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Caleb

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Hi Guys,
I have just acquired a spotted python hatchling and am keeping him in a small enclosure with some basic furniture until he is a bit bigger.
When I do upgrade him I would like to have him in an enclosure with some live plants. Can anyone here give me any pointers around what plants might be suitable and any other help would be appreciated too.
TIA...
 

Murph_BTK

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Any plants will do as long as the fertilizer and any other bad things are not going to harm the snake. And also the plants will only really be for a visual look as the snake wont care aslong as there are hideholes. I would recommend plastic plants as they are less work. Such a huge variety out there these days. YouTube has a lot of info about set ups ideas and tips. Good luck and post up
 

ronhalling

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[MENTION=42192]Caleb[/MENTION], There are some fantastic realistic looking plants available from some of our sponsors that can make a dreary plain looking enclosure really pop, so much so you have to look very very close to see they are not real, as [MENTION=13373]murph[/MENTION]-BTK said the spotty won't care. On another note the use of real plants in an enclosure can cause more problems than they are worth with condensation on the glass and more seriously it raises the humidity greatly- good for GTP's but not so good for Spotties, most here would agree fake is best in the long run. :) .....................Ron
 

Caleb

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Thanks for your time to reply and for the pointers. I will have a think about it, I like the sound of easier but i also like real plants. I have also heard that snakes tend to just destroy any trees in his path so i suppose that is a consideration also. Thanks again. :D
 

Lost_in_the_Jungle

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To further at least the discussion and as someone who has kept live plants in reptile enclosures for many years. I disagree with the points mentioned in above posts about the individual not caring about the presence of the live plants (over fake) and also that the plant type doesn't matter.

You will have to be careful with plant selection as there are a number of plants which do have attributes, such as toxins, which will affect your reptiles health. Elephant ears are the obvious one that springs out at me. In addition there are a number of species which just won't survive the low light conditions. The other factor to consider is the plants growth rate and how well they withstand their leaves/branches being bent. This is probably the big one with live plants in python enclosures in my opinion.

The genus I have had the most success with are Syngonium and Spathiphyllum, however I do have other species.

As for snakes destroying the plants, I have found it to be very much an individual thing, some individuals wreck the place, other don't. As an example the enclosure pictured below houses a breeding trio of M.cheynei and one of them is a real plant wrecker, knocking over and sitting on plants. The other two are quite observers.
 

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Caleb

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So you keep you plants potted inside the enclosure @Lost_in_the_jungle ?? I have seen some people go to great lengths and put in false bottoms and so forth. but wasn't sure how that would go with regular cleaning etc. I would feel like they would prefer live vegetation but as stated I'm no expert and have only just got my first snake.
 

Nailsinside

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I too am hoping to convert my fake plants to live plants soon in my Diamond Python Enclosure. But not having any luck in finding out how to go about doing it. I was looking at false floors but I don't have a lot of height to work with, 80mm at the front but can go much higher towards the back.
 

Bluetongue1

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First and foremost, growing plants is a skill unto itself and growing them indoors and in containers is a further significant refinement to that. But it can be done.

There are number of ways you can go about it. Epiphytes are plants that in nature grow on surfaces above soil rather in soil, such in the forks of tree branches or on rock faces. The commonest epiphytes are bromeliads, epiphytic orchids, ‘air plants’ and certain ferns like the Bird’s Nest Fern, Elkhorns and Staghorns etc, and things like Spanish Moss. Most of these plants require regular misting of either the leaves or the the peat or moss packed around the root zone used to culture them. The exception is bromeliads, where the ‘cup’ formed by the encircling leaves can simply have water added to it. The degree of misting/spraying required plus evaporation fom the material that has been wet down, may create too humid an environment for animals from less humid environments in nature.

Next, you can grow plants directly in the substrate. This requires that you establish some form of effective drainage. This acn be a gravel layer at the bottom, a false bottom with drainage holes and taps etc. The substrate needs to be kept constantly moist for the plants' roots to survive. This, in turn, will tend to produce a continuosly elevated level of humidity.

