Traveling with your pet Ball Python

A recent post in our ball python forum prompted me to write a blog about this topic. It’s very cold now so it’s natural to wonder how to correctly transport your ball python in such harsh weather. The task is a bit easier if you’re traveling by car opposed to flying. The process that I’ll discuss will work well with traveling by car or flying but flying is trickier because airlines have certain rules and regulations that apply to reptiles. You have to check with your airline to see if you can transport your ball python as cargo.

How to properly pack your ball python
You should have the following items in preparation for packing a ball python for transport:

1. Cardboard box large enough to comfortably house your ball python.
2. Sheets of Styrofoam lining that can be purchased from Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart or from a similar retailer.
3. Heat packs
4. Soft pillow case
5. Plastic tie wraps
6. Newspaper
7. Packing tape
8. Razor blade or comparable cutting tool. Seek adult supervision if you’re a minor.

You need to cut the Styrofoam so it will fit comfortably within the cardboard box.

Styrofoam sheets for packing a ball python
Styrofoam sheets

Make sure you cut out six pieces that will be placed on the bottom, the sides and the top. You’re effectively making a Styrofoam box within the cardboard box.

Packing a ball python
Box and Styrofoam sheets

Once you’ve assembled your box, you need to secure the ball python in a soft pillowcase using plastic tie wraps. You can actually tie off the pillowcase in a knot if you’d like but you need to make sure it’s very tight so your ball python can’t escape. Plastic tie wraps will pretty much guarantee a secure locking mechanism that will prevent your ball python from getting out of the pillowcase. Before tying off the end of the pillowcase, place a sheet of paper towel in with your ball python. This will help soak up any urine if your ball python decides to relieve itself during transit.

Plastic tie wraps to secure your ball python
Plastic tie wraps

Before placing your ball python in the box, place ample sheets of crumbled newspaper in the box to help further insulate the box and provide a nice soft cushion during transport. You need to add one single heat pack to the box that will generate heat and keep your ball python nice and warm during travel if it’s cold outside. When using a heat pack, wrap it in a sheet of newspaper before placing it in the box. DO NOT place the heat pack in the box directly without first wrapping it in a sheet of newspaper because the surface temperature of the heat pack can often exceed 100 degrees Farenheit.

I sell 40-hour heat packs in 5-pack bundles for $14.95 + $5.95 S/H within the United States. Either phone or email me if you need one or more 5-pack bundles of 40-hour heat packs. You can also PayPal $19.90 to [email protected] and we’ll send your 5-pack bundle of 40-hour heat packs to you at once. On a side note, heat packs are also good to have in the event that your power shuts off due to extremely cold weather conditions. You can place a heat pack in with your ball python while the power is off and since they’re 40-hour heat packs, it will provide heat for upwards of 2 days while the electricity is out!

Heat packs for ball pythons
=Heat packs for ball pythons

Your ball python is now packed for transport and there’s a heat source in there as well so it’s good to go. You just need to add the top layer of Styrofoam, close and seal up the cardboard box and you’re done! Your ball python can now be safely transported with you.

Happy traveling! :)

Money Wasting Products for Ball Pythons

I’m sure you’ve browsed the reptile aisle in your favorite reptile supply store and noticed some products designed for snakes and ball pythons in particular. I won’t post photos of or name products directly as I don’t want to be sued by any companies that manufacture such products but I will speak honestly about these products nevertheless.

It’s very easy for a new ball python owner to see a product on the shelf and think it’s necessary for their beloved pet. Some products are good and are in fact necessary whereas other products are worthless and what I consider “Money Wasting Products for Ball Pythons”. Lets take a look at some products that you might consider buying from you favorite supply store.

Ball Python Shed Helper
The product isn't called "Ball Python Shed Helper" but its purpose is to help your ball python shed. This product is a complete waste of money because your ball python will shed completely on its own as long as the humidity is correct (see Old Man Winter Brings Humidity Problems for more information on this subject). You can also soak your ball python in warm water with a teaspoon of mineral oil to achieve the same results that this product claims to offer for a fraction of the cost.

This product goes in our money wasting products for ball python’s trashcan.

