Duct tape accident

Long story short, I use duct tape to hold the probe down to the glass of the tank and cover it up, and since my male loved to hang off the probe line, I decided to use some good duct tape- it was stuck there good, and somehow my male got above it and pushed his way into it. After a long time trying to get it off, quite a few scales came off. No blood though, but he’s a little wrinkly. I’m gonna keep an eye on him for now, and if it gets worse I’ll call up the vet. His scales have always been transparent, so I’m not too worried how red it is right now, but if it stays that way I’ll be sure to get him in the vet immediately.

On the other hand, how should I deal with the missing scales? It’s not like clumps came off, just here and there. Will that be fine, or does he need some sort of cream put on him to help for a little while? And, how do I keep the probe line from being “accessible” to him, without gluing the whole thing inside the tank?


Update 3/28-
While moving him around and changing his bed to paper towels this morning, he seems really good. No blood, no scraps. But he’s a little red under his jaw and neck, as I said before he has transparent scales so maybe that’s just his blood flow to help heal the area? He’s slightly skittish today (I don’t blame him) but otherwise I’m sure he’ll heal up great by his next shed.

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What do you mean when you say “probe line”? There is nothing in your BPs environment that should ever require any type of adhesive. What you think is “stuck good” is going to become gummy in a hot and humid tank. Never ever repeat this behavior. Ever.
I dont have enough experience to assist you with your snakes injuries. I would think there is a possibility of infection or maybe even problems with future molting. But I honestly dont know. Hopefully someone more experienced responds with better advice.
I can help you with advice on your enclosure and probably give you multiple options to keep you from feeling you need to use any tape again in the future.

Put your snake in a tub with an UTH, one hide, and a water bowl on paper towels to keep his wound from getting infected. Make sure to use a thermostat on the UTH and use hot glue to secure it inside the enclosure, not tape. Take him to the vet to get some cream for his wounds. I don’t know if his scales will grow back with sheds, or if his wounds will heal and he will be left without scales, that will be up to the vet to figure out. To anyone that may have a similar situation in the future, use olive oil to help get the glue unstuck from your snake without ripping the scales off. Had to do that with a wild garter snake stuck in a glue trap once. The key is to take it really slow when removing it as well.
Also, hot glue is really the only safe way to secure, what I assume is a thermostat probe, inside the tank. It is easy to remove later with a heated knife.


Hot glue / PLAIN silicone.


What I meant by probe line is the long wire from the thermostat to the end of the probe that you have in the tank. My girl has no issues because she doesn’t climb her wire, but my boy on the other hand does.

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Only issue with that is if I need a new thermostat/probe. How would I get a whole wire covered in glue/silicone out, without messing the tank up?

You are over thinking it. Its just a wire. Far less dangerous than tape.
To start I would say get an infrared thermometer. Every day when you change your water you can take IR therm and temp your hot spot, inside hide, cold spot etc in seconds. Literally just point and click and most accurate temps.
If you dont have time and money for new IR therm you can always acquire some fake vines and wrap it around the line to hide it or lean a piece of driftwood on it to block it. Trust me though, your male BP using the line for leverage bothers you much more than it does the snake.
Do to the sexual dimorphism of BPs females are much larger than males. Evolutionary behavior in males and females is distinctly different between young male and female BPs. Because females grow quicker and are stronger they remain terrestrial their entire lives.
Males being so much smaller and weaker are arboreal when young. They climb as a defense and safety measure. Males will also eat birds, eggs and lizards when young. Females feed exclusively on small mammals. So expect your male BP to continue to climb up anything he find find for the first year or two until he is heavy enough and strong enough for that climbing instinct to fade. Give him one or two big pieces of driftwood wrapped in artificial vines and he will use them to climb on as well as hide under.
Dont think like a human when solving problems for your BPs. Think about their environment and evolution. BPs really are happiest when they can hide and eat. The young male is going to continue to display climbing behaviors. Just let him do his thing. If you arent happy with him climbing the wire, change your process.
I hope he heals quick. With his scales gone and skin damaged I would think him slithering around pieces of wood, substrate, etc might be abrasive to his wounds. Keep an eye on him. He may need to spend a few weeks in a sterile enclosure to heal.

Use a razor blade to remove old silicone

I have no experience with using an aquarium for ball pythons, but I have a question. Can you not put the probe directly on the heat pad?

I’m glad to know that, but my female does climb a ton, just not that probe wire when I had it loose. Luckily my boy is recovering better than I thought, nothing looks bad but he’s just a bit irritated. I’m glad it wasn’t worse than what it was, and I’ll definitely not use tape. Until I can get some glue or silicone after this virus lockdown, It’ll be hanging loose

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As far as I know, you’re not supposed to, it’s supposed to be inside the tank against the glass, in the center of the mat

I dont run any wires into my tanks. If I get to the point I have tubs and racks than I will go to automated heating. I use an undertank heater on 24/7, a 60watt ceramic plugged into a timer that runs from 7am-8pm, placement of hides, climbs, covers and vines placed to frame off hot/cold areas and I keep my a/c set to 76°.
My hot spot runs ~88°/95° night/day
Hot area and hide ~86°
Mid tank water area ~82°
Cold jungle~78°
When my a/c runs with ceiling fan temps drop ~2°
I prefer temping myself daily while watering.
The one downside to my approach is maintaining humidity. Mid tank and cool jungle have no humidity issues.
Hot side cave can drop down into the 30% range quick if I dont wet it down before the ceramic bulb gets the area hot.

you can put it on the area where the BP will be sitting most of the time. they come with suctions that dont hold up very well when the snake is moving around over it.

i would recommend removing everything from the enclosure doing a cleaning during the process and hot glue the probe to the bottom of the aquarium along with the wires that they are connected to.

chang the substrate in the enclosure to something cleaner like white paper towels. this way you will be able to see the early signs of any discharge from the wound that would be questionable. keep your hands clean, reduce the amount of handling/ handle with gloves if you think thats necessary. @silmimiki

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Is there a particular reason why? I would think that putting the probe in between the heat pad and the bottom of the enclosure would take care of the issue? @stewart_reptiles I’m sure you’ve answered this before, do you mind chiming in?


I’ve always heard to place the probe UNDER the tank in between the mat and the glass. This is what I’ve always done, set to 90f, and it works great. I used to have the same issue with the probe in the tank, but after speaking to some people I realized its standard to have it on the outside, not inside.

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I’ve honestly never heard of putting it on the mat itself- wouldn’t it possibly melt the wires eventually? Although, that sounds like the solution I need

So long as you keep it at a safe 90°F it won’t melt.

It’ll be fine. Just use the infrared thermometer to make sure the hotspot is about ~88-90 degrees.

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I would recommend doing this. It keeps all the wires hidden. You’ll need a RI thermometer so you can adjust your thermostat. I’ve also taken stuck tape off a snake before. I used warm water and olive oil. The snake didn’t lose any scales or have any ill effects due to the duct tape but it took a long time to remove the tape.

The reason you don’t mount the probe between the glass and the heat mat is as soon as the heat mat starts to heat up, it’s going to get pretty hot on the surface and with the probe right on it it will cause the thermostat to shut it off before you tank is anywhere temperature. You will more then likely get to temperature eventually but the constant cycling on and off will cause you thermostat and heat mat to fail prematurely. I always run the probe inside the tank and hide it in the substrate over the heat mat/tape, secured with sticky backs and zip ties, you can also use wire mold or silicone in place as others have mentioned. Silicone is fairly easy to remove with a razor, just keep it glue it right in the corner or you can damage the corner seal.