Newbie keeper needs some tub enclosure advice

My dad and I just purchased our first pair of hatchling ball pythons at an expo this last weekend. We had intended on putting them in 10 gal terrariums when we got home but after talking to a handful of breeders about some humidity maintenance concerns we decided that keeping them in tubs would be better for the snakes in the long run or at least until they were a little older and our local bone dry winter had run its course. However now we’re in the process of outfitting a pair of sterilite tubs and I find myself with a couple questions:

  1. What is the best way to heat a tub? We picked up two roughly 12x15x6 sterilite tubs and I’ve got two UTHs that, thankfully, I hadn’t yet attached to the original terrariums. However, the directions explicitly say not to stick the UTHs to plastic yet most of the videos I’ve watched about outfitting tubs have done this anyway. I’ve got a thermostat so I assume it’s fine to attach an 80-85° heater to a plastic tub as it won’t melt… But maybe there are other concerns that I’m not considering? Should something go between the UTH and plastic tub bottom?

  2. What is the best substrate to use in a tub? I had planned on using reptichip or eco earth until my fiance reminded me that we have a little one running around with a coconut allergy so maybe that would be ill advised. I want to use something that will help me regulate the humidity of the tank as my house is notoriously dry.

Thank you in advanced for the help. I am so excited to care for these little critters, I just want to make sure I’m doing it right!!

I keep my ball in aarge tank, however most of my other snakes are in tubs. I can’t help with bedding (though we use forest floor mixed with potting soil) but can help with the heating at least with the UTH mats you bought since that’s what I use.

First and foremost… Thermostat. You gotta have a thermostat to regulate the heat. This will keep your snake cozy, prevent burns, and makes it safe to use on plastic. Secondly, I use mats that take up a little more than half the entire length of the tub. I find it heats larger tubs better that way and have had better success with fussy eaters wanting that extra bit of heat. Thirdly, Duct tape. I find that UTH mats aren’t the best at long term sticking to plastic so I use pieces of duct tape either along the sides of the mats or in long strips across the middle.

Also will add the probe of the thermostat can go through a slightly larger hole drilled in the side of the tub and placed in a spot where the mat makes the most contact with the tub itself. Then can also duct tape it to that spot to help rambunctious snakes from removing it or moving it.

I have done it with the thermostat probe attached inside the tub and outside and have had good success either way. I do the probe inside the tub with the heater glued/taped to the plastic outside for my quarantine boxes. The rest are in a rack style setup where the probe is on the tape outside the tub, attached to the rack.

Putting the probe inside does have some important concerns that you have to get right for it to be safe though. If it ever comes loose it will cause the heater to run at full and will burn your snake so it has to be attached very securely so that your snake can’t dislodge it. I also like to independently attach a second monitor thermometer on the tub to confirm that the thermostat is working right (for all types of setups). I prefer to use a ton of hot glue to attach the probes, not any kind of tape because if the snake manages to get to the sticky side of the tape it can cause severe injuries. Once I found out about that and saw pictures (don’t recommend) of what can happen, I will never put tape inside an enclosure again.

Plain silicone is safe as well, just takes awhile to dry. Did not know hot glue was safe but makes sense as long as there is nothing in it to release fumes etc. definitely second the no tape inside advice.

1/4-1/3 of the tub being covered by the heat pad is plenty you don’t have to cover half. If that makes a difference in the size pad you buy.

Bedding I have used both reptichip and Reptile prime and both are great but there are many fine substrate choices that people make.

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Thank you for all the advice! I’ve got the UTH stuck to the tub and the thermostat sensor glued in to place. The snakes seem happy and therefore do am I :slightly_smiling_face:

All the heat advice is right on point! Great looking new Bebe sneks!!! They are so cute. Nothing cuter to me than a fresh out the egg snake! Some love puppies, and while I can appreciate a cute puppy I just love love love those baby snakes! Lol! I really like the Coco substrate for balls it helps hold the moisture so well and I keep all 4 of my balls in tanks cus I like to see them. I get the tub system though for sure. Maybe your daughter isn’t allergic to the husk part just the coconut maybe ask her Dr. Or you could use reptichip. I have a mister spray bottle that I spray the enclosures once or twice a week depending on how dry my house is.

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Do you plan on breeding? I’d say just go out and get a juvenile rack but if they are just pets then the info people have given you already is pretty good. But the benefit of buying a rack is you can choose options like pre installed heat tape and so on. Nice baby snakes either way and welcome to the community!