Ambient air temp - important?

Our enclosure is 36 x 18 x 18. In winter our home is only 70. The UTH makes the floor and hide temp adequately warm but the air above the substrate barely climbs into mid 70s at best. I know the snake spends its time on the ground level but I feel the air temp in the arm side should be in the 80s. Husband diesnt think its necessary. Google is conflicting. The info also seems divided on whether or not a night drop is beneficial if not breeding. So I am hoping some of you could chime in. We are experienced witb snakes and reptiles, but new to BP. I would appreciate any guidance. Thanks!

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I have kept a pet ball python for almost 9 years and I have never done a temp drop at night.

I would say that ambient air temp is fairly important. Think of it this way, if its nice and warm in your house, but outside is frightfully cold, then you are not going to want to leave your cozy home. I imagine the snake will likely do the same.

I noticed that all my ball pythons were very slow and rarely came out until I added a space heater (the room I keep my snakes in is awful when it comes to air conditioning so this was a viable option) and brought the room temp up to around 76* and that also brought the ambient temp on both sides of the cages up. After this I noticed a lot more activity out of them.

It sounds like you have a PVC enclosure, and if so you might want to look into a radiant heat panel to raise the ambient temp, as well as your UTH.

However, there are many ways to do something and I don’t have as much experience as a lot on this forum.

And welcome to the community! I hope you enjoy your time here. If you are willing, I think everyone would love to see some pics of any pets you might have!


If you are solely relying on ambient air for your heat source for balance then I would not let it go below 75. With that said, if you have a hot side around 87, then the cold side should be good, as long as the ambient room temp is not extremely low. If you have a temperature gun check both sides, inside the enclosure. But do not crank up the hot side to try and balance it out. You can also try covering up extra holes (not all), screens, or even glass to try and keep the heat in. This will help if the room temp is much cooler. There are all kinds of tricks you can use to get temps within the desired range.


I struggled with keeping ambient air temps high enough using only UTHs. For my sand boa in her PVC enclosure, I found that adding a ceramic heat emitter (CHE) on top helped a lot. For my blood python, who is currently in a plastic tote, I added a heat mat on the lid of her enclosure on the warm side, which helped.

For a ball python, a CHE might not be the best option, since it has a tendency to dry out the air (less of an issue for my sand boa, who requires less humidity). A radiant heat panel or a deep heat projector might be a better option to raise the ambient temp (I plan to use a deep heat projector for my blood python once I move her into a nice PVC enclosure). You could also try adding some insulating material like foam or even cardboard/foam board to the outside of the enclosure so it keeps the heat in better. Lastly, you can just warm up the room where you keep your snake’s enclosure by turning up your home’s thermostat and/or putting a space heater by the enclosure. You might have to experiment a little to find what works best for your situation.

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I keep and breed ball pythons and I do so in large rack systems, so the bins do hold heat a little bit better than a larger PVC enclosure. That said, my snakes have under-bin heat tape that my thermostat maintains at around 89 degrees, and the rest of the enclosure is ambient air temp. I do not run any additional heater for ambient because my snake room is also my bedroom and I am a hot-natured person, so in the winter my room temp is around 70 and in the summer it’s around 75. I have never encountered any issues with the animals - no respiratory infections, no odd behavior, they all eat fine through the winter. I would say go based on your animal - if you notice she never leaves her warm hide area, you might invest in a radiant heat panel or something similar. If she still seems to come out and is eating fine, I’d say she’s likely fine as is. You could also look into a halogen basking bulb or something similar - she’d only have access during the day with a normal day/night cycle but that’s the most accurate-no-nature way she would acquire additional heat in the wild - directly from the sun.

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Thanks all. I wemt ahead and ordered a radiant heat panel from pro products - which is already here and installed! Still running the UTH beneath the hids also. With both, the surfaces on the warm side (floor and roof of hide) are 88-90, warm side ambient air is around 86, and cool side ambient air hovers around 76-78. Sound good?

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Sounds a little high, unless they are using bedding and the 90 is below it and they are on top of the bedding and not under it.

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Yes, the 90 is below the coconiut husk, snake lays on top of it inside hide.

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70 f/ 21c above the husk and at the cold end of the enclosure is cold like my house winter ambient temperature. Or even colder for me.
Its ok for me in winter with extra clothing but I do not feel its best for my ball pythons.
Yes, shared heat in racks helps to some extent, but I give my snake room a bit of extra heat in winter.
I don’t want them squashed at the hotter back wall and it being too cool if they want to move around.
Better to have ideal max temperatures in the hot end and ideal temperatures in the cool end.
That’s just my opinion.
Heat the snake room a bit more than the house like I do or create a second lower heat source for the cool end of the enclosure on a thermostat.
e.g another option and probably cheaper for energy consumption for cold winter climates, is
one 2/3rds hot end heat mat and one then 1/3rd outer area cooler heat mat. I have done similar with other heat sources. You still get a gradient with the cold room temperatures.
Just my way, others may say different.