My personal recommendation for using live plants is that they should be kept in pots which can then be slipped into water-proof sleeves inserted in the substrate. These sleeves can be purchased as plant pots without drainage holes or made from empty plastic containers, such as yoghurt or takeaway tubs (readly trimmed to the required size). This allows exchange of plants so they can be spelled in a shade house. To water plants, remove and soak in a bucket for at least ½ hour and then drain fully before replacing in the sleeve. This avoids issues of excessive humidity and is far and away the easiest way to have success. Use of squat pots is recommended to minimise the depth
of substrate required.

By being able to rotate the plants in and out the terrarium, you no longer need to be restricted to just totally shade-tolerant plants. There is a magnificent range of ornamental small tussock grasses and grass-like plants that look awesome in a semi-arid style vivarium. Check out some of the small ornamental Lomandras like Lime Wave and Seascape – there’s heaps. And then there’s Dianellas, Native Grasses and a whole host of exotics.

Criteria for plants being suitable for inclusion in a snake cage...
a) Bendable leaves that do not break
b) A fairly rigid stems and branches that are non-brittle, with some give while being strong enough to bear significant weight without snapping. The sort of thing like a small potted Ficus benjamina.

As for lighting, plants definitely do NOT require UVB. Indoors they can be successfully grown under a normal household straight fluorescent. However, they will do better if you use a fluoro that is made for freshwater planted aquariums, such as GroLux. These lights have enhanced blue and red regions of the spectrum, which is what plants absorb and utilise to photosynthesise.
 
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Lost_in_the_Jungle

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@ Caleb, Yes I use pots in the enclosures for the benefits Bluetongue1 discusses, however I do water the plants in the enclosures. Plants with large pots do have a base to contain any of the water that runs through, whereas in the smaller pots water is allowed to run into the coir mulch substrate. This substrate is moved around the enclosure to ensure it isn't left wet for long periods.

If I had to discuss a disadvantage of pots it would be their ability to be knocked over. This is where I find most of the significant damage and frustration done.

I guess in addition to what Bluetongue1 has mentioned, 'trial and error' is the key with planted enclosures. I have found Bromeliads quite hard to keep (no idea why), but I have no doubt they are effectively kept with ease in enclosures by others.

[MENTION=39299]Nailsinside[/MENTION], Species like Maidenhair ferns or Baby's tears might offer you what you seek, but will require some innovative pot work?
 

Bluetongue1

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@Lost_in_the_Jungle. There are few things you can do to improve stability of plants in occupied terrariums...
· choose a substrate which is resistant to being moved around easily;
· provide sufficient depth of substrate to come up to the top edge of the pot sleeve;
· make sure the sleeves are a snug fit;
· try to avoid plants that are particularly top heavy or structured so that they are easily leverd out of place.
Yeah, definitely agree on the trial and error.

@Caleb. Arm yourself with whatever knowledge you can glean from texts, plant enthusiast groups and professional nurseries and then don’t be afraid to experiment for yourself.
 

Nailsinside

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@Bluetongue1 - Wow thank-you so much for that detailed post. I love all the ideas you threw out there. I did some further research and found two ideas for plants I could plant in the substrate; the Ficus benjamia as you pointed out and theSchefflera arboricola (Dwarf Umbrella Tree). I really liked the Umbrella Tree because of its resilience and it's easy to see signs of ill-health. I still have a lot more research to do as I am still in the brainstorming stage. I recently just upgraded to Diamond Pythons enclosure to a 1200x600x900 and inbuilt a pond like water basin with a drain on it. Here's a link to a thread I made with a picture of it; https://aussiepythons.com/forum/showthread.php/218493-Live-plants-for-Daimond-Python-enclosure

But yeah, I'm really interested in planting everything in instead of having it all in pots etc. I don't know, as I said, I'm still in the brainstorming stage so many ideas. The only thing that is in my way is the height of the substrate once finished and the amount of humidity/moisture required by the plants that may cause ill-health for my Diamond Python :cry:

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@Lost_in_the_Jungle - Thanks so much for those ideas! I really love the look of both those plants!
 

pythoninfinite

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I'd have to say that a growing or largish Diamond Python in a 1200x600x900 enclosure is going to crush any live plants you have in there. The most successful live-planted large snake enclosures are a lot larger than you are currently offering your animal. You should very seriously consider the pot options, so that you can spell plants outside for a few weeks on a rotational basis. Reptile enclosures for large animals are generally too consistently warm, for too long, to allow long-term healthy plant growth. Smaller and lighter species such as tree snakes or even GTPs are much better candidates for vivariums such as you propose, anything more than 1.5-2kg is going to wreck the joint.

