I have a very small young snake I need to switch to a sterilite bin the size of a shoebox. (He’s refusing food and I think he needs a more secure-feeling environment.)
How the heck do I get it warm enough?
The range needs to be 70-90 F. Sticking a heat mat to the bottom just doesn’t seem to be warming the interior of the bin. Sterilite is quality stuff and needs over 200 F to start to melt. I’m more concerned about not burning the snake but not letting it get too cold either. I am using a decent thermostat but even touch with my hand tells me I’m not hitting 90. Edit: I do have a decent temp gun which is what I’m using to check, along with just touch.
What species is the snake?
Hi, he is a Black African House Snake. Currently about the size of a very long pencil, and best guess is a few months old.
So far, I can get it to the 91 or so I want, but ONLY against the actual bin floor. The bedding doesn’t seem to get warm by much.
I guess my dilemma is,
Given that this is a nocturnal and not basking snake, and the UTH is imitating the feeling of a nice warm rock radiating heat, do I need to heat more of the space than just the one area of the bin floor? or is that his Hot Spot?
Annnnnnnd I can’t get the heat mat to stay in firm contact with the bin because the thermostat probe is between the two, as recommended by many people. But the mat won’t bend around it to contact the bin…
What type of mat are you using? I know that certain types can have issues getting very hot. Does the mat itself have an adjustment or is it just plug and go?
You could drill a couple of holes in the bottom of your bin and put the probe inside, held down with zip ties. No matter what you’re going to have issues with adhesion because of the nature of the plastic. I have some extra duct tape around the edge for mine. Also make sure you have some clearance between the bin and the surface it’s sitting on, you can use little adhesive felt furniture pads on the corners for that.
Thanks, I know there’s varying feelings on where to put the temp probe and how to keep it dry, so it still functions,
but I have had success in my other enclosure so far with it siliconed firmly to the bottom of the bin, inside of the bin. The coating doesn’t seem to insulate it much from sensing temp but it does give a nice reading of what temp the snake will feel. I think maybe I’ll do that to this bin too.
I initially had all the same struggles setting up my baby blood python’s tub. Here’s what I did.
For the ambient temp not getting hot enough on the warm side, I got two additional small heat mats and put one on the end of the tub and one on the lid (so 3 heat mats total, on the bottom, side end, and top lid, all clustered on the warm side). I got the smallest mats I could find, so they only covered a small area and I could still have a gradient. My tub I believe is slightly larger than yours, so for the shoebox-sized tub, you may only need 2 heat mats. You’ll also need a thermostat for each mat, but you can get simple on/off thermostats with two probes and outlets for pretty cheap. I use one double thermostat and one single thermostat to accommodate all 3 mats. You can also get some foam insulation and attach it to the bottom and lid of the tub over the heat mats. I found that helpful when the weather was cooler, but now that it’s warmer in the house I found I didn’t need it anymore and I removed it.
For the issues with them not adhering well to the plastic, I just got some heat-resistant foil tape and taped all the heat mats down. It’s not pretty, but it’s effective.
When it has a larger enclosure that will be no problem but you’ll have a hard time getting even a 15* gradient across a 6qt tub.
My house snakes only have a 84-86* hot side/basking spot and I’ve never had any issues with them. Every care sheet for every snake around the world lists a 90-100* hotspot lol so I take them all with a grain of sand. It’s my opinion that we keep most of our snakes too hot. Choice is all well and good but most species we keep in captivity will burn themselves on an unregulated heat source or freeze themselves in their water in an unheated room. Their decision making in captivity is a bit suspect
As Emily of Snake Discovery says, It’s a good thing they’re cute. No one said they’re smart!
It’s good to hear from other more experienced keepers of the species! I’m nervous with how long he’s gone without eating- 14 days now- but he may also be a few months old already and able to do that without hurting himself. He’s not my first reptile, but he is my first snake and he’s just so TINY. So I worry.
Sometimes they don’t like small meals, how big is it? Can you post a pic next to a common object so I can see how big it is? You can also try frog scenting, it’s worked well for me. If you have native frogs or you keep any you can scent a pinky without hurting the frog.
He’s juuuust big enough to take the very smallest pinkies I can find… if he’d just eat them! Thanks, i will see if maybe Frog Juice will help things. I know Reptilinks sells some.
He can probably eat a meal about 2-3 times the size of what you’re thinking. I generally feed mine something that’s not quite twice the size of the thickest part when they’r neonates.
I was just about to suggest that
You could also give some of their links a try. If house snakes normally eat frogs or lizards in the wild, your baby might find a frog or iguana microlink more appealing than a pinky Though I do recall that Reptilinks are a little pricey, and I’m not sure how small an order you can do, so that may not be the most cost-effective experiment. Trying the scented pinky first is probably a better plan.
Oh that is good to know! It’s tough to remember how stretchy they are!
Yeah I figure frog juice is the easiest way to get concentrated scent. I am not sure how often I could get actual Frog Legs for the meat, and anyway we want organ meats and bitty bones too, ideally.
I do know he’s taken F/T pinkies before, so my hope is that a smaller more secure space and five days left alone but for water changes might help him feel safer. He sure does love hiding under his seashell. I think the small cardboard tube is a second place.
Well, Reptilinks makes frog links and iguana links that are whole prey (at least the iguana ones are…I seem to recall the frog ones might just be legs, but still with bones, tendons, and skin). But I think it will be easier (and cheaper) for you in the long run if you can get him on rodents.
Okay, new bin, very snug in there, and I’ve made it pretty humid because I noticed he might be in blue! No wonder he didn’t want to eat. I thought at first he was just fired down but his eyes are also blue-grey, so that explains why he likes the seashell with moss under it. One side has the warm mat under it and one side doesn’t. Three hides, middle, and two on the ends. Full of his leafy greenery, a rock, and I am covering the sides and lid somewhat so it feels enclosed. I need to pick a good water dish. Something he could lie in if he feels like it. Wedge it in there somewhere.
Edit: Yep, he gets a sauce cup for a nice dish.
Looks good! He should feel nice and secure in there, especially with the sides covered. But if his eyes have gone opaque, that could definitely be why he wasn’t eating!
Today when I was checking his temperatures he came out from under his seashell to explore the bin. He went poking around to examine the other hides, and took a nice long drink of water. I think he feels much safer now.