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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Been worrying quite alot about the heat mat set-up for my 3 month old Rat Snake ( my first rep ) so decided I would speak to a few reptile shop owners and do some reasearch myself.
I have a digital thermometer positioned on the back wall of the faunariums hot end with the sensor about 5mm from the paper towel substrate. I was setting my temps / stat by this thermometer untill I read a comprehensive care sheet from a large reptile shop.
The care sheet explained that the heat mat generates heat via infra-red which is good at heating solid objects ( such as the base of the faunarium ) but not so good at heating air temperature ( only heating by approx 4 degrees )
So I had my thermometer / stat set to around 85-87 degrees and bearing the above in mind decided to test the actual temp of the base of the faunarium since this is where the snake will make contact.
I got a thermometer probe that is designed to measure surface temps and was shocked to see that the base of my faunarium was over 94 degrees !
I have since adjusted my settings and the base of my faunarium at the hot end ranges between 80- 85 degrees, and the thermometer ( still in the same place reads between 77-80.
Is this a commom mistake made by newbies measuring air temp close to the substrate without realising the higher surface temps caused by the way the heat mat works ?
 

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hi, i only use heat mats for my rack and ceramics for vivs. I usually put the thermometer on the substrate to take the temperature at that level cause as youve said the air temp is lower than where the snake could sit. Also the probe from the stat should also be against the mat for the same reason

If you use ceramics i put the thermometer at the usual level the snake would spend most of its time so with aborreal snakes the mid temp is set at its usual tree level. The snake therefore has a gradient from hot end to cold end side to side and also from top to bottom in the viv

To answer your question. Im not sure if its a newbie common mistake but i think the stats usually come with instructins to say to check the temp on the mat/substrate(i think. i havent looked at the instructions for a good few years)

Hope that helps :D
 

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The problem with heat mats is that they struggle to warm the air. Especially in a viv which is well ventilated (like a faunarium) allowing the air to escape as soon as it warms up.

SInce you can't really use any kind of lighting in a faunarium I'd suggest maybe blocking up pretty much all the vents in the top and making some small ones on the sides. This will trap the hot air in teh top of the viv but still allow air to circulate through the sides.

SInce hot air rises, having ventilation in the top of the viv is just letting the air straight out as soon as it warms up. You will notice that no full size vivv have vents in the top for this reason. They are always in the sides.

Just had a quick look at a care sheet and it said temps of 72-85 (for rat snakes in general) so I don't think that a floor of 94 (hot end only) is a major problem as long as your snake can cool somewhere. Possibly lower to 90 to be safe. Although your air temps could maybe do with being a bit higher since the snakes has to breathe the air so it needs to be warm enough.

The guy in the shop is wrong about heat mats. They do not emit infra red to give out heat. They radiate heat, which is why they need to be in contact with things to warm them. Radiators also radiate but at the same time they create convection to force air over them, thus warming it. Infra red heat is that which will heat the air and surfaces it contacts, such as a bulb (any colour has some infrared) or a ceramic. (Sorry if I'm boring you with science here).

I do think that your heat mat should have no problems getting your air temps up if you restrict the ventilation through the top of the faunarium. Try blocking half the vents and see what happens. If not block all and make new ones half way up the sides in both ends, or top in cool end and bottom in warm end. You should see a noticeable difference.
Sorry for the long reply but I'm at work and really can't be arsed working today as I'm all excited about moving into my first house tomorrow. :p :p :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I have blocked the majority of the vents over with a tea towel. Im getting ambient air temps of 74-75 degrees which as you pointed out from the care sheet should be fine.
Likewise the surface temp at the hot end is now I believe within spec.
Here is a link to the care sheet from the guy who I spoke to: http://www.britnett-carver.co.uk/c2c/cornsandrats.html Looking at it, it does say most (not all) heat mats heat by infra-red.
Anyway as long as my temps are now ok and im not risking the health of my first snake im not to fussed how it heats up. :)
Anyway thanks for the help.
One question off subject though. How long after a feed should i not handle the snake for and what about feeding during shed ? Should i wait till after shed ?
 

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Don't handle your snake for 48 hours after feeding.

You can offer food when shedding, but it may not be taken. If not throw it away.

I don't think there are any major problems handling when in shed, just I don't think snakes are very sociable when in shed as it impairs their vision so they get defensive.

Your temps still seem a little low to me. I would of thought you need temps in the warm end up to around 83 degrees at least. If the hot floor is a problem then try putting in a false floor. Use some kind thin (4mm say) ply wood with a cavity between that and the floor (pack it up with something like little polystyrene pieces and put a load of holes in the floor. This will stop the floor getting into the high 90's and should allow you to turn your mat up without risking your snakes health. Even better would be to put something under the floor that will absorb / conduct heat from teh mat and emit into the faunarium, like a thin piece of natural slate (like off old roofs) or something.

Your temps could be okay as I have never owned a rat snake but going off the care sheets he could do with mnore heat, especially after feeding when he needs his heat the most.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
From what I can gather from talking to the guy at coast to coast who wrote the care sheet it seems that the surface temp of the floor is more important than having the air temp in the 80s.
Apparently in the wild these snakes come out at night and sit on rocks etc that have been heated during the day by the sun.
The air temp would therefore be cooler than the surface temps of whatever the snake is resting on
As Ive said im a newbie but im just going by what the guy told me and apparently he's bred Bairds Rat Snakes so im hoping he knows what hes talking about.
Anyway thanks again for your help.

Regards,
 

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No problems bully.

Like I said mate, I've no real knowledge of rat snake husbandry.

Youre better off taking his advice than mine since he owns a shop and knows waht he's on about. I suppose as long as the air temps are high-ish then you will be okay. I do know that snakes don't really like breathing cool air as this makes then cool quite fast.

Prehaps a good idea then would be to put a slab of slate right on top of the heat mat as like a basking stone. If you use a thin one off a roof it should still get pretty warm.

Also try insulating the other side of your mat with a sheet of polystyrene as this will direct heat more towards the viv and not get lost/wasted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
What I have found is that there seems to be quite a lot of difference of opinion.
Care sheets vary slightly from place to place and breeders etc have there own prefered methods.
Like I said as long as my snake is healthy, im happy.
Got the polystyrine sheet sorted as well, so I dont think im too far off.

Cheers.
 

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Bully, there is always difference of opinion. Thats what makes these forums so damn good. You can read everything and decide for yourself.

I had the same problem with humidity. Care sheets said anything between 60 - 70 %. I have spoken to a few carpet python owners who pretty much all keep their snakes at around 55% humidity apart from when shedding.

I have gone with the lower one as the people I have spoken to have very healthy looking snakes so thats good enough proof for me. Besides I think lower is better than higher (to a certain extent) with humidity.

Have a damn good read and then go for what you think afterwards. Thats what I did and it all worked out pretty good thanks to the help of a few knowledgeable people on this forum.

After all this typing I think I deserve some pics of your snake too. from what I've seen those bairds look pretty cool. The one I saw looked like a big milk snake.

So.... photos???
 
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