Pothos is another worth considering - tough, come in a wide range of greens and variegations, and happy in low-light situations for fairly long periods, but again, to avoid having to destroy the entire setup to remove a sickly or badly damaged plant, pots are a far better option. It's much easier to remove and re-pot a plant than pull out the entire substrate when the soil goes sour, which it will if you can't rinse it through thoroughly on a weekly basis - the same thing happens to plants in pots - if they are only given "just enough" water, over time there will be a salt buildup which eventually will harm or kill the plant. They need a complete flush-through on a regular basis.

Jamie
 
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Nailsinside

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I'd have to say that a growing or largish Diamond Python in a 1200x600x900 enclosure is going to crush any live plants you have in there. The most successful live-planted large snake enclosures are a lot larger than you are currently offering your animal. You should very seriously consider the pot options, so that you can spell plants outside for a few weeks on a rotational basis. Reptile enclosures for large animals are generally too consistently warm, for too long, to allow long-term healthy plant growth. Smaller and lighter species such as tree snakes or even GTPs are much better candidates for vivariums such as you propose, anything more than 1.5-2kg is going to wreck the joint.

Pothos is another worth considering - tough, come in a wide range of greens and variegations, and happy in low-light situations for fairly long periods, but again, to avoid having to destroy the entire setup to remove a sickly or badly damaged plant, pots are a far better option. It's much easier to remove and re-pot a plant than pull out the entire substrate when the soil goes sour, which it will if you can't rinse it through thoroughly on a weekly basis - the same thing happens to plants in pots - if they are only given "just enough" water, over time there will be a salt buildup which eventually will harm or kill the plant. They need a complete flush-through on a regular basis.

Jamie

Okay thanks for that, I think I'll go for @Lost_in_the_Jungle ideas as those plants are ground dwellers and the Diamond Python rarely goes to the bottom.

Upon research I found that Pothos is poisonous. So I doubt I'll be putting that in with any animal. Not worth the risk. Looks nice though.


Jared
 

pythoninfinite

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I've kept (small) snakes and frogs in tanks filled with Pothos for decades without any incidents at all, in fact, because it grows well in water, I've found it ideal to provide shelter for frogs and tadpoles. It may be toxic if eaten, but I've never used it to feed my critters. Your choice of course, but you are guaranteeing yourself a high-maintenance future for an enclosure that small with a potentially large and heavy snake.

Jamie
 

Bluetongue1

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@Nailsinside. My comments have been directed at answering the questions of the OP in regard to his expressed desire for housing a “spotted python” in “an enclosure with some live plants”. This is a primarily terrestrial snake and not that heavy bodied. Planting for arboreal snakes is a different kettle of fish, as it planting for heavy-bodied snakes. So combine those last two and, as Jamie correctly points out, much of the information provided here is not applicable. I had not read your thread until now and your situation is different and requires different advice – a good reason not to cross threads.

Because a plant is “toxic” does not mean that you cannot use it. For example, potatoes, apples, almonds, rhubarb, cherries, tomatoes, to name a few, are all toxic plants that we eat. Then there are ornamentals such as oleander, which have been known to cause human fatalities, but are still available in any nursery because the fatalities were self-induced through inappropriate use of the plant. You need to look at where the toxins occur in the plant, what effects they have, how they have these effects and how much is required.

