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Old 01-31-04, 09:36 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Why Belly Heat is Necessary

I thought this would be an exceptionally interesting thread, as I have often heard that snakes necessitate heat from their belly (ie. heat pads). So basically, here is what I am questioning: to 'bask' a snake retreats to a rock, tree stump, tree branch etc. under the sun. The sun was hitting this spot directly and is therefore heated. However, once the snake is on this particular area, is the heat not absorbed? It would make sense to me that once they are on the particular basking spot, the sun is no longer hitting the item in question, and is now hitting the snakes back.

My understanding, actually my reasoning, behind this subject is that if they require belly heat, they move to a different basking spot once the heat on the surface they are basking upon is depleted. Is this the way things work?

I am seeking some clearance on this, so that I may have a better understanding. Thank you in advanced for all your replies, and lets keep this informative and lacking any name calling.

Last edited by tHeGiNo; 01-31-04 at 09:47 AM..
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Old 01-31-04, 09:58 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I forgot to mention, we are speaking terrestrial snakes here.
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Old 01-31-04, 12:31 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Well tHeGiNo if take a good look at a good portion of Terestrial snakes they are all on the darker side. There for the soking the rays. so yes you they will seak out a basking spot lika a rock or a log that is more on that warm side simply cause they know that the sun will be beaming on them now instead of the rock. So they can use heat and digest cause because looking at the shape of the snake you can see that there is an equal distance from the heat from above and the food and the heat from below and the food cause the food makes the snakes body round a bit. so all areas are the snake are equale.
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Old 01-31-04, 12:38 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I agree with Marc. In fact, when a snake has a significant lump in their belly, they actually get MORE exposure from above than they do from below. Because the stomach has expanded, there is just as much in contact with their back as their belly, so if snakes do bask when digesting (I was under the impression that most snakes, or most colubrids anyway, hide after eating, because they become more sluggish and vlunerable), it's probably because they get both the belly heat and the overhead heat. Can't get more efficient than that.
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Old 01-31-04, 01:08 PM   #5 (permalink)
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But think about an partly cloudy day. The rock they've found to bask on will retain a good portion of the heat even if the sun is behind the clouds for 5 minutes. Overall though, I would think that 90F, for example is 90F anyway they can find it, i.e.; shade, sun, rock, stump and etc. I don't think they would discriminate one type of heat over the other. I think they would just find the proper temperature to achieve what they need to achieve.

I've built racks with heat under the bins = belly heat, and racks with heat up the back = ambient heat. I must say that I feel more comfortable offering the belly heat but my more logical side says "it's the same either way as long the proper temps are offered."
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Old 01-31-04, 01:14 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Yeah I agree. How can heat from above or below be different? Heat is heat is heat. But I am eager to see other responses as for all I know, I may be way off on this one. But sun is from above, and the earth does cool slowly...making one think belly heat is used a lot! But who knows....snakes bask out on roads too.

I personally do not like lights only because for most my snakes it makes humidity a pain, and I have to either get red bulbs or throw a timer on them, then ad a heat pad at night. So for me, heating from below works better overall. But I have used lights in the past, and I haven't really seen much of a difference aside from my own amount of maintanence. If I had all overhead lights, I don't think I could have as many snakes as I do now.

Marisa

Last edited by marisa; 01-31-04 at 01:16 PM..
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Old 01-31-04, 01:22 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Rocks (not so much branches) have a very high heat capacity. That means that 1 gram of rock needs a lot of heat added to raise it's temperature 1 degree. So, a warm or hot rock surface has a lot of heat in it. It also means it can give up a fair bit of heat without lowering it's temperature very much, so the rock the snake is on will stay warm for quite some time while the snake is basking. Besides, the snake can simply shift position whenever necessary.

It seems to me that a basking snake (on a rock anyway) is getting both kinds of heat. What they actually need I wouldn't presume to say.

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Old 01-31-04, 01:53 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I have always used red bulbs, more for my comfort because I've always been confused with something about heatpads...You have the heatpad on the bottom of, for now, we'll say an aquarium. It sticks to the bottom and you plug it in, most safely to a dimmer. Then you have your thermometer on the tank (I'm mostly talking about people who don't buy the thermometers with the probes) like I'm talking about the one that sticks to the back of your tank and is circular (like the zoomed precision analog reptile thermometer)....does that really accurately tell you the temperature? You have no way of knowing exactly how hot the belly area of the tank is. Whereas with the red bulb, it IS giving off Ambient heat and that's what those thermometers are measuring!

