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The Complete Ball Python Care Sheet
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The Complete Ball Python Care Sheet
The first snake I ever bought and kept was a Ball Python. I remember I bought it at a Flea Market in Jacksonville Florida and I had that particular snake which was a male for over thirty years. The scientific name for this snake is Python Regius. In its native habitat its found in Africa and it is a non venomous snake.
They are one of the most popular of the snakes kept as pets and the main reason for this is that they are a docile snake. There are no subspecies of this snake presently recognized by anyone. Some people do call the Ball Python a Royal Python and this comes from the fact that Cleopatra is said to have kept one of these snakes wrapped around her wrist.
This snake gets its name Ball Python from the way it tends to curl up in a tight ball when frightened or stressed. You'll find that most Ball Pythons will be 3 - 4 foot long though its not unusual for one to reach 6 foot especially if its kept in captivity in a large enclosure and well fed. The color you see on this Hub Page are the typical colors on Ball Pythons though breeders are now creating many morphs with some very unusual colors showing up. Captive bred adults rarely bite though it can happen. The more you handle an adult Ball Python the more docile it will become.
Ball Pythons feed on rats and mice and there is an ongoing debate about feeding live or killed prey to your snake. If you can get a Ball Python to accept killed prey there is a lot less danger of the snake getting injured from a rat or mouse bite. You can usually purchase frozen mice and rats in your local pet shop. You let them thaw out and come to room temperature before you try to feed them to your Ball Python. You should know that some snakes will only feed on live prey. If a snake will not take a thawed rat or mouse after a couple of weeks your going to have to give in an offer it live prey.
I've always found the Ball Python to be one of the easiest to care for snakes. In fact you won't find a much easier to care for snake. If your looking for a first snake for someone wanting a snake then this is the perfect snake.Be prepared though for your snake to live 25 to 30 years. This is not a pet like a gold fish that is going to die after a short time.
Please never turn loose an exotic reptile into the wild. If you have a snake an you can't keep it find it a new home. If you can't turn it over to a local zoo or a state wildlife officier. Please be responsible and never turn an exotic snake loose in the wild.
Ball Python Care Sheet
The enclosure or cage for your Ball Python can be as simple or elaborate as you want to make it and care for. You should keep in mind that the more you put into the cage the more your going to have to clean. I keep a lot of my snakes in simple Rubbermaid plastic boxes with tight fitting lids. As the snake grows I move it into a bigger and bigger box. When I'm preparing the container I use a drill and bore one inch holes in rows in the top of the lid of the plastic box.
I use sheets of newspaper to cover the floor of the box and I put in a large cement dog dish that is not easy to turn over for the snake to drink from. I keep these boxes in racks that I have built and I put a label on the end of each box so I know at a glance what snake is in what box. I have a large snake room where I keep them and I keep the room at 80 degrees year round. This has always worked fine for me as I keep a lot of snakes.
If you keep a lot of snakes purchase a paper shredder so you can shred your own newspaper to use for substrate for your snakes. Don't use the glossy photo pages. Only use the regular sheets of newspaper.
But you may want to take a 20 gallon aquarium with a locking reptile lid and create a habitat for your Ball Python. Exactly how you want to keep your snake is up to you.
You Need To Keep Your Ball Python At 78 - 80 Degrees
It is important to keep your snake at 78 - 80 degrees with a basking spot for the snake at 85 to 90 degrees. The easiest way to heat your Ball Python enclosure is with an under tank heating pad. I do not believe in using heat rocks because they can burn a snake that tries to wrap its self around the heat rock. It is also crucial that you keep an eye on the humidity in the enclosure or tank and it needs to stay at 50 - 60 percent. You must maintain the humidity at that level in order for your snake to be able to shed properly. If you need help with a shedding snake then click that link. You'll find great information about your shedding snake and what to do when your snake sheds.
If you use a over tank light use a timer so it can turn the light on for 12 hours and off for 12 hours. The light you use needs to be a low wattage light so it doesn't heat up your snake.
Ball Python Substrate
Newspapers, shredded newspapers, and paper towels all make an easy to clean up substrate. You should never use substrate that contains cedar as it contains oil that is deadly to snakes. You should also avoid sand, shavings and peat moss. Really shredded newspaper is the best choice. Never use small pebbles in a snakes cage because they can and often will eat the pebbles when eating prey and it can cause them to become impacted and then you have a real problem.
