Lighting Schedule for my SWCP Enclosure, advice appreciated

Discussion in 'General Reptile Discussion' started by GilesColey, Dec 23, 2015.

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  1. GilesColey

    GilesColey Not so new Member

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    Hi all, its me again


    Just wanted some advice on this so thought I would give a quick rundown


    I have built this enclosure and the heat mat is quite long, covering about a third of the cage, she doesnt spend much time in the little hide on the heat mat, maybe its too warm directly on the ceramic tile, but she does spend time in that little eggbox which is directly on the heat mat, but obviously slightly raised off the mat due to its shape - The mat is on a thermostat (35/36 degrees) and is on all the time on one side of the cage


    I have a basking lamp (see image) in the top corner above the heat mat with a platform just near it where she can go to if she wants, she spends quite a bit of time up there.


    There is a nice hide on the ceiling at the cooler end of the enclosure where there is limited light or heat (and a window) and she does go up there from time to time


    There is plenty of ventilation with 3 windows, one large on at the back of the cage and 2 smaller ones on each end (seen in the images)


    Now, I also have a long fluorescent light across the middle of the cage (see image) It covers probably two thirds of the cage and is exactly in the middle of the cage. This has a timer but lately I have been doing this light manually according to the weather etc as I am around every day, but I am on holiday in June in Africa for 5 weeks so wanted to get the schedule 100% automated


    I just wanted some advice on the time schedule for the long fluorescent light.


    Is it best to have it 12 hrs on and 12 hrs off? If so, what would be your suggestion on the best times to set on the timer?
    With a basking lamp and a heat mat, can it just be left off during those 5 weeks?
    It obviously lights up the cage beautifully and makes it look really good.


    Just after some opinions on this everyone, she seems pretty happy, doesnt mind being held, skin is in good condition, eats well etc


    If you need more info, please let me know


    Thanks in advance


    Giles
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  2. pythoninfinite

    pythoninfinite Subscriber Subscriber

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    That's a very comprehensively furnished enclosure GC - your snake doesn't want for environmental variety! Not sure where you are, but if you're in Perth or SW WA (a high possibility given you have a SWCP) I wouldn't bother with the fluoro during your absence. Fluoros aren't a necessity for snakes anyway, so it only serves to enhance your enjoyment of the enclosure. I would, however, urge caution in having 3 sources of heat - two direct sources + the heat given off by the fluoro fitting - working in the enclosure during the summer. During heat-waves they will quickly ramp-up the enclosure temps to dangerous levels unless you have a coolish house, and this could be especially problematic if you have a thermostat failure. I would suggest that you have only one source of heat in there until maybe late March, and then you can confidently set it up for the cooler months.

    Jamie
     
  3. GilesColey

    GilesColey Not so new Member

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    Thanks Jamie, yeah it took ages to build it, but being my first attempt, I was really happy with the way it turned out

    Appreciate the reply mate, I am in Perth so yes, it does get quite hot here

    I do turn off the fluorescent light during the day when its hot. I also open the windows which are directly behind the enclosure and because we live right near the beach, we do get a nice see breeze coming through the house, the front door is also open 90% of the time with kids running in and out, so there is a constant breeze blowing through the house, so at least the heat doesn't just settle and build up in the enclosure

    I am happy to leave the fluorescent light off during the summer months. Are you suggesting leaving the the basking lamp or heat mat off as well?

    If she spends more time up near the basking lamp than down by the mat, would you suggest I turn the heat mate off now during summer and then turn it back on around March when the temps drop a bit?

    Regarding the basking lamp? Any suggestions on the best lamp to use, Im using an infrared lamp like in the image, can just a normal globe be used for this?

    Appreciate the help Jamie
     
  4. Snapped

    Snapped Subscriber Subscriber

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    I'd turn off the heat mat in summer, in fact, I'd get rid of it all together, no need (IMHO) for two heat sources.

    You can use a ceramic heat globe, or a plain old light globe (they tend to blow after a month though) as long as whatever heat you use is on a very reliable thermostat. I go for the lowest possible wattage to get the heat required in case of thermostat failure as well.
    Can your snake get near to the basking lamp? (sorry, hard to see in those pics)

    And I'd leave the light off during your absence, in fact, I'd probably leave the heat off as well, unless someone will be home to check on temps etc.....if someone is home, then I'd put the heat lamp on a timer, 12 hours of daytime heat on a thermostat.
     
  5. GilesColey

    GilesColey Not so new Member

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    ok thanks for the advice, I did think about turning it of, but needed some clarification before doing it. She does have a little ledge right up next to the lamp and she spends quite a bit of time up there. She can get as close at 5cm if she wants or 30cm away if she prefers. I might get a lower wattage globe as you suggested? Is there a way of testing the thermostat to make sure its working correctly. I do notice i have a red and green light on it and then the one light turns off for while and then turns back on, I assume thats when it reaches the max temp.