I've always been confused about that.

Also, yes UTH's work on glass tanks, but how does one heat something thicker like a melamine enclosure if they're looking strictly for belly heat? These are the questions that have always thrown me back to red heat bulbs, humid hides for the humidity and a basking area under the bulb.

Answers to the questions would kick butt! lol

Jenn
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Old 01-31-04, 01:58 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Hi Serpentlust, I know in a melemine cage, you could always attache the heat pad to the smooth side of a ceramic tile, and put that inside (rough side up) just make sure it is on little feet to allow air to get under the pad an avoid overheating... it has worked wonders for friends of mine, and I belive Dragon Drop has done something similar for her leos.. she has pics on how-to in her gallery!
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Old 01-31-04, 02:02 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by SerpentLust
I've always been confused with something about heatpads...You have the heatpad on the bottom of, for now, we'll say an aquarium. It sticks to the bottom and you plug it in, most safely to a dimmer. Then you have your thermometer on the tank (I'm mostly talking about people who don't buy the thermometers with the probes) like I'm talking about the one that sticks to the back of your tank and is circular (like the zoomed precision analog reptile thermometer)....does that really accurately tell you the temperature? You have no way of knowing exactly how hot the belly area of the tank is. Whereas with the red bulb, it IS giving off Ambient heat and that's what those thermometers are measuring!
Jenn
Jenn, you don't have to stick the analog thermometer to the side of the tank. I just have mine resting somewhere on the heat pad itself (inside the tank), right where the snake would be lying, and can fairly accurately measure the temp that way (I realize that they can be up to 5 degrees off, but I still think its a pretty good way to tell what temp the snake is feeling when he/she lies in that same place).
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Old 01-31-04, 02:32 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Those circular thermometers sold in stores are CRAP for accuracy in my experience.

Placing them on the side of the tank will give you the temp for a snake living sideways. Not a snake living on the ground. Even when using lights, sticking them to the side is pointless.

With a UTH you (never use the sticky stuff for one) place it under a tank. You can lift the tank up slightly with bottle caps or furniture feet caps...then turn it on. You use a probe. or the circular one if you must, placed directly on the "hot spot" inside the tank.

Marisa
P.S. heating pads or heat tape generally have no problem heating up through custom enclosures. But all of these items (heat pad or tape) should ALWAYS be controlled with a thermastat or rheostat.
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Old 01-31-04, 02:49 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Want to see something interesting with those round thermometers? Put 5 of them side by side. You'll have 5 completely different readings, ranging about 5 degrees. They are awful.
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Old 01-31-04, 02:56 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Haha thanks guys The reason I was mostly asking is that my aunt and I are writing up plans for a three tier, six enclosure unit and I'm trying to figure out my heat source. I still will probably go with red heat bulbs, that's what I'm comfortable with, and then buy the better digital thermometers.
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Old 01-31-04, 11:33 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Jenn,

ill reccomend something that will save you a lot of time and stress now and in the future.
if your planning on building a six cage unit, you should REALLY consider building each cage seperate.
Say for example your building 6 3x2x1's....build them seperately and strong, slap a heat pad / heat tape under each cage, put all of the plugs into a power bar and use a 500W thermostat to control everything to your set temperature.
This way you avoid wiring for lamps, having one cage degrade quicker then others, etc...
i speak from experience... been there done the massive unit before. its a b!tch to move....
this way you have the choice of stacking all 6 high, 3 beside 3, etc... good for quarantining new animals in different rooms, etc..

even if you decide to heat with bulbs...id advise building seperate stackable units...plus individual units are always easier to construct then a large unit in one piece,

just my opinion though...

gvg
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Old 02-01-04, 01:50 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I have to agree with grant vg on this one. My experience has been that a 4x2x1 is heavy on it's own, nevermind making a giant enclosure. It generally takes 2 of us to lift one 8x4' sheet of melamine and a 4x2x1 uses most of a sheet of melamine, you're probably looking at 2 or 3 sheets for that enclosure you're thinking about.


We use the exoterra pads on our custom enclosures, they work great.
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