Money Wasting Products for Ball Pythons trash can
Money Wasting Products for Ball Pythons trash can

Ball Python Multivitamins
Here’s another product that sounds good and beneficial for your ball python but it too is a complete waste of money. Your ball python will receive an ample supply of vitamins and calcium directly from the rodents it consumes. If you breed your own rodents, make sure you feed them high-quality rodent food that’s jam-packed with vitamins and nutrients (see How to Save Money on Feeder Rodents). These nutrients will be passed directly to your ball python so make sure you feed your rodents the best quality of food available to them.

This product goes in our money wasting products for ball python’s trashcan.

Money Wasting Products for Ball Pythons trash can
Money Wasting Products for Ball Pythons trash can

UV Spectrum Bulbs
These types of bulbs are a “must have” for certain types of reptiles but are a complete waste of money for ball pythons. Ball pythons are nocturnal animals that usually sleep during the day and are most active at night so UV bulbs are useless. Ball pythons don’t absorb vitamins from the UV spectrum, as do other reptiles that require UV spectrum bulbs like bearded dragons and the like.

This product goes in our money wasting products for ball python’s trashcan.

Money Wasting Products for Ball Pythons trash can
Money Wasting Products for Ball Pythons trash can

What’s NOT a Waste of Money Then?
I wrote a blog entitled Setting up an Environment for your Hatchling Ball Python that pretty much sums up what you’ll need for a ball python. If you see a product that you’re thinking about buying for your ball python, post some information about it in our Ball Python forum first before buying it. We’ll take a look at it and let you know if we recommend it or if it’s just another money wasting product for ball pythons.

Time to empty out the trash now…See you at the next blog! :)

Emptying the Money Wasting Products for Ball Pythons trash can
Emptying the Money Wasting Products for Ball Pythons trash can

Old Man Winter Brings Humidity Problems

Old man winter is back again and he’s causing a lot of stir in our forums regarding the lack of humidity and what one can do to help increase humidity levels. Humidity is always a hot topic during the winter season because humidity levels oftentimes drop drastically during this chilling season. Before I talk about ways to help increase humidity, I need to first explain what humidity is.

Old man winter
Old man winter

What is humidity?
Humidity is nothing more than the presence of water vapors in gas. Water molecules move independently of one another and are suspended in gas. The number of water molecules present in gas can be expressed as humidity. When the air is warm, as during the summer season for instance, gas increases its capacity to hold more water vapor. When old man winter comes knocking on your front door, he brings with him colder air and as a result of this cold air, gas loses its capacity to store as much water vapors as it does during warmer seasons.

Water molecules in gas
Water molecules in gas

Why is humidity relevant to my ball python?
When the air surrounding a ball python does not contain enough water molecules or humidity it becomes very dry. Ball pythons thrive when the overall ambient humidity levels are at least 65%. Lowered humidity levels contain less water molecules and the reduction of water molecules creates a problem during the shed cycle.

Low humidity will cause ball pythons to have very dry and incomplete sheds with patches of dry shed stuck to their scales. Leftover shed can be a serious problem if left over the eye-caps and possibly the tip of the tail so it’s very important to make sure the humidity in a ball pythons’ tank is at least 60-65%. Low humidity not only affects ball pythons, it affects us as well. Chapped lips in human’s increases substantially during the winter season because the air is cold and dry which causes many peoples lips to dry and flake. This is due largely to dehydration caused by the lack of humidity or water molecules in the air.

Incomplete or poor ball python shed
Incomplete or poor ball python shed

How can I help raise the humidity in my ball pythons’ tank?
We have an arsenal of anti "Old Man Winter" tools available to us in our toolbox. Lets take a look at just a few tools that we can use to help raise the humidity in a ball python’s tank:

Do-it-yourself humidifier: You can build a very inexpensive humidifier that will help increase the water molecules or humidity in your ball pythons’ tank. In a nutshell, the air-stone submerged in the water causes tiny droplets of water vapors to fill the inner chambers of the bottle thus creating high humidity within the bottle. This humid air is then forced out of the bottle and into your ball pythons’ tank. Many thanks to Reptile Evolutions for this useful homemade solution and to Deb, one of our wonderful forum moderators for the link to this project.

