Advice for update on newbie vivarium set-up plan please! - Reptile Forums

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Old 29-01-2018, 07:25 PM
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Default Advice for update on newbie vivarium set-up plan please!

Firstly, sorry for the length of this post but I have a lot to ask!

As Malc and Ed will probably remember, I am a newbie and we recently had a lengthy discussion in my thread titled, “Enchi BP hatchling and tank size? Urgent help needed!” about the enclosure requirements for my 4/5 month old BP. She’s about 22” long, 170g, eats like a trooper and currently lives in a small RUB containing just a hide, branch and water bowl. I had initially planned on moving her into a 2 foot vivarium (as this was literally all I thought I had space for) but it was soon pointed out to me that this wouldn’t really be sufficient or practical, and at best would only be a ‘stop gap’ anyway.

Well, since then things have changed dramatically! I have done a lot more research (via internet care sheets, this group, various Facebook forums and a BP book) and have increased by knowledge considerably and consequently rethought my plans. However, as always I’d like some expert advice!

So I didn’t think I could find anywhere in my house for anything bigger than a 2 foot viv.… Well, after finding a bargain used Vivexotic 36”L x 18”W x 20”L vivarium on ebay, things have changed. Whilst my wife was out, I moved two of her chests of drawers plus some other things of hers out of the bedroom and stuck it in there. I had been sworn not to do such a thing – “ABSOLUTELY no snakes in the bedroom!” So now I have a currently empty 3 foot vivarium in the bedroom, plus a wife who has refused to speak to me properly in 2 days, but ho-hum.... I still plan to move her to a 4ft tank in the future (in my future house) when it becomes necessary. The snake that is, not the wife.… The edges of the panels have not been sealed as it was previously a tortoise enclosure but I will be doing to with aquarium-grade silicone sealant. Of course, everything also needs a thorough clean and disinfecting.

I already have all the necessary décor (and lots of it) and all wood will be ‘cooked’ as per one of Malc’s previous recommendations. I have a 100W White Python Ultra Slim Ceramic Bulb Heater Kit with reflector (again, another second-hand ebay bargain) to screw into the top of the hot end, which will be controlled by a pulse-proportional thermostat. It measures 16cm deep, and the tank is 49cm deep inside. As I understand, a heat mat would no longer be needed (nor practical) under the hide at the hot end as the CHE would act like the sun and heat the hide and surrounding substrate sufficiently. Both ends would have digital thermometers plus there will be a digital hygrometer in the middle of the viv. The cold end will have an identical hide to one in the hot end. I was thinking that perhaps the thermometers should be mounted about a 3-4 inches above the substrate and the hygrometer halfway up the rear wall – is that okay or should they be at a different height? I'm unsure but think that the heat ranges should ideally be approx 84 degrees on the basking spot, (on top of her cave hide), 80 degrees ambient at the hot end and 76 ambient at the cold end. Is this correct or am I aiming too high/low? Advice needed here please! I also have a UV laser temp gun for monitoring individual areas.

I’ve got some white LEDs with a dimmer to provide daytime lighting, to be set up on a timer. The main reason for lighting is because the bedroom doesn’t get much natural light – it’s constantly in a shadow. Plus as my wife works day/night shifts the house lights are on/off and the blinds opened/closed at different times on different days. I want to establish a regular light cycle in the viv, for benefit of the snake’s natural body clock.

Now, onto substrate. I want to use an organic material to help complete the ‘natural’ look and to encourage some burrowing behaviour if she wants to do that. I’ve ordered Zoo Med Forest Floor as I’ve heard/read/watched good things about it. Would it be preferable use this alone or to mix this with or lay it above some Eco-Earth? I’ve heard conflicting opinions on this. I would be spot checking for pee, urates and poop daily. What depth would you recommend, 1-2 inches, bearing in mind she’s still young?

How often should I deep clean the tank, by which I mean completely change the substrate plus disinfect everything?

Ingestion/impaction – is that an issue or a myth? I’ve heard both and naturally this would worry me with a wood-based substrate. But I read that if a snake can eat bones then a little bit of bark shouldn’t cause it any problems, so again here I am guessing this is nothing to be overly concerned about?

The reptile shop owner recommended that Honey would need to be settled in her current small RUB (in which she is getting on quite well) and then gently introduced to the new viv on a daily basis for an hour or two at a time and then moved in properly once she seems happy enough, in a few months time when the whole environment looks, smells and feels familiar to her. To me this sounds almost counter-intuitive due to increased stress over a long period of time.

Would it perhaps be a better idea to say give her a few more weeks/feeds in the RUB, feed her 3 days before simply moving her permanently to the vivarium, leaving her alone totally for a week and then offer her food again? To me (and most of the people I’ve chatted to on FB forums) this would appear to be a better idea.

But I have to ask that if she refused to eat at that point, what would I do? Persevere for another couple of weeks/feeds in the vivarium and then put her back in the RUB if she still refuses food?

