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Old 01-03-17, 05:37 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question What is TOO damp? & Eating issues.

New & somewhat clueless snake owner here. I made up a brick of Eco earth for Churro's tank the other day, and this stuff does not want to dry down. I mean, I know it shouldn't be dead dry, but it's very very moist. I want her to be comfortable.

My friend says, she's the same as the wild snakes around her & since it's pouring rain outside, Churro shouldn't mind it being really damp. But, I wouldn't want to be in it. Would she? So, I figured you all would know. She's in a critter keeper right know while I have all the eco earth laid out & a fan on it. The room I'm in is noticeably much more humid now that I'm doing this.

I'm switching over to eco earth because she was just NOT eating when on paper, but she was eating when using eco earth before (she came with it, it was dry though). I got to get her to eat. It's been a solid month. I even danced the little thawed & hair dryer heated mouse in front of her in hopes she just needed a dinner show or something first. No sores on her mouth. She LOOKS fine. But, is very "don't wanna" with eating. It's like getting a toddler to eat veggies!

Edit to add: she's not been in the krater keeper more than a few hours!
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Last edited by Churro; 01-03-17 at 05:38 PM.. Reason: Edit to add: she's not been in the krater keeper more than a few hours!
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Old 01-03-17, 05:47 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: What is TOO damp? & Eating issues.



Churro in her keeper. Can a snake pout?
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Old 01-03-17, 05:47 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: What is TOO damp? & Eating issues.

It could be too wet, hard to know. Eco earth tends to take a while to dry out after it's made, and this can definitely cause scale rot. It's one reason why I don't like the stuff myself. Just be sure to keep the fan going so that it dries out as much as possible. The snakes outside won't be sitting on a wet substance 24/7 as things dry out pretty quickly in the wild and there are different ranges and areas that the snake can go-not the same in captivity.

As far as the feeding goes - Keep in mind that you just got this little one recently and a month is nothing to a baby snake to go without food. How often are you trying to feed her? Are you leaving it overnight? What are your snake's temps, and how are you measuring them? Do you have hides that the snake uses? Also, why is it in the critter keeper?

That's enough to get us started off.
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Old 01-03-17, 05:50 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: What is TOO damp? & Eating issues.

Edit : that snake is NOT a hatchling like I thought it would be. That snake can go months and months without food and it is the right time of year for them to be fussy about food, so don't get too concerned or try any big changes to get it eating. Just my opinion.
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Old 01-03-17, 06:05 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: What is TOO damp? & Eating issues.

Oh, she's a an adult, for sure. She's about 36-37" long.

Her set up:
Her tank is a a 40 gallon. It's about 35-36" long. It might be a bit big, but she does like zooming around in it. She has a huge corner water bowl, a habba hut hide, and a cardboard box on the unheated side of the tank. The ambient air temp in our house is 68-70F in the day & 66F at night (to estimate the unheated portion of the cage). The heated portion (using a 100 watt infrared bulb in one of those dome lamps on the top of the cage). We have a thermometer/hydrogeometer (is that what you call it? measures moisture) on that side. I have yet to get the heat to stay well in the cage so it's only getting to 75F. We had a heat pad, but the damned thing got up to over 100F! I'm glad I tested it without her in the tank.
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Old 01-03-17, 06:09 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: What is TOO damp? & Eating issues.

All heat pads require a thermostat. The average one running without it hits 105-110. You may want to get a temp gun to take your temps, it's instant and accurate, but it sounds like you're on the right track. I'd personally use the heat lamp in the centre with a CHE so that no light is given off for ambient that way you can leave it on 24/7, and a heat pad with a thermostat to create a warm end. Just some things to consider. The device used to measure humidity is called a hygrometer.
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Old 01-03-17, 06:12 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: What is TOO damp? & Eating issues.

What is CHE?

BTW, thanks so much for helping with all this information. It's helpful
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Old 01-03-17, 06:13 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: What is TOO damp? & Eating issues.

It's a ceramic heat emitter, a ceramic element that will throw heat without light.
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Old 01-03-17, 06:18 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: What is TOO damp? & Eating issues.

Oh, neat! Wasn't even aware something like that existed.
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Old 01-03-17, 06:23 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: What is TOO damp? & Eating issues.

They're more expensive than bulbs but they also last much longer.

You'll learn a lot here.
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Old 01-03-17, 06:43 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: What is TOO damp? & Eating issues.

Thank you!
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Old 01-03-17, 07:05 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: What is TOO damp? & Eating issues.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Churro View Post
Oh, she's a an adult, for sure. She's about 36-37" long.

Her set up:
Her tank is a a 40 gallon. It's about 35-36" long. It might be a bit big, but she does like zooming around in it. She has a huge corner water bowl, a habba hut hide, and a cardboard box on the unheated side of the tank. The ambient air temp in our house is 68-70F in the day & 66F at night (to estimate the unheated portion of the cage). The heated portion (using a 100 watt infrared bulb in one of those dome lamps on the top of the cage). We have a thermometer/hydrogeometer (is that what you call it? measures moisture) on that side. I have yet to get the heat to stay well in the cage so it's only getting to 75F. We had a heat pad, but the damned thing got up to over 100F! I'm glad I tested it without her in the tank.
Hey there.

