Ball Python Terrarium Setup – The Ultimate Guide To Get You Started

Ball Python Terrarium: Your reptile’s very own habitat

You have been looking forward to this for a long time. Now your dream has finally come true. You have your own Ball python. It doesn’t matter how you got your new pet, what matters is that it’s going home with you. Wait a sec!! Have you prepared a space for it? This is a python and not any other pet. You can’t have it slithering around the house. No, you can’t put her in a tub for the time been. You need a terrarium. You may not know zilch about ball python terrarium and how to set it up. Don’t worry we got you covered. All the information you need is in this article. This is an ultimate guide on ball python terrarium setup.

IMPORTANT COMPONENTS OF A BALL PYTHON TERRARIUM

These are the no negotiable factors that must be in place for your ball python terrarium setup.

TEMPERATURE

There is a need to maintain the right temperature in the terrarium you house ball python. Regardless of the age of your ball python, the temperature is vital. The right temperature will keep your reptile comfortable and warm. The temperature should be in a range of 78 to 80 degree Fahrenheit all through the enclosure. In the special spot that you create for your python to bask, the temperature can be as high as 88 to 96 degrees Fahrenheit.

To get the right temperature, you should measure at ground level which is where your python will be most times. You will need to have a thermometer inbuilt or available to check for temperature accuracy.

You can use the ETHMEAS digital thermometer and hygrometer. It is designed to give you the indoor and outdoor temperature and humidity of your reptile’s terrarium.

HUMIDITY

Don’t mistake temperature with humidity. Humidity is the content of water vapor in the air. Having fog, dew, and precipitation all add up to creating the humidity. The ball python needs the right humidity to aid a healthy respiratory system. You will need to have water in the terrarium. Humidity should be in a range of 55% to 65%.  It can dip up to 40% and go as high as 90%.

If the humidity is too high or too low, it can hinder the skin shedding process of your ball python. You need a hygrometer to keep accuracy. If you can get a humidifier like the Evergreen reptile humidifier. Using this tool will make it easier to achieve the level of humidity required. You can also mix substrate with water whenever it is to dry or until you can get the humidifier.

HEAT

Heating is also vital for the ball python. In the wild, they can stay in the heat of the sun as long as they desire. You have to provide artificial heating in the terrarium while keeping the temperature in check. Some enclosures have inbuilt heating but most times you need to provide for it yourself. The use of under the cage or a terrarium heating mat like one made by the Reptile heat pad group. Although, there is a controversial argument on whether heating mats are ideal for ball pythons or not. However, heat tape and stones may injure your reptile. It is recommended you avoid using them if you can.

Another heating option is to use a heat lamp like the SHZONS ceramic heat lamp. The heat lamp has the advantage of warming up the whole terrarium. The type of heat lamp you buy depends on the type of terrarium you choose. It is recommended to use a dome style heat lamp for any terrarium with a mesh top. Heating bulbs should be white or clear. This is so as to increase your ball python’s ability to see. You can buy a reptile basking bulb if you want to go all out. Reptile basking bulb has a UVA wavelength that reptiles can see to pick the basking spots.

You can also install a radiant heat panel in the terrarium. Using this cost more than others but if you can afford it, go for it.

LIGHT

Ball pythons are active in the twilight. This means they are crepuscular. As a result, providing extra lighting may be ideal. Ultraviolet B rays are beneficial for a ball python. It provides much-needed vitamin D3. There is recent research that shows that UVB is also great for health both mentally and physically. So, pick a low wattage fluorescent bulb that will provide 12 hours of light and go off for another 12 hours.

If you use UVB fluorescent bulb make sure there are no glass and plastic. These materials tend to interfere with the rays emission. For a more natural imitation, increase the lighting time in the daylight to 14 hours during the winter months. Night time should remain 12 hours. You can use the Heawell UVB light.

SUBSTRATE

This is another name for the floor covering or beddings for the ball python. In a ball python terrarium setup, this is another vital factor in your setup.  You have a few options to choose from, with each having its pros and cons. The substrate choice can affect the overall health and well-being of your favorite reptile.

Below is a list of substrates and the pros and cons of each.

PAPER TOWELS OR NEWSPAPER

This is the cheapest of all substrates. It is readily available and easy to replace. However, it does not hold humidity and it is not visually appealing.

COCONUT FIBER

Readily available, cheap and can hold humidity. It absorbs odors and moisture. It is not digestible. You can try the Cocosoft substrate made from fresh coconut husks.

ASPEN SHAVINGS

This is cheap and can accommodate humidity. Your python can also burrow within the shavings. It also looks good in the terrarium. The cons include that it can become moldy easily. It is also more difficult to clean and replace when compared to others. The shavings also get dusty. The Aspen snake bedding is specially designed for your ball python.

