Bulb guards

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Bulb guards

Post by morelia on Mon Aug 09, 2010 5:28 am

All too often people can end up treating their snakes for burns because they have came into contact with a warm light bulb in their viv - its completely avoidable for only a few quid. Here's how I've always avoided burns, its soooo easy and cheap that anyone can do it:

Perfect example - adult Jungle carpet python in quarantine viv - no bulb guard fitted (I've removed it here temporarily to replace the light bulb)
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Snakes are active animals, especially after dark, and have a tendency to climb as height gives most the feeling of security. Even so-called terrestrial snakes such as Royals climb quite a bit if given the chance. When they climb, they seek out a nice place to rest - a warm place - and so lie up against, or even worse, coil around, the light bulb. Nothing wrong with that, it would seem.

Ah ha......but snakes have poor temperature detecting abilities along their body for the most part and because of this, they often don't move when it gets too warm, so can get burned easily - unless us, the keepers, prevent this from happening. Burns can kill a snake or at the very least require a vet appointment or dosing with Tamodine to prevent infection - totally unnecessary stress to the snake and to your wallet.

For a few quid you can buy a small sheet of galvanised mesh at any good hardware / DIY shop and make a bulb guard. From this sheet, which is perhaps 3ft x 2ft wide on average, you can make several bulb guards.....in NI these mesh sheets are around £4 - so that means each bulb guard costs around £1 each to make - you can't get cheaper than that! Here's how I make mine:
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Estimate what diameter and length the bulb guard has to be so it clears the edges of the bulb (when fitted into the bulb holder) by 1.5 inches or more if desired; then measure this out on the mesh sheet and use wire cutters / tinsnips to cut out a section of mesh; then gently curve this section to form a tube, which will keep the snake from the sides of the bulb. Use tying wire to join the two loose ends together and make sure there are no ragged or sharp ends sticking out that the snake could injure itself on.

Cut a circle of mesh to fit over the bottom of the mesh tube, again attaching securely with tying wire. This will prevent the snake from touching the bottom of the bulb. Make sure no sharp ends are sticking out.

Lastly, cut 3 or 4 small mesh squares, perhaps measuring 3x3 squares each, and attach these equally around the top edge of the bulb guard at right-angles; these will allow you to use screws and washers to attach the bulb guard to the ceiling of your viv, around the bulb and bulb holder. Note I say CEILING of the viv - not side - a bulb fitted to the side of the viv acts as an ideal perch for a snake, especially if fitted with a bulb guard, and the weight of the snake on the guard will result in a burn. Its always best to fit bulbs to the ceiling of the viv for this reason.

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Hey presto! £1 and a little bit of time and patience later, your snake can now have a light source and additional daily heat source without ANY risk of injury of burns (note that the bulb is an ADDITIONAL source of daytime heat; snakes should also have belly heat in the form of a thermostat-controlled heat mat at all times, day and night). How simple can it be?

Another important factor needing consideration to help prevent burns - and overheating, especially in the summer months - is the wattage of bulb. Basically you want some light in the viv and also some additional heat in the air during the daytime which is natural for the snake - so the wattage doesn't have to be too high to begin with. Remove the snake from the viv and play around with various bulb wattages to learn which gives the desired hot-spot temperature you want. For the quarantine viv above I used a 60W bulb in the winter months to create a warm spot of 30C, but away from the bulb there was a background temp of 23C. If the bulb wattage is too high then risk of burns and overheating is greatly increased - so choose your bulb wattage accordingly.

These bulb guards are so easy to make and install, and its so easy to find the correct wattage of bulb, that there really is NO reason and NO excuse for a snake sufferring a burn.


Last edited by morelia on Mon Aug 09, 2010 3:04 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Bulb guards

Post by St3ve76 on Mon Aug 09, 2010 6:10 am


Good piece Karl.
See it so many times even in shops.
Little of care to start with saves both ur pet from harm and the owner from all the worry and trips to the vet.

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Re: Bulb guards

Post by Tony W on Mon Aug 09, 2010 6:15 am

Nice one Karl....I do almost exactly the same for some of my vivs....

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