Heating in Winter for Diamond Pythons and Outdoor Enclosure

Discussion in 'Australian Snakes' started by Tawmii Kate, Jul 11, 2018.

  1. Tawmii Kate

    Tawmii Kate New Member

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    IMG_5014-2.jpg Photo on 11-07-2018 at 1.30 PM #2.jpg Photo on 11-07-2018 at 1.36 PM #2.jpg Hi all

    My husband has had a couple of diamond pythons for 6 years now and they were probably about a year old when we got them. They have been in an indoor terrarium all that time with heating (light, heat lamp and in the early days a heat mat under the sand mixture) until about 6 months ago, when my husband got advice from another snake keeper that they don't need heat in winter! Because they don't get it in the wild! And because they are about to be moved to an outdoor enclosure he has had specifically built. For the last year they have been in a terrarium in the garage so that is much colder than the house anyway, without turning off their heating.

    I have had no training so may be wrong, but common sense tell me that if they have been brought up in captivity with artificial heating, then they should always have it. Maybe less in winter.

    I came home today and found Nagini hanging with her head upsidedown and not moving. I have never seen them in that position before. When I tried to rouse her she barely moved. I got her out and warmed her up on me, and she is just staying wrapped around me, not going off exploring like she normally would. The terrarium was showing 12.5 degrees C. We live in Gordon, Sydney suburbs. Is it normal for her to have been hanging her head upsidedown like that. I thought she was dead!

    The outdoor enclosure has a roof over part of it and walls around half of it, so there is protection from the elements and access to sun. Snake proof wire. Concrete slab, then bricks. Do we need heating?

    Thanks for your advice.
     
  2. Bl69aze

    Bl69aze Very Well-Known Member

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    Yes its normal to give them no (or little) heating at all for diamonds during winter, however i can imagine there would be problems if they go from 24/7 heating to 0 heating so your best course would be to gradually decrease it inside then put them outside
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
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  3. Buggster

    Buggster Well-Known Member

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    Does the sun turn off during winter?
    No.

    The key is offering LESS heat.
    I do 8-10hrs during Summer, reduced to 4-6 hours during the winter. Running the same temps, 30-32, for both.
     
  4. Bl69aze

    Bl69aze Very Well-Known Member

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    depending on the enclosure placement, i would hope it has a natural basking spot of sunlight which would require no heating on the owners end, however there was no mention, so i just assumed they would
     
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  5. Tawmii Kate

    Tawmii Kate New Member

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    Buggster, where do you live? 30-32 must be in a warm state? What temp would be good for Sydney?

    And when they are outdoors, what would be the best method of heat? Then they will be able to get the real sun.
     
  6. Buggster

    Buggster Well-Known Member

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    And with her head hanging- not normal.

    During winter, Diamonds like to squeeze themselves away in tight crevices- not hang around exposed on branches.

    Bird breeding boxes, or styrofoam boxes are great to add in any Diamond enclosure to give them that option.

    My Diamond is currently crammed away in a box (one of Camo’s thermostat boxes) and will come out to bask for an hour or two each day before retreating away
     
  7. Tawmii Kate

    Tawmii Kate New Member

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    Yes, the outdoor enclosure is positioned to get some sun.
    --- Automatic Post Merged, Jul 11, 2018, Original Post Date: Jul 11, 2018 ---
    They are often curled up together in a snake cave in the terrarium.
     
  8. Buggster

    Buggster Well-Known Member

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    Funnily enough, I live a suburb over from you.

    Probably a bit warm, I usually like to maintain 29-31 for Diamonds.

    A heat light would be best to provide a hotspot. I have seen Diamonds in Sydney in outdoor aviaries without a heat source, but I’d worry they wouldn’t get the hotspot necessary to thermoregulate properly.
     
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  9. GBWhite

    GBWhite Well-Known Member

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    Hi,

    No it's not normal for them to be hanging in such a position. I'd say that you found it in some desperate need for warmth and that's why it's enjoying being coiled about your body.

    I think you been given a bit of bad information in regard to them not needing heat in winter. They need to bask even throughout winter to maintain their preferred body temperate. In the wild they find a nice warm place out of the wind to bask and reach their preferred temperature before finding a nice tight place to coil up and retain the heat. I couldn't begin to count the number of Diamonds that I've come across out basking during the middle of the day in winter over the years and I get sick and tired of people telling others that they don't need heat during this time.