CARE FRESH BEDDING

This is a paper-based product that is available in different colors. You can pick the color that matches your terrarium theme. It has mold resistance. The bedding is heat treated for cleanliness. This substrate is expensive and hard to clean. Replacing it will require some work.

PEAT OR SPHAGNUM MOSS

Sphagnum moss is more superior moss than peat moss. It has more water retention capacity. This makes it a great option to create a humid environment. The sphagnum moss also repels insects and other organisms that may cause harm to your python. The anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties make it another favorite among substrates.  One disadvantage it has is that it tends to attract dust.

CYPRESS MULCH

It is appealing and readily available. It can be used to increase humidity. On the other hand, it can be dusty and difficult to clean. The Zoo Meds Forest Floor is an ideal choice that comes in a 24-quart size.

SUBSTRATE MIX

Since the different substrates have their advantages it is a good thing to mix. This method allows you to maximize all the benefits of each substrate. A good combination is to mix cypress mulch, coconut fiber, and sphagnum moss. The percentage of each substrate will ultimately affect the output. A recommendation is to mix 45% cypress mulch. 45% coconut fiber and 10% of the sphagnum moss. You may not get the exact percentage, it will still be fine.

Substrates like Cedar shavings should be avoided because the wood has oils that can neurologically damage your ball python. Sand can harbor bacteria and odor. It does not accommodate humidity and will make the terrarium dusty so do not use at all. Reptile carpets are difficult to clean, but the Zoo Med Eco carpet seems to be an exception.

The substrates that have fine textures may get into the holes along your reptiles’ lips. It is great if this can be prevented. Also, note that the substrate should be about 3 inches thick. You should change the substrate once every month.

LOGS AND ROCKS

ball python terrarium setup

Ensuring a log or two installed is an important part of a ball python terrarium setup. The use of logs or thick branches can be multi-functional. A ball python loves to climb, so the log will encourage such activities. It provides exercise opportunities that will help increase the muscle tone of your snake. Furthermore, the logs or thick branches will definitely keep the ball python healthy. It prevents the risk of obesity and it can improve appetite.

Another function of installing logs within the terrarium is to provide a shedding tool for your ball python. In a terrarium with the right humidity, the ball python can rub on the log for easy shedding of its skin.

CLUTTER

Branches and plastic leaves and grasses make good clutter material. Although a ball python can thrive without clutter, it is good to have some. Clutter helps prevent stress in the snake. It also creates an atmosphere that makes your ball python feel happy and safe. You can use the Flunker’s Pothos Reptile Vines.

You can clean your clutter by disinfecting it in boiling water before use.

HIDEOUTS

In a ball python terrarium setup, you need to create hideout. Mimicking the life of a ball python in the wild should be your goal. Reptiles hide most of the time, so you should allow your python that luxury. These hideouts provide moist, cool areas for your pet. There are commercial hideouts that you can incorporate into the terrarium. The zoomed reptile shelter 3 in 1 cave.

You could also use plastic flowerpot trays or clay flowerpots to create hideouts as well. Have more than one hiding spots for the reptile. It gives python a sense of security and control. Have at least two hideouts for your ball python. Put one in the warm area and another in the cold area. This allows your snake to regulate its body temperature. A simple hide that you can buy is Zipefy Reptile hide box.

FEEDING

We are what we eat. You have to feed your ball python correctly. In the wild, ball pythons eat rodents like gerbils, rats, and others. The age of the ball python determines its feeding frequency and the size of its meal. For a ball python in a terrarium, you can feed it mice and rats. Finding live rats may be inconvenient, but you can give it pre-killed rodents.

Although, you have to train an adult ball python to eat pre-killed meals. The best option for you and your reptile is to start training early on. If you feed your baby python pre-killed mice and rats, then it will get used to it. Always have fresh water that is free of chlorine and chloramines for your ball python. Use a large water bowl that can provide sufficient water for the pet. Ensure you change the water as often as possible. The Petforu feeding dish and water dish is a good choice. It fits into the terrarium environment without standing out like a sore thumb. It is also easy to clean. Always use a heavy water dish this is to prevent it from turning over. If it is knocked over, it will create a mess and soak the substrate.

FEEDING FREQUENCY AND AGE

For hatchlings, one hopper mice or rat per week. Young ball pythons or Juveniles will eat one mouse in a week. An adult ball python can eat two mice in a week or a large-sized rat.

Note however that you should not handle your reptile before or after is feeding time. If you handle or carry it after a meal, there may be a regurgitation of the meal. Handling before meals may hinder it eating at all.

DETERMINE THE AGE OF THE BALL PYTHON

The age of your ball python will determine the size of the terrarium that it will need. Also, you need to know the age of your ball python to be able to care and feed it properly.

A hatchling can weigh up to 300g. Hatchlings can be housed in a 10-gallon enclosure. Juveniles or young ball python can be housed conveniently in a 40-gallon terrarium. They are about 3 feet in length. An adult ball python can be housed in a terrarium that is 120 gallon in size. This is because they are longer than 3 feet. The rule in determining the size of the enclosure is to ensure that the terrarium is not shorter than half of the python’s length.

