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Thom 11-21-2011 08:03 AM

Building a new VIV
Ok I have found all of my old pics from when I built Hawn's viv and the chamber to euthanize her prey. I was going to go ahead and post all of them and maybe it will help anyone else. If you want to see the pics here just let me know and over the next cpl of days I will get it al setup.

Greg Nel 11-21-2011 08:30 AM

Thom please go ahead and post the pictures and info as i am keen to build new vivs for my bigger snakes. I also am desperate to avoid escapes as my design leaves a bit to be desired regarding security features.

Thom 11-21-2011 01:05 PM

Ok its been a long time since I have tried to post anything of length on here so I am going to start out by HOW TO BUILD A GAS CHAMBER. I know it sounds a lot more diabolical then it really is...
First I want to begin by saying that I do not nor will I ever again feed any of my snakes live prey. I have not only seen way too many pics of snakes that have been killed by a tiny little mouse cuz the snake wasnt hungry when it was fed so that gave the mouse the opportunity to bite the snake or even eat the snake. I had that happen to me about 25 years ago with a small redtail boa we had.
Now you might ask.... Why not buy frozen, they are a lot cheaper and safer. My answer to that question is this..... When you go to the store and buy a nice t-bone, do you buy it frozen? No you dont. You buy it fresh and eat it while it is still fresh. Also to add to my reasoning... I have no idea how long ago that rat was frozen and if it was healthy when it was frozen. Now I have been told over and over again that the freezing process would take care of anything that the rat might have had that would harm my snake but again I say poppy****!
Therefore I always buy live rats and I keep them for at least 24 hours before I euthanize them in my gas chamber to make sure they arent sick.
Now your next question is I'm sure... Why not just bash the rat or daze the rat or whatever else you might come up with to kill it. My answer to that is.... Why? The poor rat is already giving his life for my babies why make him suffer anymore then it has to. After building the chamber the cost is a fraction of a cent to use. I just filled up my Co2 bottle Fri after I used it for 4 years! Thats right I said 4 years. It cost me less then $5.50 USD to fill the bottle and it took me over 4 years actually to empty it.

Thom 11-21-2011 01:16 PM

Gas Chamber cont...
This is a pic of the main things you will need. They include....
1 Co2 bottle. I use the 20 oz. Paintball gun bottle
1 10' section of aquarium plastic air hose
1 Seal-able container that will be big enough to hold the prey
1 One container without a lid. I use an ice cream bucket
1 adapter with a shut off to hookup the bottle to the chamber
Now you can see in the pic that there are few other things but this list is the main stuff you will need. I will ge to the other stuff shortly

Thom 11-21-2011 01:21 PM
You will need to drill a hole in the removable lid for your chamber so that you can put a hose fitting in the lids. the air hose attaches to this fitting just by pressing it on. There is no reason to clamp the hose on. If you get the proper size fitting for the hose it will work just fine and not have any leaks.
Now to conect the fitting to the lid I just used a nut on the back side of the fitting with a washer so I could tighten ot down as tight as I could get it.
(Sorry the pis is so blurry but its the only pic I have of this step and hopefully it at least shows you what I am talking about here)Oh and by the way in this pic you see I used a clamp on the hose so it wouldnt come lose but I found after having to take the clamp off every time I put the chamber away I didnt need the clamp at all. It works great without it

Thom 11-21-2011 01:31 PM
The next step it to drill a hole in the lowesy portion of the chamber as possible but make sure you have it high enough to fit the nut on the back side so you can tighten it. This hole is for the quick connect fitting that will fit the flex hose adaptor that you got when you bought your tank. Its the curly hose with the shutoff on it....

Thom 11-21-2011 01:36 PM

Now that you have all of the hard work done its pretty simple from here on out.
You attach the air hose to the lid fitting and run that into the container of water, This is so the oxygen from the chamber will be able to escape the chamber but not get back in cuz the water prevents it from doing so.
You attach the flex hose with shutoff to the quick connect fitting at the bottle edge of the chamber. This is used to get the CO2 into the container and since CO2 is heavier then air it will force all of the oxygen out of the chamber and allow it to fill with gas.
This is what it looks like when it is all hooked up

Thom 11-21-2011 01:40 PM

When you open the valve to release the gas into the chamber be sure to do it very slowly. If you do it too fast you will just blow the lid off the chamber and waste gas. And you all know how guys HATE to just waste gas! lol
You only need to leave it slightly cracked so you have a very slow but steady flow of bubbles in the container that the exhaust hose goes into.
You also only need to leave the valve open for about 10 seconds or untill the rat lays down. I leave them in the chamber for only about 5 mins after I shutoff the gas. I then feed it to the snake. Its fresh and still warm.

