Ball pythons are a great pet snake for beginners. But you should always treat them with the same respect as any wild snake you might come across. They are bred in captivity, but they are still in all respects wild. So, caution should always be taken when handling any wild animal.
Ball pythons do not grow to be as long as some of the other breeds of snakes and are very docile. Most ball pythons will grow to be three to four feet long. In captivity, they can live up to thirty years with the proper care and husbandry.
Do ball pythons make good pets?
Which is way longer than any mammal species kept as pets. The world record for oldest Ball Python is forty-three years from a snake living at the Philadelphia Zoo. This is a great breed for a beginner to learn all about keeping snakes and may even serve as a stepping stone to a more difficult to care for snake. They are a little heartier than most other breeds and do not decline in health as quickly with bad husbandry. Before you purchase a snake learn everything about the snake you’re going to get.
Like with any other exotic animal the younger you start handling them the more social they will become. The ball python gets its name from when it is scared the ball python will roll into a ball with its head tucked in the middle. It is best to purchase a ball python hatched in captivity verses caught in the wild. The captive born ball pythons are easier to train to human handling.
What type of house do I need for my Ball Python?
The right environment and temperature are key to keeping a healthy ball python. When you first bring home your ball python does not handle it for about a week to allow it to adjust to its new enclosure. Ball pythons need an enclosure that has adequate room to grow.
It should have a sturdy lid with a latch that can be locked shut. This species, in particular, are very curious animals and often escape from their enclosure and become lost in your house. There are all kinds of stories about pythons getting stuck behind walls, in furniture, even reports of pythons found in the plumbing of an apartment building. As adults they grow to be three to four feet long, so they will need a large enclosure. A favorite structure among snake enthusiast for housing ball pythons is in an aquarium.
Large glass aquariums come in a multitude of sizes and typically sold locally. So, if an emergency happens or your snake is just getting too big. You can easily purchase a suitable size with adequate room right away if needed. Also, when compared to building wooden cages or other materials, aquariums are very comparable in cost.
Ball pythons also require a warm environment. Aquariums are easy to outfit with all the necessary lighting and heat sources that a python may need. These snakes are a nocturnal species and do need all the lights turned off in their cage for periods of time. Veterinarians advise to give them twelve hours of daylight and twelve hours of darkness each day.
What type of bedding does my Ball Python need?
In the bottom of the enclosure, it is best to use a substrate that is specialized for reptiles such as cypress mulch, orchid bark, or coconut husk. Try to avoid pine shavings, sand or paper. When snakes eat, they can possible also ingest their substrate so of their bedding so making sure that it is something that won’t cause an impaction.
Avoid cedar shaving or any strong-smelling substrate as these can cause upper respiratory problems. A good rule to have is to smell the bedding and see if you would want that smell an inch from your nose at all times.
What kind of lighting for my Ball Python?
The ball python does not require UVB light, but it increases your snake’s activity level up and helps brighten its color. UVB is a spectrum of light that UVB bulbs emit or naturally from the sun. Which is the best source of light for any pet?
This particular spectrum of light fades after about 6 months. It is advised to change your UVB bulbs every 6 months regardless if the light has gone out or not. The bulb will still glow, but the UVB spectrum will be gone. Again, pythons do not need UVB, but if it is used just to be aware and read to a label to see how long it typically will last.
Most manufacturers will have some sort of graph showing the different light spectrums, and about how long until the fade. A good heat bulb is also recommended. Preferably over the cage outside of the lid so they do not burn themselves. Heat rocks cause bad burns to the snake and not recommended.
They tend to lay on top of them and stay too long resulting in serious sometimes life-threatening burns. The temperature inside the cage should stay between 80-85 degrese Fahrenheit. Heat lamps can either be a white light bulb with a thick filament that emits heat directly to a specific area.
Or the red infrared lights that emit the heat more gradually outward. Ceramic bulbs are also another way to heat a bigger area, and they work well at night because they do not emit any light. Most cages have a variety of different bulbs in order to keep the cage at its ideal temperature all day.
What to feed my ball python?
Young ball pythons should eat baby mice and rats (pinkies, fuzzies or hoppers). Feed the younger snakes every week and the adult snakes every other week. As your ball python grows so should the size of the mouse or rat. It is recommended that the size of the mouse be the circumference of the snake.
