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Hey, From the Mile High City. I have some probably stupid questions for you guys!

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  • Hey, From the Mile High City. I have some probably stupid questions for you guys!

    Hi, I'm Collin, a new member and new owner of 2 great boas. My female (Bonnie) is a Moonglow and my male (Clyde) is a Hypo. Just picked them up on Friday. Had a couple questions for you guys that are probably stupid questions, but anyway, before I post the questions, I have a couple disclaimers:

    Disclaimer 1: I did purchase my boas from a reptile store (I know, I know, shame on me. BUT no one around here really owns snakes that were available in the area that I live.) and was on a tight budget, just until the 29th and am currently housing both boas together. Again, only until the 29th. When I feed them the 26th they will be fed seperately as well.

    Disclaimer 2: Both Bonnie and Clyde coexist wonderfully, sharing the basking spot, a 2 branched grapevine, each one takes an individual branch. They have two hides on each side of the tank, and a water dish on both sides, yet both choose to sleep on top of each other. Both have been kept together in the same enclosure since birth from my understanding, which is limited to what I've been told by the people at the local reptile shop.

    Question 1: I'd like to seperate them but right now all I have is two Sterilite tubs I planned on using for feeding but I'd like to get them separated ASAP. If I use the two Sterilite tubs, how should I go about heating the tubs and making sure they stay humid? At least until Friday when I can get a second tank setup, or would I be alright waiting until Friday to get them separated? Also what could I use for a top to keep them inside of the tubs? (I went full idiot and forgot to get the tops for them, thinking I wouldn't need them)

    Question 2: Are fogger systems ok for my tank? I have literally no other way to create humidity being in the detest place on earth. I tried spraying the tank heavily but within 2 hours it would be down to 30% again and that was only getting up to about 50% max. The fogger system gets it up to a solid 75%, but could it cause any respiratory problems?

    Question 3: My ceramic heater heats the hot side up to a solid and steady 95°, is this ok? I know another thread said 90-93° would 2 degrees make a difference? Or should I step down to a 60 watt with an under tank pad?

    I think that covers most of my newcomer questions for right now, but if I think of any more I'll make sure to post them above!

  • #2
    Re: Hey, From the Mile High City. I have some probably stupid questions for you guys!

    Hey Colin! Welcome to the Forums! I moved you post so that it will get more eyeballs!

    First and foremost, I have to recommend that you check out the Ultimate Care Guide! It's a great starting point to help you learn to care for these amazing animals!

    I'm gonna start with the questions.

    1) A lot of keepers use Sterilite tubs. They actually work pretty well. For heat, you need some Flexwatt heat tape connected to a thermostat that can hold the temp at 90 degrees. A thermostat is the single most important piece of equipment you will ever buy and I can not recommend enough that you get a good one.
    Originally posted by Moonglow13 View Post
    Also what could I use for a top to keep them inside of the tubs?
    Get the tubs with locking tops.

    2) Humidity of 50-55% is your target. You'll have more success doing that once you eliminate two things. Glass tanks and bulb style heaters. (Lights and ceramic.) Fixing problem one solves problem two. No fogger necessary.

    Originally posted by Moonglow13 View Post
    My ceramic heater heats the hot side up to a solid and steady 95°
    3) This is too hot.

    See above.

    Get them separated ASAP.
    Originally posted by Moonglow13 View Post
    Both Bonnie and Clyde coexist wonderfully, sharing the basking spot
    They're not sharing, they're competing. Boas are not social creatures. They generally only seek each other out for breeding. Just because they're not fighting, doesn't mean they're not stressed by the other's presence.

    Last, but not least, post some pics! We love to see new babies!

    -Sean in NoCal
    “Americanism means the virtues of courage, honor, justice, truth, sincerity, and hardihood – the virtues that made America.”
    -Teddy Roosevelt.


    • #3
      Re: Hey, From the Mile High City. I have some probably stupid questions for you guys!

