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Old 05-01-18, 08:36 AM   #31 (permalink)
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Re: I think I'm done.

Well.... just to add to the confusion, you could do the right thing and go bioactive. No worries about an undertank heater. Just a heat lamp, like the sun in the wild.
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Old 05-01-18, 10:31 AM   #32 (permalink)
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Re: I think I'm done.

Phynex I also see you are in the Tampa area. If you want hit me with a pm. I’ll be happy to walk you through some things that will keep you on track. I’m right over in ft Lauderdale as well.

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Old 05-01-18, 02:03 PM   #33 (permalink)
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Re: I think I'm done.

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Well.... just to add to the confusion, you could do the right thing and go bioactive. No worries about an undertank heater. Just a heat lamp, like the sun in the wild.
Please explain how this is the "right thing"...
This is one of the more ludicrous statements I've heard in a while.
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Old 05-01-18, 04:51 PM   #34 (permalink)
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Re: I think I'm done.

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People keep them too hot. It causes all types of issues with them from regurge to shedding problems stress, death, etc. Extended temps above 86 will cause almost irreversible damage with this species.
Most will apply the "all reptiles are the same" law to them and that's what causes the issues.
If you keep them below the 83/84 degree mark, they'll do just fine.

D
I kept them a few degrees warmer than most, because of digestion issues at the recommended temps. Which is a hot spot of 78-83F and ambients 75-78F. I kept the ambients low, but the hot spot was 85-87F under the substrate directly above the heat pad. Above the bedding it was ambient temp. A hot spot lower than that, and their feces didn't look like feces. Just weird gross twisty mucus capsules.

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This is also important statement. If you are buying your thermostats from petco, pet supermarket, or even most reptile stores......IT WILL NOT BE ACCURATE.

If you DO want an accurate thermostat, you'll need to spend at least 150/250 bucks (Ranco, Herpstat, Pangea, etc) to get it.

D
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Old 05-02-18, 04:15 PM   #35 (permalink)
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Re: I think I'm done.

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Please explain how this is the "right thing"...
This is one of the more ludicrous statements I've heard in a while.
Reptiles did not evolve to live in a sterile environment like a kitchen counter top (paper towel substrate and newspaper??) Keep a reptile in a bioactive environment and you will see a huge difference between one kept in in a small box recomended by breeders or something trying to replicate the wild.
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Old 05-02-18, 04:16 PM   #36 (permalink)
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Re: I think I'm done.

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Reptiles did not evolve to live in a sterile environment like a kitchen counter top (paper towel substrate and newspaper??) Keep a reptile in a bioactive environment and you will see a huge difference between one kept in in a small box recomended by breeders or something trying to replicate the wild.


They can live in a sterile cage but there is a huge difference between a healthy reptile and one surviving in a sterile box
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Old 05-02-18, 07:23 PM   #37 (permalink)
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Re: I think I'm done.

@ Sirtalis- What standards are you using to measure good health and what do you think the quantifiable benefits are of bioactive enclosures? I've kept critters in tubs, tanks, and pvc enclosures but I haven't noticed any differences in their eating, shedding, pooping or activity levels. They all seem to be thriving as far as I can tell.
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Old 05-02-18, 08:19 PM   #38 (permalink)
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Re: I think I'm done.

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Originally Posted by sirtalis View Post
Reptiles did not evolve to live in a sterile environment like a kitchen counter top (paper towel substrate and newspaper??) Keep a reptile in a bioactive environment and you will see a huge difference between one kept in in a small box recomended by breeders or something trying to replicate the wild.
You should have stopped at the first sentence.

Your second statement is conjecture and personal bias. You have no data to support this.
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Old 05-02-18, 09:01 PM   #39 (permalink)
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Re: I think I'm done.

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@ Sirtalis- What standards are you using to measure good health and what do you think the quantifiable benefits are of bioactive enclosures? I've kept critters in tubs, tanks, and pvc enclosures but I haven't noticed any differences in their eating, shedding, pooping or activity levels. They all seem to be thriving as far as I can tell.
Thank you.
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Old 05-03-18, 02:54 AM   #40 (permalink)
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All I've learned here is that everything I do is wrong according to someone.
It always will be Phenyx! Everyone thinks they know best because of what works for them. Me, personally, I don't even care about temps that much. I set my thermostat to 90 and let them crack on. My milk snake thermostat is set to 80 and ive never fiddled with it, moved it, changed temp or substrate thickness. He's been in his vivarium for 6 years now. he currently eats 2 large adult mice every 2 weeks, which I'm about to change to 3 weeks because hes looking a bit plump!

one thing I've noticed over the last 12 years of keeping snakes is that everyone with a snake thinks they're an expert. I took all my advice from a local breeder and i still turn to him for advice today. He always said to me set your temps and humidity and leave them the f**k alone! messing around trying to get that perfect hot spot will stress out the snake and cause all sort of problems.