TYPE OF BALL PYTHON TERRARIUM

Terrariums are of different types and can serve various purposes. For a ball python, type of enclosures include the following:

VIVARIUM

This is a snake specific enclosure. The structure is made of wood and as such it ensures that there is always humidity and warmth within. The wooden vivarium is more preferable than another type of enclosures for snakes. The wood also conducts heat well, so you may not need as much heating accessory for the setup.

You must pick a vivarium made of high-quality wood. The quality of the vivarium will determine the strength and capacity. Holding an adult ball python requires the best enclosures that you can find. Ball pythons tend to feel safe and comfortable in the wooden vivarium. This is because the environment is more organic and natural. Make sure to install a good cage lock to prevent your ball python from escaping.

GLASS ENCLOSURES

What is great for a pet may not be for another pet. Glass enclosures are great for fishes but not ideal for ball pythons. The cons of using glass supersede the pros. Glass enclosures helps to keep in heat and moisture as long as the lid is well secured.  In addition, the heat keeps things dry and mold free. Also, you can see your ball python at every glance which makes for a great view. You can use a glass terrarium for hatchlings. However, when they become juveniles or adults, there is the risk of them escaping the enclosure.

Furthermore, glass enclosures are expensive and not durable. If you have to use one, cover three out of the four walls with an opaque covering. Also, make sure you use lid locks on any top opening enclosures like the glass terrarium. Never use sticky tape to secure a screen top. This can injure your ball python in a fatal way.

PLASTIC OR PVC ENCLOSURE

These plastic enclosure are favorite among ball python breeders. The advantages plastic enclosures have over other types are many. It is easy to clean. Plastics are not heavy but lightweight. Humidity is kept inside and there are various attractive designs. The opaque walls leave the ball python secure and safe. You can get different sizes to meet your reptile’s needs.

STORAGE BOWLS AND TUBS

Tubs are sometimes used to house ball pythons, but it is only recommended for hatchlings. Storage bowls and tubs should be used as a temporary enclosure. They are designed to meet the security and safety requirements of keeping a ball python permanently. Please note that even for a temporary stay in a tub, use a tub with a latching lid. Create holes on the top and side of the tub or bowl for aeration and humidity. Never use a storage bowl or tub for adult and juvenile ball python.

EXO TERRAS

They are cages with glass anterior designed for snakes. Exo terras are the trending terrarium for ball pythons right now. Most Exo terras are built for small ball pythons. Caging can’t get any better than this. The glass doors allow you to keep your reptile in view and traps the needed heat. Although you may have to find a larger alternative as your hatchling gets bigger by the day. A great example of the Exo Terra is the Exo Terra Glass Natural Terrarium.

MAINTENANCE

After a successful ball python terrarium setup, the next is routine maintenance. Routine maintenance keeps your ball python healthy. It also ensures durability and enjoyment of the terrarium. We don’t want all your hard work to be in vain.  Below is a list of maintenance tips that you should start practicing.

  1. Change your reptiles water daily
  2. Remove soiled or stained substrate areas as often as needed. You can spot clean if possible, depending on the substrate.
  3. Disinfect the terrarium once a month or bi-weekly
  4. There should be a total replacement of substrate once every month
  5. Deep clean the enclosure with a bleach solution. The bleach solution should be five percent.
  6. Ensure you rinse all bleached area thoroughly.
  7. Wash your hands with soap after cleaning the enclosure and handling the snake.

IMPORTANT THINGS NOTE

Here are the information and tips that you must consider and act on for a healthy relationship between you and your reptile.

  • It is recommended to buy your ball python at any age range from breeders who sell captive born and bred animals. Ball Pythons of this type are already familiar with captivity and as such, they have an adaptable temperament. Also, captive born and bred pythons develop fewer health problems as a result of parasites and diseases.
  • Don’t put two adult ball python in the same enclosure.
  • Snakes can pass diseases to each other when kept together.
  • Install under heating options which will aid your python’s meal digestion. This may reduce the time it takes for your reptile to digest its meal.
  • You can get starter kits that are designed to make ball python terrarium setup easy.
  • Ball python enjoys small spaces so don’t get an enclosure that is too big.
  • Ball python spends a lot of their time in hiding.
  • Keep your ball python stress free because they get stressed easily.
  • Information is never too much. Do more research on the husbandry of care of ball pythons by buying good books.

CONCLUSION

If you want to buy a ready-made terrarium for your ball python, you can, However, all you need for a complete ball python terrarium setup is in this article. A comfortable enclosure will make your ball python live his full years stress-free.  Thank you for taking the time to read this article – please leave me a comment below on how your terrarium setup was.  Please check this article out CORN SNAKES – IMPORTANT STUFF YOU MUST KNOW

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