Each unit is then measured for the length of heat tape (13’ in this case) and cut.  The extension cord is attached to the heat tape using Flexwatt clipsets and the opposite end is taped along the width to prevent electrical issues.  Plug the heat tape into the wall to make sure that it is, in fact, working.  It’s easier to fix a problem now than when it is installed in the rack.  Once you check the tape, start with the clean end of the tape in the bottom shelf and lay the tape flush against the side opposite where the groove of the above shelf is and begin laying the tape into the groove.  I use pushpins along the clear outer area of the tape to hold it down every 6-8 inches.  When I get to the end of the shelf, I use electrical tape to hold the heat tape to the side of the unit and to feed it up to the next level.  I continue until the entire unit is wired.  Once the heat tape is in place, measure and cut a piece of 1/8” pegboard to attach to the back of the unit using finishing nails, leaving a hole to feed the extension cord through.   The board will act as an insulator for the heat as well being able to dissipate any additional heat through the holes.  The pegboard will also act as a support brace for the entire unit.  Now that the hatchling units are done, lets move on to the adult racks and then we’ll discuss the Rubbermaids, attaching the temperature probes, thermostats and setting up the bins for habitation. The adult units and racks are very similar to the hatchling units and racks in that they are also built “modular”.  The adult racks are built to house 8 Rubbermaid #2221’s; four wide, and two shelves high, with a support brace in the middle to prevent sagging and to add additional support.  The boards are cut to size to take into account the ¼” gap between shelves again for the corrugated plastic product.  The shelves are measured at 6 1/4” to allow for the corrugated plastic sheeting.  The shelves are grooved and routered the same as the hatchling racks, and the heat tape is installed in the same fashion.  12.5” of heat tape is used per unit.   When putting this unit together, due to the width of it and the weight of the melamine, I install an additional melamine board upright in the middle of each shelf for support, so that two bins sit to either side of the insert.  Take this into account when measuring the width of the boards.  The heat tape is installed in the same manner and the pegboard is attached. After all of the units are built, what we have are four units stacked on top of one another with four extension cords sticking out the back.  What we need to do now is attach this heat tape to a thermostat to regulate the proper temperatures in the enclosures. For all racks, the Herpstat Pro is my thermostat of choice.  The Herpstat Pro, manufactured by Spyder Robotics and running roughly $329 has all the built in features anyone could want in one compact, reliable unit.  The Herpstat Pro has four temperature probes, taking the place of four of their competitors units.  These additional probes (which influenced my build greatly) allow me to attach a probe to each of my four units for accurate temperature control of each strip of heat tape, which virtually eliminates the problems caused by the inaccuracies of using just one probe for any length of tape.  Regardless of how you build your racks, hot air rises and the higher shelves will become hotter than the shelves at the bottom of the rack, sometimes by as much as ten degrees.  The four probes of the Herpstat Pro allow me to attach a probe to every second shelf of my rack to ensure that temperatures are even from top to bottom.  I plug the probe into the back of the unit and tape the probe to the Flexwatt with electrical tape.  Make sure you tape them down well and in a place where they will not impede any bins opening and closing.  Last thing you’ll need to do is set each probe individually from the unit to the temps you desire.   The Herpstat also allows you to turn off any single probe and heat to it, or any group of probes.  A great feature if your rack is only half or three quarters full of animals. Now that the rack is done and there is heat to it, all that is left is setting up your bins to house your animals.  The first thing you’ll need to do is add some ventilation to your bins.  This can be tricky, as there is no right or wrong number of holes to drill into the bins as each environment has its own temperatures, air flow and humidity.  It’s easier to add holes than to take them away, so I suggest you start with a few holes and work your way up to find the perfect air flow to your bins.  I use a 1/8” drill bit and drill holes an inch down from the lip of the Rubbermaids.  For my hatchling bins, I have found two holes in front and back, and three along the sides works perfectly.  For my adult bins, I use a ¼” bit with four holes in front and back each, and three on each side.  I found this works best for my environment.   There are also variety of substrates that you can us in your bins; reptile carpet, dish towels, paper towels, newspaper, beta chips, shaved/shredded aspen bedding, coconut fibre and other naturally occurring loose substrates.  For ease of cleaning and humidity reasons, I prefer to keep all of my hatchlings on three layers of paper towel (Bounty).  Babies pee and poop a lot so you’ll have to clean often.  Paper towel allows for easy cleaning and good absorption as well as being aesthetically pleasing.   Many do, but I do not provide a hide for my babies or adults.  I find that the animals that want more privacy will crawl under the paper towels.  For my adults, I prefer to use unprinted newspaper stock as a substrate.  This can be found at your local moving supply store and purchased for relatively reasonable amount of money.  I use two sheets per bin.  I like it for the same reasons as the paper towels for the babies. A water dish is also essential for your enclosures, as ball pythons drink quite often and will soak during a shed if the dish is large enough.  For my hatchlings, I use an 8 or 16 ounce deli cup with a 2 inch diameter hole in the lid.  For my adults, I use a large Tupperware-like container that is of ample size for even my largest females to soak in. We’ve covered the build, the heat tape, the thermostat, and the enclosures.  All that is left is for you to fill your bins with some gorgeous ball pythons and enjoy them knowing that they have everything that they will need to live a healthy life. updated Feb 1, 2011