Do you think they have perfect hot spot temps every day in the wild?

Do you think they have the perfect sized prey item every feed in the wild?

What about when it rains and they get soaked? or it doesn't rain and they're dry for a few days?

If they really needed so much interference from ourselves, they would be extinct by now!

Oh and just to put my personal opinion out there. If you're using a heat mat inside the tank, tape the probe directly to the mat. If the mat is outside the tank, sandwich it between the glass and the mat (if possible). If you're using a heat lamp, tape the probe to the side of the tank about half way between the lamp and the substrate. (only use aluminium duct tape)
That's how i have mine and i don't have any problems. They all thermoregulate totally fine and eat and shed and poop!

Set your temps, regulate your humidity and leave them alone!

And please, stop worrying!
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Old 05-03-18, 05:04 PM   #41 (permalink)
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Re: I think I'm done.

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Originally Posted by VeedubDan View Post
It always will be Phenyx! Everyone thinks they know best because of what works for them. Me, personally, I don't even care about temps that much. I set my thermostat to 90 and let them crack on. My milk snake thermostat is set to 80 and ive never fiddled with it, moved it, changed temp or substrate thickness. He's been in his vivarium for 6 years now. he currently eats 2 large adult mice every 2 weeks, which I'm about to change to 3 weeks because hes looking a bit plump!

one thing I've noticed over the last 12 years of keeping snakes is that everyone with a snake thinks they're an expert. I took all my advice from a local breeder and i still turn to him for advice today. He always said to me set your temps and humidity and leave them the f**k alone! messing around trying to get that perfect hot spot will stress out the snake and cause all sort of problems.

Do you think they have perfect hot spot temps every day in the wild?

Do you think they have the perfect sized prey item every feed in the wild?

What about when it rains and they get soaked? or it doesn't rain and they're dry for a few days?

If they really needed so much interference from ourselves, they would be extinct by now!

Oh and just to put my personal opinion out there. If you're using a heat mat inside the tank, tape the probe directly to the mat. If the mat is outside the tank, sandwich it between the glass and the mat (if possible). If you're using a heat lamp, tape the probe to the side of the tank about half way between the lamp and the substrate. (only use aluminium duct tape)
That's how i have mine and i don't have any problems. They all thermoregulate totally fine and eat and shed and poop!

Set your temps, regulate your humidity and leave them alone!

And please, stop worrying!
I could see your other points but temperature is incredibly important. Too hot of temps can burn them, overheat them, cause neurological damage, even death...you should really be paying attention to it. Things go well until they don't, and monitoring the heat won't 100% guarantee nothing will happen but greatly reduce it. If you have thermostats (which it sounds like you do), that's great, but they break down sometimes so you should check at minimum once a week, but preferably every other day or so.

This is especially true for BRBs. They are not like your milksnakes, they do not survive high temps.
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Old 05-03-18, 10:09 PM   #42 (permalink)
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Re: I think I'm done.

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Originally Posted by sirtalis View Post
Reptiles did not evolve to live in a sterile environment like a kitchen counter top (paper towel substrate and newspaper??) Keep a reptile in a bioactive environment and you will see a huge difference between one kept in in a small box recomended by breeders or something trying to replicate the wild.
I don't agree with this at all. I'll add that I've never kept tubs/racks and never intend to. I'll also add that I've never kept bioactive either, so I don't have a dog in this fight.

I feel like the whole "replicating the wild" thing is a load of bs. Even if you go bioactive, you are still putting your animal in a controlled and sterile environment, just to a lesser degree than one that's in a tub. You'll never get anywhere near a true replication of the wild when keeping something in captivity. You'll see more healthy animals in tubs than you will in the wild, where they have to encounter predation, disease, lack of food, etc. on the regular.

Sorry for the rant...again, I don't have a dog in this fight and I personally am not a fan of tubs (and I have nothing against bioactive setups). I just can't stand when people acting like their setups are superior because they go bioactive.
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Old 05-04-18, 03:15 AM   #43 (permalink)
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Re: I think I'm done.

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I don't agree with this at all. I'll add that I've never kept tubs/racks and never intend to. I'll also add that I've never kept bioactive either, so I don't have a dog in this fight.

