at Wed Feb 1 01:12:28 2017 [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by markg ]
Kingsnakes are subterranean by nature, meaning they do not typically climb branches to bask. They get their warmth from the warm ground or ground cover warmed by the sun. They go deeper underground to cool off and avoid hot, dry conditions.
It does not matter much if the air temp is 68 deg. The snake's belly is on the cage floor, so the snake's internal temperature is more affected by the cage floor temperature. During cool weather the CHE can help, but the screen top lets out most of that heat.
A better approach, and simpler (simpler is better usually) is to get rid of the overhead heater and cover 80-90% of the cage top with something like cardboard covered in aluminum foil or even cheap towels and only use the undertank heater. During Summer, you may want to remove the cover, as you will not need to keep heat in very much at that time.
Glass conducts heat really well, aspen does not. I would set the controller for the heat mat to be in the range of 82-84 deg. Above the warm glass, put a shoebox-sized plastic container or a clean Cool-Whip container with a cutout in the lid. Fill the container loosely with damp sphagnum moss. That can be the warm hide. Let it dry out before moistening it again. Kings love hides like this. You can put substrate all around the warm hide and in the rest of the cage, but let the warm hide touch the glass or at least be close to it. Don't set it 2 inches up on top of aspen, that is not useful, and the glass under the aspen just gets hot while the top of the aspen stays much cooler as you have seen.
Depending on the ambient air temps and humidity in the room, you may have to adjust the heat mat temp setpoint a bit, but 84 is generally high enough for kings to digest, and 90 is usually too high if left on all of the time. Cool air temps in the 60's are just fine for kings, especially this time of year. It is the belly heat that matters. Humid hides as described maintain gentle heat and does not dry out the snakes. Overhead heat does dry out snakes (when using screen tops).
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