List of supplies:
· Drill
· Silicone
· Hose
· Pump (Pump shown is designed for 30 to 60 gallon tank)
· 2 Liter Soda Bottle or similar
· Air stone and blade (not shown)

Steps:

1. Cut two lengths of hose. One for cap to tank, one for pump to bottle. Drill hose sized holes into one cap and one into the side of the bottle, about 5 inches from the top.

Step 1

2. Insert tank hose into cap, then silicone for airtight seal. Insert pump hose into side, feed through top, install air stone, feed back down to bottom. Silicone around side hole.

Step 2

3. When silicone is dry, fill about half way with water.

Step 3

Finished product. Put the reservoir someplace hidden, feed the hose from cap down into tank and place where desired, turn on pump. For increased humidity, use a smaller bottle or raise the water level. A larger hose to the tank, or more than one hose works as well. A half bottle keeps a 30-gallon's humidity at 55%. For more humidity, put a sponge inside reservoir. It will cause more humidity to build up inside, instead of the air escaping out hose without being properly saturated.

Cypress Mulch: Cypress mulch is an excellent substrate to use as it has tremendous water retention properties. Many other substrates tend to dry out fast but Cypress mulch holds a good amount of water and this water helps increase humidity levels in a tank.

Cyprus mulch
Cypress mulch

Hide-box and Sphagnum moss: You can place a small Rubbermaid or Sterilite type plastic container in a ball pythons’ tank and fill it partially with sphagnum moss. You may have to cut a hole in the container that’s large enough for your ball python to enter. Please be very careful cutting the container and seek the help of a parent or guardian first if you’re a minor.

Your ball python can voluntarily enter the hide-box if it needs the extra humidity, especially when it’s in its shed cycle. Although sphagnum moss has great excellent water retention properties, you will have to mist or spray it with water from time to time so it doesn’t dry out.

Sphagnum moss
Sphagnum moss

Larger water bowl: Using a larger water bowl and placing it near the hot spot in your ball pythons’ tank can do wonders for increasing the humidity. The water is warmed, thus causing it to evaporate and this evaporation aids with increasing the water molecules or humidity in the surrounding air. You might have to cover a portion of the top of the tank to help keep in some of this humid air. What’s the point of increasing the humidity if it’s escaping through the top of the tank and not sticking around long enough?

Large dog water bowl
Large dog water bowl

Better prepared for Old Man Winter
I’ve shared with you just a few tools from our toolbox of how to increase the humidity in your ball python’s tank. You're invited to read my blog entitled Dealing with Poor Ball Python Sheds for more help on this topic. Feel free to visit our forum for many more tips and secrets on a variety of methods and techniques used to increase humidity during this cold winter season.

See you in the forums and put a jacket on, it's getting cold out there! :)

Seasons Greetings

Holiday Greetings and best wishes for a very Happy New Year 2007 to our ball python lovers and readers alike!

Thank you for stopping by the blog - here's to a terrific 2007!

ball python breeder wishes you a happy seasons greetings

Seasons greetings to you and yours from your friends at RCReptiles.com :)

Fear of Snakes Drove Pre-Human Evolution

An evolutionary arms race between early snakes and mammals triggered the development of improved vision and large brains in primates, a radical new theory suggests.

The idea, proposed by Lynne Isbell, an anthropologist at the University of California, Davis, suggests that snakes and primates share a long and intimate history, one that forced both groups to evolve new strategies as each attempted to gain the upper hand.

To avoid becoming snake food, early mammals had to develop ways to detect and avoid the reptiles before they could strike. Some animals evolved better snake sniffers, while others developed immunities to serpent venom when it evolved. Early primates developed a better eye for color, detail and movement and the ability to see in three dimensions—traits that are important for detecting threats at close range.

Humans are descended from those same primates.

Scientists had previously thought that these traits evolved together as primates used their hands and eyes to grab insects, or pick fruit or to swing through trees, but recent discoveries from neuroscience are casting doubt on these theories.

"Primates went a particular route," Isbell told LiveScience. "They focused on improving their vision to keep away from [snakes]. Other mammals couldn't do that. Primates had the pre-adaptations to go that way."

Harry Greene, an evolutionary biologist and snake expert at Cornell University in New York, says Isbell's new idea is very exciting.

"It strikes me as a very special piece of scholarship and I think it's going to provoke a lot of thought," Greene said.