Using my proposed method of leaving her in the RUB for a while would also allow me time to get the heat/humidity conditions in the vivarium correct before moving her in, as well as arranging the décor as best as possible.

I think that ultimately, if the vivarium is set up correctly and she takes to it then obviously it becomes her new home! If she won’t eat, won’t leave her hide etc for a couple of weeks, put her back in the RUB, safe in the knowledge that I have a fully and correctly set up viv waiting for her for when she is a bit older?

So all in all, does this sound like a good plan or is there room for improvement/change?

Sorry for such a long post but as you know, I am a newbie so please let me know or help me with any constructive advice/comments before I actually start working on it!

As always your input is much appreciated.

Many thanks,

Ben.
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Old 29-01-2018, 07:49 PM
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Hi Ben,

I'm sure the musses will come round eventually... some would say having a wife that's quiet and not opening her gob is a blessing

Your temperatures are a bit low. The recognised hot spot is 32C (around 91f) so you should up that a tad.

Can't answer your questions on the eco substrate as I've always used wood based products (now have my lot on orchard bark chippings).

Impaction, have a read of the sticky post at the top of the forum page - this covers the myths

Personally, once the viv is set up, the temperatures correct, then place the royal in the viv and let it settle in. The question of handling, and the settling in period is very much a personal one, and for me I tend to leave my snakes alone, disturbing them to change the water, spot clean, heath check or maintenance on the viv. Occasionally, if asked when we have guests I might get them out, provided the snake hasn't eaten recently or in shed.

Feeding issues are covered in depth on the forum and in care sheets. I would suggest you just keep offering food of a suitable size on a weekly basis. I tend to warm the food up in hot water, and feed around 7Pm - 9pm. It's just a matter of perseverance, and not fretting. Feeding issue in most young royals is stress related rather than related to external triggers such as the breeding season. I'm sure with the correct temperatures, plenty of hides, either caves or cover under branches and artificial plants it won't be long before it feeds regularly.
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Old 29-01-2018, 07:57 PM
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Advice - hope you know a good Divorce Lawyer
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Old 29-01-2018, 08:18 PM
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Thanks for your input Malc!
Perhaps a 4ft viv for the wife might not be too bad an idea....
I'll take a good look at the care sheets this evening.
But all in all, do you think it all sounds good, apart from the temperatures etc?
Many thanks,
Ben.
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Old 29-01-2018, 09:10 PM
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Hi mate, I'm currently working on a Viv to transfer my baby Burm.

If it's in your price range, I've been looking at the Microclimate Evo which is a pulse, dimmer or on off stat that shows you set and actual temps as well as allowing you to set different temps throughout the day and control lighting or foggers etc. So no need for any other thermometers or timers.

I think that will help you replicate and monitor a more natural and varied environment. I think it's better to mount your thermostat probe on the back or side wall so the snake can't move or sit on it (which would give false readings). Set the temp lower than you need and slowly raise it until the basking area hits your desired temp - so in effect your thermostat will be set lower than your basking target temp but the actual basking area temp will be on point.

For substrate I'm planning to use eco earth (coco fibre) topped with bark and sphagnum moss to hold humidity. And I would use aquarium sealant to seal the Viv and let it cure for a week.

You can feed over a paper plate if you're worried about impaction but I believe eco earth (coco fibre) can pass through pretty well. Cypress mulch is the only one I've heard funny things about when it comes to impaction, among other things. A guy on YouTube even said it went through his boa's eye but I cannot confirm that is true.

I'd run your setup for a week without the snake in it to monitor temps etc before introducing her into it.

I dont think what the pet shop told you is correct as far as slowly introducing her to the enclosure. Just leave her for a week to settle in and just change the water and spot clean. When she's settled in I'd completely clean out the enclosure once a month using F10 veterinary disinfectant (the good thing with F10 is that it's completely harmless to reptiles).

Also the temp gun is invaluable.

I'm not an expert but this is what I've found from research.
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Old 29-01-2018, 10:19 PM
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Thanks for your input mate - some very useful info...

The Microclimate Evo sounds like a wonderful bit of kit but I've already purchased the thermometers, timer etc and it's probably out of my price range anyway. I never thought setting up a vivarium would be so bloody expensive!

I was planning to run all 3 probes from the top of the back wall downwards to their required positions, using LOADS of tiny cable clips to ensure the snake can't get tangled up in the cables. I'm going from the top downwards as the previous owner made some perfect holes there. I'd rather use them then attempt to block them off and make new ones.

I get what you are saying about setting the temperature, especially for the basking spot - good advice, thanks!

The sealant will take a while to cure completely, and the only other work I will do in that week would be to install the CHE, lights and probes.

I hadn't thought about serving dinner on a paper plate but that's another good idea - one I shall be using, so thanks for that too!