    I might put up another larger platform for her just on the other side of the basking lamp, a little further away so she has the choice of the 2 temps. She is getting bigger now so she's going to need a larger surface to chill out on too.

    At the moment, I'm just using a plain old light globe, is it better to use a ceramic heat globe or the infrared type? I just want whats best for her really.

    I will have someone staying at the house while i am away but they have no clue about reptiles/heat etc..I think the safest would be to leave the heat mat and fluorescent light off for the 5 weeks and just have her basking lamp, should that be enough considering its winter, I assume its ok as long as she can get close enough to the lamp and have various distances she can be from the lamp

    So you are saying put the basking lamp on a timer as well, so there will be times when there is not heat at all? My main concern is I want the person looking after the house to do as little as possible, I'm worried they might leave the door open (we have a psycho cat) - I would prefer her to have some heat in the cage at all times if possible. My other concern with the basking lamp is if the globe dies, dont feel too comfortable with the gent who house-sitting to replace it (if hes not a reptile lover) - Would leaving the heat mat on be a safer option, and leave the basking lamp and fluorescent light off?


    Thanks again
     
  6. Snapped

    Snapped Subscriber Subscriber

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    Me personally, I wouldn't leave a heat mat on for that long when there is no one to check, in fact I'd ditch it all together and just have one heat source.

    Do you have a temperature gun? They are great, you can check any part of the enclosure for temps just by pointing it and it will give you a read out, they are non contact infrared laser temperature guns, I got mine on Ebay for $30.

    Also, do you have a thermometer in there, with a probe? I find by putting the probe near where she is going to bask, you get a good idea of the heat there at any time.
    What sort of thermostat have you got? Mine just switches off (no red light) when it reaches the desired temp.

    And unless your python is a hatchy/juvie, they don't require 24 hour heat, especially in summer. I guess in winter if gets very cold, you could have a night time heat source, but I don't provide it for my snakes.

    For the heat globe, just a plain old Bunnings light globe works well, just get a 25 watt, that way if your thermostat fails, you won't cook your snake.
    If you wanted a ceramic heat emitter, they are around $40, and do much better on a pulse proportionate thermostat, but you need ceramic fittings.

    So I'd only run it for 12 hours a day, the snake will be able to bask, and then go to the cool end.
    Your'e not feeding her in that time? If not, then just providing basic heat is more than adequate, snakes who are cold will do fine, but overheated snakes die.

    In fact, if the guy isn't snake savvy, you could literally just turn everything off in the enclosure for the time you are away. Make sure your snake has a supply of water (spill proof) and don't feed her right before you go, she will be fine.
     
  7. GilesColey

    GilesColey Not so new Member

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    ok thanks, I will leave the mat off and get a lower watt globe (25watt)


    I have a habistat thermostat with a probe and the end is a couple of cm's above the ceramic tile which is on the heat mat. I guess if thats going off I will have to get the probe up near the basking lamp. What the best way to do that? I was going to use a tiny cable tie and just fasten it to the branch up near the basking lamp


    It definately has 2 lights, a red light (I assume is power) and a green heat light, after its been on for a while, the green heat light goes off and the the mat starts cooling down, I just checked and the thermostart temp is set at the maximum which is around 35 degrees celcius. I assume its ok to just unplug the heat mat, no need to remove it completely.


    I was going to get a friend a couple of doors down to pop over and feed her during that time. She would only need 2 feeds max during that time. You mentioned about not feeding her during that time (I guess I hadnt mentioned it thats why) 5 weeks is quite a while to not feed her though, considering she is eating nearly once a week, or sometimes 10 days....she will be 2 years old in February. Surely its better if she gets fed, even if its just once in the middle of the 5 weeks.


    There are 2 water bowls in the enclousre, one is really heavy and spill-proof and the other one not so much, I will replace that one with a heavier one.


    When you say you would run the basking lamp for 12 hrs a day, any particular times best for this?


    So your last line saying it might be better to turn everything off? Will this be ok, considering its in the middle of Winter (Western Australia), it doesnt get too cold, but it still concerns me with no heat at all..I'm probably just being paranoid though


    I have shown some pics with her basking areas (red arrows), that ledge is about 6cm wide and she often lies across the full length of it as well, other images of the probe location and thermostat type


    I will get a temp gun and do some testing as well, thanks


    I really appreciate your help and suggestions with this..

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  8. pythoninfinite

    pythoninfinite Subscriber Subscriber

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    Imho, heat mats are probably the most dangerous of the heat sources - when I was a dealer in Perth, people who used them often did not heed the safety instructions about leaving a gap between the mat and the material that covered it - even a 7W heat mat can get so hot that it starts a smouldering fire in or under an enclosure if it has insufficient ventilation. I wouldn't ever recommend them to new keepers. I keep a couple of them here and use them when I need to heat one end of a tub or whatever, but they are definitely not my preferred heat source. Heat cords are definitely the way to go.