    When kept in inside enclosures they need to be provided the opportunity to bask but don't need to be heated constantly throughout the day. Most people just provide them with a couple of hours in the morning and then an hour or so late in the evening right throughout the year. This is due to their dark dorsal colour that allows them to heat up very quickly then move off to a hide or a part of the enclosure where they feel comfortable.

    If your going to keep them outside you have to provide an environment that will accommodate their requirements all year round depending on the season as well as a suitable hide where they can just fit to coil up and maintain their body temperature. This can be achieved by providing a suitable basking spot according to conditions at different times of the year and nice tight hide for them to coil up.

    When kept outdoors. just as if they were in the wild, during summer/autumn and spring they prefer to bask in the early morning and late in the afternoon and spend the rest of the time either cruising their enclosure or taking refuge in their hide. During the onset of winter, over the colder months and also the onset of spring they prefer to bask during the middle of the day from around 10am to 2pm when the temperature is at it's highest point. So naturally if your intending to keep them outside without additional heat in winter you will have to arrange the enclosure to suit their needs.

    Personally, If they don't have access to the direct sun and aren't able to bask during the above times I'd take them back inside and provide a heat source until the cage is altered to accommodate their needs all year round and reintroduce them in mid spring so they have time to adjust to being outdoors.

    Cheers,

    George.

    PS; Just read the post that were put up while i was writing this and see that you've got a couple housed together. Snakes are not social animals so it's not a good idea to keep more than one snake in an enclosure (inside or outside) unless they have sufficient room and multiple hides where they can get away from each other.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
  10. Tawmii Kate

    Tawmii Kate New Member

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    Thanks George and others for your help. My husband is turning on some of the heat in the terrarium now and in conceding to putting in some heat options in the outdoor enclosure. Yes, we have the two together but they do seem to like each other. They are often all intertwined and do curl up in the hide together. We were hoping they were male and female but no babies have come so thinking they are the same sex.
     
  11. Buggster

    Buggster Well-Known Member

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    They ‘curl up’ together as they’re both fighting for the same area, not because they like each other.

    Pairs should never be housed together year round. You’ll have male/male combat, female/female combat and male/female combat eventually.

    Snakes don’t ‘like’ one another- they are completely solitary animals and only come together to breed. Other than that, they stay out of one another’s way- or eat one another.
     
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  12. Tawmii Kate

    Tawmii Kate New Member

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    Oh dear. We will get another hide!
     
  13. Sdaji

    Sdaji Almost Legendary

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    People often misunderstand temperature. They will look at the weather report and say "Okay, it often doesn't get above 16 degrees for weeks or months on end, so they don't need to be any warmer than that in winter". If you actually go outside on a 15 degree winter day though, and measure the temperatures outside, you'll find a surprisingly complex thermal environment. The air temperature may be 15 degrees, but during the middle of the day you will typically be able to find temperatures between about 10 degrees or less and 50 degrees (that's Celcius and not a typo) or more on a cold winter day.

    It's winter in Sydney right now. Get your hands on an infrared thermometer. Go to a park or forest or the back yard on a day where there is a clear sky on a cold day, lift a rock or large piece of wood or something which is in the shade and take the temperature. It'll probably be no more than about 10 degrees. Find a large rock or fence or whatever large object which faces north and is in the sun and take the temperature, it should be at least 40 degrees, and if you play around you'll probably find somewhere over 50. These temperatures don't last 24 hours per day, but they are the temperatures frequently available to wild animals all through winter. They don't just sit all day at the temperature reported by the weather department. Animals like Diamond Pythons actively thermoregulate, seeking out the specific places which have the temperatures they like most. If they are kept in a box without that range of temperatures and they can't get what they need, they can suffer for it.

    Most reptile keepers have a surprisingly poor understanding of the natural thermal environment, but it's something worth learning about if you're going to be a snake keeper, especially with something like Diamond Pythons which in nature have a highly complex relationship with a particularly dynamic thermal environment. Most people will never fully understand it, but if you can, you'll understand why most people have such problems with this species.
     
  14. Tawmii Kate

    Tawmii Kate New Member

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    Sdaji, that makes so much sense! Is there any book on it? Or a nice scientific article? When there are so many people with differing opinions, I find it hard to convince hubby!
     
