Looking for a life-long pet reptile? Then look no further than a ball python! This snake is perfect for first-time owners as well as being great for enthusiasts looking to add to their collection.
Continue reading to learn more about their diet, housing, tank requirements, and the best places to buy one from. Ball pythons are popular pets due to their friendly nature, incredibly long lifespan and variety of appearances and colors.
Native to the grasslands of West and Central Africa , ball pythons are carnivores of small mammals, and in the wild, their diet includes shrews, rodents, and birds. Pet Ball Pythons are easy to feed , have a docile temperament towards humans, and are generally in great health. Summary TableCommon NamesBall or Royal PythonScientific NamePython regiusAdult SizeFemales between three to five feet and Males two to three feetAdult Weight2-4 poundsLifespan20 to 30 yearsDietMice & Rats (Pinky, Small and Medium)Tank SizePlastic, 30-40 gallon vivariumTemperatureHumidity between 50- 60%
Temperatures between 88-92F (daytime) and 82-83F (night-time)Popular AlternativesCorn snake, Boa constrictor
Ball pythons are native to West and Central Africa where they typically reside in grasslands and shrublands. Like other snakes , when not hunting for prey, these guys love to spend time in hidey-holes close to the ground. In the wild, it has been noted that males occasionally venture vertically into trees, while females tend to remain at ground level .
In captivity, ball pythons are low maintenance and dont have any special dietary requirements. Plastic vivariums (with a covered top, bottom and sides) are favored for pythons because of the privacy it affords them and security it provides them with. A plastic cage will also makes it ideal for maintaining correct temperatures and humidity levels with a secure top deterring any budding escape artists!
Decorate the enclosure with other fake fauna, rocks and places to hide to encourage exploration: Hatchlings should have at least one hide box and some fake fauna & rocks in their enclosure Include at least two hide boxes (half logs or cork bark tubes work great) for your adult ball pythons, one on the cool side and the other on the warmer side of the enclosure Heating and Lighting Ball pythons do not require any special-lighting (e.g. UVB) in their tank, however normal day-night cycles should be mimicked as well as possible.
Do not place the enclosure directly next to a window , you cannot control the intensity or duration of the suns rays! Providing both a cooler and warmer side in their tank is essential as it gives your ball python a choice and better replicates their natural environment. The best substrates for retaining moisture can help you in maintaining optimal humidity levels inside the enclosure.
Cypress mulch will help to retain moisture, is relatively inexpensive and allows your snake to burrow slightly! Tank TipsTank TypePlastic vivarium 30-40 gallon for adultsLightingNo special lightingHeatingHeating tapeBest SubstrateCypress mulch In their native habitat, the ball pythons diet consist of small mammals (e.g. shrews, rats) and birds.
Frozen mice and rats can be purchased from commercial providers and should be thawed warmed to room-temperature before feeding : Most captive ball pythons are fed with frozen-thawed rodents from the time they hatch and are usually acclimated to this type of meal. Diet SummaryFruits0% of dietInsects0% of dietMeat100% of diet small or medium sized ratsSupplements RequiredN/A Python regius in a ball.Most diseases and health problems can be avoided by taking proper care of your snake through appropriate feeding, correct enclosure-size, suitable temperature & humidity, and reducing stress.
Incomplete shedding can happen to any snake and can be easily prevented if you provide adequate humidity in their enclosure. It is important, before purchasing, to make sure your ball python is free of mites as they are tricky to eradicate. Mites look like small black specks on light-colored scales and will be harder to spot on darker parts of your snake.
If you notice your snake isnt eating, they are less active than normal or saliva or bubbles around their mouth and/or nose, this could be a sign. Providing proper veterinary care, husbandry and diet is essential to a long, happy life! Healthy ball python excrement consists of solid brown feces with a white urate cap and a small amount of urine.
Misting your ball python, or its enclosure daily, is typically not required, however, this may be necessary when your snake is shedding or if humidity levels are lower than optimal. Signs They Are HealthySickness SymptomsClear eyes and bright coloringLoss of appetite for an extended periodRegularly exploring and moving throughout their enclosureExcessive hidingTongue flickingLethargyStrike and constrict preyIncomplete shedding Wild ball pythons have a coloration of browns and yellows which helps them blend into their natural habitat.