Isbell's work is detailed in the July issue of the Journal of Human Evolution.

timber rattlesnake
Venomous Timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus horridus)

A new weapon

Fossil and DNA evidence suggests that the snakes were already around when the first mammals evolved some 100 million years ago. The reptiles were thus among the first serious predators mammals faced. Today, the only other threats faced by primates are raptors, such as eagles and hawks, and large carnivores, such as bears, large cats and wolves, but these animals evolved long after snakes.

Furthermore, these other predators can be safely detected from a distance. For snakes, the opposite is true.

"If you see them close to you, you still have time to avoid them," Isbell said. "Primate vision is particularly good at close range."

Early snakes killed their prey using surprise attacks and by suffocating them to death—the method of boa constrictors. But the improved vision of primates, combined with other snake-coping strategies developed by other animals, forced snakes to evolve a new weapon: venom. This important milestone in snake evolution occurred about 60 million years ago.

"The [snakes] had to do something to get better at finding their prey, so that's where venom comes in," Isbell said. "The snakes upped the ante and then the primates had to respond by developing even better vision."

Once primates developed specialized vision and enlarged brains, these traits became useful for other purposes, such as social interactions in groups.

Seeing in 3D

Isbell's new theory could explain how a number of primate-defining traits evolved.

For example, primates are among the few animals whose eyes face forward (most animals have eyes located on the sides of their heads). This so-called "orbital convergence" improves depth perception and allows monkeys and apes, including humans, to see in three dimensions. Primates also have better color vision than most animals and are also unique in relying heavily on vision when reaching and grasping for objects.

One of the most popular ideas for explaining how these traits evolved is called the "visual predation hypothesis." It proposes that our early ancestors were small, insect eating mammals and that the need to stalk and grab insects at close range was the driving force behind the evolution of improved vision.

Another popular idea, called the "leaping hypothesis," argues that orbital convergence is not only important for 3D vision, but also for breaking through camouflage. Thus, it would have been useful not only for capturing insects and finding small fruits, but also for aiming at small, hard-to-see branches during mid-leaps through trees.

But there are problems with both hypotheses, Isbell says.

First, there is no solid evidence that early primates were committed insectivores. It's possible that like many primates today, they were generalists, eating a variety of plant foods, such as leaves, fruit and nectar, as well as insects.

More importantly, recent neuroscience studies do not support the idea that vision evolved alongside the ability to reach and grasp. Rather, the data suggest that the reaching-and-grasping abilities of primates actually evolved before they learned to leap and before they developed stereoscopic, or 3D, vision.

Agents of evolutionary change

Isbell thinks proto-primates—the early mammals that eventually evolved into primates—were in better position compared to other mammals to evolve specialized vision and enlarged brains because of the foods they ate.

"They were eating foods high in sugar, and glucose is required for metabolizing energy," Isbell said. "Vision is a part of the brain, and messing with the brain takes a lot of energy so you're going to need a diet that allows you to do that."

Modern primates are among the most frugivorous, or "fruit-loving," of all mammals, and this trend might have started with the proto-primates. "Today there are primates that focus on leaves and things like that, but the earliest primates may have had a generalized diet that included fruits, nectar, flowers and insects," she said.

Thus, early primates not only had a good incentive for developing better vision, they might have already been eating the high-energy foods needed to do so.

Testing the theory

Isbell says her theory can be tested. For example, scientists could look at whether primates can visually detect snakes more quickly or more reliably than other mammals. Scientists could also examine whether there are differences in the snake-detecting abilities of primates from around the world.

"You could see whether there is any difference between Malagasy lemurs, South American primates and the African and Asian primates," Isbell said.

Anthropologists have tended to stress things like hunting to explain the special adaptations of primates, and particularly humans, said Greene, the Cornell snake expert, but scientists are starting to warm to the idea that predators likely played a large role in human evolution as well.

"Getting away from things is a big deal, too," Greene said in a telephone interview.

If snake and primate history are as intimately connected as Isbell suggests, then it might account for other things as well, Greene added.

"Snakes and people have had a long history; it goes back to long before we were people in fact," he said. "That might sort of explain why we have such extreme attitudes towards snakes, varying from deification to "ophidiphobia," or fear of snakes.

Source: Ker Than