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Old 06-10-19, 11:46 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Bioactive enclosure for kingsnake

Hi all,

I've had my juvenile kingsnake (Mango) for close to 2 months now. I believe he is a Firecracker morph (Lampropeltis getula brooksi x goini) so I believe that would make him a Florida Kingsnake, generally.

Anyway, I've had a hard time getting a shed in one piece, which means I've got something wrong with my husbandry and I'm fairly sure it's humidity. He does shed completely when I soak him a bit (everything else is fine - eating well, gaining weight, pooping fine). All this is to say that I'm switching out his substrate from aspen shavings to a reptisoil/coconut fiber mix, which I've heard is better at keeping humidity. I live in Utah and it is very dry here generally. While I'm doing the switch I'm planning on making it bioactive, putting some plants, isopods, and springtails in there.

Two questions for you:

1. Do I need a false bottom/drainage layer? I built a vivarium for dart frogs and I put one in there because of the amount of water needed there, but for Mango's enclosure, I'm not going to have as much.

2. What are your tips/recommendations for bioactive enclosures for kingsnakes?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 06-11-19, 06:23 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Bioactive enclosure for kingsnake

1. Yes, a drainage layer is almost always necessary. (I didn't put one in my frog's tank and now I'm just waiting for it to fail, RIP me.)

2. I've never really done a bioactive for my snake, although I tried once. I need better lights. But from what I've read:

Sturdy plants because snakes are destructive. I think snake plants and pothos are often recommended.

Lights, otherwise the plants won't do well. Since snakes don't really need high-quality UV, you could pick up lights and fixtures from Lowes or something.

Just from other bioactives I've done, and plan to do, make sure you let your plants settle in, and let the tank cycle before adding the snake.

Also do lot's of research, of course
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Old 06-11-19, 09:22 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Bioactive enclosure for kingsnake

Thanks, Veronica. Some follow-up questions:

How deep would you recommend the drainage layer be? I've heard something like 2 inches.

Do you have experience using under-the-tank heating pads with a drainage layer? I know there is a risk of cracking the glass.
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Old 06-11-19, 10:01 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Bioactive enclosure for kingsnake

Just something to consider...

My adult King is over 4 feet and around 800 grams. He absolutely destroys his enclosure at times. He moves decor, plants, rocks, etc...

So my only concern would be that your little guy will grow up and destroy all your hard work.

I could be wrong, as I've never set up a bioactive enclosure. But knowing snakes, I have never given bioactive much thought, because I'm pretty sure they'd just destroy all the plants and everything.

But, again, that's my two cents based on my experience.
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Old 06-11-19, 10:58 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Bioactive enclosure for kingsnake

A two-inch drainage layer is good, but I think a one-inch layer would be fine, because as you said before it wouldn't be very wet.

I don't have experience with UTH with a drainage layer–I doubt it would be effective. I'm thinking a heat lamp or ceramic heat emitter would be better.

And yeah, snakes are destructive. But it might still work with planning. Keeping the plants in pots would help, as would pre-making the tunnels/semi-buried hides.
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Old 06-11-19, 01:06 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Bioactive enclosure for kingsnake

Good point, craigafrechette. I already have a few plants that I've been keeping in his enclosure in pots, so I won't be too heartbroken if it doesn't work out so great. And Veronica, thanks for your feedback. I'll keep your suggestions in mind.
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Old 06-11-19, 01:20 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Bioactive enclosure for kingsnake

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Originally Posted by Veronica View Post
Keeping the plants in pots would help, as would pre-making the tunnels/semi-buried hides.
I'm curious how you would go about doing pre-made tunnels or semi/buried hides. I was thinking I might use Great Stuff and create some paths through the substrate. Did you have anything else in mind?

Thanks again.
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Old 06-11-19, 01:33 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Bioactive enclosure for kingsnake

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Originally Posted by PanUzasny View Post
Good point, craigafrechette. I already have a few plants that I've been keeping in his enclosure in pots, so I won't be too heartbroken if it doesn't work out so great. And Veronica, thanks for your feedback. I'll keep your suggestions in mind.
Just thoughts though. Don't let me discourage you. I'd just hate to see you invest your time and resources for it to not work out.

Oh, and I'd wait a few months too. Let your snake get fully acclimated and eating before another enclosure change
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Old 06-11-19, 01:51 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Bioactive enclosure for kingsnake

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Originally Posted by craigafrechette View Post
Just thoughts though. Don't let me discourage you. I'd just hate to see you invest your time and resources for it to not work out.

Oh, and I'd wait a few months too. Let your snake get fully acclimated and eating before another enclosure change
Thanks, craigafrechette, I appreciate the thoughts. It's good to have some realistic expectations going in. Also, he's been eating well for the past 7 weeks in his old enclosure. Are you suggesting additional time past that or do you think that time is sufficient.

To be honest, I am currently working on the enclosure and have him in some temporary digs. So hopefully I'm not stressing him out too much.
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Old 06-11-19, 02:15 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Bioactive enclosure for kingsnake

I've not done this, but it's an idea that kinda came to me for premade tunnels hahaha
I was thinking that you could make some kind of tunnel system out of pvc and connectors, or bury cork tubes in the soil. The great stuff is a good idea as well.
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Old 06-11-19, 04:03 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Bioactive enclosure for kingsnake

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Originally Posted by PanUzasny View Post
Thanks, craigafrechette, I appreciate the thoughts. It's good to have some realistic expectations going in. Also, he's been eating well for the past 7 weeks in his old enclosure. Are you suggesting additional time past that or do you think that time is sufficient.

To be honest, I am currently working on the enclosure and have him in some temporary digs. So hopefully I'm not stressing him out too much.
Ok. Kings are notoriously great eaters. So you're probably already in the clear. If we were talking a BP or other finicky eater I'd suggest longer. But it seems you're already good to go.

I've used pvc pipes in my enclosures in the past. The snakes love them. Only problem I had was sometimes they didn't want to come out of the pipe. And once they're in and don't want to come out it can be next to impossible to get them out. They'll obviously come out when they want to, but if you're hoping for a handling session sometimes you might be out of luck.
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Old 06-11-19, 04:47 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Bioactive enclosure for kingsnake

Great, that's good to know. Thanks again!
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