They hunt by burrowing in a hiding spot (e.g. a below a tree stump or in a small mammals home) where they wait until striking and constricting their prey. Start by washing your hands with soap and water before and after handling; this prevents the spread of possible diseases. Normal balls have shades of brown, black, and yellow, but morphs, such as the blue-eyed leucistic and ivory, have no markings present and are one solid color.
In this species, females are bigger than their male counterparts, with some research suggesting different diets being the cause. Whilst very common in the reptile trade, you should make sure that you trust the breeder (or supplier) before purchasing. While most snakes are purchased as babies, other characteristics such as age, breeding status, and size, all factor into the price-tag.
Why We Love ThemWhat Makes Them DifficultCalm temperamentShould be housed individuallyEasy to feedLong lifespan of 20-30 yearsVariety of colorsUsually sedatoryThere are many reasons for why ball pythons are one of the most popular species of snake in captivity.
What do I need to set up a ball python tank?
Just be sure to start with a suitably sized enclosure, heat the habitat appropriately and choose a good substrate. Add a few hiding boxes, a water dish, and a digital thermometer and you’ll have a habitat that’ll keep your ball python healthy and happy for years to come.
What kind of tank does a ball python need?
A baby ball python can be housed in a 10-20 gallon tank, but an adult will need an enclosure that is a minimum of 3 or 4-feet long, such as a 55-gallon tank.
Should I mist my ball python tank?
Ball pythons to do not need very special humidity requirements. The average humidity levels in your own home will be between 35% and 45%. A ball pythons humidity should not drop below 50% but 55% – 60% is ideal. … Daily misting is not be necessary for a ball python.
Congratulations on getting your first ball python (Python regius). Before you bring your snake home, you need to set up a tank for your ball python to live in. A ball python is a tropical snake, so it needs a comfortably warm and humid enclosure. You want to give your pet snake plenty of space to move around in without leaving it feeling stressed and vulnerable.
We will start by discussing the tank itself, and then we will give you some ideas for setting up an enriching environment inside. According to the Journal of Veterinary Behavior , while a snake may seem a rather sedentary animal, it still uses a significant amount of space.
A female ball python will grow to be larger than a male due to sexual dimorphism. Glass is easy to clean and keeps itself dry inside, discouraging mold growth. If you get your ball python a glass enclosure, it is a good idea to cover 2 or 3 of the tanks walls with an opaque material, such as fabric or construction paper.
This terrarium comes in a variety of sizes perfect for small, medium, and large ball pythons. It has front-opening dual doors for easy access to your ball python, with a lock to prevent a snake escape. The problem is, a ball python is a curious animal that loves to poke around, which can lead to it getting out of the enclosure.
Clamps and locks can hold a lid securely in place, preventing your ball python from escaping . A ball python needs substrate to crawl on top of, hides to take cover under, and other furnishings as well. Too much dampness against your ball pythons belly can lead to medical conditions such as scale rot.
You can make your own hide at home by cutting some holes into an old cardboard box, plastic container, or even a ceramic flowerpot. It is a stable structure that will provide a good hiding place for your ball python without you having to worry about the rocks falling over and hurting the snake. Many such lamps double as basking lights to keep your ball pythons enclosure at the right temperature.
Be sure to attach a thermometer to each side of the enclosure to keep track of the warm and cool temperature gradients. A ball python can accidentally burn itself by touching a hot lamp, rock, or mat. Attach the hygrometer to the side of your ball pythons tank and use it to check the humidity levels.
If the tanks humidity is too low, you can raise it by adding a larger water dish or misting the inside of the enclosure each day. We hope that these ideas for setting up your ball python tank have made you even more excited to create the perfect home for your new snake.
In this guide, well take a look at everything you need to get your ball pythons enclosure set up properly. And well begin with the most important part: the actual terrarium itself.
The first thing you need in order to set up your ball pythons habitat is the actual enclosure. That said, it doesnt make much sense to start out with a small terrarium, only to have to buy a bigger one when your snake matures.
You can house a ball python in a 40 gallon tank, but it is a bit cramped, especially for a female. Check out our article on the best enclosures for ball pythons for more on the correct sizes and for a list of the best terrariums on the market. As mentioned, we always prefer glass cages that are similar to aquariums, but usually with front doors that swing or slide open.
