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Basic Cage Setup
This should serve as basic husbandry information for Boa Constrictors and Pythons. This is, in general, how all of my boid species are setup. There are variations on this setup that may work better for some species.
For our adult and sub-adult snakes, we exclusively use Bush Herp cages, manufactured by Neodesha Plastics. We have tried some of the other major brands and came back to Neodesha. These are the tried and true standard for reptile caging. They are made of a smooth plastic that is easy to clean, durable and free from grooves or ridges that can trap debris. These cages are completely escape proof. I really like the Standard Cage model best because the front leans back. This serves two purposes. First it allows the light from the room to illuminate the cage and secondly the large opening helps with handling uncooperative captives. Our babies are housed in racks that are made of melamine and use lidless rubbermaid drawers. Aquariums will work and for years that is all that we had, but I think it is best to use an enclosure that is designed for a reptile not a fish.
There are several acceptable ways to heat an enclosure. Hot Rocks should never be used, they can cause severe burns because the heat is too concentrated. The best and most widely used method to provide heat is Mylar Heat Tape. Heat tape is the heating source that we use for all of our snakes. We have tried many different ways to affix the tape to the cage. Duct tape or foil tape is commonly used. The problem is that when the tape becomes hot, the adhesive melts and the tape releases. Even with foil tape, it becomes a mess after time. The best way to get the heat under the cage is to just secure it to the shelf that the cage sits on (Pic). This allows you to move cages around without un-plugging heat tape and dragging cords. I place 1/4" x 2" wood strips over the edge of the heat tape and nail the strips to the ply wood rack tops (Pic). Do not allow the nails to penetrate the heat tape. Overlap the edge of the wood strip just over the edge of the tape and put the nails in the part of the wood without the tape under it. Then nail strips of 1/4" x 2" strips down the rest of the shelf. This holds the cage 1/4" off the heat tape and protects the heat tape from the cage rubbing directly on it when the cage is moved. This method also secures the heat tape, but it can be pulled out the back if it needs to be changed for some reason.
A thermostat or a rheostat should be used in conjunction with the heat tape. We use the Helix DBS-1000 Thermostat. The probe should be placed in the center of the cage and allowed to hang down a few inches (Pic). Set the thermostat to 85F. Another method that works well is to place the probe directly on the hot spot in the cage and set the temp on the thermostat to 90-95F. This will allow the snake to always have a place in the cage that is 90-95F. I started placing the probe in the center of the cage at the top because when it is on the cage floor, it gets in the way of cleaning.
Basic Heating Concept
The basic concept to heating a reptile enclosure is to achieve a thermal gradient. Reptiles are cold blooded animals. They rely on their environment to regulate their body temperature. You want to try to allow them to choose their ideal temperature. On a 72" cage I use 2 sections of 2 sheets of 11" tape. This provides a heat pad that is 22" x 24". I place the heat to one side of the cage. So only 22" of the 72" is heated. I want the cage to be around 85F ambient with a warmer side and a cooler side. I think that this provides an ideal environment for most Boas or Pythons. I don't get real particular about the DTH and NTL temps. I think that normal fluctuation in room temps take care of this. Also in the winter the room will be cooler than in the summer, so cooling is provided naturally.
Again, I am providing this information to share what has worked for me. There are other ways to achieve the same goal.