Ambient Temperature: Important or nah?

@stewart_reptiles I thought I would start a separate thread to discuss this. This is something I have doubted for quite awhile.

I see people harp on the importance of ambient temp. What I don’t see is why. Now, to be clear, I think if you have a dedicated snake room and can keep it at 75 degrees and up, that’s wonderful. Optimal, even. Good for you, I hope to have one too someday.

However if you have a large enough heating source why on earth would it matter if the coldest spot in your tub is 73* instead of 75*? Are they not capable of sliding back over to the warm side if they’re a little chilly?

I haven’t seen any examples of an ambient temp a couple degrees above the room temp in a home causing any issues whatsoever. So why do we insist it matters? I must be missing something.

(Be reasonable…I’m not talking about keeping your snakes in a room that’s 50 degrees. No one lives like that, obviously that’s extreme.) Thanks!

(Also- If it matters, I keep my apartment around 70 degrees typically. According to my temp gun the “coldest” parts of my tubs in my rack are usually low 70s. I’m a year into the hobby, have 5 snakes, have been blessed to have zero health issues thus far. Not saying that as justification or proving that I’m “right,” just context as to why I have had my doubts on this.)

Also this is something that gets brought up from time to time in specific thermostat questions by newbies but beyond that I was unable to find a discussion about JUST ambient temp so wanted to start one and maybe learn something myself.

That’s called basic husbandry one on one.

If 73 is ok what’s next 71…69 and why not 96…98…100 on the warm side? Why even bother with a termostat why not letting it run wide open because if they are a little too chilly and know better and move if they are a little too hot they will move too right?

Did you know that BP that get burn actually remain on the hot spot that burns them?

There are optimal temperture guidelines in captivity for a reason, for people to be successful.

Your job as a respoinsible and knowledgeable keeper is to provide proper husbandry in captivity that includes temps and humidity. (BTW constant humidity in the 70% range is not healthy either)

Now do I recommend everything I do to new owners? No I do not because I have 14 years under my belt and know that what works for me (like no hot spot) will likely not work for somone that has a handful of animals for a weeks or months, so I recommend what is optimum.

Finally keep in mind you have not seen any difference but you have a few animals and it’s only been 14 months since you started ;)…you have a lot to see.


That’s why I said be reasonable. Don’t straw man me! :wink:

Yes. I’m surprised they’re that stupid but I have heard that sadly. Probably why so many of those burns are so nasty. :frowning:

Surely they won’t freeze to death or get some kind of freezer burn injury by sitting on a spot that’s 72 instead of move? So what can happen? Does it suppress the immune system? Stunt growth?

Have you or anyone you know ever lost an animal to ambient temp in the low 70s?

I’m definitely willing to make changes to my care…but I need a little more than social proofing alone to guide me to realize that it matters.

(Social proof would be along the lines of “everyone else does/says it.)

I did not say that, BP are quite hardy even in low tempertures so long it is not constant and there are no other parameters that are off, so when you keep your animals within unhealthy range high or low, when your animals are not house approprietely and or are subjected to stress issue arise and that’s the case with about 85% of new Ball Python owners.

Why do you think so many young BP etheir will not eat for their new owners (when they really are eating machine when young) or will develop RI?

Because of the accumulation of minor things that people overlook thinking it won’t make a difference.

(Social proof would be along the lines of “everyone else does/says it.)

Temps below 75 being in unhealthy range is pretty common knowledge.


Still doesn’t specifically address ambient temp and why it matters. Completely agree with the over arching point that minor details in husbandry missed add up to big problems.

(And I know you didn’t, I was just straw Manning you back haha.)

Nothing wrong with common knowledge…but if there isn’t anything to support it then what relevance does it have.

Anyone else have some more info to chime in?

No, but as someone who kept ball pythons in northern Pennsylvania and in Houston, TX where the ambient temperature and humidity are wildly different, they just seem to do better in a warmer ambient temperature. Granted this is purely anecdotal and with a small sample size of snakes (~6-7 in PA and I had 4 here). It’s hard to quantify, but I found they eat better and are way less likely to have stuck sheds (that one’s probably a humidity thing). I had one male who was the pickiest eater back in PA, every meal was a battle, and then when we moved to TX never had a problem again. Granted this was just one snake, but the next few I bought as hatchlings never had a single issue with food either, and transitioned seamlessly to F/T despite the breeder never having fed them.

Just my limited experience, but husbandry just seems way easier in a warmer ambient climate than a cooler one.

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@chesterhf Ok that’s something, I hear ya. I am in Indiana. I definitely had more eating issues over December/January, and I’m sure my apartment was a few degrees cooler than in the summer months.
However I was told even BPs that aren’t sexually mature may eat unevenly during that “breeding season” time so I chalked it up to that. Maybe ambient temp could have been a bigger cause than I thought.

Still…missing meals doesn’t equate to “unhealthy,” to me unless it leads to significant weight loss.

I still feel my issue with this is unresolved. It seems like no one can quantify why it matters, which makes me wonder if it really does.

