though.

It's been a good discussion and it's good to see some really interesting facts and data come out.
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Old 07-21-17, 02:54 PM   #43 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping snakes without a hotspot

Well...ONE CRITTER that DID use the heat rock....was a green iguana.

Hmmmmm....maybe that "tropical" thing.

Let me initerate... I'm in NO way advocating AGAINST supplemental heating....HOWEVER, pointing out it's often unnecessary and COULD be dangerous.

Alright....here we go....I could bet you a $1000 that if I recommended a heat rock... There would be replies....
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Old 07-21-17, 02:58 PM   #44 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping snakes without a hotspot

Listen....I don't hate anyone. I don't judge....

Let's see...
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Old 07-21-17, 03:08 PM   #45 (permalink)
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Re: Keeping snakes without a hotspot

Recommending an unsafe piece of equipment when there are plenty of safe alternatives is completely different to what is being discussed here.
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