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Posted by SJL on November 03, 2002 at 08:46:22:
My trials and tribulations of creating the proper environment for my Ball Python:
Read the books, the forums, the web articles. No sweat. A tank, a heat pad, a light, water and hot and cool hide boxes, hygrometer, two thermometers. Simple, eh? After six weeks of communing with my baby ball I grew confident in my herp care prowess.
Let the Anxiety Begin:
First wave of the attack. A difficult shed. Pieces and parts coming off. Many baths later a piece of shed still retained around neck.
Second wave of the attack. Many mice in, no poop out. After everyone told me to soak the snake to make it poop my soggy snake and I found out that he's only supposed to poop every 4-6 weeks. OK, relax....
Third wave. Snake is sniffling and breathing with mouth open. Intense study alerted me to the fact that it may be a respiratory infection. Took him to the vet and the snake is undergoing treatment (although I think I should be the one in treatment.)
But wait...I read all the books...I had all the gear. I was an attentive and loving parent. How could this be? Ah ha! I realize my house's climate was foiling my attempts to provide the proper environment for my snake. Tropical snakes in Montana....brrrrr. Need stable warm temps and higher humidity.
The Decent into Herp Room Hell:
I bought 60 watt red bulbs...not hot enough. I bought 100 watt red bulbs....too hot. I bought 75 watt red bulbs....sometimes not hot enough, sometimes too hot. Temps going wild from 65 to 100, cool/warm sides. I replaced newspaper subtrate with aspen. I sprayed the aspen. Humidity went up for 10 minutes then plummeted back down. But you can't spray too often because of host of other potential health problems.
But I was not to be beaten by the climate from Hell. I bought a humidifier. I turned off the heat vents to my herp room and bought a stand alone room heater. I made a humidity retreat box. I put dimmer switches on the lamps to regulate the heat output.
Now, at last, here I sit broke and exhausted...sweat rolling down my armpits, in front of my console with my hands on the controls. The room is humming with heat and humidity. The neighbors have spotted the red glow emanating from the herp room window and wondered, "What the heck's goin on in there Herb?!" Perhaps the house has finally relented. Perhaps I've won?
Either the snake will finally be happy and healthy, the whole place will burn down, or they will cart me away frothing at the mouth to a kinder gentler place where people are running through fields of hamsters and swimming in pools of goldfish. (By the way...the snake pooped.) :)