I feel like the whole "replicating the wild" thing is a load of bs. Even if you go bioactive, you are still putting your animal in a controlled and sterile environment, just to a lesser degree than one that's in a tub. You'll never get anywhere near a true replication of the wild when keeping something in captivity. You'll see more healthy animals in tubs than you will in the wild, where they have to encounter predation, disease, lack of food, etc. on the regular.

Sorry for the rant...again, I don't have a dog in this fight and I personally am not a fan of tubs (and I have nothing against bioactive setups). I just can't stand when people acting like their setups are superior because they go bioactive.
Thank you. I agree.

I think the several comments have proven that going bioactive isn't "the right thing". That user has been proven by several people to be misinformed and unreliable, as well as ignorant. The thousands upon thousands of keepers who keep their snakes in tubs can't all be wrong, especially considering the world's most successful and reputable keepers and breeders primarily use tubs.
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Old 05-05-18, 02:13 AM   #44 (permalink)
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Re: I think I'm done.

If you think about it, it's a lot like what we do with ourselves, our kids, our dogs and cats and anything else that consumes things. If you over water a plant, it dies. If you under water a plant, it dies. But keep it around the range that is acceptable and you're fine. My BP took a bit of research, but I'm comfortable with her and her feeding and her temps because the range of answers you are getting all lie on the spectrum of what's good enough. Temps looking low? Add some heat. Humidity too low? Spray a bit. The BP will come to adapt and become comfortable with what you do and what you give it (like a dog) if it eats, good. If it doesn't, wait a day and try again. There are no absolute certainties because life isn't perfect, it's well enough. So make it well enough for a BP to live comfortably. Don't freak out about conflicting ideas, just use them as inspiration for what you're going to do. Or become friends with someone who has been doing it a while and mimic their set up and habits. Last time I fed my BP it was tuesday, a week goes by and I grabbed her a mouse over a week later on friday. There's no 100% correct answer. Just like dogs. Just like cats. Just like kids. Just like ourselves. We feed them whatever they can eat, however much they can eat. If they don't there's next time, if they do they are good. There isn't a rule book. Just guidelines.
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Old 05-06-18, 04:16 PM   #45 (permalink)
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Re: I think I'm done.

When this thread started as a simple „how do I provide the right heat and set my thermostat“ question I didn’t want to add anything because there are so many of these threads already around…, but since it covers many aspects of how we keep our reptiles I decided to add my perspective after all. So probably get yourself a cup of coffee, reading this is probably going to take some time (which is only fair, since it took me quite a while to write it).

Phenyx, you think you asked a simple question and expected a simple solution for it. This expectation is part of your problem – we are dealing with a complex living system here, where one component affects the other parameters. Today we are used to find simple, one-size-fits-all solutions in the internet, in forums or in facebook groups, but something like a caresheet can be only a rough guideline about the most basic care information and to be frank you have to know who provided this caresheet and what is his intention by providing it.

A reptile depends much more on its immediate surrounding than a bird or a mammal would, simply because it needs an external heat source to get the necessary body heat to get all those biological and chemical processes running, it can only control its body temperature by choosing a warmer or cooler spot in its surrounding, if there is no place to get warm enough the body functions will not optimally work and the reptile might eventually die, if it is too hot and there is no way to avoid the heat the reptile will overheat and will also die.

We have a completely different way of thinking about the weather and the temperature of our surroundings as a reptile. We think it is a sunny, cold day in early spring, with patches of snow and a cold wind, the ambient temperature which we feel is “cold”. For a garter snake which just left its hibernation den and probably crossed the snow patch to get to an elevated, dry and sunny place it is the first day to get warm. The temperature in small, sheltered places can be much different than the “ambient temperature” we feel. So for a reptile the micro habitat is much more important than the overall macro habitat.

Keeping reptiles is all about providing different choices, different temperatures our reptile can choose, different levels and intensities of light, different humidity, in short different micro habitats.

Back to your original question. In my opinion using an UTH is probably the worst way to heat a setup for a reptile. I don’t know any experienced keeper here in Europe who uses UTHs (which doesn’t necessarily mean that nobody does use them, they are sold here as well). You waste a lot of energy to heat the covering substrate from the bottom up to the top. If you provide only a thin layer of substrate enough heat to create a hot spot might reach the surface of the substrate, but your snake is not able to burrow and be completely covered by it. If you provide enough substrate for your snake to burrow the surface temperature is most likely not hot enough to create a sufficient hot spot. Another negative aspect is that your snake expects the temperature to drop if it digs into the substrate, instead the temperature rises the deeper it burrows.

A radiant heat panel is a good way to rise the ambient (air) temperature of your setup, but this way your temperature within your setup is more or less the same in every place.