    Jamie
     
  9. GilesColey

    GilesColey Not so new Member

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    Thanks Jamie, Im being turned off heat mats now
     
  10. Snapped

    Snapped Subscriber Subscriber

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    nice setup by the way
     
  11. GilesColey

    GilesColey Not so new Member

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    thanks mate, thats just what I needed


    I have a brand new heat cord as well, I could also take the mat from under the large tile and just use the heat cord under it, at least the gaps and ventilation under the tile are more significant then. The general consensus seems to be the cords are safer than mats anyway...this was just a thought??


    So just to clarify......


    I will just turn off the heat mat (if I dont do the cord suggestion above) and the leave the tile in there with the hide on top, as you say, it will get and retain some heat from the lamp above it (this will be done now and left like that permanently)


    I will set the basking lamp to turn on at 7am and then turn off at 7pm (via the timer), that should be enough heat for her, so she will have no heat at all overnight, I will leave it this way while on holiday as well (winter time)


    If any of this is incorrect, please let me know.....sorry about any confusion with the summer/winter thing?


    I will cable tie the probe up near the lamp where she basks now, and just leave it there permanently


    Here are a few more pics, all the backgrounds are done with polystyrene, layers of grout, paint and then pond sealer...Im now planning on building the bottom part into the ground floor of the penthouse so she can go between the 2 via to large holes with new backgrounds and different substrates, statues etc

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  12. Virides

    Virides Not so new Member

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    Here was I going to read through this post and see if you had sliding glass and there it was, our finger grips on your sliding glass :)

    How are they going for you?

    Great enclosure set up btw!
     
  13. GilesColey

    GilesColey Not so new Member

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    Yeah, they are working fine

    My only suggestion is to make the edges a little smoother. My glass is quite tight though so that could also be the issue...working well otherwise
     
  14. Virides

    Virides Not so new Member

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    Noted, this can only come down to the tips of the feet/tail since the production method doesn't allow us to round these edges. The process actually creates an edge that is safe to use but actually enables for more grip when opening the glass panels. The comfort we speak of is actually to do with splaying your hand in a natural fashion versus what ground in grooves of the glass that force you to compress to a point.

    We have previously looked at rounding the edges but the only way this can be done is by doing something special with the laser to create such an edge but the major downside is loosing lots of detail in the cut, making designs like the bearded dragon quite deformed. Another option we looked at was injection moulding but firstly they are very expensive to get moulds, but then secondly, the adhesive would have to be post-applied which is basically impossible to do in the fashion we require.

    My explanation is only to serve the idea that we have researched our product and are aware of your concerns but we have addressed as best we could under the limitations presented to us. It wasn't to downplay your feedback which has been noted as to address some issues on the points which we can smoothen for greater comfort at least here.

    While the grips don't claim at all to fix stiffly opening glass, there are other factors to consider. Perhaps the enclosure is pinning down on the glass in parts either due to overhead weight or deformation of materials. This can be addressed by shaving down the glass panel (get it to a glazier, ours costed about $5/side. If it is toughened glass you can technically remove about 3mm from an edge but our glazier said one day the panel might just explode for no reason) which will give it clearance and it should slide well again. Alternatively substrate could be a problem which simply needs to be cleaned out. Once cleaned or reduced in size it is actually very helpful to spray in the bottom track and on the bottom edge of the glass with some teflon based lubricant. It will really help reduce friction which should help greatly in returning the panel to a smooth state.
     
  15. Snapped

    Snapped Subscriber Subscriber

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    Sorry, I forgot to reply to this.

    Yes, yes and yes on all the questions. :D

    Love the enclosure, you've put a lot of time and effort into it, looks a treat.
     
  16. GilesColey

    GilesColey Not so new Member

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    Brilliant, thanks for all the help on this
     
  17. Snapped

    Snapped Subscriber Subscriber

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    No worries, happy to help.
     
  18. GilesColey

    GilesColey Not so new Member

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    One more question...

    If i was going to take out the pebbles (yes, it can be a pain in the ***) what substrate would you suggest I use? considering the enclosure is almost 3 meters across, I obviously dont want to spend a fortune and just want to make it a bit easier to clean....

    Someone did suggest coir peat from Bunnings, would obviously have to have no chemicals in it...is that available at Bunnings?

    thanks
     
  19. winny111

    winny111 Not so new Member

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    I use outdoor carpet from Bunnings is easy to clean and reuse.
    I know of people using coir peat, wood chips, paper, kitty litter.
     
  20. GilesColey

    GilesColey Not so new Member

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    Thanks for that

    I did have a look at that about a year ago and the grass seemed very flimsy and didnt look good quality, I was worried about all the grass just falling out, especially if its gets a bit wet when washing

    Does that fake grass have any chemicals in it, I also heard about people using marine carpet, Im just concerned about chemicals in the rubber as well
     
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