Please Help. Newbie trying to help a rescue

So, 3 days ago I took home a baby BP from not so great conditions. He hasn’t been eating and you can see it. He was in a very small cage with nothing but a water bowl. Anyways, he’s with me now.

I believe he is a phantom BP and I would say 2-4 months old. Couldn’t be told how many successful feedings he’s had.

So, I have what I think is a 47 gallon tank, mesh top currently covered with wall tapestry (it’s a thinwr fabric). I use Cypress mulch for the tank.
I have 4 hides. 2 in the hot side, 2 on the cool side. They’re pretty small, but he can fit in coiled and feel safe. He has 2 big hides that I don’t think he would consider hides, but they’re log like things.
He has two water bowls the one he was with when I got him (could fit in it, but not comfortably) on the hot side, a larger shallow one (that he can fit in easily) kind in the middle of the tank.
I have a climbing stick on the cool side and a bigger log thing he can climb with some vines on the hot side.
I have a heating pad on the bottom (outside) of the tank on the hot side (but it’s for a 30-40 gallon tank) so I have a heating pad strip on the back (outside) of the tank in the middle of the tank. I use a basking/UV light on the top on the hot side. For night time I have a red light I was told was for a night time heat source on the cold side that’s currently on a time to turn on at 8PM when the basking light turns off.

Because this was a rescue situation, I did not have time to set anything up and everything I have was everything I could buy this morning from a local pet shop in my area. I’m also no pro. I’m coming into this situation with little to no knowledge. All I know is I want to give this little guy the life he deserves; happy and healthy.

My concern is, I couldn’t get him to eat. I don’t want to keep trying in case that stresses him out even more. He has a bit of labored breathing, but I truly believe it’s from stress. So I’m trying everything I can to help calm him. His enclosure is about 98% blocked by the tapestry fabric. I’m not sure if this is the right thing to do, but I didn’t want him too over stimulated.

I know his temps aren’t exactly where they need to be yet. But there’s not too much I can do for that, but give his enclosure time to heat up / wait for my moss and coconut fiber to arrive:
Hot side bottom of the tank: 82 F with 55 humidity.
Middle of tank on the top: 87 F and 50 humidity.
Cool side of the tank: 75 F and 53 humidity.
I live in a desert so getting humidity up is a challenge.

I have attached pics of my set up. Please please help.


Some pictures of the snake would help everybody, just to get an idea of how bad he is.


One thing that’s extremely important is any thing that puts out heat must be plugged into a thermostat. The red light at night should not be necessary if you have two heat mats

I would try to leave him alone and let him acclimate to his new environment for at least a week. Unless his condition is critical in which case pictures of him would be very helpful.


I have added some. Please let me know if more are needed. Thank you so much.


He looks like he’s a good weight. I wouldn’t worry about him not eating for 3 days. ball pythons are notorious for going off food. I would leave him alone for a week to let him acclimate then try offering food.


Can you please link (or show me a picture) of what kind of thermostat? Do I need all new mats? How did
I put them on a thermometer? (I’m sorry for the dumb questions)

His heat mat on the bottom of his cage is covered by a heavy rock. Which is also for a 30-40 gallon tank I believe mine is bigger. But the one for a 50-60 gallon one didn’t fit (I tried) and there was no mat I could find for a 40-50 from ZooMed (I didnt want to buy some off brand that could be bad and I don’t know any better)
The heating pad on the back is much smaller and isn’t really too useful (I don’t think). I put it there because he’s by a window (trust me, my house is cramped and it’s the only suitable spot for him I won’t put him in the garage). I live in a very cold, yet very dry state. So being by the window is cold (bad windows) so I put the back one on there just to counter the windows turning the glass ice cold. But I’m not sure if it does much else.

As for the red light, my house gets to about 66 F at night, my thermostat can be at dang near 80 and my living room will be cold even for a human. So I keep it at 72 but it still gets to like 66 at night if that. So I thought the red light would be good to help keep the temp right. But I’ll be sure to pay attention until I have a thermostat.

Thank you for all the help!!!


There is no such thing as a dumb question!

As for thermostats I use a few types. And you should not need new heat mats.
Zoo Med ReptiTemp RT-600 Digital Thermostat Controller, Black
This one has worked very well for heat mats and is very affordable. You would just plug the thermostat into the wall and the heat mat into the thermostat.
My snakes usually burrow and move all the substrate so I put the probe directly on the heat mat outside of the tank.

I would move the rock and put a hide directly over the heat mat. Only after the heat mat is on a thermostat. Heat mats can get insanely hot when not regulated.
And a thermostat is needed for both heat mats no matter how small.

As long as it doesn’t get into the 50s at night the heat mats should be sufficient and the red light is not needed. Red lights can also throw off their day/night cycle. So I wouldn’t recommend them for at night.

A temp gun is also very helpful if you don’t already have one.