The plan is certainly to run the viv empty for at least a week to monitor and fine-tune temperature and humidity.

Deep cleaning once a month with F10 sounds good to me - I've already got some!

So thanks for the advice mate - it is much appreciated. I hope your Burm likes his new home!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Valaryan View Post
Hi mate, I'm currently working on a Viv to transfer my baby Burm.

If it's in your price range, I've been looking at the Microclimate Evo which is a pulse, dimmer or on off stat that shows you set and actual temps as well as allowing you to set different temps throughout the day and control lighting or foggers etc. So no need for any other thermometers or timers.

I think that will help you replicate and monitor a more natural and varied environment. I think it's better to mount your thermostat probe on the back or side wall so the snake can't move or sit on it (which would give false readings). Set the temp lower than you need and slowly raise it until the basking area hits your desired temp - so in effect your thermostat will be set lower than your basking target temp but the actual basking area temp will be on point.

For substrate I'm planning to use eco earth (coco fibre) topped with bark and sphagnum moss to hold humidity. And I would use aquarium sealant to seal the Viv and let it cure for a week.

You can feed over a paper plate if you're worried about impaction but I believe eco earth (coco fibre) can pass through pretty well. Cypress mulch is the only one I've heard funny things about when it comes to impaction, among other things. A guy on YouTube even said it went through his boa's eye but I cannot confirm that is true.

I'd run your setup for a week without the snake in it to monitor temps etc before introducing her into it.

I dont think what the pet shop told you is correct as far as slowly introducing her to the enclosure. Just leave her for a week to settle in and just change the water and spot clean. When she's settled in I'd completely clean out the enclosure once a month using F10 veterinary disinfectant (the good thing with F10 is that it's completely harmless to reptiles).

Also the temp gun is invaluable.

I'm not an expert but this is what I've found from research.
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Old 29-01-2018, 11:51 PM
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I did reply before but my phone had a crazy moment lol.

I know what you mean about the cost of correct setup. Some animals are sold for really cheap but their proper care is expensive so many people buy them without proper research.

I saw CB17 green iguanas going for £25 on an online pet shop today!
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Old 30-01-2018, 12:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Valaryan View Post
I did reply before but my phone had a crazy moment lol.

I know what you mean about the cost of correct setup. Some animals are sold for really cheap but their proper care is expensive so many people buy them without proper research.

I saw CB17 green iguanas going for £25 on an online pet shop today!
Its sad to see such animals being valued so low.

I don't know what it is about the reptile keeping population, but they seem to want everything as cheap as chips these days. They look for reasons to justify spending £150 on a vivarium, £100 on a heater, guard and reflector and a further £70 for a thermostat for a snake or lizard costing £20 - £30

I don't know of any other similar hobby where this is the case. Fish keepers seem quite the opposite, spending thousands on a tank and all the supporting equipment needed to maintain the water to the quality to support the fish.
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Old 30-01-2018, 12:45 AM
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I think it's mainly because reptiles are produced in massive numbers and are cheap for breeders to keep many in rack systems until the hatchlings are bought. So this drives the price down. If they were puppies the world would be in uproar.

This brings me onto another point - I always considered our hobby to be a very small, niche market. But if you watch some of these YouTube channels (usually American) they're producing literally thousands of Retics every year. Who's buying all of these giant snakes?
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Old 30-01-2018, 01:01 AM
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I agree Malc,

I didn't know how much it would cost me to set up my vivarium to a good standard, but every penny has been well spent. Whether Honey cost me £25 or £2500 the value of her life remains the same. I would have happily paid full price for the ebay bargains I was fortunate enough to pick up.

If people genuinely care for and want to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their animal then you spend what you need to spend.

I used to volunteer at a dog sanctuary and it used to break my heart to see the condition of and hear stories of some of the animals there. Shocking and disturbing. I ended up re-homing one myself. Plus my current dog is also a rescue.

People who want to scrimp and neglect their animals shouldn't be allowed them in the first place in my opinion.

Sorry for going off topic a little bit there but the value of animals (both moral and financial) nowadays sometimes disgusts me. An iguana costing £25 needs just the same level of care as one costing ten times that. Shops that sell them so cheaply seldom seem to tell the customer what other expenses they will need to consider. I understand supply and demand but we are talking about animals here, not cars or bags of corn!

Rant over lol.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Malc View Post
Its sad to see such animals being valued so low.

I don't know what it is about the reptile keeping population, but they seem to want everything as cheap as chips these days. They look for reasons to justify spending £150 on a vivarium, £100 on a heater, guard and reflector and a further £70 for a thermostat for a snake or lizard costing £20 - £30

I don't know of any other similar hobby where this is the case. Fish keepers seem quite the opposite, spending thousands on a tank and all the supporting equipment needed to maintain the water to the quality to support the fish.

Last edited by benjeeman; 30-01-2018 at 01:18 AM..
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