New debate snake rack heating

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New debate snake rack heating

Post by Mike10205 on Thu Apr 07, 2011 9:19 am

Everyone says snakes need belly heat. To digest food or whatever their reason. Why do most say that, because someone told them when they first got into reps. It's how we learn most things about them at the end of the day

Me, I'm not so sold on belly heat and have questioned it for a while now, why, simple, wiring so many bloody mats is a nightmare. Maybe 70 plus mats will needed for the plans I have

Royal python live below ground in other animal burrows from what I have read. What temperatures is it below ground, no idea but I am sure there are no hot spots for belly heat.

Snake anatomy, are they all the same ? Are all pythons the same ? What about arboreal snakes, tree python, me I know nout about them but someone will correct me but I am sure a tree python does not need belly heat.

I want as many opinions as possible on this but not just someone saying yeah they need belly heat. Just because Kevin McCurley wrote it in his book just don't do it for me.

Evidence, test, whatever but all input is welcome

For me it's all about ambient temperature
A snake needs to be able to thermo regulate. How does it do this under ground ???
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Re: New debate snake rack heating

Post by morelia on Thu Apr 07, 2011 11:03 am

I couldn't agree more Mike - ambient temperature is the most important factor in keeping any reptile. I believe that as long as a Royal has access to a GRADIENT in ambient temperature and can access it both in the open and under cover if needed, then thats the perfect set-up to allow for thermoregulatory behaviour.

Its been a good while since I owned any Royals but what I remember from keeping them and looking into their natural history was that living primarily underground / undercover as they do, they live in a warm and relatively stable microclimate.....its warm because the ambient temps are warm, it being Africa and all. Above-ground changes in air temps are buffered as in their burrow they are much more sheltered from the very warm daytime temps and great drop in temps as the sun goes down.

We can provide this same microclimate by having their viv, or the room the viv is kept in, at a suitable ambient temperature. My animal room sits at 22C all year and this is as low as it ever needs to get, even for breeding purposes.

However, IMO a snake also needs a definite hot spot of warmer temps to allow it to digest prey in particular. In the wild I would imagine that a Royal moves up and down its burrows or even comes above ground and hides in cover to find an area a little warmer to allow digestion to occur. I'm sure they would even partially bask in the morning sun to elevate their body temps on occasion (Womas and Black-headed pythons do this, and its the most likely reason why the Black-headed python has a black head). Either way, in the wild Royals can move around their habitat / microhabitat at will to find higher or lower temps as required. Their labial pits come in handy here as they use them to detect subtle temperature differences within their habitat. As you say, its warmer AMBIENT temps that are needed here and as the ground will absorb this heat, so too will the Royal in the form of belly heat. Moving to and area with darker soils (i.e. near vegetation) and coming closer to the surface of a burrow would allow a Royal to find warmer microclimates during digestion.

In captivity and in the confines of a viv or tub, the best way this can be provided is via a heat mat, heat strip, heat cable or ceramic heater as the Royal doesn't have the same number of microclimates to choose from. If your heating a load of tubs I would opt for heat cable as its much easier to install and manage than dozens of heat mats.
I don;t buy the belly heat 'rule' either, simply that a snake needs the provision of a definite heat gradient (in whatever form).
Personally for my Aussie pythons they have access to ceramic heat from above (they bask in the morning sun), heat mat for belly heat (they will rest on or within rocks and even tarmac roads warmed by the sun) and I also provide light (this is the stimulus that tells them its morning-time and to go out onto their branches and bask). Researching an animal's natural history provides all the clues you need to offer them the same choices they have available to them in the wild. I'm sure the European manual on Royal pythons (unfortunately in German) by Thomas Koplin would have natural history info in there of much use to the hobbiest. Europeans far excel in their naturalistic set-ups and vivaria and so they are the best source of info for keeping animals as close to natural conditions as possible.

When it gets too warm (during the dry season), Royals in the wild tend to switch-off their feeding response and aestivate because prey availability declines. I firmly believe that most people keep many of their reptiles TOO WARM....and if your a Royal python, temps that are too warm trigger an aestivation response and so lack of feeding response. This is of course only my personal opinion on Royals when I kept them and also through keeping other pythons and boas. It seems many animals from an arid / semi-arid climate will go off feeding during excessively warm temps.....I have a few tarantulas that do this and have found it also with Royals, Leopard Geckoes and Horned frogs.....all species from arid / semi-arid climates. IMO there are 2 reasons for this:

(1) Molly-coddling (its from the tropics so blast it with heat). Eh, nope. Sure its warm a lot of the time, but if your in the desert at night-time and / or live down a burrow, temps are typically much cooler. Most reptiles typically go out of their way to avoid getting too warm. This is because too much heat will kill a reptile (any animal, actually) much sooner than excessive cold.

(2) No thermostat. Heat mats and other heating devices simply get too warm if not accurately statted, resulting in a reptile that then only has the options of resting at ambient temps or resting in above-optimal digesting temps. This is one reason why any reptile keeper worth their weight in salt will have everything on a stat and have it calibrated precisely to the hotspot temp they need.

The only arid reptiles I've ever kept that seem to feed irrespective of temps are my Bredl's pythons and Womas.......follow the light and get some Aussie pythons. They are the future Cool (I'm not biased, honest)

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Re: New debate snake rack heating

Post by Mike10205 on Thu Apr 07, 2011 1:10 pm

Super post mate and a great read. Thanks for the contribution
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