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Ball Python Care Sheet

Updated on August 18, 2015
Whitney05 profile image

Whitney has raised and bred different species of geckos, snakes, lizards, tortoises and other exotics since 2003

Royal Python

Python regius

The ball python is, also, known as the Royal Python. Both names have their origin. The name "Ball," comes from the snake's tendency to curl into a tight "ball," and the name "Royal" derives from Cleopatra, who supposidly wore the snakes around her wrists.

Ball pythons are a nonvenomous snake that is native to the savannahs and the rain forests of western Africa. They prefer to live in areas of mixed grassland and trees, and are most active at night, spending most of their days hiding in rodent burrows and termite mounds.

Ball pythons are typically light brown-green and black with a tan-yellow underbelly. But, they are available in many morphs such as pie-bald, bumblebee, lesser platinum, mohave, spider, etc.

Ball Pythons as Pets

Ball Pythons are one of the best beginner snakes that one can own. They are very docile snakes. Although, as a snake, they have the ability to bite, but very seldom do they.

You should always supervise children when they are handling the snake.

Lifespan of a Ball Python

When kept in an ideal habitat with proper husbandry, ball pythons can live an average of about 20 to 30 years.

To date, the oldest living ball python is recorded at 48 years.

Ball Python Size

Adult ball pythons can range from 3 to 6 feet in length.

The average female will range from 3 to 5 feet, while the average male may range from 2 to 3 feet.

Ball Python Enclosure

Make sure to select a nice glass enclosure that you can fix screen clamps too. Because snakes are wonderful escape artists, you want to be able to fully secure a screen lid on the enclosure.

If you get a baby ball python, do not purchase an aquarium that is too large, as it will overwhelm the snake. 10 to 20 (20"L x 10"W to 30"L x 12"W) gallon aquariums will suffice for snakes that are under 1.5 to 2 feet long.

For adult balls pythons, a minimum of a 30 gallon (36"L x 12"W x 18"T) aquarium will be fine for any male ball python. For females, you may want to purchase something a little larger.

A 40 gallon breeder aquarium works perfect for adult ball pythons.

If you choose to purchase the adult sized enclosure from the start, you may want to invest in aquarium dividers so that you can block off a portion of the cage, as to create a smaller cage size to not stress out the younger snake. But, at the same time, you must remember that snakes are escape artists, and may find a way around this.

Ball Python Set Up

Snake Substrate

It is always recommended to use solid substrates versus loose substrates to prevet the reptile from injesting any of the substrate. You can use paper towels, slate, reptile carpet, or newsprint.

But, if you want a more decorative substrate, you may want to consider aspen, shredded cypress, or fir bark. Just watch any loose substrates, as some will cause humidity levels to rise.

When feeding snakes on loose substrates, you will want to monitor the snake closely, in attempts to prevent any particles from being injested and lodged in the snakes mouth when eating. This can not only cause impaction concerns, but respiratory illnesses, and other health concerns.

As for aspen shavings, monitor any wet spots, which can harbor bacteria and fungal growth, removing it as soon as it is noticed.

Ball Python Set Ups

Snake Decor

Ball pythons, being nocturnal, prefer dark places. Make sure that you have at least one hide that they can use as shelter. You can purchase half logs, use empty cardboard boxes, or just any upside down container, can be used as shelter for a ball python.

Any piece of decoration that is meant for a snake to find shelter, must be large enough for it to fit its entire body. Make sure not to use something that is too big for the snake's size, as they do like to sleep in shelters that are close around them. But, make sure that it is not too small either.

Place a climbing branch in the enclosure. Possibly, even add some fake plants around, or near, the branches.

Make sure to leave room for a water dish that is large enough for the snake to soak in.


Lighting is not necessary for a ball python enclosure. But, you can use porcelain and metal reflector hoods to help provide the proper temperatures. At night, you can use red lights or any dark night bulb for viewing purposes or to even out the heat requirements, although night bulbs are optional.

Do remember to properly adjust the bulb away from the snake so that it cannot burn itself.

The best way to ensure proper temps is by using an under tank heater.

You do not need basking bulbs or heat emitting bulbs.


The proper air temperatures for ball pythons range from 85 to 90 degrees during the day.

At night, the air temperatures can be kept around 75 to 80 degrees.

An under tank heater can be placed underneath the enclosure to provide the snake with belly heat necessary for proper food digestion. Do watch out for the temperatures with these heating pads, as they can reach temperatures up to 20 degrees higher than necessary. Using a thermostat will help control the temperatures.

Do not use hot rocks, as they can cause serious thermal burns.

You should never guess the temperatures within the enclosure. Snakes that are too cold, won't eat, and those that are too hot will become ill, and possibly die.

Invest in a digital thermometer with a probe to accurately assess the temperatures.


Because ball pythons are native to temperate, arid areas, the enclosure should reflect that. You should maintain an enclosure that is at about 50% humidity.

