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Old 12-23-17, 07:11 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Things that go bump in the night.

My python lives in his vivarium just across the room from my bed, so now and again I hear him moving around in the night but nothing out of the ordinary. However, last night I was woken by a loud bang against the glass doors, and jumped out of bed to find that he had somehow completely unattached his UV tube from its fittings and was lying still on top of it on the floor. Amazingly, nothing was broken and no harm was done! (The light had been off for over 5 hours and was completely cool. I won't put it back until I work out a way to prevent it happening again.)

I had intended to put a safety guard around the whole lighting unit, but have so far been unable to find a suitable material. As it doesn't get very hot and is in the least accessible part of the viv, I didn't really think it posed much danger. Also, to attach the tube, you have to push it into the mount and then turn it 90 degrees to lock it into place. There is a space of about only 1cm between the tube and the mount.

All I can think is that my snake crawled up the side of the viv and pushed his snout into the gap between the tube and the mount, and when he decided he couldn't get in any further and pulled back out, there was enough friction to turn the tube 90 degrees and unlock it. He then lost balance as the tube moved and brought the whole thing crashing down. Whatever happened, it was certainly nothing I had ever imagined possible. I'm just glad there was a soft coconut fibre bedding to cushion the landing. That was when the next unexpected thing happened.

Having switched on a small amber night light in my room so that I could see just enough to safely remove the tube from the viv, I opened the viv door and nudged my snake to make him move. As he did, the tube started to glow wherever his body came into contact with it. Yes, I'm being serious. At first I thought I was seeing things, but there's over 4 foot of snake that travelled over the tube, and it glowed wherever he touched it. Once I had the tube in my hands I tried rubbing it to see if anything happened, but nothing. Does my snake have supernatural powers, or am I just going crazy?

Last edited by scales.jp; 12-23-17 at 07:17 AM..
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Old 12-23-17, 02:40 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Things that go bump in the night.

Wow, umm okay... I would think you are going crazy, but it must have something to do with the snake being on it or something. Just make sure you secure any future lighting as this can be a fire hazard.
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Old 12-23-17, 09:04 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Things that go bump in the night.

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Originally Posted by DJC Reptiles View Post
I would think you are going crazy...
That's the reply I was expecting.
I'm tempted to put the tube back on the viv floor for the night to see if it happens again, but in the name of safety I'm not going to. Would be interesting to find out though.
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Old 12-23-17, 09:41 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Things that go bump in the night.

Yeah that's weird... Pretty cool at the same time, some science-y stuff going on there.
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Old 12-23-17, 10:06 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Things that go bump in the night.

It must have been static electricity stored up in the snakes body, (perhaps by crawling on dry materials). Typically, you can take a tube light like that, hold one end by the metal and shuffle your feet on a thick carpet in dry winter conditions and the light will glow. Likewise, you can hold one end of the light and hold it up under a high powerline and it will glow just from the electricity leaking from the lines. Just my thoughts...
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Old 12-24-17, 04:09 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Things that go bump in the night.

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Originally Posted by Jim Smith View Post
It must have been static electricity stored up in the snakes body, (perhaps by crawling on dry materials). Typically, you can take a tube light like that, hold one end by the metal and shuffle your feet on a thick carpet in dry winter conditions and the light will glow. Likewise, you can hold one end of the light and hold it up under a high powerline and it will glow just from the electricity leaking from the lines. Just my thoughts...
Wow, thanks for that information, Jim! Very interesting. So I'm not going mad after all.
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Old 12-26-17, 03:13 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Things that go bump in the night.

Well, perhaps rather foolishly I put the UV tube back into my snake's viv yesterday morning so that it would be on for feeding a couple of hours later. After eating, my snake went into one of his warm hides as usual. I didn't want to disturb him again, and as he doesn't normally come out for a day or so after eating I decided to leave the UV tube in place overnight, intending to take it out again the next morning.

However, at 4am this morning I was woken up by my snake moving about, so I got out of bed to check everything was OK. I found him pushed up against the side of the viv, and lo and behold he had managed to squeeze his front portion right the way through the tiny gap between the UV tube and the ballast. Fortunately this time I was there to remove the tube before he pulled it down a second time, but just like before, as he moved away it lit up wherever he came into contact with it.

This time the room was totally dark, and I know I wasn't imagining it. I'm wondering if it could be electrical pulses from the snake's rapid belly muscle movement causing the tube to glow, or something to that effect. Fascinating, whatever it is.

Meanwhile the most important job for me this week is to build a completely snake-proof lamp guard, and this time the UV tube definitely isn't going back in the viv until it's done.
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Old 12-26-17, 08:34 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Things that go bump in the night.

Yeah, remember broken bulbs can be a fire hazard. If you put it up again without making sure it is properly secured, you are risiking danger to both your pet and you.
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Old 12-27-17, 06:04 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Things that go bump in the night.

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Originally Posted by DJC Reptiles View Post
... broken bulbs can be a fire hazard...
The tube is properly secured, which is why I was so surprised that my snake managed to push it out of the ballast. As the tube never gets very hot I was mainly concerned with it breaking.

However, I've just read up on the dangers of fluorescent lighting and fires, and the ballast itself can malfunction and get very hot if the tubes aren't replaced before they burn out, so thanks for mentioning that.

I'm still not sure why my snake wanted to use the UV tube as a perch, given all the other options (multiple perches and hides). His behaviour has taught me far more about setting up a safe enclosure than any book or website. Next time round will be much easier!
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Old 12-28-17, 11:24 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Things that go bump in the night.

Honestly, most snakes are just plain dumb. There is no reasoning with them. My ball python will randomly hiss, even if she isn't being disturbed, although they are shy snakes in general. I still can't help but love them though.
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