Maintenance

Page 3

When considering lighting a 12 hours on and 12 hours off is roughly what should be provided with variations on this dependant on the time of year (winter days are slightly shorter than summer days). It is important to never leave white lights on continuously as this can cause stress. Red lights are an option for lighting as they don't disrupt the photoperiod and can be left on permanently to help heat the vivarium although they do mask the colours of the animal. A good idea is to either use some form of timer switch to automatically control the light timings or a switch connected to a photo-sensitive device which will turn the lights on and off depending on what the daylight is doing around you. This does mean you can’t rely on the bulb solely for heat but this is easily overcome with the addition of another heater.

If you are lucky enough to know exactly which island or island group your snake comes from there are resources available online that note daily temperatures, rain levels and how many hours there are with sunlight for the areas you are looking for in particular. This can help eliminate some of the early teething problems with shedding and finding the correct basking temperatures.

Furnishing a vivarium for a retic can pose problems not found with smaller reptiles. Certainly there should be no question over strength or positioning. All vivarium furnishings should be able to withstand the occupant aswell as being placed in a secure manner that removes any chance of the snake causing damage
A water dish large enough to allow the animal to soak should ideally be provided. When the animal is small this is easy to achieve, however as the animal matures you will find it harder and harder to do. When you can no longer provide the size needed for a full body soak then reducing the bowl to a smaller more manageable size is the best idea. You could then take the animal to a bathtub or other suitably sized area at regular intervals so it can have a good soak. If the bowl is located near the heat source it will slowly evaporate creating humidity to help the snake shed but be aware as it evaporates you will need to top it up and change the water completely more often. Always provide clean water and disinfect the bowl weekly. A hide or shelter in both ends of the vivarium is ideal so the snake can thermoregulate in privacy if it so chooses. If this isn't possible locate at least one in the heated end so the animal does not have to choose between security and heat. Many older retics are noted to ignore hides and generally they do fine with out the confines of a specific hide area. Disinfect any natural furnishings you may wish to add before placing them in the viv. Retics, especially youngsters, love to climb so logs and branches are always welcomed. In the wild youngsters can often be found in trees looking for birds to prey on or resting above streams/rivers. When disturbed they drop into the water in an attempt to escape any possible threats.

The subject of substrates will always be open to discussion, with has two main paths for you to choose between.
Newspaper or paper towels are safe, inexpensive and easy to replace. However they are by no means natural to look at and fail to hold humidity with any efficiency.
Aspen, hemp and various other bedding may also be used; these often look much nicer than newspapers but need to be researched, as some are unsuitable for large snakes. Gravel, sand, mulch and wood shavings may cause health problems such as skin lesions and mouth rot so should be used with great care. Cedar is deadly to reptiles so avoid this at all costs! It is also notable that pine, which contains phenols, is also harmful to reptiles and should be avoided.

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