For the most part the tank looks good. Is the tank in a busy area? If it is I would move it to a quieter area. I would recommend covering the back and sides instead of the entire thing. For covering I’d recommend cardboard as long as it doesn’t get too hot. I would remove the fabric since it looks like a fire hazard. You can replace it with aluminum foil on the screen (it will help hold in humidity and might make it more secure). If you switch to coconut fiber it might hold humidity better. But, wait to do that until he’s had a couple of meals. More cover inside the tank can never hurt but what you have is okay. When you say the middle of the tank on the top, does that mean at the very top of the tank or as high as the snake can get? How are you checking the temperatures? An infrared temperature gun is the only reliable way to check temperatures. For now leave the snake alone without attempting to feed, handling, or other unnecessary disturbing. After a week attempt to feed and whether or not he eats, (attempt to) feed him again in 5-9 days.
In addition to the heat mats you will also need a thermostat for the heat bulbs. There are likely less expensive options but the most common thermostats used are vivarium electronics and herpstat. To use the thermostat plug the heat source into it and then put the temperature probe right in front of the bulb. Since you’re using a thermostat it might be easier to use a ceramic heat emitter (CHE) and a UV light instead of multiple bulbs.


Honestly his weight is fine. I wouldn’t personally have a small hatchling like this in such a big open tank. It makes them more likely to be stressed and not eat. Get a small tub and set him up in a proper quarantine with paper towels, leave him alone for a week or two, and try feeding a live mouse hopper.

Here is a link to a thread for this kind of issue.


Thank you all so much for your help.

I will need to research quarantine more. I have no idea what that is.

Do you have any other reptiles? If you do then you need to quarantine this snake away from them. If you don’t you don’t have to worry about it.

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I do not.
I have other animals but they are dogs and cats.

Thank you for the info!


Thank you thank you!

One more not stupid question :joy:

Where the heck do I put the metal probe thingy for a lamp? It says to use it by the heat source…but I’m no magician the probe doesn’t magically float to the top of the tank so I have absolutely no idea how to make this work.

Thank you thank you.

Actually one more as well.

How do I know I still have enough ventilation?

My temps and humidity stayed at great levels last night, but now I’m worried the humidity stayed cause there is no air.

For a lamp you will need a pulse proportional thermostat so the light doesn’t go on and off constantly, such as the ve200
(Vivarium Electronics VE-200 Thermostat for sale)
I would put the probe directly under the lamp on top of the basking spot. So if you put the rock under the lamp you would put the probe on top of the rock.
Just don’t use anything like tape to secure the probe. you don’t want it to stick to the snake.

For humidity as long as you have part of the screen uncovered you will have enough air.
Foil or plastic sheet protectors work well for keeping in humidity. I would try covering 50% of the screen and if that’s not keeping enough humidity try 75%.


You have been an absolute life saver.

However, I cannot afford $120 right now. I’ve spent about $600 over the last 5 days. Which will be credit card debt I’ll be paying off for awhile. (Not a complaint, I’ll spend what I need to make this little guy healthy), but I’m recently a new mom (not to make light, but the kid was also a “rescue” :joy:)

So between a surprise 2 year old coming into my care and this little guy I’m strapped for cash at the moment as it all kinda just happened at once and I wasn’t ready or expecting either to happen.

Is this something you’d absolutely tell me to buy? Is it okay to wait about a month before purchasing? I am at my house 24/7 so I’m constantly near the tank to keep an eye on things.

Thank you thank you.

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I totally get that! If you have two heat mats you really shouldn’t need a basking light anyway. so I would keep it unplugged and then if you decide you want to use it later you can get a thermostat. But it can not be in use without a thermostat.

Oh btw did you name your little guy?

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I have a really hard time getting the temps above 77 without the use of the heat lamp. I do have some of those Exo-terra 3D foam backgrounds in the cart to help keep humidity and temps better. I may be doing something wrong as I cannot even get the hot side to 90 with the heat lamp. This may be inaccurate though because I don’t have laser temp gun yet (again it’s in the cart) I have 3 digital thermometers. One on the hot side measuring the temp on the bottom of the tank, one on the cold side again at the bottom. And then I have one in the middle of the tank at the top to measure Ambient temps. Now these digital thermometers were given to me (still in the packages unopened) from the people I got the snake from. They are from ZooMed.

And yes we did! His name is Atlas. His patterns are beautiful and reminded us of an old map of the world, he’s been through a lot and therefore we believe he carries the world on his back. Hence, Atlas. :heart::heart::heart:

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As long as it’s getting to the desired temp inside the hide you should be ok. Chances are he’ll spend most of the day in the hide anyway. But also you probably won’t be able to know the exact temp until you get the temp gun. Any local hardware store should have them if you don’t want the extra wait from ordering one.
From what I’ve seen most of the digital thermometers can be inaccurate I use them mostly for humidity levels and use the temp gun for accurate temps.

I love the name!! I have an atlas as well! This is him he’s a Patel pied and should be a first time father this year.


Oh also the exo terra backgrounds won’t really help with humidity. but will more so help with making atlas feel more secure they may also help with the cold from the window. You mentioned you were getting moss, that’s what will help more so. Mixing some in with the substrate should help and you can put some in the hides.