Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Plattsmouth, NE
Gotta disagree with some of that, sorry. Ambient humidity should be 60%, and low ambient humidity leads to chronic dehydration (which causes bad sheds, among other things).
Humidity should be high, but wetness should be avoided--the bedding should be dry. I've heard of humid hides working, but you should be cautious...allowing the snake to sit around in damp moss is likely to result in skin infections.
RIs are more likely to be caused by excessive dryness than excessive humidity, as low humidity will stress the respiratory system. There's a myth going around that humidity should be lowered if a snake gets an RI, but it is false--good hydration helps thin mucous secretions, allowing the snake to expel the mucous more easily. People mistake seeing less mucous for an improvement.
In the wild, ball pythons spend most of their time, including the entire day, in rodent burrows and termite mounds, where ambient humidity is much higher. The environment in a termite mound includes temperatures within a few degrees of 88F, and a humidity up around 98%, with no dampness. The termites control their climate very carefully.
It is likely no coincidence that these are the conditions in which ball python eggs incubate best.
Probably the best substrate to use for ball pythons is Cypress mulch. I successfully keep mine on aspen, but keep the cool side dampened around the water bowl. This requires replacing the aspen there frequently, as it will mold. (I haven't yet found a source for finely ground cypress mulch, locally). It's a bit of a challenge--in the winter, conditions sometimes get too dry, resulting in the occasional bad shed. Even in the summer when humidity is highest, I never see skin infections, and RIs have only occurred when snakes were exposed to temperatures that were too low, and the air was too dry.
If your snake isn't shedding in one piece, it is dehydrated, and the humidity is too low. You should keep your humidity at the minimum level required for your snake to shed cleanly in one piece.
Ball pythons are hardy animals, and some of them can take dry conditions better than others, but they really do better when the humidity is up where it should be.