10 Tips for Constructing a Ball Python Room (works for lots of reptiles actually)

10 Tips for Constructing a Ball Python Room – By Justin Kobylka & Sebastian Walker (Royals of Africa)

This article was original published in the fall 2013 issue of the Ball Street Journal newsletter. To sign up for our email news letter, Click Here.

One of my first facility photos from 2007.

One of JKR’s first facility photos from 2007.

This article is not about how to physically construct and set up your room, as this will be very subjective to your needs. It is more the key factors to consider prior to construction that we have often seen missed by even experienced herpers.

  1. Have back up thermostats for everything linked to the electricity. This includes all heating and cooling. Thermostats are the most simple and critical lines of defense between killer temps and your Ball Pythons. Make sure to consult a qualified electrician for all electrical work.

  1. Ensure that you enough power coming into your property. Many houses still only have a 100A supply and with the power needs for the house as well as the reptile room, this may not be enough power. You don’t want your Ball Python room tripping because you’re using the microwave.

  1. Have a back-up power source or at least a plan of action in the event of a complete power failure. Options include an automatically starting generator to replace the full power of the building, or the more economical back-up generator that you can manually start to maintain critical systems only. Don’t forget to have plenty of stored fuel in case of an extended outage. Have multiple ways of being alerted if the power goes down or if there is an issue with the heating or cooling.

  1. Have a sealed waterproof floor with a drain in the room if you can afford it. Ensure the seal goes 6 inches up the wall. This will make spills much easier to contain and allows for easy cleaning of the floor.

  1. If possible, always make the room a bit bigger than you think you may need, even though it may cost a little more to construct and heat. Make sure you allocate enough space for work areas other than animal storage. Make room for an extra sink, storage, or photography area if needed These dedicated spaces can save huge amounts of time and money when factored over years. Adding 20% extra square footage doesn’t add 20% more to the budget and not being cramped is well worth the additional funds!

  1. Think time motion studies when laying out your room. There is a lot of time spent undertaking repetitive weekly/daily tasks in a reptile room and with some careful layout planning you can reduce the amount of time you spend undertaking these repetitive tasks. This can add up to extensive time saved over the months and years.

  1. Consider the hardest, most time consuming way to build your room and that is probably the right way to do it. If you have long term plans, try and take the pain now, do it really well and reap the rewards for many years to come e.g. have the floor properly screeded and leveled if not level, deal with those basement damp issues well prior to installing the room, spend the extra money installing all those extra power sockets or upgrading your house to 200A or 300A etc, etc.

  1. Plan a couple of areas separate from your room for quarantining. Even herpers with the highest standards of care occasionally have snakes get sick and you also want to quarantine all new snakes if at all possible as the value of your collection grows. Ideally you want these snakes physically separated from your Ball Python room.

  1. Small part of JKR facility (2013)

    Small part of JKR facility (2013)

    Manage Risk. Make a list of everything that can go wrong with your room and find a way to manage that risk by either accepting it as a very low risk or having a solution to eliminate or reduce that risk. Don’t discover problems only when they occur.

  1. Plan, plan, plan. Time spent up front in planning comes back 100 fold over the life of the room. Everyone makes mistakes and learns from those mistakes but the less you have to do retrospectively to the room the better.

Please contact us at Royals of Africa or J. Kobylka Reptiles with feedback. We would love to hear your thoughts.

One thought on “10 Tips for Constructing a Ball Python Room (works for lots of reptiles actually)

  1. My reptile room is a rather small (300 sq ft) building on my property. I have used many of your suggestions in the layout/build-up of this facility. Common sense also came into play during the planning phase, and everything is working out as planned. I live in northern AZ, and it does get warm here in the summer, so we use a swamp cooler (adds humidity too), and in the winter, oil-filled radiators and humidifiers. The building stays a relatively constant 78-80 degrees all year long, sometimes dropping to 75 at night. Relative humidity stays at 60-70 percent all year. Quarantine is in the house, in the study, where new snakes live for 90 days minimum. I’m lucky i guess, because the building is solar powered, so no power outage issues. Two windows on opposite sides provide excellent cross ventilation on nice days. The floor is tile, but no drain. Room has been sealed throughout. New insulation was added, and metal roof put on. I raise rodents in another smaller shed (also climate-controlled) next to it. All of my planning/construction took a little bit over a year, because I wanted everything to be perfect. There is a sink, fridge, and microwave in there, as well as a metal table and a couple of chairs. It’s also a nice quiet place to repair to if you just want to think, and enjoy a beer or two.

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