      It sounds like they aren't too stressed being together currently so I think they should be fine together until you can get the new tank set up. Do not feed them until a week (7 days minimum) after putting them in their new cages. They will be fine going a couple weeks without food. Boas tend to stay in feed mode for up to 8 hours after feeding and they can be snake eaters and the air will smell like food. Since they are probably the same size, that shouldn't be an issue but no reason to tempt injury.

      Foggers should help. I believe they have a way to set the humidity? If they have that option, set it to 60%. I don't think 75% will cause any respiratory infections, but it might cause other problems like mold. 70-80% during the sheds is fine. If the tops of the tanks are mesh, you may want to get a sheet of plastic big enough to cover the entire top and drill holes through it for ventilation and a hole big enough for the ceramic heater. That will help hold in humidity and heat.

      Raise the ceramic heater a few inches to lower the temperature of the hot spot. At 95 there is a chance for them to overheat and take neurological damage from what I've been told. When they get older they will know a little better to avoid it unless everything else is too cold and they have to stay in it for warmth.

      What size tanks are you buying? If you could afford it and have the space you may want to consider buying something to hold their adult size as it will save you money in the long run. Scaling up glass tanks at $100-300 each for the both of them might end up costing $2000 over the next 5 years long run or you can buy adult sized cages now for $200-300 each and spend up to $600 on cages which will last their lifetimes. Up to you. You also don't have to feed outside the tank if you hook train. It is easy to feed in a feeding box now, but when they are 20-40 pounds and in feed mode, that isn't my idea of fun.



      • #4
        Re: Hey, From the Mile High City. I have some probably stupid questions for you guys!

        As far as keeping your snakes together: I know you said this is only temporary, but remember when you feed them just HOW GOOD a snake's sense of smell is. Remember that after they eat, they will each smell
        like FOOD, and boas can stay in "feed mode" (ie. ready to pounce on anything that SMELLS like food) for hours or even days; what I'm saying is that there is always a risk of one snake trying to eat the other, and
        I don't want that to happen to yours. Snakes DO make feeding mistakes, and if 2 equal-sized snakes try to eat one another, it can easily result in the death of both. Just saying...

        I know that snakes can look very cute "cuddled together" but there's a good reason to end the "honeymoon". Also risky is premature breeding. So don't copy what the stores do, these are not their "pets", only
        merchandise that they have no emotional involvement with and far less money invested in them than you. In fact stores may 'do better' in sales when buyers feel sorry for their animals & make sympathy-buys.

        Welcome to the forum, by the way! (and yes, 95* is too hot, and it's far safer for you to feed them in their own regular separate cages than trying to handle them when they're larger & in 'feed mode'! Just try
        to keep them from ingesting substrate- feed on a "plate" & use tongs to offer, not your fingers on the tail- they can easily miss the target, especially when your hand is bigger & warmer, lol.)


        • #5
          Re: Hey, From the Mile High City. I have some probably stupid questions for you guys!

          Copy that, thanks for the info! Since I'm waiting until Friday to feed them anyway, and I'll be getting s new set up for one of them on Friday, I'll feed one and then while I'm waiting for them to finish I'll build the second set up for one. I might switch to Sterilite tubs too and keep the tank for breeding farther down the road, if that'd be a suitable option? I'll definitely take all of these things into consideration and get rid of the heat lamp. Sucks I spent all of the money on that set up, but oh well, trial and error lol. Also I unfortunately don't have the option to spray their enclosures down all the time since my job takes me out to the field from Wednesday until Thursday night, thus being the reason for the fogger. I'll get some pics posted as soon as I can get home from work. Again, the current housing situation is only temporary until Friday, but any and all help/tips I can et during then is much appreciated! Thanks guys!


          • #6
            Re: Hey, From the Mile High City. I have some probably stupid questions for you guys!

