Thoughts on Gray Tubs vs. Semi-Clear

I’m considering buying a custom rack from a local guy who does racks and caging. I really like the FB40 tub, but I realized that if you were to put solid gray tubs into a plastic rack system, the snakes would be in total darkness except when you opened the tub.

I have multiple ARS racks and I don’t think that it has the same issue since the room lighting enters the tub through the ventilation holes - but in a plastic rack, is it detrimental to the animal to be in total darkness the majority of the time? Yes, there is a slight gap between the top of the tub and the bottom of the shelf above, but is that actually enough?

The FB40 does come in semi-clear, which would resolve this issue, but the semi-clear doesn’t include the cup holder.

I’d really appreciate hearing everyone’s opinion on this. TIA

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I prefer semi-clear, while I know ball pythons are mainly nocturnal, forcing an animal to live in darkness 24/7 rubs me the wrong way. Unfortunately not much research has been done on UV light, circadian rhythms, etc in ball pythons so I don’t have any research to back this up, but I personally like to at least allow my snakes the options to get some natural light if they so desire

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Ball pythons are crepescular so I would go semi clear myself but I know folks have them in opaque bins and they thrive just fine.

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I don’t see why they can’t make a semi clear tub with the water bowl if they own their own molds for the tubs. You might want ask if they can do that or see if anyone else makes a semi clear w/ bowl that will fit their rack system.
Will not hurt to ask.

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I’m with you on this one. We know that ball pythons are not cave dwellers or deep sea animals. We know that they are active at dawn/dusk. Logically it doesn’t seem right to keep them in the dark all the time. I could very well be wrong here but it seems off to me.

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I have a fairly large collection and have a lot of friends who’s collections I get to see. I’m the only one with semi transparent tubs. Took me a couple years to realize, that’s why all my friends ball pythons are jumpy and bitey. They can’t see you (and rarely will) and then you rip gravity out from under them like a psycho jack in the box toy…My snakes are substantially calmer than what I see in dark tubs.

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This is interesting. Thank you!

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My experience has been the opposite my temperaments are still great but they fed* worse once I switched to clear tubs. Took my whole collection 2-3 months to start eating consistently again and I had to switch to live to get them back going.

I still like the idea of at least some light getting in but it definitely wasn’t the smooth transition I thought it would be.

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I know this may be different but originally my boa was in a glass aquarium that have clear glass on all four sides. But since moving him into an enclosure from animal plastics that has glass on only one side. He’s become much more interested in moving around his enclosure and also approaching the glass when there are people in my room. I would say that living in complete darkness would cause stress issues, as well living in something that lets all light can make them feel exposed. I feel there is a healthy medium with the semi transparent bins. but I think @thecrawdfather has is a good point that his animals living in solid walled tubs being transitioned to semi-clear tubs would be a huge shocker to have light in their life. This could be because they felt exposed compared to what they were normally living in (solid tub).

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I am lucky enough to live 15 minutes from ARS Caging facility. I asked the owner of ARS what he recommends for Ball Pythons and he told me that the gray tubs are the ones that he recommends
In his rack system with the vent holes…he sells alot of semi clear for the application you describe where no light can enter.

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Boas and Ball Pythons are adapted to different lifestyles. Professional boa racks have a transparent panel on one side because boas should not be kept without a light cycle.

Boas are diurnal which means they are to be active both day and night.

Ball pythons are primarily nocturnal and so don’t necessarily miss not having a light cycle.

Messing with natural light cycles can affect an animals circadian rhythm which can have damaging physiological and psychological effects. The reason I think there is still a debate about it with ball pythons, is having a daylight cycle seems not affect them negatively (at least in a way we as hobbyists could identify).

The only benefit I’ve seen from it is what I mentioned above. My snakes still eat, poo, shed, and breed. BPs in dark tubs also do that so it’s not exactly a feat :joy:

You’re spot on about your boa and having less glass around it. My first boa used to hit the glass all the time, until I learned how to make him feel secure. I spent a LOT of money for the vet to surgically remove the impacted teeth, put in a drain and relieve pressure on his broken facial bones. He’s still got a jacked up nose and wheezes a little when he breathes hard because you can’t exactly set a snake snoot bone and his teeth protrude on one side much to my frequent discomfort.

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The effect of natural light on ball python circadian rhythm, general health and well being, breeding, etc is something I would really like to see more (or really any studies on). It’s so tough to make some of these husbandry decisions without a lot to go on, and I feel like we just have to extrapolate based on what we know about their behaviors in the wild.

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I think it’s fair to say we can safely infer from the numbers in the hobby that having a light cycle doesn’t disturb the circadian rhythm of ball pythons in any way we could measure, whether light or dark. I’ve seen what happens in several different types of galliformes when exposed to 24 hour light cycles and the decline is rapid and obvious.

If I was disturbing their rhythm by using clear tubs and having a window in the room, I would have noticed many years ago. My females are clockwork when it comes all expected behaviors. With the tools we have in the hobby you could not measure a difference in how ball pythons thrive either with or without a light cycle.

Something that likely plays into this in some way is that ball pythons eyes are designed to perceive UV light in some fashion. In morelia it is accepted that they use that UV perception to follow pheromone trails. Anecdotally I can say it appears to be the same for ball pythons.

On my property a few years ago I built the ‘snake circle’ which is a 20’ circle of woven manzanita branches under the shade of a large elm. There are lots of hides, different substrates, unlimited opportunities to climb, etc. I frequently start ‘gym class’ sessions by allowing one or two females to crawl around first. Much more frequently than I would have ever expected I see scenting behavior, especially from the females. They typically spend the first several minutes moving with their tail curled forward while crawling, scenting. If I place a receptive male on the ground after removing the females, often he will follow the female’s path directly to her first hide. Often it’s easiest to spot with younger females that still are inclined to semi-arboreal behavior, since males will climb to the exact nest of branches where a female had previously been resting. Anecdotal, yes, but I’m fairly certain that what I’m seeing is pheromone trailing and it seems likely that it is visually cued. This all happens in broad daylight

This a great paper, but please understand that to further research, animals are often euthanized for proper examination and data collection.

Photoreceptors and Visual Pigments in the Retina of Ball Pythons

Edit to add link to this paper:
Effects of UV light on Calcium Metabolism in Ball Pythons

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