Ball Python Food
You should feed your Ball Python an appropriately sized rodent once a week. Some snakes won't eat once a week but it should eat at least every other week or it will start to lose weight. You should always feed your Ball Python a little smaller mouse or rat than your snake is around. You should never try to feed your snake a over sized or to large of a mouse or rodent. Obviously small snakes are going to need a mouse while older snakes need a rat. Newborn snakes can almost always eat a small mouse but you can feed them pinkies ( Baby Mice ) for a while until the snake grows some and is ready for regular size mice.
If your snake will eat thawed frozen prey you will be a lot better off and so will your snake. If you feed any snake live prey the rodent can bite your snake and cause a serious injury. This can often happen so quickly that you won't even see it happen. But once the snake is bitten or has a tear in its skin it can quickly become infected and your snake could get very sick or even die. So try to start any new snake out on thawed frozen prey. If you need to use a pair of tongs to entice your snake into striking at the dead mouse or rat. Once you get them started eating dead prey they will continue.
Do not handle your snake for at least 48 hours after it eats. If you handle it to soon it may very well throw up the meal it just ate. So don't handle your snake for at least 48 hours after it eats.
If your snake stops eating and you notice it is losing weight you will have to take it to the vet to see what the problem is. You should know that if a snake is shedding that it will not eat. It will not start back eating until it has completed the shedding process.
Ball Pythons Often Stop Eating For No Reason At All
Ball Pythons especially adults are notorious for not eating for long periods of time especially in the winter months. If your snake stops eating don't panic. if your snake is not eating stop handling it until after your snake starts eating again. If the snake doesn't eat after a few weeks or it looks like it is losing weight take it to a veterinarian that is knowledgeable about taking care of snakes. Snakes that are shedding or going through the shedding process won't eat. Your older snakes need to eat every one to two weeks while younger snakes need to eat at least once a week.
Ball Python Handling
Your Ball Python should be fairly docile and adults usually won't bite. But you should not handle your snake after it eats or if it has not eaten recently. You should wait at least 24 hours after your snake eats before you handle it.
Your snake may or may not see you as a threat. Once you handle your snake though most Ball Pythons will tame down easily and are usually quite docile. Your snake must learn who you are and what your up to. You must develop trust between you and your snake and this can only come with time. You can turn your snake loose once it is larger and let it roam around but keep in mind that if you have a cat or small dog to not do this. The cat or small dog might be seen as prey.
Always support your snakes body when your holding it and don't do any fast movements. Its very important not to startle your snake as this could cause it to strike at you and bite you. Once the Ball Python learns you are not going to hurt them they seem to like being handled. However if a snake looks like it is going to strike you need to back off until the snake is calmer.
Some snakes will not eat for several hours after they are handled so you need to not feed your snake for at least eight hours after you handle it. You should avoid putting your snakes cage in a high traffic area or under a ceiling fan. Your snake will not do well if you put it into a drafty area.
Ball Python Water And Bathing
Your snake will need fresh chlorine free water all the time. The size of its water dish is up to you but the dish really needs to be large enough for the snake to get into and bathe. Ball Pythons love to take soaking baths and if the water dish is large enough you will eventually find your snake in the water dish. You need to use a heavy enough water dish that the snake can not turn over easily. As the snake gets older it will need a larger and larger water dish. I often use heavy concrete water dishes as they are heavy enough that the snake can not turn over.
Keep A Journal
You should keep a journal about your snake or snakes with carefully detailed notes. Write down what it eats and when. Also keep track of when you clean its cage or enclosure. The more detailed you can be in your notes the better off you will be. You can refer back to your notes and see trends developing about your snake. This way you'll also know what to do in particular situations that repeat themselves.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read my Hub Page on Caring For A Ball Python. I've been keeping Ball Pythons for over forty years now and I feel like I am an expert on the care and keeping of Ball Pythons. Please know that your comments, questions, tips, or suggestions are welcome in the comment section below. Just please don't post any links here. I appreciate you taking the time to read this Hub Page and I appreciate you reading my Hub Page.