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Old 09-04-2013, 01:48 AM   #1
PhatJared
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Ball Python Vivarium/Terrarium


Hey everyone, I'm new here and I'd like to get some opinions on a terrarium design I've been brewing for a few months. I've got an 85 gallon I plan to use for my 5 foot female ball python, and I really want it to feel natural. I'm talking small decomposing insects, the natural bacteria, etc.

The substrate I want to use is a natural red-orange from a local location to mimic the Ghana soil look. To top it off, I'm going to have some west African grasses and I was wondering if watering and lighting will be enough for the grass, given the soil is properly set up with a drainage layer.

My first step should be the base layer, I grabbed a big bag of clay pebbles to make a false bottom. Based on what I've read, I should have some sort of cloth barrier between that and the soil.

My questions are, how should I go about making the soil I collect safe for my snake? And say I have a huge piece of drift wood...Could I just pour boiling water over it a few times over?

I know this is a lot for a first post, but it's something I've been planning for a while. Any advice would be greatly appreciated
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Old 09-04-2013, 04:09 AM   #2
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Everyone loves pictures, so here's the tank with the center piece
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Old 09-06-2013, 08:11 PM   #3
the_deeb
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This sounds like a nice idea in principle but from my experience with ball pythons it seems like it will be problematic.

How do you plan to deal with cleaning the tank with a soil substrate? The urates probably shouldn't be too bad though I worry they might wreak havoc with your soil chemistry for growing plants. But I would think that defecation would be a nightmare to deal with.

I kept my ball pythons in rubbermaid bins with disposable lab liners. I would remove the liners every time they got soiled and spray down the bin with a bleach solution once a month. Unless you plan to replace the soil every time your snake poops, I don't see how you're going to manage to keep it clean and I would really worry about pathogen accumulation (salmonella).

Also, are you planning to have some sort of water feature to maintain the humidity and allow the snake to soak in? If so, the snake will almost certainly be constantly dragging soil into the water and vice versa, potentially leaving you with a big muddy mess. The snake will probably also constantly be trampling all over your grass which might also be a challenge in getting it to grow.

Sorry to be such a downer, I just want to make sure you've really thought this through. If you've seen my threads on any of my past setups you'll see that I'm generally a big fan of naturalistic enclosures but in the case of ball pythons I really don't think it's very practical.
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Old 09-07-2013, 04:17 AM   #4
PhatJared
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Don't worry man, you're not being a downer. These are all things I've thought about for a good while. I plan on having some bacteria in the soil develop over time, thanks to decomp from some pill bugs and maybe worms...might not be moist enough. The water feature will be a removable thing, a square tub of sorts that i can clean easily. As for the grass, as long as it gets a nice thick clump, she can hide in it and on it and yeah squish some, but it'd still grow. Just...flatter. And there's a cool species called Dymondia that can take quite a bit of weight per square inch. I feel like with the right combination I can give her something nice. She's been on plan aspen for a while and it's just meh. She's 9 and I feel like she's got a ways to go so i might as well give her some class.
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