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08:19:42;06 D Bill Horneck says, "Okay walk me through what elements we have here to create the habitat for a Ball Python." Ron Dupont says, "Well when you set something up you have to think natural. What makes the snake most comfortable. If you really love the snake you want to do things right. Love means seeking the other individuals attention or what pleases him most so we'd want to have the right size tank, we'd want to have a good sub straight so he feels comfortable when crawling, remember they're a terrestrial animal, they stay under ground most of the time. Then you have to provide a source of heat depending on what part of the country you're from. If you're from up north and it's very cold you might need a little more heat or a different type of heat. If you're down in South Florida you need less heat and again a different type of heat and you want to make sure your lighting is correct. That's very important. Then of course their diet and for instance a dish like this with a rough edge on it, very important. It feels good to the snake and it's like his natural habitat. And of course they want to be dry. You could provide water but you want to keep the cage dry at all times and as clean as possible. And even with the best equipment available, they still have to get out in the sun at least once a week and get direct sun. It can be through plastic or glass but it has to be direct." Bill Horneck says, "Okay. Why don't we do this. You take the baby and now why don't you guide me. I'm a new Ball Python owner. We have everything we need here so why don't you direct me." Ron Dupont says, "Alright. We'll start with the sub straight. We'll put the sub straight in the bottom." Bill Horneck says, "And what is this sub straight." Ron Dupont says, " This is a type of hard wood chip that's been processed. It's absorbent and that helps pull the moistures if the animal happens to go to the bathroom." 01067
08:21:40;21 D Bill Horneck says, "Okay so what is this sub straight made out of Ron?" Ron Dupont says, "It's a type of hard wood chip. You could use this or there's many other types that you could use. The only caution when you feed the animal you don't want him ingesting different particles. So usually we feed them in a separate tank or perhaps in the bath tub or something like that. But we don't want him to be eating the sub straight no more than we would want him eating dirt if they were out in the wild." Bill Horneck says, "Okay. Is a Ball Python a burrowing animal. Will he burrow in this?" Ron Dupont says, "Yes they like to burrow and they like to hide and we are going to talk about that in just a few minutes when we get to the hiding places. They do like to burrow and look around and search and that's what makes a Ball Python happy. They're always flicking their tough out picking up particles and depositing them in a Jacobsons (check spelling) organ in the roof of their mouth. That tells them what things feel like, smell like, taste like and it's a combination of these different items that make them happy. They feel secure. They understand where they are and that's why it's good to hold a Ball Python and if he wants to put his tongue all over you, that's fine. He needs to pick up signals from you as well as his home." 01067
08:22:53;07 D Bill Horneck says, "Okay so what's next?" Ron Dupont says, "Well the next thing I think we would do is put a water bowl in one corner. And we always do this opposite the heat source. So whatever side we put that on we'll put the heat source on the opposite end. The reason for this is we try and create a heat gradient. If you create a heat gradient the animal can make a choice. They're programmed by instinctive wisdom. And what happens is if they get to hot they know turn and go the other way. But if you have the heat source in the middle or all across the bottom or all across the top they have no place to go; they'll panic. So having it on one end, they have a choice. If they get to cool they come back to the warm area. If they get to warm, they'll turn go to the cool area." Bill Horneck says, "Okay and then what would we add?" 01067
08:23:42;00 D Ron Dupont says, "The next thing I think we'll do is we'll go ahead and add a heat source. We'll use a heating pad. And we'll put this again opposite the water bowl and we'll..." Bill Horneck says, "This is, obviously it's plugged into standard..." Ron Dupont says, "Standard outlet here in America and it stays on all the time. It usually gives heat of about 100 degrees Fahrenheit and after it transfers through the glass it's about 90 degrees and then the sub straight picks up a few more degrees from that, it ends up at a very comfortable temperature. An alternate source would be a bulb from above sometimes that's good, sometimes it's not, or a heating stone. Now a lot of heating stones are called "sizzle stones" or "hot rocks" and it sounds like they're really to warm. Make sure the warming device that you buy that is in the shape of a stone ends up at 100 degrees Fahrenheit. That's what it should be. Anything higher than that is too warm for the animal. At 100 degrees we've never seen burning and again that should be opposite the water. But this time we're using a heating pad." 01067
08:24:55;13 D heat pad added to Ball Python Habitat 01067