  15. Pauls_Pythons

    Pauls_Pythons Subscriber Subscriber Power Seller

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    Housing snakes together is a dangerous occupation even with Diamonds.
    This time last year a breeder in NSW who keeps diamonds outside in a communal enclosure reported a case of cannibalism amongst the group.
    Diamonds are not well known for this but there is certainly a risk among all species.

    Placement of outdoor enclosures are critical. As George and Sdaji mention, they need to bask and its normally morning sun but will also need protection from harsh midday sun and from winds so be sure you do plenty of testing around your selected location for the enclosure before you put the snakes in.

    Finally I would probably prepare them gradually for a move outside over a period of time rather than just move them outside during winter.....and remember wind is as big a problem as temperature.
     
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  16. Yellowtail

    Yellowtail Subscriber Subscriber

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    I have kept a lot of diamonds in outdoor aviaries in Sydney and they thrived but they were very large aviaries formerly used for black cockatoos with plenty of areas to bask in morning and afternoon plus I created underground refuges from summer heat. I did observe that adult diamonds that had spent their lives in indoor enclosures did not adapt well, they did not have the natural instinct to bask and regulate their temperature in winter.
     
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  17. Sdaji

    Sdaji Almost Legendary

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    I've never seen anything about it written up for hobbyists. Back when I spent years working on all this as a scientist I read some papers on it, but they'd really really heavy reading and it would take many hours to go through them all which would be extremely tedious if you were just trying to pick out the few bits here and there relevant to you. I haven't looked at any of the literature for over 10 years now (which is making me feel very old! Haha, I remember joining up to APS as a uni student who'd just been given special lab privileges, and I was killling time with a gecko hooked up to the computer with controlled temperature and respiration measurement gear... seems so long ago now since I did anything in a lab).

    I've thought about writing up something on this topic myself, but to do it properly you'd literally need to write a whole book, and despite the importance, most people would find it too boring so it wouldn't be a successful book. I was going to write a lengthy article for one of the magazines on this topic (I had several in mind) but then they died, and I got distracted, and I haven't written anything for about 6 years now. I suppose I could write something up for one of the online magazines, or just stick online. It'd be some good information to put out there. I constantly think about it when I'm chasing wild reptiles or dealing with captives, and the lack of understanding keepers have is really obvious when you do understand it. I think I'm lucky to have worked on the thermal biology projects I did back before I chucked in the science career thing :p

    Getting an infrared thermometer and just playing with it a lot will teach you so much. Go outside in different weather at different times of the year and see what different temperatures you can find. You'll be astonished at the variation available during most days. Ideally this is what we should provide for them in their enclosure. Also think about where they are and what they do. Two different species of snakes in the exact same location can have very different temperature requirements and tolerances. An Eastern Brown Snake may live at the same locality as a Crowned Snake for example, but they have very different temperature requirements. If you kept a Crowned Snake as hot as the ideal temperature of a Brown Snake, it wouldn't even live very long, and vice versa the Brown Snake would be too cold to thrive and may not even survive long term, but they have the same options available to them. Tiger Snakes live in Tasmania and also up in QLD. In Tasmania they spend most of their time trying to stay warm, in QLD they spend most of their time trying to stay cool, and in those extremes of their range they often use opposite extremes available to them. We can't just say 'this is the single temperature they'd experience in the wild so this is what I'll give them' if we want them to thrive.
     
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  18. Tawmii Kate

    Tawmii Kate New Member

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    Hmm, so what is an infrared thermometer worth and where does one buy one? I could get my 13 year old son in on the investigation (when he gets back from space camp at NASA!)
     
  19. Pauls_Pythons

    Pauls_Pythons Subscriber Subscriber Power Seller

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  20. Sdaji

    Sdaji Almost Legendary

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    Yeah, just jump on eBay and get one. Back in the day they were hundreds of dollars each, but these days they're dirt cheap. Essential tool for every reptile keeper or science nerd, and they're also extremely popular at parties, bars etc... sometimes disturbingly so! I took my first one out when I was painting the town red one night, and after what the girls at some of the bars did with it I put it up on eBay as soon as my hangover cleared :p Sold it for a profit which was cool :p My next one was a you beaut very expensive one which I kept on me all day almost every day for the next two years, which the best part of 20 years later I still have, still often use, and is actually with me in this room right now.
     

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