Thom 11-21-2011 03:40 PM

Ok I am now going to attempt to describe the construction of the viv. Now I cant really give any complete details because I did this like 5 years ago and to tell you the truth I just dont remember all the details. If anyone actually wants to build this or one like it just let me know and I will try to help however I can.
I will show some completed shots of it and then go through the steps
This is looking into it from next to the feed door. You see the soaking lagoon on the right and the hide on the left. By the way.... she looooooooooooves to soak.
This shows the opposite end. Notice the second hide? The one here is the warm hide and the other end with the lagoon is the cool side.
This shows the lighting from the top plus the front of the viv.

DBG 11-21-2011 05:49 PM

I found this step by step while searching online for ideas to build my own for Storm.

lovesnuffles 11-21-2011 09:18 PM

Woohoo! Pictures!!

Thom 11-21-2011 10:53 PM

I just went and checked it out. Its a great sight for step by step. All you have to do is scale it to whatever size you want yours to be.
Good Luck
Oh and by the way

Thom 11-22-2011 12:20 PM

Thom 11-22-2011 12:21 PM

Thom 11-22-2011 12:23 PM

Thom 11-22-2011 12:30 PM

Thom 11-22-2011 12:50 PM

Greg Nel 11-22-2011 03:58 PM

Very useful pics i could even follow them. Amazing snake!

Thom 11-22-2011 07:10 PM
This was just taken of Hawn about a week ago. I just found it on the camers. I will get one of Russell tonight and post it then

NASAAN101 11-22-2011 07:28 PM

How old is Hawn, he's so cute!!

Thom 11-23-2011 01:11 AM

Hawn is about 7 years old. We have had her for 4 1/2 years and she was about 3 when we got her.

Thom 11-23-2011 01:22 AM
I just took these of Russell. I cant take him out to get a better pic yet cuz jen isnt home from work. I dont ever handle them unless there is someone else here too. Never can be too safe with the big boys,

Sparcky 11-23-2011 05:14 AM

That gas chamber in brilliant! Looks like a Co2 tank from a paintball gun.... Going to have to have my boyfriend make me one. I feed live pinky mice when I can and frozen when I can't. That it the perfect set up for when they get onto older, more dangerous prey

Thom 11-23-2011 05:17 AM

Yes it is the CO2 bottle from a paintball gun. Its a 20oz bottle. and the adapter you need is usually hanging right next to the bottles on the display at your favorite sporting goods store in the paintball dept.
If you need any help on it or have any questions at all just let me know.
Oh and I know you didnt ask for my opinion on the matter but I wouldn't feed mine live no matter what the size.

Greg Nel 11-23-2011 09:37 AM

I also feed live pinkies and small rats. I have read all thats been said on "never feed live food" etc and it reads similar to always feed in a seperate tank. The logic is debatable. I euthanase larger food but watch the eating habits of my snakes carefully and will never neglect to notice (as some pictures put up some time back seem to suggest) if the food is eating my pet.
I believe in a degree of natural stimulation when it comes to feeding.

Thom 11-23-2011 11:50 AM

About 25 years ago I had 2 redtails. They were way too young to breed but that is why i got them. We had them for 2 years and we sold our house and a buddy of mine bought my whole setup from me. The reason I told you about all of that is cuz of what Im about to explain.
The reason I dont feed live prey isnt because Im afraid that the snake wont be hungry and the mouse ends up biting the snake. I do it cuz once when my male struck a very small mouse but as it was constricting the mouse it bit my snake. It cost me about $300.00 in vet bills. It was the first bad incident that I had experienced. After that and every since I have always euthanized the prey.
My buddy sold both of them a few years back and they were both very healthy happy snakes but the male still had a pretty good scare on his side where that mouse had bit it years before.
The chamber I use is very very cheap to use ( a fraction of a penny for esch use. It took me over 4 years to use up one 20oz bottle before I had it filled and it only cost $5.00 USD to fill it. total cost of building it is way less then a $100.00 USD. Its cheap, its safe, and it just gives me piece of mind.