Most snakes, if started off young, will eat pre-killed or frozen mice. Set out the frozen mice to thaw at room temperature. Do not use a microwave to thaw out the frozen mice. If your snake will not eat pre-killed or frozen, you can feed live mice. The live mice simulate their natural environment and allow them to “hunt” their prey.
Never leave a live mouse or rat in the cage unattended with your snake because the mouse or rat could injure them. Most snakes like to eat night. They use the heat pit located on their upper jaw to find and attack their prey. After feeding your ball python it is important not to handle them for a few hours because this may cause them to regurgitate their food. Ball pythons also need a supply of fresh water daily. Make sure that their water bowl is heavy so that your python cannot flip it over.
The water bowl needs to be deep enough for them to curl up in but not deep enough for them to drown. Most snakes will soak more around shedding time to help the scales shed properly. During the winter ball, pythons may hibernate and not eat as regularly. Continue offering them food every ten to fourteen days until they return to their normal eating schedule. Also, they will not eat during a shed.
Do ball python’s need veterinary care?
Ball pythons do need regular checkups by an exotic veterinarian. Your snake needs a checkup by a veterinarian as soon as you get them. Not all breeders practice good husbandry so you should make sure you are not bringing any diseases into the enclosure.
Before purchasing your python locate a veterinarian near you who will treat and examine your snake. Many snakes will have some problem or illness in their lifetime and need veterinary care. Common problems seen with snakes are upper respiratory infections, burns or cuts on their skin, abscesses in their mouth or problems with shedding.
If you notice any of these problems, take your snake to your veterinarian right away. Most exotic species do not show that they are sick until it sometimes is too late to correct the problem. Most veterinarians recommend routine fecal examinations to help keep your pet free of parasites.
Ball pythons can get parasites from the mice and rats that they eat. So routine fecal examinations and deworming are the best way to avoid many health issues associated with parasites.
Are ball pythons friendly?
Ball pythons are very friendly and enjoy people handling them for a few minutes every day. It is advised to handle your ball python daily so that your snake is used to being touched. This also allows you to examine your snake for any scratches, bruises or other health related problems.
Keep in mind that ball pythons tend to be very head shy. Meaning they do not as their head touched. So, continuing to do so might elicit an aggressive response. It doesn’t mean they are aggressive. It simply means they do not like being touched there so it is best to just avoid the area altogether.
Do male or female ball pythons make better pets?
Both male and female ball pythons make great pets. Some people prefer the males as they are a little smaller than the females. Females usually cost more since they are able to reproduce. Snake breeders like to have more females than males because a single male can breed several females in a short period of time.
As far as temperament goes there really is no difference between the two.
Do ball pythons constrict?
Ball pythons are a type of constrictor snake. This means that they will wrap their body around their prey and squeeze it until it suffocates. Most python owners notice that their snake will wrap itself around their arm. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are trying to suffocate or kill you.
Keep in mind ball pythons are jungle snakes and are very comfortable in the treetops. So, they may just view your arm as a branch from which to hang. It is usually quite easy to remove them if you start to feel uncomfortable. If a python doesn’t easily let, go don’t panic. A bit of cool water will loosen them up. Just a little though.
Too much can drop the snake’s body temperature too quickly and have adverse effects. Remember, snakes regulate their body temperature with heat and light, so they react quickly to external temperature changes.
What does a Ball Python look like?
The Ball Python has an extensive variety of color, patterns, and marking. These variations are called morphs. The most common morphs of Ball Pythons include Albino, Hypomelanistic, Axanthic, Piebald, and Clown.
There are many other morphs. Albino Ball Pythons lack color pigmentation which causes the snake to be yellow with red eyes. Hypomelanistic Ball Pythons also called a ghost, are very light of one particular shade of color. Axanthic Ball Pythons are usually white, grey and black and lack the yellow pigment.
Piebald Ball Pythons have patches of white and black. Clown Ball Pythons are very distinct in golden yellow color appearance. They have a dark marking on their head and a stripe down the entire length of the snake.
For the beginner, caring for your ball python might seem challenging at first, but this is one of the easiest breeds of snakes to keep in captivity. Handling and feeding your snake will help strengthen your bond with them. They will trust you more and will respond to human handling.
With a little time and planning, you will soon see just how easy it is to care for a snake. So, in short, ball pythons can make a great pet for beginners and experts alike.