            You shouldn't have to either spray or fog your cages if they are set up right. Personally I used (& prefer) a large aquarium for the boa I kept (for 12 years); the reason they "don't hold humidity" is the screen top,
            and with UTH, the heat & air rise up & out of the UNLESS you make some modifications, so does the humidity. The various plastic cages that most here prefer "hold humidity" only because the air-flow is
            GREATLY reduced. Some are only ventilated by the minute spaces around the doors, or others have small holes drilled as well...but nothing like an open screen top on an aquarium. You can have a piece of plexi-glass
            cut to fit over most of the screen top on your tank to accomplish the same thing. And then, use a good-sized water bowl placed near where the UTH (under-tank-heat) is, promoting evaporation within the cage to
            raise the humidity. (other things will work covering the top as's ok to use your imagination, as long as it's safe- plexi-glass is just one of many things some ppl use for this)

            It's your choice... I prefer glass tanks because they don't scratch (like the plastic cages do) and are inert (don't off-gas plastic/chemical odors) AND allow you to see & enjoy your snake. Yes, snakes do need some
            privacy, & that is easy to add by covering the back & sides of the tank with scenery & something to insulate the glass also. (to help hold in the heat) I also use 'hide boxes' for all my snakes, not everyone does.
            Don't think that there is only one way to accomplish proper care of your pets. I do recommend that all heat sources used are controlled by thermostats (or rheostats, in some cases will work too). Another reason
            that many prefer the plastic cages is that it's "easier" for those keeping or breeding numerous animals. But not everyone does think about what works best for you & your plans.

            Not stupid questions at all, incidentally.


            • #7
              Re: Hey, From the Mile High City. I have some probably stupid questions for you guys!

              It isn't your fault about the setup you have. Unfortunately, many places will only tell you one of the more expensive minimum setups out of either ignorance or greed. There are many ways to keep pet snakes and almost all work. They each require different creativity to provide everything our pets need which isn't a lot.

              Like Noelle said, glass tanks can be very easy to maintain and are pretty. With modifications, they are just as viable cages as something specifically built for boas like boaphiles.
              I personally prefer plastic cages because they are significantly lighter than glass tanks and cheaper. I just looked at prices for glass tanks big enough for adult boas and got sticker shock. 4' long $375, 6' long $645, 8' long $3,450. Then again you wouldn't necessarily have to buy new... they don't have to be watertight but you still don't want any liquid urine they might pass dripping on carpet. The largest boaphile that I see looks like it would come out to $1100 with everything it could need plus having to wait 6 months or so for it to be made.


              • #8
                Re: Hey, From the Mile High City. I have some probably stupid questions for you guys!

                Originally posted by Noelle7206 View Post
                You shouldn't have to either spray or fog your cages if they are set up right
                Thanks man. But I tried plexi glass on top and a water bowl on the heated side but it just would not get above 55% at its highest with me spraying. And I will not be able to spray it all the time, with work taking me from 5 am Wednesday mornings to 11pm Thursday night, thus the reason for the fogger. Also living in Denver, our recent highs for humidity have been around 20%. So it's not easy to maintain a constant number for humidity without the fogger. I appreciate the suggestions though. Also I have the back and sides covered with forest pattern wrap for them.


                • #9
                  Re: Hey, From the Mile High City. I have some probably stupid questions for you guys!

                  Better yet. Give me an example of a perfect set up that retains/creates humidity well, as well as heat. What all I'll need (I.e. Tank (with proper size for a 24"), substrate, UTH or Ceramic heater or both, thermostats and humidity meters (sorry, not quite sure what they're called lol), etc.) just every last piece down to the smallest bits. I know everyone's opinion of the perfect set up is going to differ, but any and all suggestions will be considered. And preferably not spending too terribly much money. I have some decent liquid money coming in on Friday, so if I have to completely set up two new enclosures I will. However that's also my Mardi Gras fund so I need to save preferably $2000, so my budget is around $1,000 for both if possible. Whatever I can use from my old set up would be nice to be able to use to save money. Also, any redirects to threads would be nice too, sorry, I'm super new to the site, haven't found all the ins and outs and different threads. Have fun with this as well! Also include decorations into it if you'd like!