Make sure to install a good cage lock to prevent your ball python from escaping. It allows you to watch your pet from any angle, though most people do not keep the enclosure in the middle of the room. Put a cover on that side that depicts the natural habitat of your ball python, i.e. a grassland or open forest scene.
They are not designed to meet the security and safety requirements of keeping a ball python permanently. Create holes on the top and side of the tub or bowl for aeration and humidity. If you want your pet snake to live a long, healthy and happy life, you need to give it everything it needs to feel comfortable.
Regardless of your snakes age, maintain an ambient temperature in the range of 78 to 80 Fahrenheit throughout the enclosure. The easiest way to create this hot spot is by placing a heat mat below one side of the terrarium. Heating bulbs should be white or clear, to increase your ball pythons ability to see.
If the humidity is too high or too low, it can hinder the skin shedding process of your ball python, in addition to causing respiratory issues. There is recent research that shows that UVB is also great for health both mentally and physically. On the other hand, aspen shavings can become moldy easily (thought you should be changing them out regularly anyway) and they are slightly more difficult to clean and replace than some other substrates.
Sphagnum moss repels insects and other organisms that may cause harm to your python, plus it has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. A good combination is to mix cypress mulch, coconut fiber, and sphagnum moss. Finally, substrates with fine textures can get stuck in the holes along your reptiles lips, which they use to sense heat.
It provides exercise opportunities that will help increase the muscle tone of your snake. Another function of logs within the terrarium is to provide a shedding tool for your ball python. The ball python can rub on the log to make it easier to shed its skin.
Branches, plastic leaves and grasses make good clutter material. It also creates an atmosphere that makes your ball python feel happy and safe. The age of the ball python determines its feeding frequency and the size of its meal.
Once you have successfully set up your ball python terrarium, you need to perform routine maintenance. It keeps your ball python healthy and also ensures the terrarium lasts longer. Change your reptiles water daily Remove soiled or stained substrate areas as soon as possible.
Buy your ball python 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 and are much easier to care for . Also, captive born and bred pythons develop fewer health problems as a result of parasites and diseases.
You can get starter kits that are designed to make ball python terrarium setup easy. Ball python enjoys small spaces so make sure you provide a few cozy hiding spots. Do more research on the husbandry and care of ball pythons by buying good books.
A comfortable enclosure ensures your ball python lives a long, happy and stress-free life.
Ball pythons make fantastic pets, as they are relatively small, easy to maintain and typically have docile temperaments. Theyre also attractive animals, who are available in a number of beautiful color variations.
Ball Python Care Sheet
Ball pythons are popular pets due to theirNative to the grasslands of West and Central Africa, ball pythons are carnivores of small mammals, and in the wild, their diet includes shrews, rodents, and birds. They are nonvenomous, as they strike before constricting their prey, killing without the need for venom.Due to their popularity, this snake can easily be found, however, great care should be taken to ensure you aren’t supporting an illegal pet trade and only purchase captive-bred snakes. Pet Ball Pythons are easy to feed, have a docile temperament towards humans, and are generally in great health.
Plastic vivariums (with a covered top, bottom and sides) are favored for pythons because of the privacy it affords them and security it provides them with. A plastic cage will also makes it ideal for maintaining correct temperatures and humidity levels with a secure top deterring any budding escape artists!The size of the cage will be based on the size of your reptile:Decorate the enclosure with other fake fauna, rocks and places to hide to encourage exploration:
How Long Do Ball Python Live?
In their native habitat, the ball python’s diet consist of small mammals (e.g. shrews, rats) and birds. They strike to catch their prey with their mouths and then quickly coil around and constrict them.It is recommended to feed your python rats as they range in size and medium-sized rats are sufficient for an adult. Mice can be used during the hatchling phase, butMost captive ball pythons are fed with frozen-thawed rodents from the time they hatch and are usually acclimated to this type of meal. Use tongs or a gloved hand to entice your snake to ‘catch’ their prey.
Is A Ball Python Dangerous?
Spot clean your snake’s enclosure daily, removing any soiled or wet substrate to prevent mold, foul smells and unwanted bacteria.Deep clean the enclosure every one to two months by removing all items and cleaning them as well as the enclosure itself. You should also replace all of the substrate during each deep clean too.
How Big Do Ball Pythons Get?