Sparcky 11-23-2011 09:07 PM

I plan on feeding pre-killed when they get beyond pinkies. The pinkies can't damage them. I breed my own mice so they literally go from nest to snake, and I freeze the rest of the litter when they get to the right size. My boys aren't picky thank goodness.

Thom 11-24-2011 01:01 AM

Thats good. Its really good to know where the food is coming from.

Greg Nel 11-24-2011 06:09 AM

Ok Thom i will shift to pre-killed food as well. The problerm is that we do not have stores anywhere near me that sell food. Those that do a distance away charge ludicrous prices. Up to 5 x the price of a live rat! I thus breed all my own food. Please let me in on the design of a chamber for humane preperation of food. I will never do the blow to the head suggestion.

Thom 11-25-2011 12:26 AM

Thnx nikki. Hawn is a 7 and a half year old female. I have been asked a lot if I am going to breed her and the answer to that is no. I have no interest in breeding anymore. I just want to enjoy my babies and give them as good a life as I can. :)

Sparcky 12-01-2011 07:38 PM

Got my chamber built yesterday. Instead of a water lock, we used 2 one-way aquarium valves on the lid. We tested it on an old rat (poor thing had a tumor the size of a small lemon on her belly) We could not think of a humane way to put her out of her misery as she got to where she could hardly walk around her cage. She was one of our best producers for a long time and deserved something comfortable. It worked beautifully and gently. Thank you for the idea.

Thom 12-02-2011 02:39 PM

Im glad I could help

DBG 12-09-2011 05:29 AM

How do you install the glass? I'm thinking of using your outline for a guide here to build me a viv for Storm. She's only 2 ft right now but heck, I might as well just build now and move her when she's ready to move out of her small tank. :)

I have a friend who is an engineer and can draft something and help build but not sure how to do the glass part of installation. I have a couple other friends who seem confident to be able to do the glass. So......since Houndini comes to visit. I just wan tto ensure it's secure.

Thom 12-09-2011 09:51 AM

Well there are a couple of different ways you can do the glass. On Hawn's viv what I did was use a type of trim that actually holds the glass in. With Russell's viv there is a slot that the glass slides into. Either way will work. You just need to be sure that the glass is strong enough that if the snake pressed on it with its body it wont explode the glass out.
I cant do it till Jen gets home from work but I will take some close up shots of how the glass is on Russell's viv.
I also wanted to mention that I dont use glass. I actually use Lexon. Its much much stronger and if the snake does break it there isnt any showering of glass.

DBG 12-09-2011 06:11 PM


One of my other friends asked me if I could use something other than glass but I didn't know what. How thick is the lexon? That is another thing I'll need to know.

Thanks for all your help. I have learned alot from you and appreciate what you contribute to the form. I am rather new as you can tell sinc eyou returned. My first snake (a red tail) I recieved last year Oct as a youngling but she died of endocarditis and I have a new red tail that is thriving and doing well. So want to get a viv up for her when she's ready to move.

Thom 12-12-2011 05:00 AM

To be totally honest with you I WOULD NOT use glass at all. If you do there is always the threat of it getting broken. not just by the snake after it gets big enough but more so by outside means..... Such as you or someone is running the vacuum and as you are just sweeping away you dont realize how close you are to the glass and BLAMMO! you put the handle of the sweeper right through the glass. Or, I dont know if you have little ones or know anyone that has little ones that come over but if you do then glass is a really bad idea. its just too easily broken and can cause so much damage to the snake or anyone else that may be around if it breaks. The Lexon I used for Hawns is 1/4 inch thick. Now 1/4" isnt really strong enough to hold her after she gets a little bigger. But I can always change the 1/4" to 1/2" or even 3/4" when that time comes. You really dont have to use any type of glass if you don,t want to. You can use hardware cloth. Make sure it is a tight enough mesh that your snake can't get through it. The reason I use glass is cuz my vivs are totally sealed tight. I keep them in my living room and I don,t want them to stink the place up. I have charcoal filters that keep fresh air pumped into the vivs and keeps it relatively scent free.
I guess it just really depends on how much you have to spend on it all. Hawn's viv cost me aprox $600.00 to build myself and that was about 5 years ago. So it can get real expensive depending on the materials you use.
I have really wanted to draw out some sketches for you so you can see exactly how I did it. I just havent had much time lately.
If there is anything in particular that I can help you with just ask me and I will see what I can do for you
Good luck

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