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Thread: Going bioactive

  1. #1
    Never shed Elisabeth83's Avatar
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    Going bioactive

    How early is too early, if there is such a thing? My baby girls are getting up in age and I think they could use a good upgrade to go with their new bigger enclosure. Iíve just heard mixed information about whether a bioactive substrate is good for juvenile snakes. I need to stop reading all these different blogs and just go to you guys.
    Also has anybody ever had problems with your garters trying to eat the isopods or springtails? Will the chitinous exoskeletons be harmful to their digestion if it happens?
    BB6510EE-0097-4B68-B4F0-AF4A74DF7333.jpg
    This is my biggest baby for reference. The two others are a bit smaller and younger, if that matters.

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    Re: Going bioactive

    Which subspecies are your baby girls? Many of northern origin should have already be in brumation. That aside:

    1) Garters will not attempt to consume an organism containing an
    exoskeleton.
    2) If "early" means younger, smaller snakes (i.e. less snake biomass), who can locate the intended prey items, then no, there is no such thing as too early. The larger the enclosure and the smaller the snake biomass the more efficient the bioactivity.

    Three examples (assumes feeding the same proportionately, therefore producing same amount of waste, proportionately):
    1) 10g tank containing 10 units of substrate with 3 snakes whose total weight = 1 pound
    2) 20g tank
    containing 20 units of substrate with 3 snakes whose total weight = 1 pound
    3) 40g tank
    containing 40 units of substrate with 3 snakes whose total weight = 1 pound

    The last tank, the 40g, is the most efficient bioactively.

    Three more examples (also assuming feeding the same proportionately):
    1) 10g tank containing 10 units of substrate with 1 snake whose total weight = 1 pound
    2) 20g tank
    containing 20 units of substrate with 2 snakes whose total weight = 1 pound
    3) 40g tank
    containing 40 units of substrate with 3 snakes whose total weight = 4 pounds

    The 1st and 3rd tank would be of equal bioactivity; the 2nd tank would be most efficient.

    OT question: Why do you want to go bioactive?
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  3. #3
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    Re: Going bioactive

    I went bioactive when both of my snakes were about a year old and it's been great. Mine have not tried to eat the isopods or springtails. I use zebra isopods so they're pretty big. I don't think exoskeletons would be an issue if snakes are digesting bones on a regular basis.

    I only keep young snakes on paper towel to help monitor their droppings and feeding. I think you're safe to go bioactive once you know your snake is healthy.

    Good luck!
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  4. #4
    Never shed Elisabeth83's Avatar
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    Re: Going bioactive

    Quote Originally Posted by Manitou View Post
    Which subspecies are your baby girls? Many of northern origin should have already be in brumation.
    OT question: Why do you want to go bioactive?
    Wow thanks for all that info!!! Definitely copying and saving that for later!

    One baby is a Western Terrestrial, one is an Eastern, and one’s a Lake Chapala. The only one I’ve noticed trying to brumate yet is my Chapala, and just because I turned off the heating pad and tried to source their heat with only a basking lamp at the behest of a tham Facebook group. Turned out to be a big mistake, she immediately tried to brumate right in the same spot she went to sleep two days earlier with the exact same size food baby she went to bed with! Stopped digesting her food at all, went totally limp, lethargic and cold (she’s usually lively as hell) and I had to get her back on her heating pad quick. But enough of my rant! Haha. Tropical species so maybe the same rules don’t apply. She’s doing just fine now. The other two maybe are eating slightly less on some feeding days kinda?... It’s hard to tell though.
    I want to go bioactive because it just seems like the healthiest set up for them. It seems the cleanest and most naturalistic, so hopefully it can help them feel at ease and happy with their surroundings. Baby snakes are in general a jumpy bunch and I’d like to help them be as comfortable as possible.
    Last edited by Elisabeth83; 10-20-2020 at 02:18 AM.

  5. #5
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    Re: Going bioactive

    Quote Originally Posted by MNGuy View Post
    I went bioactive when both of my snakes were about a year old and it's been great. Mine have not tried to eat the isopods or springtails. I use zebra isopods so they're pretty big. I don't think exoskeletons would be an issue if snakes are digesting bones on a regular basis.
    Oh nice! Thanks for that! Yeah I’m getting a mix of different isopods in the mail pretty soon here and some of them are Dairy Cows, nice and big. Also some powder blues and oranges too but not sure how big they are. But that’s okay, sounds like so far everyone’s saying the snakes arent interested in eating them anyway which is good enough news for me.
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  6. #6
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    Re: Going bioactive

    Quote Originally Posted by Elisabeth83 View Post
    Oh nice! Thanks for that! Yeah I’m getting a mix of different isopods in the mail pretty soon here and some of them are Dairy Cows, nice and big. Also some powder blues and oranges too but not sure how big they are. But that’s okay, sounds like so far everyone’s saying the snakes arent interested in eating them anyway which is good enough news for me.

    Cool. It might be worth doing some research on bioactive forums (I belong to a good one on Facebook -- bioactive setups for reptiles and amphibians, or something like that) about mixing different species of isopods. I know some species can "take over" a tank and out compete others, killing them off over time. It wouldn't be worth your money to mix some species. Although it seems like maybe some can mix?

    I'm not an expert. I only keep one type.

    Good luck.
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  7. #7
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    Re: Going bioactive

    Yes! I just joined that group today! So far I havenít posted anything and just looked through it. Iíll keep that in mind with the isopods. Definitely have to do more research as Iíve only been a snake mom now for 3 months.
    I know the mix of isopods Iím getting were all cultured together, no idea if that counts for anything. Haha

  8. #8
    "Preparing For Second shed" NikkiSixx's Avatar
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    Re: Going bioactive

    Just curious on the one you have the picture of above. Looks more like a wandering to me. and when we go out, we find them in 40ish degree weather. Sometimes colder. We also have a bioactive tank, and it seems like some species like it, and others hid out more. Like our valleys and wanderings hide more, but our plains and red sides love it and are always out exploring.

  9. #9
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    Re: Going bioactive

    Yes she is a wandering. Sorry I got in the habit of calling them Western Terrestrials back when I was scouring Wikipedia trying to figure out what she was.
    Right now sheís my big climber, she loves climbing all over the fake plants in our tank, Iím hoping sheíll like exploring the live plants even more, but I guess weíll see. Do you think maybe putting in an extra dry rough basking platform would help keep her happy in a bioactive tank? Or maybe a dry sandy spot? Wanderings tend to like it a bit dry, right?

  10. #10
    "Preparing For Second shed" NikkiSixx's Avatar
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    Re: Going bioactive

    We have found them 40 feet up in a tree. It is one of my favorite den spots. I can sit there for hours watching them come out of the tree trunks. breeding balls way up in the tree. If I knew how to pull pictures from Facebook and Instagram I would show them. So I am sure she would love claiming and playing in the fake/live plants.

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