08:25:09;28 D Bill Horneck says, "Ok, so now we have our sub straight, we have our water dish, we have a heat source. And then what?" Ron Dupont says, "Well, the next thing we're going to do is a hiding place. You can use one made out of stone or some other material or wood. Wood is very natural. They like the feel of it and they like to rub against it when they're doing they're shedding. Now this one is to small for this animal, you need a bigger one like this. Which means you would need a bigger aquarium, and obviously he would. But for this size snake, this is absolutely perfect for him, and they need to be able to hide. In the wild they hide under roots of trees, holes in the ground, under rocks, stumps and things like that. They feel very, very secure. And if you look at a ball python very closely, you can probably see it better on this one, they have little holes in the top of their jaw. Those are heat sensors. They can detect 1/500th of 1 degree Fahrenheit. As a human we have trouble feeling the difference between 1 degree Fahrenheit, but they can break it down to 500 parts and feel the difference. They use that when they're hiding. They curl up and then face the entrance and if something like a rodent walks by, and gives a heat signal they'll pick it up. Snakes don't have eyelids, so the way they sleep is they go into a trance and they slow down. But when they pick up the heat signal, the tongue will come out and pick up particles, put it in the roof of the mouth, which is the Jacobsons organ, and it will tell them it's a rodent. Then the whole body goes into action and they start the classic "S" shape and slowly move towards the animal. And the head will go from left to right picking up heat signals and in complete darkness they can find the animal dead center. They know the range and exactly where he's positioned. So it's very important the you give them a hiding place so they feel like their at home." 01067
08:27:02;03 D Bill Horneck says, "Most of the time when we feed a ball python, will he capture his pry outside and then bring it into the hide?" Ron Dupont says, "No. Usually they smell the animal, follow the animal and where ever they constrict the animal that's where they are going to consume it." Bill Horneck says, "OK. So now we have a hide, we have our substrate, we have our water dish, we have our heat source, we have a screen left, and we have a hood." Ron Dupont says, "OK. The hood is our lighting source. Of course the screen cover would be on and then the hood would go across the top. And it can be either positioned towards the front or the back. This is a good one from Zilla. It has 3 different bulbs in it. It has a basking bulb. It also has a regular ultra violet A bulb or an incandescent screw in bulb. And then it has a heat source for night-time or a red bulb. And this makes the snake more comfortable. Now ball pythons are basically crepuscular. Dawn or dusk. Primarily, dusk and they tend to also be nocturnal. They might come out at sunset and roam around for 2 or 3 hours until they find food. After they eat they go right back into their home. He's very interested now, in this young snake. He says, "Oh something different." You can see him tasting. He's picking up different signals. That helps him to understand. We have glands on our forearms as humans, that manufacture Vitamin D3, just like they have all down their back. And when they're within a foot of your forearm they pick up signals from us. This helps them to recognize us and this is what makes a ball python happy. Now alot of people, who are experts, recommend don't even touch a ball python for 1 to 3 months till he gets use to his home. I feel different about it. You should instantly pick your ball python up and keep him tame. If you don't, they tend to revert back to the wild because they are programmed by instinctive wisdom. So the best thing to do is pick up a ball python and support them. They are a terrestrial animal, if you pick them up and let them hang, they panic, they get scared and it hurts that long spine. They need support all the time. Whether, curled around my fingers like the little one or across my hands with the big one. You can even let him lay across your forearm it give added support. He's perfectly happy. If he wasn't, he'd be panicking, but you picked him up on a regular basis, support him and be gentle. And remember, they're head shy. They worry about their head, they worry about the tip of their tail,because were they come from, hoof stock can easily crush them. That's why they come out after dark when the hoof stock settles down. So you want to provide that same security, especially when your handling them during the daytime." Bill Horneck says, "What is hoof stock?" Ron Dupont says, "Well, different antelopes, elephants and other animals are also there. And they can get crushed real easy. That's why they wait for them to settle down at night. They pick up vibratations under their chin and in their neck area, and when they feel the vibrations are low, that's when they come out. They usually come out a little bit before dark, so they can manufacture their Vitamin D3 all down thier back in the specialized glands. And vitamin D3 is important because without it they can't absorb calcium. And in cold blooded animals which are called ectotherms, if their blood calcium drops their appetite drops, and sometimes people have them for a year or so, and they say, "He stopped eating." And all you have to do is smell the skin. You can smell a nice musk smell when they've been getting their sunlight and that tells you they're making their Vitamin D3. Very important." 01067