There's a huge difference in between keeping humidity by keeping soil moist, and keeping air moist. Kingsnakes do not like to be on soil that is moist. I would change to something like cypress mulch... i can hold a bit of humidity, but it can dry out well too.

I keep my MBK (Mexican Black Kingsnake - Lampropeltis getula nigrita) according to this table. Should be similar to the L.g. californiae that you have as their habitats overlap..



Do take with grain of salt, this works for my snake... And I'm not constantly right on top of it. I check it once a day, Kingsnakes aren't that sensitive. Overall you do not want to keep them too dry (below 20% RH) or too wet (above 60% RH) @ ambient temp for too long periods. It's unhealthy for them. To get myself to work in those ranges I had to tape off a part of the ventilation strips, add 2 live plants. When it's too dry I simply water the plants (they don't require much water), and if too wet I ventilate a bit more. I use only lamps for heating and a IR temp gun to measure surface temp, dialer thermometer for ambient temp and hygrometer for humidity. For the hygrometer I used this process to check if it measures well and repeat that ever 6 months or so: How to Calibrate a Hygrometer | Reptiles Supplies don't spend money on a high end hygrometer, you don't need it and they struggle the same to measure accurately.

Literally the only time a cali king needs humidity is during shedding. And in this case it only needs 1 hide, corner, or little humidbox a little damp, nothing more. If he/she is drinking well and as such being hydrated, he/she will shed without issues. Spraying down the terra or snake before he/she started to shed does nothing to help the snake and actually makes matters worse as the old skin, which is already separated from the new skin, will get all sticky and gluey by adding water and if overdone may damage the new skin forming underneath. If skin is stuck IN SHED, you can use water to help him/her to take it off by either bathing or gently support him/her and rolling it off carefully with your hands.

If your current substrate keeps too much water, change for something which is dryer. It's always a bit of experiment to find a substrate that will work well to get a certain condition in a certain room/enclosure. Luckily we have many options

Just my 2 cents!

Last edited by TRD; 01-03-17 at 07:31 PM.. Reason: typos and stuff
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Old 01-03-17, 08:00 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: What is TOO damp? & Eating issues.

Just got out from the shower, and not sure if that is actually a Cali kingsnake looking over the actual picture for once instead of your signature ... Maybe its L.g. getula, or a mix, or a mix with splendida, or something.

anyway, doesn't really matter, it's a L. getula subspecies.
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Old 01-03-17, 08:30 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: What is TOO damp? & Eating issues.

I don't have experience with that substrate but I made too heavy of soil mix for a tank once. It would not dry. I had fans on it for weeks. My snake had rock he liked to get up on so he wasn't wet that whole time but I was getting nowhere. I finally stripped the tank and mixed dry soil with more sand into it and put a layer of river pebbles on the bottom. My desert king snake has a mix that's between my heavier temperate mix and my 60% sand desert mix so it drains better on top but isn't as arid as my rosy boa desert tank. I use native soil or purchased top soil this time of year, palm and coconut compost that is heavier than coir blocks or peat so less dusty but remains a bit fluffy rather than muddy when wet so it holds moisture but drains excess liquid out, and uniform small grain quartz or mixed grain playsand depending. All my mixes come down to a combo of those that will hold the right amount of water in it and drain the right amount to the bottom leaving the top at the moisture level I want. If you just need to get back to dry with the same soil you can put it on a cookie sheet in the oven on low or warm setting. A stronger heat lamp will also dry things more. The tank that had the moisture issues is not heated at all because it's a native snake that is fully active and hunting bugs at room temp. You can grab a chick brooder lamp and 50-100w light bulb( 250w bulbs in the chicken section and you'll cook everything with that lol) from any feed store for like $9 a fixture and $3-5 a bulb for emergency or daytime only use. You can't get black bulbs usually or heat emitters from most. You can get some tinted party bulbs sometimes so they are less bright. My bull snake is blue. The room is lit like it has it's own sun from the bright white 10,000k bulbs for the big fish tank so I just stuck a tinted bulb on the bull snake who's enclosure sits 90 degrees touching corners with that tank. You don't even really notice the blue at that point. My desert king snake had a backup green for awhile that was noticeable and a bit amusing since it was temporary until I got a replacement night bulb for him.
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Old 01-03-17, 08:40 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: What is TOO damp? & Eating issues.

Your king would do well on aspen, look up sani chip or shredded aspen Personally I think this would be a better choice as eco earth gets very dusty when its dry and holds more humidity than you need. Provide a humid hide using a container filled with sphagnum moss or even eco earth and that should be good. Just don't get aspen too wet as it molds much quicker.
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