                  • #10
                    Re: Hey, From the Mile High City. I have some probably stupid questions for you guys!


                    Sent from my Samsung Note 5 via Tapatalk

                    -Sean in NoCal
                    “Americanism means the virtues of courage, honor, justice, truth, sincerity, and hardihood – the virtues that made America.”
                    -Teddy Roosevelt.


                    • #11
                      Re: Hey, From the Mile High City. I have some probably stupid questions for you guys!

                      Every set-up is different: part of that starts with you & where you live, and what ambient temperatures you keep in your house, or at least in the room where your snake is kept, if it's closed off as a "snake room".
                      My house is kept @ 70* in winter & 82* in summer, for example, & my snakes live throughout all rooms, not separately. Most of my snakes are colubrids now & they do not require so much heat in their cages, but
                      when I had the large BCI (boa) it was the same. Remember summer can be just as challenging to keep your snakes warm enough IF you like a lot of air conditioning as it is in the winter for those with a chilly house.
                      It's hard to "keep heat in" a snake habitat if you're comfortable with a 60* the choices you make have to reflect that.

                      I use all glass tanks w/ wire mesh tops; I've tried a couple plastic Prolines, didn't care for them, so I'll leave the sales pitch to others. (those at least use the 'food safe' plastic, unlike most plastic cages...and keep
                      in mind that plastics may contain all sorts of unhealthy chemicals that are proven to disrupt hormones in humans etc, never mind the tiny snakes that some put in them, & those 'storage bins' are NOT intended for
                      living things AT ALL! Just my 2 cents... )

                      Anyway, with the BCI I kept (& all my snakes) I use 'UTH' (Flexwatt brand); additional heat for the boa came from over-head heat lamps.* Her tank was insulated & for her I used indoor-outdoor carpet (the backless
                      kind- about 1/4"- nylon fibers- comes in natural colors @ various home/hardware stores- cut several so one is always clean & ready for cage change- hand washing them isn't much fun but it's very eco-friendly &
                      saves $ on substrate, as they virtually never wear out- can be disinfected w/ bleach too but rinse well so NO odor remains, it's not good for snakes to breathe...or us!) Carpet won't affect humidity one way or the
                      other, but it's great traction. It wouldn't be on the 'wish list' for snakes that like/need to burrow, but my boa seemed comfortable. (*outside the screen top, never IN the cage!)

                      I custom built her a large hide-box (about 30" long, as wide as the tank & 5.5" tall, water-proofed wood sides & tile-board top...not hard to make!); with UTH under most of the hide, that was heat + security, & on
                      the top I used a new non-skid washable nylon door-mat, again for her traction. With heat from above also, she loved basking on top...basically used the top of this sturdy hide as the "second floor" of her house.
                      Her water bowl was at the end of the UTH, to add humidity. I no longer live in the desert, it's quite humid that's another variable to consider. (heating our houses still sucks a lot of moisture out in winter)

                      I hate to say it but the best way is to experiment with your cage set-ups LONG BEFORE you bring home the occupants...all set-ups need tweaking! We cannot give you an exact 'recipe' need to measure the
                      temps & humidity where you are with what you're using...and many here will say it's all easier with the professional plastic stackable cages they use. That may be, but this is what I like, & I'm just trouble, LOL! I've
                      also been keeping many snakes for many years with success...and I don't want to store them like sweaters either. Like I said, it's all up to you, and sorry, not an easy answer.


                      • #12
                        Re: Hey, From the Mile High City. I have some probably stupid questions for you guys!