Someone can (and did) advise me that I shouldn’t rush females into breeding right at 1200 grams. He said many of them won’t go that first year anyways, even if they do there’s a higher chance they throw slugs, and even if they don’t throw slugs they’ll generally have smaller clutches, sometimes be affected for the rest of their breeding lives and have small clutches, or even not breed/live as long. That’s very tangible and convincing.

Same guy told me he shares the same view with his males, prefers them to have a couple hundred extra grams of weight and not just throw them at a female as soon as they crest 500. Said they seem to be more fertile, and also have extra weight to spare so if they lose some during breeding their life isn’t in danger. Again, tangible. Makes sense. Convinced me!

With this, Like you said maybe it’s hard to quantify…because no one seems to be able to give concrete examples.

To make it as simple as possible BP’s come from a region in Africa that doesn’t get too hot or too cold normally so BP’s are biologically designed to thrive in that range. If it’s out of the range they are looking for they will not thrive. In captivity we strive to replicate the temp range they thrive in. That is why ambient temps are important.


It is very common knowledge that lower ambient temps (typically lower than 72*) can cause a multitude of issues, from slowing metabolism, upper respiratory from being to cold and wet for long periods of time, and decreasing feeding response. Now mind you this is for long periods of time, not short periods of time like say if you heat pack fails during shipping. Snakes can tolerate lower temps way better than extremely high temps. As far as the burns i maybe wrong but snakes do not have pain receptors on their belly which is why they will and can burn themselves to the point of loosing layers of skin down to muscle tissue. It is not they are to stupid it is literally that they can’t feel it.

Yes actually happens more often than you think with shipments coming in from overseas. they are packed in boxes and only have the ambient heat most of the time in the boat they are being shipped in.


@wreckroomsnakes I believe that! But I’m not talking about Snakes on a Boat (see what I did there). Hopefully no ones living room is the equivalent to a ships cargo hold.

Ok. So there are some actual issues in play according to common knowledge. Again based on that tho, the low 70s that most would find in their living room shouldn’t be a problem.

@azoreptiles That is true, they’re from a warmer climate. Again, still not concrete. I don’t want the simple version I want the one with details! :slight_smile:

Bp’s do not get shipped via boat. How ever told you that is 100% wrong. Been importing animals for almost 10 years myself and been working with other importers for over 20 years not once have we ever gotten animals shipped via sea.
The PLANE they are shipped in is not cold. It is kept at 70 degrees at a minimum and they are in a plane a maximum of 12 hours per flight.

Snakes on a Plane* my bad. I should have known.

Shame shame shame.

You guys aren’t making much progress here I gotta say Lol. It seems like a detail that shouldn’t be completely ignored but again…unless someone keeps their house pretty frigid or keeps their enclosure right by a drafty window I’m not seeing a problem here.

Why would I tell a newbie (or myself) to go get additional heating equipment and thermostat etc instead of just tell them keep your house above 70 and you shouldn’t have any issues?

Obviously where you live can play into this but my apartment is 70-71 right now, I just looked in my tubs and we have 72.6-75 at the coldest spots depending on the tub.

I was mentally preparing myself to be convinced and sweat it out in a 75 degree apartment the rest of my lease but…

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Keep your snakes at whatever temp you want, that’s entirely up to you. When they don’t thrive, or you have respitory infections you’ll know why.

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@azoreptiles That doesn’t answer why, and doesn’t support your position. Also if I did have RI I would assume the majority of the time it would be due to low humidity, or something irritating in the air like dust (you know, the main reasons for RI.)

If you get offended by someone questioning your reasoning and asking why, maybe a forum discussion is not the spot for you.

Guys if you’re going to get mad that you don’t have a reason and I’m going to question it then don’t answer :joy: I’m looking for NEW info not just do it because everyone does it.

My mistake. I am sure the ones that came in from africa in 1978 had this luxury of a temp controlled plane. And the breeders who have been doing this for 20 plus years that i have spoken to were only kidding when they said they would go down to the docks when the boats came in to look through bags of 1000 of ball python. :woman_shrugging: And the Port of Florida doesn’t recieve thousands of shipments a year of imported reptiles.

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I’m a very analytical person. When it comes to my snakes, I want to do the proper things, but I also want to know the reasons why I do them, the benefits of doing them and the risks of not. So I can weigh them and decide what’s CRUCIAL, what’s OPTIMAL, and what’s just preferential.

“Emily told me to,” alone doesn’t do it for me. I always like to know peoples reasoning.

Considering his snakes are clearly thriving due to their size and lack of health issues, I doubt they are going to suddenly stop thriving. I keep my snakes in around the same temperature range as him since I live in Indy as well, and the only issues I have had with my BPs was with my female. The reason she didn’t eat is because she had only taken 2 meals in a row from the breeder and was not a strong feeder to begin with (the breeder didn’t tell me until after I got her). However, now that I have her feeding she never misses a meal. My male doesn’t either and is even more ravenous than her.

As I see it, if your snakes are eating fine, pooping fine, shedding fine etc. then your temps/humidity/setup is fine. Keep in mind that just because a part of the tub is below 75°F doesn’t mean they themselves are below that temp for a long period of time, or at all since they can choose which side to be on.