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Bad sheds = bad husbandry? Help!
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le_starboard wrote in snakecommunity
Hi. I know I could google this question easily (and I have), but I'd like to hear from you in real time. I'm a fairly new snake owner with a ball python who has bad sheds. I thought I was doing everything right. Could you give me some personal experiences that tell a story about you having this problem and then fixing it for the long term? What did you improve on in that fixed the issue? When I say bad sheds.. I mean she sheds in very incomplete clumps and I know that's not right. I want to take better care of my baby.


Thanks in advance!

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Less than perfect sheds are usually caused by one of two things: inadequate humidity or mites/parasites. There are other causes though. Can you tell us more about your setup?

She has a light lamp that provides warmth on the end quarter of the enclosure. She also has a heat pad in the other end of her home. She has the opportunity to avoid heat if she wants. In between she has tons of little enrichment objects..tubes, fake plants, things she can rub her butt on. I feed her two rat pups a week. She's isn't full grown.

Could you tell me what "good humidity" for a ball looks like? How can i help the humidity for her? Appreciate the help!

What are you using for a substrate and how are you providing humidity? How are you measuring humidity? I think you can buy a reasonably priced hygrometer at Lowe's or most any other hardware store so you can track the humidity and adjust as needed.

The humidity dial reads "61" right now. Too low? Substrate is astroturf sheet that I regularly replace.

And I take it you don't have a humid hide, do you?
Your astroturf holds little if any moisture. I'd recommend a hygrometer (more accurate readings) and one of these: http://www.exo-terra.com/en/products/snake_cave.php
You dampen the moss and place it in the cave. Your snake can go in whenever he or she needs some extra humidity or help shedding. You can make your own humid hide as well but I really like the cave ones and much prefer moss instead of paper towels.

Edited at 2012-09-30 05:32 am (UTC)

Thank you!! I'm going to set up a humid hide.. honestly, I had never heard of this for the ball python, so thanks!

Generally two heat sources are overkill. Does she have a warm hide and a cool hide? She needs to have a hide on each end, otherwise she'll spend all her time where she feels safe, i.e., whichever hide you provide.

I usually get good sheds when I give them baths daily after I notice them turning blue.

Heat pad is under tank, by the way.

Bad sheds mean your humidity's too low, typically. It's a common issue and easy to fix. My ball has had a few bad sheds. To fix the immediate problem, soak the snake in a little warm water in a rubbermaid tub, then let the snake slither through a damp washcloth. Takes it right off. For long-term recurring bad sheds, add a humid hide to the cage. Damp paper towels in a rubbermaid box, cut a hole in the box. Easier than trying to fiddle with room humidity. I've tried the humidifier route and it didn't help much. I typically only need to add a humid hide for my ball in dry months in winter here, but of course could be different depending on where you live.

You're a life saver! I'm going to take your advice, thanks@@

Seconding the humid hide; also seconding the moss version, though paper towels work. Is the water dish he/she has now deep enough to let the snake submerge fully? Sometimes they like to just lay there in an underwater blob.

Yes.. she has a nice big, deep water dish she could get into easily.. I'm going to set up a humid hide.. never even heard of that for a ball python!

One thing I find helps is changing the cage lid. Screen tops are *terrible* for holding humidity, so for most of my animals, I replace them with a homemade top made of pegboard (1/8" holes in a 1" grid pattern). Add a good rim and secure it to the tank with a belt, and you should maintain humidity a lot easier. Just be aware that it also will reduce heat loss, so you should dial back your heat sources pretty far.

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