Pothos, philodendrons and spathiphyllum all contain calcium oxalates (a toxin) in their leaves and stems. Chewing the plant can cause oral irritation - potentially intense burning and irritation of mouth, tongue and lips and associated swelling. For cats and dogs that are dumb enough to actually swallow the leaves, the effects of the ingested toxin are classified as mild to moderate – nausea, vomiting, excessive drooling, pawing at the mouth. Even leaf eaters like Bluetongues and Bearded that may be tempted to use them as a snack, quickly learn that such plants are unpalatable (without dying in the process).
 

pythoninfinite

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Hmm I tried to post here last night but couldn't for some reason. Yes Mike, the thread became a bit confusing when Nailsinside hijacked it with his own story... A Spotted Python is a much better candidate for an enclosure with plants (as distinct from a "planted enclosure"), being much smaller and lighter than a Diamond Python, which will certainly trash living plants in such a small enclosure. Live plants can definitely be an advantage - they give an enclosure a nice earthy smell and probably absorb a lot of stale gases in the the usually poorly ventilated reptile enclosures, but they need to matched appropriately with the species they are housed with. Pots are by far the best way to go - you'd probably need to spell the plants every few weeks for at least a couple of months, to allow them to refresh, so you'd need three lots to cycle them sufficiently. If you choose the "planted" option, you'll need an engineered drainage system in your enclosure, and you'll need to allow the plants at least a couple of months without any reptile inhabitants, to establish stabilising root systems or they'll just end up being pulled out. Been there, done all this years ago... there's no real need to reinvent the wheel...

Jamie
 

Bluetongue1

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I thought I read somewhere about potential salt build up but cannot relocate it. My preference of watering pots by soaking is twofold. Firstly, organic material, as they break down, produce water repellent (hydrophobic) chemicals (such as humic acids). If you let your compost heap dry out on top and then water it, the water sits in pools and slowly drains away down channels from the surface. You basically need the sprinkler going to re-wet the surface compost properly. Once wet, it soaks up water like a sponge. In fact, the kitchen sponge is a good example. When totally dry, water from the tap initially bounces off it. Unfortunately dry potting mix is much slower to re-wet.

The second reason is that it will wash out any build up of unwanted solutes – mainly salts.

If you are going re-pot a plant, do not skimp on the potting mix. Use a only a premium grade reputable brand. There is affair bit science behind making a good potting mix. Organic materials are aged to the point where they are ‘fairly stable’ chemically and treated to remove the water repellent compounds. Other materials such things like Bentonite (a reactive clay) and zeolite are added to provide improved water absorption, but more importantly to retain plant nutrients in a manner that allows plants to take them up as they want them (anion exchange). They are also designed to be free draining with an optimal air-filed porosity for root health (oxygen vs water needs). They will have slow release fertiliser added to last for specified period and may have water retaining starch crystals. These are good for a year or so, depending, and really help in root establishment stage.

Jamie made a very practical point in suggesting having three sets of plants to be used in rotating. Recovery rates depend on whether you can provide good shade house conditions or a spelling them on a protected verandah or whatever. We three sets you will have it covered, whatever. The only other thing is get yourself in tune with the condition that the plants are in. Compare your cage plants with the ones in the shade house or whatever and change the indoor ones immediately they start to look that little bit drab - developing yellowish leaves, especially the lower ones etc. If you don’t have an eye for it, then just change them all over once a month at the height of summer up to two months in winter.

This post is longer than I would like, but if you can see why certain things are recommended then it more likely you will see the point in following the advice.
 

Caleb

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Guys, I can't thank you all enough, it has turned into a most interesting discussion and I couldn't have asked for more than that.!

I have taken it all in and will now set to work with some design ideas and will post updates as they become available, don't expect them next week or anything though.. :D

I will have a look at all those plants and will definitely be going for the potted option so that I can rotate plants out and will find some way to get them to substrate level; probably by using a false bottom of some description. I would also like to use the idea that [MENTION=39299]Nailsinside[/MENTION] mentioned of a built in water bowl/pond type thing..

What can you all tell me about the appropriateness of using real animal skulls in a tank, is this ok?? Obviously it would be free of any remnants and be properly cleaned, but this should be fine no.??

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This post is longer than I would like, but if you can see why certain things are recommended then it more likely you will see the point in following the advice.


I think it's important to get the whole picture.. I really appreciate you taking the time to school me up a bit, It makes it a lot easier to embark on it with a bit of knowledge..
 
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