                        Lets do the check list:
                        1. Cage
                        2. Heat
                        3. Humidity
                        4. Substrate
                        5. Hides
                        6. Food source
                        7. Water

                        1.The problem with plastics is that you will always have to wait a long time before you can get the cages, so if you wanted to go that route, you will have to have a temporary cage for each of them. I like Animal plastics cages ( because they come flat packed where Boaphile(Plastic Reptile Cages, Tanks and Racks. Snake, arboreal, lizard and turtle light weight custom flexwatt heated enclosures.) cages are one solid unit.
                        Idealy you would go for as large of a cage as you can provide space for. Females will eventually need a minimum of 75"longx24"wide and males will need a minimum of 48"longx24"wide. You can start small and work your way up but that is just money put into cages that you will eventually have to figure out what to do with after. The taller they are is mainly a benefit for you being able to clean it easier. Plastic cages are designed to be stackable so if you get the same size for both, you can put one on top of the other.

                        2. Most people seem to be able to get away with using heat tape for warming up their cages which is easy enough to come by and use. What I've noticed is that if the room gets under 75°F at night, the heat tape alone won't be enough to prevent the cage from getting under 74°F which is where they start to risk chance of respiratory infection. I had to implement a Radiant Heat Panel (RHP) into my cage to heat the air and not a surface so the night temps were safe. RHPs tend to use less energy than ceramic heat bulbs, stay in a safer temp range, and don't burn out as well as not producing any light other than a light to show it is on. Boaphile has an option to include a RHP installed with purchase (probably because it would be a nightmare to install one yourself). With Animal plastics, you have to buy your own. I purchased one from this site (Pro Heat) and it was rather nice because part of their proceedure they don't allow you to buy it directly because they don't want anyone buying the wrong panel and it not working the way it should. They called me and we discussed cage size, material, animal it would hold, and minimum room temperatures. The panel I purchased was $120+shipping, but that was for a 48"x24"x12" cage.
                        With each heating element you have, you need a good thermostat. Herpstats (Temp and Humidity Controllers : Spyder Robotics) are some of the more reliable ones which are still affordable.

                        3. Humidity is usually pretty easy if you have the heat good. Warm air holds humidity better. More surface area means more evaporation. So if humidity is still an issue in the ideal caging, you may want to get a plastic oil pan (file the edges so they aren't sharp) and you can fill it with enough water where they can mostly submerge themselves. That will give them a nice big water pool and it will have lots of evaporation. I currently have a medium dog bowl and a plastic food dish to have enough evaporation. The reason spraying down a cage helps with humidity is because you're soaking the environment allowing all of it to be surface area for evaporation. It really only works if the environment can actually hold water. If you have newspaper as substrate, it can't hold water as well as something like cypress mulch and will dry out faster.

                        4. Substrates are another debated topic (Many of these are). Every accepted substrate has advantages and disadvantages. Newspaper is cheap and easy to clean by wadding it up and throwing it out and laying down a new few layers but water spills or liquid urinations will saturate the entire sheet(s) and everything needs to be replaced and it also doesn't provide much traction for the snakes. Paper towel does not saturate like newspaper and it provides traction but it is more expensive and there is a risk that when feeding, their teeth might catch on it and they might eat it which is extremely dangerous. I use indented kraft paper (Indented Kraft Paper in Stock - ULINE) which is easy to measure, cut, and put in, provides traction, can help hold humidity, but if any blood urine or poop is on it you have to replace the entire thing. Safe mulches each have their pros and cons which are too numerous to list. Mulch in general is easier to clean because you don't have to replace it all every cleaning and some can hold humidity very well. Some mulches have a higher chance for impaction, some have higher chances of molding, etc. All Mulch looks prettier than newspaper or paper towels.