Start by washing your hands with soap and water before and after handling; this prevents the spread of possible diseases.Handling is easier than beginner’s might think. Most importantly, you should avoid startling your snake:After adopting your reptile, allow 1-2 weeks for them to adjust to their new environment before handling.When you are both ready, start with short sessions a couple of times each week, these can last 5-10 minutes. As your snake grows and gets more comfortable, you can lengthen these sessions to 30 minutes. Handling as a routine will help to maintain tameness.
Ball Python Buying Guide
Whilst very common in the reptile trade, you should make sure that you trust the breeder (or supplier) before purchasing. Speak with the breeder and ask: what do you feed them, how many meals has this snake received, how old are they, etc. The breeder should be able to answer these questions with no problem.You should be looking for a full-bodied snake with clear eyes, tongue flicking, and normal movement.
How Much Does A Ball Python Cost??
Due to the variety of Ball Python morphs,While most snakes are purchased as babies, other characteristics such as age, breeding status, and size, all factor into the price-tag. As captive breeding is ever-evolving, ‘rarer’ morphs become more common and new morphs are bred.
Young Ball Pythons
Babies hatch from eggs and are usually around 10 inches in length. Hatchlings will shed more frequently the younger they are and should shed for the first time within the first 14 days of hatching.Males court females by pressing their belly on the female, where the male’s tail is wrapped underneath the females. Only put snakes together to breed, in the wild this is also the only time ball pythons are not solitary.
Setting Up A Ball Python Tank
It’s time to create the perfect home for your ball python. We will start by discussing the tank itself, and then we will give you some ideas for setting up an enriching environment inside.
What Type Of Tank?
According to theHow large an enclosure your ball python needs will vary based on how big the ball python is. A ball python on average will grow to be between 3 and 4 feet long. However, it can grow to be as large as 5 feet long. A female ball python will grow to be larger than a male due to sexual dimorphism.This snake is happiest when it has room to move around on the ground and also some room to climb upwards as well. Here is a quick overview of tank size requirements for a ball python:If you get your ball python when it is a hatchling, be sure to upgrade it to a larger tank as it grows in size.
Many owners avoid glass enclosures because it is difficult to maintain a consistent temperature or humidity. Glass is not good at keeping in heat.However, the ability of glass to dissipate heat makes it easy to create a comfortable gradient of temperatures for your ball python – a warm side and a cool side. It is important to give your snake a thermal gradient.Glass enclosures also look very nice, giving you a clear view of your ball python. Glass isIf you get your ball python a glass enclosure, it is a good idea to cover 2 or 3 of the tank’s walls with an opaque material, such as fabric or construction paper. This will help your ball python feel secure in its home.
Exo Terra High Glass Terrarium
As an example of a glass terrarium, check out this Exo Terra High Glass Terrarium. This terrarium comes in a variety of sizes perfect for small, medium, and large ball pythons. It has front-opening dual doors for easy access to your ball python, with a lock to prevent a snake escape.
A plastic enclosure is more durable and lightweight than a glass tank, great if you expect to have reason to move your ball python’s home around. Plastic is also relatively easy to clean and holds heat and humidity in well.A plastic snake container opens in the front and is already opaque on all sides except for its front. These enclosures are attractive to look at and therefore very popular for people with a pet snake.
Many ball python owners choose a wooden vivarium for their snake. Wood is a good material when it comes to keeping temperature and humidity levels high.It can be harder to see your snake inside through the opaque walls, but your ball python will feel secure with solid walls around its home. Also, many people like the way that the wooden structure looks in their house.Whatever type of tank you choose, make sure it has a secure lid. A front-opening enclosure is easiest to keep securely closed, but many enclosures have a screen top instead.The problem is, a ball python is a curious animal that loves to poke around, which can lead to it getting out of the enclosure. Clamps and locks can hold a lid securely in place, preventing your ball python from
What To Put Inside The Tank
Now that you have a home for your ball python, it is time to furnish it. A ball python needs substrate to crawl on top of, hides to take cover under, and other furnishings as well. Let’s go over these categories one at a time.
Exo Terra Reptile Den
A ball python is most comfortable with aSafe substrates for your ball python include the following:The following substrates can be harmful to your snake’s skin and lungs and should be avoided:Provide your ball python with enough of a layer of substrate for it to burrow around in if it so chooses.
