Ball Python humidity levels
Reader question: "I have been trying to get my ball python cage up to about 70% humidity, but I'm having a hard time doing it. What can I do to increase the level of humidity inside my ball python enclosure?"
Why do you want to get the humidity so high? Ball pythons do not come from a tropical environment. They come from the northwestern part of Africa, where it is mostly arid and semi-arid. In my experience, ball pythons do very well in cages that have a normal level of humidity in the 50% to 60% range. When you combine these conditions with proper hydration (i.e., water bowls), your ball python should have all the moisture it needs.
How well is your snake shedding at present? If the snake sheds well, with most of the skin coming off in one or two large pieces, you probably have sufficient humidity already. This is the best indicator of environmental correctness. If the ball python sheds well, it probably has all of the humidity it needs. If the snake has trouble shedding, and the skin comes off in lots of broken pieces, it could be dehydrated.
It's also important to make sure your ball python has clean drinking water available at all times. The shedding process requires a lot of moisture, so your snake needs to be properly hydrated in order to shed well. Chances are, you'll notice the snake drinking larger amounts of water as it goes into a shed cycle. This is because the snake's body instinctively tells it to increase water intake - to prepare for the shedding cycle.
As mentioned, the ideal humidity range for ball pythons in captivity is around 55%. When the snake is going into shed, you can increase the level to around 65%. This will help your ball python separate the old outer layer of skin, and will also help avoid such problems as retained eye caps.
There are many ways to increase the relative humidity inside a ball python enclosure:
If you have an under the tank heater, you can place the water bowl above it. This acts like a crude humidifier. The heat warms the water, which causes water vapor to rise.
You could also try using a substrate material that increases the humidity inside the cage. Cypress mulch is a good example of such a substrate.
You can create a moisture box, simply by cutting a hole in the top of a plastic box. Partially fill the box with some type of moist substrate like cypress mulch or damp paper towels, and the snake can go in and out of the box as needed.
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