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Heat mat for a wooden viv?

reptilesforlife

Not so new Member
I am soon to be getting my first snake (a childrens python), and we recently got a wooden vivarium from our local reptile supplies store. Since we were to be using a heat mat as the ideal heat source in this enclosure, the owner recommended that we place a tile at the bottom of the enclosure (so that it doesn’t burn the wood) then place the heat mat on top of that with a tile on top (so it isn’t in direct contact with the snake or substrate), I am a little sceptical of this strategy and I was wondering if anyone else had used it before, if they think it would work, or if they have a better idea?
 

Wokka

Well-Known Member
I am soon to be getting my first snake (a childrens python), and we recently got a wooden vivarium from our local reptile supplies store. Since we were to be using a heat mat as the ideal heat source in this enclosure, the owner recommended that we place a tile at the bottom of the enclosure (so that it doesn’t burn the wood) then place the heat mat on top of that with a tile on top (so it isn’t in direct contact with the snake or substrate), I am a little sceptical of this strategy and I was wondering if anyone else had used it before, if they think it would work, or if they have a better idea?
Thats a common strategy as the tile also provides thermal mass so the heat doesnt "blow' away in the air.
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If you put the mat to one side of thetile you will achieve a gradient across the tile.
 

Bluetongue1

Well-Known Member
APS Veteran
@reptilesforlife
They are trying to sell you something that is designed to be used underneath an enclosure with an air gap. and not inside one. You can get away with it if you know what you are doing, and this should not be expected of a rank beginner. For example, anything that can get hot enough to burn the wood is also going to be hot enough to BBQ your snake. So what happens if the top tile is dislodged by the snake?...

To provide good quality advice forum members need more information. How old is your snake (approximately) and/or how long is it? What are the dimensions of the wooden enclosure? Does it have glass sliding doors at the front or does it open up some other way. What ventilation does it have – approximate size and location in the enclosure?

For an adult stimmie probably the cheapest and most effective method of heating is to use a heat cord with a tile fixed in place above it. There are a number of ways of doing this. The following thread describes one that produces an adjustable heat source that is also easily moveable to another enclosure if so desired. https://aussiepythons.com/forum/threads/new-fella-with-an-age-old-question.227053/post-2537722
 

reptilesforlife

Not so new Member
Hmm... you are raising a good point, I would not at all want to risk endangering my (to-be) snake in any way. The wooden vivarium has sliding glass doors, with small rectangular ventilation frames on each side of the enclosure (one placed near the top on the to-be heated side and other lower down on the cool side). The snake I will be getting is going to be roughly one month old, more or less depending on whether the breeder deems they are feeding well and are healthy enough. Is there some way I could secure the tiles (so there is no risk of dislodging) but in a way I could remove them and access it if necessary?
 

Herptology

Donator
Donator
Trusted Seller
A 1month old should not be going into a large enclosure, let alone being sold (in my opinion)


This is really the only reliable option of keeping a healthy young snake untill about a year+
 

Bluetongue1

Well-Known Member
APS Veteran
You were correct to query what you were told. It appears they want to sell you a hatchling snake but with an enclosure that is suited to an adult rather than a hatchie. For about the first year of their lives in captivity, pythons are normally raised in modified small plastic storage containers known as “click-clacks”. The name comes from the sound the lid makes when it is being locked in place. You make your own, as shown in the following: https://www.aussiepythons.com/forum/threads/guide-to-build-a-click-clack-dial-up-warning.93266/ and Setting up a click clack for hatchling snakes - YouTube. You can also buy commercial products such as plastic ‘critter cages’ or similar, often referred to as ‘mini aquarium/terrariums’. A 5W or 7W heat mat is usually placed underneath 1/3 of the base at one end of these plastic container, allowing an air gap as per the instructions that come with the heat mat.

You are probably wondering why should one keep a young python in such a confined space? Well the answer comes from nature. Hatchling and juvenile pythons are a safe meal on the menu of most other predators in an ecosystem. Their only real defense is to hide and avoid danger. If they have to enter an open space to look for food or a better temperature range, they feel vulnerable and get stressed. It is only when they become large enough and develop sufficient musculature to become a force to be reckoned with in their own right, that they become more comfortable with more open space

Note: Herptology provided the same thread reference. There are other threads that also deal with click-clacks which you can locate via the 'search' facility top right-hand corner of the page.
 
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dragonlover1

Donator
Donator
Trusted Seller
I agree with Herptology and Bluetongue, heat mats are designed for under glass but heat cables can be used for inside wooden enclosures, preferably under a tile or similar. But more importantly they can be spread over a greater area to distribute the heat.
And definitely smaller areas for smaller reptiles as they have stated
 

reptilesforlife

Not so new Member
I have heard about the great debate about young snakes being kept in large enclosures, but I am under the impression that if it is cluttered enough it makes little difference?
 

Sdaji

Almost Legendary
APS Veteran
Trusted Seller
I have heard about the great debate about young snakes being kept in large enclosures, but I am under the impression that if it is cluttered enough it makes little difference?
There's some truth to this, but if you keep a tiny hatchling in a large enclosure absolutely full of clutter, you'll never be able to find it, which is important for any animal you're caring for. So, rather than filling a large enclosure with a thousand things, get yourself one thing (a small tub) so it's both happy and observable.
 

reptilesforlife

Not so new Member
Yes good point, I will definitely look into the tub system.
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Ok I think I will definitely start off using a tub, and when the snake is larger and more confident I will move it into the viv, although I do have a couple questions if thats okay:
- What size tub (I want the snake to have space to explore and move around, but still feel safe and secure)
- What watt heat mat? (sounds weird written but you get what I mean)
- Should I start off with paper towel as substrate in the tub so I can monitor their droppings or go straight to the more natural looking substrate I was initially going to use?
- If the heat mat is stuck to the bottom (outside) the tub, is there a risk of burning/melting the plastic?

Thanks!
 
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