Your ball python needs a source of fresh, clean water all the time. This can be a simple water bowl. Just be sure that the bowl is big enough for your ball python to completely soak itself in if it so chooses. At the same time, do not put in a bowl so deep that the python will get trapped inside.Replace the water with fresh water every day. Tap water should be fine, but if you are concerned about the safety of your local tap water, bottled water will work as well. Be careful not to give your snake distilled water.Clean and disinfect the water bowl at a minimum of once per week. If your ball python urinates or defecates in its water, clean out the bowl right away.
Living Environment Conditions
You can create a naturalistic environment for your ball python. If you put living plants into the enclosure, you will create a truly wild snake home.An article inThe
Your ball python is a nocturnal animal, so it will be most active at night. In order to help your snake maintain its natural rhythms, it needs a proper day/night cycle of lighting.A ball python needs about 12 hours of daytime lighting and 12 hours of darkness. This may come from the natural lighting in your house. If not, you can set up a lamp on a timer.Many such lamps double as
iPower 2-Pack Reptile Heating Pad
The ball python species comes from the African grasslands. It gets very warm there. Your job is to mimic that African warmth in your snake’s enclosure. Be sure to attach a thermometer to each side of the enclosure to keep track of the warm and cool temperature gradients.Be careful not to let the temperature of the enclosure fall below 75 degrees Fahrenheit at night. You can control the temperature in your snake’s tank with a heating mat under the tank, a ceramic heat emitter, heat tape, or a basking light.
Ball Python Terrarium
The first thing you need in order to set up your ball python’s habitat is the actual enclosure. The general rule is: the bigger the better.You may have read that snakes get nervous if their enclosure is too big. That is completely false. Think about it: they have unlimited space in the wild. Why would they be nervous with a large home in captivity?They get nervous if they have nowhere to hid in their home, whether it is large or not. So give them hiding places (more on that below).For now, let’s figure out the minimum enclosure size for your ball python.
Types Of Ball Python Cages
The age and the sex of your ball python will determine the size of the terrarium that it needs. That said, it doesn’t make much sense to start out with a small terrarium, only to have to buy a bigger one when your snake matures. But some people like to do this, so here goes.A hatchling can weigh up to 300 grams and can be housed in a 10-gallon enclosure. Juveniles or young ball python will do fine in a 40-gallon terrarium.Adult male ball pythons grow to be 2 to 3 feet long, while the females get 3 to 5 feet long. The standard rule for ball python terrarium size is this:You can house a ball python in a 40 gallon tank, but it is a bit cramped, especially for a female. I’d go with at least 60 gallons, but ideally over 100, if you have the space.Check out our article on the best enclosures for ball pythons for more on the correct sizes and for a list of the best terrariums on the market. You’ll notice we only recommend glass enclosures. They are easily the best, but there are also other types to consider.
These are usually custom-built, or homemade. The structure is made of wood and as such it ensures that there is always humidity and warmth within. The wood also conducts heat well, so you may not need as much heating accessory for the setup.But wood also has drawbacks. It can get moldy and rot due to the high humidity in the enclosure. It also does not allow you to see inside. Generally, one side is made from glass, but that means the other sides are closed for viewing.It is vital to use high-quality wood. Not only is it stronger, but is also lasts longer without being affected by the humidity. Make sure to install a good cage lock to prevent your ball python from escaping.
Glass enclosures are ideal for ball pythons or any other snakes. The glass keeps in heat and moisture, as long as the lid is well secured. This makes it easy to create the perfect environmental conditions for your pet.Glass is also easy to clean and it does not rot. It allows you to watch your pet from any angle, though most people do not keep the enclosure in the middle of the room. Most likely, one side will be up against a wall. Put a cover on that side that depicts the natural habitat of your ball python, i.e. a grassland or open forest scene.
Plastic Or PVC Enclosure
Plastic enclosures have all of the advantages of glass, plus three more: they cost less, weight less and are not as fragile. But they also have one major disadvantage, which is the reason we don’t recommend them. You can’t see inside.
Storage Bowls Or 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 not 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.
Ball Python Terrarium Setup: Vital Components
These are the non-negotiable factors that must be in place for your ball python terrarium setup. If you want your pet snake to live a long, healthy and happy life, you need to give it everything it needs to feel comfortable.