Your reptile needs a thermal gradient for its thermoregulation, it needs a hot spot to get warm and a cooler spot to cool down and places in between to choose a preferred temperature for its current needs (ie digesting, resting, preparing to shed, hunting etc), so the preferred temperature can be (slightly) different for different activities.

A CHE can create a hot spot in your setup, but it doesn’t provide any light. Basic question, where would your reptile expect the warmest place? In a dark corner? I bet that a reptile would seek the brightest spot in your setup as the primary heat source, it might learn that another place is warmer but the “natural” place to seek warmth would be the brightest spot.

I use only spot lights for my enclosures, halogen lights for the smaller enclosures and metal halide lights for the larger enclosures, from 25W to multiple 70W lights. I place them over one part of the enclosure to create a real hot spot below it, the temperature right there is usually somewhere between 30C and 35C (86F and 95F). The opposite side of the enclosure is room temperature, ca 22C to 24C (72F to 75F). This creates a horizontal thermal gradient where my snakes can choose their preferred temperature.

To provide an example, here is a picture of my Spilotes pullatus enclosure, a tropical rat snake from Central and South America which shares some of the distribution as your BRB.




The dimensions are 250 cm x 90 cm x 190 cm (ca 8 x 3 x 6 ft) length x depth x height, the substrate layer is ca 25 cm deep (10 inch), the lighting is done by four 70W Metal Halide lamps, two of them provide UV. There are two cork tubes, one in the center of the enclosure, one in the right corner. Both of them are ca 100 cm high (ca 3 ft), creating resting places about 30 cm below the ceiling of the enclosure. In the left corner are several branches, providing another resting place about 50 cm above ground level. A large cork branch runs from the bottom in the left corner to the top of the right corner, providing additional resting (and climbing) opportunities. There is another smaller cork tube horizontally on the ground at the left side below the dieffenbachia.

Two Metal Halide lamps are evenly placed left and right from the middle of the enclosure to provide ambient light for the enclosure (and the plants), one of the Metal Halide UV lamps is right above the branches in the left corner, the other is right on top of the central cork tube. This setup provides different choices for my snakes

The top of the center cork tube is the hottest resting place, after several hours the temperature reaches ca 32C (90F) with full exposure to UV and visible light, the brightest spot in the entire enclosure.

The top of the cork tube in the right corner is slightly cooler, ca 27C (81F) but without exposure to bright light, more like half shade.

The resting place on the branches in the left corner has about the same temperature, between 25C and 27C (77F and 81F), bright light but less intense UV (due to the larger distance to the light).

Ground level between the two vertical cork tubes, ca 25C (77F), bright light, some exposure to UV form the central lamp.

Ground level below the leaves of the dieffenbachia and within the cork tubes, ca 23C (73F), near total shade, only some stray light.

So my snakes can choose between high temperatures, medium temperatures and low temperatures as well as between bright light, half shade and near darkness and full exposure to UV, less intense UV or no UV.

All temperatures are measured where the snakes would be, so on the top of the cork tubes, at the surface of the branches and the surface of the substrate.

I use this setup for all my enclosures, from small enclosures for my juvenile Malpolon, medium sized enclosures like my Zamenis or Philodryas or the large enclosures for Gonyosoma or Spilotes. There is at least one spotlight in one corner to create a hot spot and a horizontal thermal gradient to the opposite side of the enclosure and in the larger enclosures also a vertical gradient from top to bottom. The only difference in this basic setup is the Wattage of the lamp(s).

Of course this kind of setup needs a certain minimum size for the enclosure, use a light with too much Wattage and you will overheat your enclosure. When I build a new enclosure I put everything in it and install the lighting I think should be enough to create the desired hot spot without overheating the rest of the enclosure. Then I do a test run for several hours and take a temperature reading right below the basking place (on the surface where my snake(s) will be, this might be the surface of the substrate, a branch or a rock) and in addition I measure the temperature at the cool side, this should be room temperature. If this is the case I will put the snake(s) into the enclosure after several days of running the enclosure, otherwise I will choose another light with a different wattage and run the test again.

This way, I don’t use a thermostat in any of my enclosures, I am not worried if the temperature at the basking spot is more than 30C (and in some cases as my Malpolon it might go up to 35C or even more) as long as the cool side of the enclosure stays cool enough to provide my snakes with options.

For an adult BRB of 150 cm (5 ft) total length the minimum size of an enclosure would be 150 x 75 x 110 cm (5 x 2,5 x 4 ft) length x depth x height here in Germany, according to our official minimum requirements for enclosure sizes. For this kind of setup I think a metal halide light with 50W should be enough to provide a basking place with a maximum temperature of ca 30C (86F) and the necessary thermal gradient.
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