                        5. Hides are important even if your snakes don't use them. Having the option is nice for them. Hides are something you do want to scale up with your snakes because they should be able to touch their backs to the roof and feel nice and enclosed. For reptiles, tight spaces mean safety. Some places make nice plastic ones but they usually don't get big enough for adult boas. Noelle has a great example of a hide she has made in the past which requires some skill in making things. I'm currently using paper bowls with 2 doors cut into each then I'll go to shoe boxes, etc. until he gets to adult size and I'll make one.

                        6. You want a good source of food for your snakes. You probably want to stick to frozen rats of appropriate size which you thaw in water and heat up with warm water to 98°F. We call these Frozen/Thaw (F/T). It is more humane for the rat and there is no risk of injury for your snakes. Boas have such strong feed responses that they will eat them without issues. You might have to jiggle it a little using tongs. While your snakes are small and growing, you might have to stick with local stores for food as it will be hard to predict growth because they will grow as fast as they need to as long as you aren't power feeding which is bad for their health. When your boas get older and you can predict how much food they will need, you can buy online. Buying online is buying large quantities. Some places sell a minimum of 50 rats per size. Everyone here has different opinions on the best feeder source. The best source would be breeding your own rats but that is a feat that not many people would be able to do successfully. If you did that you could be feeding Fresh Killed (FK) prey which you can research if that was any interest to you.

                        7. Water. Snakes need water. I've seen so many places keep snakes without water because they think that snakes don't drink. I've literally had Buddy in my hand drinking.

                        I think that is everything they need. I might have forgotten something. I didn't mention cage cleaning but that shouldn't be too hard. Remove the snakes, spray down with cleaning solution and let sit. Spray down after a while with water and wipe away and let dry. Put back in bedding and snake. The more complex the caging the harder it is to clean.

                        Because you have 2, you might need more than $1000. You could probably stay under $1000 if you only had one. Hopefully you can figure it out.

                        For temporary cages... Any bins with locking lids which they can stretch out in can do. You can even make them locking lids with a drill and 4+ pad locks.

                        You need substrate which could be news paper, thermostats which are listed above, flexwatt tape which someone with more experience with can hopefully recommend better than me, and some dog water bowls. It isn't the prettiest set up but it would work if you are waiting for permanent cages to come in.

                        Oh, and what I was saying before is that you don't want to feed a boa of any age for a week after changing their cages. New environments is stressful and it is best not to feed them until they are comfortable. They can regurgitate from stress and it takes a month to get back their stomach acid. Waiting a week or two is better than having to wait a month.


                        • #13
                          Re: Hey, From the Mile High City. I have some probably stupid questions for you guys!

                          If you want ideas on cage decorations I'll put a couple pictures below of Buddy's cage. I set it up so it would be easy to clean. I've rearranged objects since this picture to his liking.


                          • #14
                            Re: Hey, From the Mile High City. I have some probably stupid questions for you guys!

                            Awesome, thank you Ace! Food and water I'm good on, just needed enclosure info, but thanks anyway! I'll look into all of this and see what i can come up with for a total, but I may be able to keep the cost of Mardi Gras down, even though that doesn't help with right now lol. I would just wait until I got tax returns back but i don't have a rack system right now and idk how long it would take to ship one to here. I leave next Wednesday for NoLa and won't be back until the following Thursday. If I can get a rack on Friday and delivered by Tuesday of next week I'd be able to get it set up with the bare essentials and would be able to get them fed later today or even friday which should allow them at least 4 days to begin digesting the fuzzies before I switch them over to the Temporary rack system next Tuesday or Wednesday morning. Their feeding schedule will be a little out of it for right now, but after i come home from Mardi Gras I'll be able to get them back on a normal feeding schedule every 7 days. Is that ok? Meaning having 9 days between each feeding just for this week and the next and then getting them back onto a normal 7 day feeding schedule when I get back? Also, is there anyone else on here from around the Fort Collins/North Denver area of Colorado?


                            • #15
                              Re: Hey, From the Mile High City. I have some probably stupid questions for you guys!

                              Here's one pic of my Moonglow girl.
                              Attached Files