4. BEFORE YOUR CHONDRO ARRIVES
Now that you’ve chosen a chondro, what’s the best way to prepare for its arrival? The most important step is to set up the enclosure and treat it as if your chondro is at home. You should have already chosen a good heat source and thermostat, and now is the time to dial in and monitor your temperatures. You will likely need to make slight changes to the thermostat probe placement until you feel comfortable that your basking spot and cooler side are holding appropriate temps. And don’t forget your perches. This is also a great time to dial in your misting schedule, a topic that will be covered more in just a bit. If you plan on providing extra ambient light, set that up as well. You will likely be using a timer to control the photoperiod (hours of light and dark) and using a timer is the best way to provide a consistent light cycle. Your main goal is to avoid any surprises when your new GTP arrives.
Other than the enclosure and its necessities (heat source, thermostat, perches, substrate, and lighting), there are several items that will be useful.
Rubber-Tipped Tongs or Hemostats
These tools are mainly used for feeding. Eight inch hemostats are commonly used for sub-yearlings, whereas longer hemostats help provide an extra buffer zone when feeding adult chondros. While some hemostats have locking mechanisms, many keepers prefer to file these off to prevent unwanted clamping on a rodent that has already been grabbed. Some keepers prefer the protection of rubber tips, especially when feeding aggressive snakes. On the other hand, some prefer to remove the rubber tips as small teeth are prone to getting caught/snagged in this material. Experiment both with and without and decide what makes you most comfortable.
A snake hook is recommended, especially when working with more aggressive animals. They are most helpful when it is necessary to remove a snake from its enclosure.
Used for misting in order to increase the humidity level.
IR Temp gun
Temp guns are useful for fine-tuning you enclosure. Temp guns read surface temps and provide a general idea of the temperature at different locations in the enclosure. They are especially useful when setting up your temperature gradient within the enclosure. Once your chondro has arrived, temp guns also enable you to monitor the temps of your animal. Some lower priced models are accurate only to within plus/minus 2ºF - 5ºF. Pay attention to the specifications as you shop for a temp gun and purchase the most accurate model that fits your budget. The Raytek MT4 or MT6 Mini Temp sell for around $50.00. The Fluke 62 Mini Infrared Thermometer will cost about $90.00 and both are good choices.
Chlorhexidine/Novalsen or Bleach
It is recommended to have a second, clearly marked spray bottle with a diluted disinfecting solution for cage cleanouts.
Hand sanitizer should be used generously to avoid spreading disease from your animals to you, as well as from you to the animals in your collection.
A Local Exotics Veterinarian
It is better to locate a reputable veterinarian in your area in the event your snake needs medical attention. Issues like prolapse and RI’s often require immediate intervention, and having already located a trusted doctor is essential. Finding vets experienced with snakes can sometimes be challenging, but there are MVF members all over the US, so feel free to ask for recommendations.