- Pets and Animals»
- Reptiles & Amphibians»
The Best Pet Snake, A Ball Python
Ball Python Care Sheet And Information
The Ball Python is the smallest of the African Pythons and is one of the most popular of the snakes kept as pets. The snake is also known as the Royal Python and the snake is called the Ball Python because the snake coils into a ball with its head inside the ball for protection.
In captivity the snake is usually 3 - 4 feet in length though specimens have been found in the wild and in captivity that were 6 to 7 feet in length. Though this is rare. Females tend to be bigger than males and 4 to 5 feet females are not at all uncommon.
In the wild the color pattern is typically black or dark brown with light brown or gold sides and dorsal blotches. However the pet industry has developed all kinds of morphs with altered colors and patterns. You can even have albinos though they are rare.
Ball Python Care Sheet
Ball Pythons are bred in captivity and they are popular in the pet trade because of their smaller size and their temperament. Young snakes can be quite aggressive but they will calm down as they get used to humans handling them.
Wild caught specimens have survived in captivity for 40 or more years with the record being 47 years. Before you choose a Ball Python as a pet please know and understand that your snake will be around for the better part of your life and if you are an older person when you get your Ball Python it may well out live you.
You should provide your Ball Python with as large of a cage or enclosure as you can. The more natural you can make the cage the happier of a Ball Python you will have. Ideally your cage or enclosure should be 3 - 6 feet tall with branches and limbs for your snake to climb on. Your Ball Python will not need any special lighting but the snake is nocturnal so you should use red bulbs to light your snakes enclosure at night.
I have a large pool in each of my Ball Python enclosures that is constantly being filtered so it stays clean but you can use a large bowl if you can fix it so the snake can not easily turn the bowl of water over. Your snake will want to soak its self when it is going through shedding as this will make its shedding much easier. If you have a large enclosure for your snake you can provide it with a rubber or plastic box with a lid with damp sphagnum moss in the bottom. You will need a hole in two sides for the snake to go in and out and you will need to take the plastic or rubber box out at least once a week and wash the moss out thoroughly under cold running water and wash out the box. I keep boxes made like this in all my female ball python enclosures and they love them. Just remember to keep them cleaned out often. Also be sure to keep your ball pythons cage or enclosure clean.
You can feed your ball python exclusively on mice though some larger specimens may need several mice or a couple of small rats. If you can at all you should feed your snake on pre-killed frozen but thawed mice or rats but some ball pythons won't feed on dead prey. If your snake won't feed on dead mice feed it live mice but only one at a time and if your snake doesn't kill and eat the mouse right away remove it from the snakes enclosure and try it again a couple of days later.
You should keep a very large plastic or rubber maid box and this is where you should feed your snake. If you feed it in the enclosure where it lives then you will find it will be aggressive when you open its door. However if it knows you are going to remove it from its enclosure to the box each time you feed it then the snake will learn this and will not act aggressive towards you when you open its enclosure.
And you should know that even captive bred ball pythons can and often do stop eating for a month or two. Don't worry as long as your snake doesn't appear to be losing weight. You should as soon as you decide to start keeping snakes find a local veterinarian in your area that works with snakes. This way if you think or know that your snake has a problem you can take your snake in for a check up.
If your snake stops eating and has not eaten for a few weeks try putting a mouse into the snakes enclosure and cover the snakes enclosure with a sheet for a few hours and then see if the snake has eaten the mouse. If this doesn't work try dipping the mouse into a good brand of chicken broth before you feed the mouse to the snake. If the snake was consistently eating thawed dead mice and stops eating them you may have to offer a live mouse. You may even want to offer the snake a gerbil or a hamster but you run the risk of the snake insisting on gerbils or hamsters in the future and refusing mice altogether.
But the really good thing is that even if your snake does stop eating one day its likely that in a few days the snake will be right back eating again. You should take the snake in to see the veterinarian if you notice a weight loss and the snake still will not eat.
I try to make my snake enclosures as natural as possible but you can use a piece of indoor outdoor carpet or shredded newspaper for the bottom of your ball pythons cage or enclosure. You can wash the carpet when its dirty or just throw the old shredded newspaper away and replace with fresh shredded newspaper.
Your snakes enclosure should have a daytime temperature of 80 to 85 degrees and a nighttime temperature of 70 degrees. You can use an under-tank heater but I would not use one of the heat rocks as they can burn your snake. You need to use a thermometer inside your snakes enclosure so you can keep track of the temperature inside your snakes enclosure.
A ball python is an excellent escape artist and you should be sure to keep your snakes enclosure secure and locked down or your snake will be on the loose roaming around your house. If you use a 30 to 55 gallon aquarium to keep your ball python in you should buy a screen top for your snakes enclosure with locking pins to keep the top locked down.
I hope I have provided you with all the information you need to keep your ball python. If you have any questions, tips, or suggestions please post them down below in the comment section. Thanks for reading.