Make sure to use a hygrometer to measure the humidity levels in the enclosure. When shedding, you can increase the humidity to 60 to 65%. But, you should not have to raise the humidity within the enclosure to assist shedding; if you bathe them in a warm bath the day their eyes clear, they should shed completely within 24 hours.

Ball Python Diet

Ball pythons are constrictors, which means that they subdue their prey by coiling around them in order to suffocate it.

Before you first try to feed your snake, allow it to acclimate to its new home for at least one week.

You can start snakes that are about 15" in length with one pre-killed fuzzy mouse. Smaller sized snakes may require smaller mice. Older snakes may be fed larger, pre-killed mice or rats.

It is always recommended to feed frozen rodents because they can cause serious damage to you snake.

Ball pythons can be very picky eaters, and they can go without food for several months. But, if you notice that you ball python is losing significant weight, you need to consult a reptile veterinarian who can assist you with force feeding your snake (something you shouldn't try alone, especially if you do not have any experience doing it).

Make sure to provide a water bowl in the snake's enclosure. Ball pythons will both drink and soak, possibly even defecate in the water bowl, which is why it needs to be checked daily.

Soaking is good just before a shed. When they eyes clear from their milky or "blue" state, soak the snake in a tub of warm water for ten minutes or so, then lightly dry it off, and return it immediately to its tank; it should shed within twenty-four hours.


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    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 4 years ago from Georgia

      could be mites. I'd disinfect the enclosure and all the décor.

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      Koree 4 years ago

      My BP has a bunch of tiny black bugs on it. Is this normal? I know he's getting close to time to shed his skin, so I'm wondering if it might be related to that. What should I do?

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      zack 4 years ago

      how do i feed my snake i tried putting it in a boc so itcan eat but it just wont eat

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      newowner 5 years ago

      my ball python was bought from a large pet store it seems to be doing okay but i dont know how much i should fun the fogger it does very well raising the humidity level but just not sure what to do. it is also not very head shy that's a good thing right?

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      JT Snake 5 years ago

      Is it recommended to start with a baby or full grown bp

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 5 years ago from Georgia

      No, it is not recommended to mix species.

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      max 5 years ago

      Can my adult redtail boa be placed in the same cage as my two adult bal pythons

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      Ali 5 years ago

      @Diego we went to a local pet store and they probed mine..,and it doesn't sound as bad as it does

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      MARTIN bp 5 years ago

      hello iv just ordered my python, he is going to be 30cm long just a babie, i no i shouldn't handle him for a week or so, so he may get used to his tank is there any other crushal things i musnt do at first plus does anyone no if the website exotic-pets can be trusted with livestock as that is the website i used for my bp.

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      kenneth sloane 5 years ago

      my bald python is very clumsy is this common he is very active at night in his cage he continuously falls from top of the cage to the bottom

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      diego 5 years ago

      how can you tell if a bp is a male or a female

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      gavin 5 years ago

      well snake tamer your bp may have stricked because, it is used to u opening the cage to feed it, an easy fix to this is to take the oython out of its cage and put it in a cardboard box to feed it, this helps to not make it think your feeding it every time u put your hand in

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      Amanda 5 years ago

      I have had my BP for about 4months now and she had been eating 2mice for 3weeks at a time and now last week and this week she will not eat she runs from the mice she had never show this before what do I do?

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      D3v1n 5 years ago

      i have a baby ball python and its very active ewhat should i do?

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      luna 6 years ago

      Snaketamer- you have to have a separate box to feed your snake in. Do not feed it in it's actually cage because when you put your hand in it thinks that you are feeding it. When you have a separate box for feeding it will know that is where it gets food.

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 6 years ago from Georgia

      It's not that it is illegal, but not the safest nor best method to feed a snake.

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      Zack 6 years ago

      Does anyone know if it's legal to feed my bp live mice I live in Washington and I went to the pet store to see how much they cost and the guy asked us if it was for a snake,we said yes, and he yelled at us

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      Shells12 6 years ago

      Hi! My husband just got a ball python tonight. We know it was born in 2010 but that's it. Is there a way to tell if it is a male or female? Also is it ok for the snake to drink well water? The guy we got him from said he had to drink distilled water and I don't want to hurt the snake. If anyone could help it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

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      snake tamer 6 years ago

      Every 14 days, one F/T mouse. He is about 20" long and 10 months old. He recently out grew his hiding box and couldn't fit, so I got him a larger one and he went in during the days for a few weeks, but now does not go in at all. This is around the same time he began striking. He eats without hesitation. I was surprised when he bit my finger. In his defense, it was during feeding time and mostly my mistake. He won't eat unless the dead mouse is giggled and he caught me instead of it, even thought I use tongs. He struck only once or twice before the actual bite, but since, strikes every time I either reach in, or am holding him. Suggestions on stopping this behavior? Thank you for your time. Any help is appreciated.

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      Corey 6 years ago

      how often are you feeding your snake and what's it current size. A bp should never strike you

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