You absolutely need to maintain the correct temperature inside the terrarium. Regardless of your snake’s age, maintain an ambient temperature in the range of 78° to 80° Fahrenheit throughout the enclosure.To get the right temperature, you should measure at ground level which is where your python will be most times. It is easiest to keep a permanent thermometer inside the cage.The best snake hygrometers give you the humidity in addition to the temperature, which you also need to regulate (see below).You ball python also needs a hot spot: a special spot with a higher temperature it can use to help regulate its body temperature.
In the wild, snakes can bask in the heat of the sun whenever they need to warm up. You need to provide the same opportunity in the terrarium by creating a hot spot.The hot spot should be between 88° and 96° Fahrenheit. There two good ways to achieve this, as well as several bad methods that are best avoided.The easiest way to create this hot spot is by placing a heat mat below one side of the terrarium. We reviewed the best snake heating pads to help you find the right one.Heat lamps are another option. The heat lamp has the advantage of warming up the whole terrarium, but you need to be careful that it doesn’t get too warm on the cooler side of the enclosure.The type of heat lamp you buy depends on the type of terrarium you choose. Use a dome style heat lamp for any terrarium with a mesh top. Heating bulbs should be white or clear, 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 bulbs also emit UVA light, which reptiles use to locate good basking spots.You can also install a radiant heat panel in the terrarium. This option costs more than others, but if you can afford it, go for it. Things to avoid are heat tape, heat stones, etc. These can end up burning your snake.
Humidity is the content of water vapor in the air. A ball python needs the right humidity to maintain a healthy respiratory system. Humidity should be between 55% and 65%. It can dip down to 40% and go as high as 90%.Having water in the terrarium helps increase humidity levels and its something your snake needs anyway. Fog, dew, and precipitation all increase humidity as well.If the humidity is too high or too low, it can hinder the skin shedding process of your ball python, in addition to causing respiratory issues. You need a hygrometer to accurately measure humidity. The thermometer we recommended above also functions as a hygrometer.The easiest way to increase humidity is to get a humidifier. We reviewed the best snake humidifiers to help you find the right one. If you need to decrease humidity, read our post on lowering humidity in a snake enclosure for help.
UV-B rays are beneficial for any ball python, even albinos like the banana snake. They provide much-needed vitamin D3. There is recent research that shows that UVB is also great for health both mentally and physically.When using a UV fluorescent bulb make sure there is no glass and plastic between the bulb and your pet. These materials block UV rays. Keep the bulb on for 12 hours and off for 12 hours.When it comes to buying a UV bulb, you basically have two options. Compact fluorescent bulbs or fluroescent tubes. Both work equally well, so it comes down to which fits better in your habitat.The Zoo Med Reptisun is a great option for a T8 fluorescent tube (they also come in T5 tubes in multiple sizes) and the Exo Terra Repti-Glo 10.0 is great if you prefer a compact fluorescent style bulb.
Substrate is the floor covering, or bedding, that goes in the bottom of the cage. It is a vital component of your ball python terrarium setup. It should be about 3 inches thick and you should change it out completely once every month.You have a few options to choose from, each with its pros and cons. You substrate choice can affect the overall health and well-being of your favorite reptile. We have an article reviewing the best bedding for ball pythons.
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.
Readily available, cheap and can hold humidity. It absorbs odors and moisture. It is not digestible. This Cocosoft substrate is a great choice, made from fresh coconut husks.
Aspen shavings are probably the most used substrate. They are cheap and can accommodate humidity. Your python can also burrow within the shavings and they look good in the terrarium.On the other hand, aspen shavings can become moldy easily (thought you should be changing them out regularly anyway) and they are slightly more difficult to clean and replace than some other substrates. The shavings also get dusty. Aspen snake bedding from Zoo Med is specially designed for snakes.
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 is mold resistant and heat treated for cleanliness. This substrate is expensive and difficult to clean and replace, because it is so small. Not generally recommended for snakes.
Peat Or Sphagnum Moss
Sphagnum moss is superior to peat moss. It retains water better. This makes it a great option for creating a humid environment. This Galapagos brand moss is great.Sphagnum moss repels insects and other organisms that may cause harm to your python, plus it has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. One disadvantage is that it tends to attract dust.
Cypress mulch is appealing and readily available. It can be used to increase humidity. On the other hand, it can get dusty and be difficult to clean. Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding is the best option.
Since the different substrates have unique advantages, it can be a good idea to use a mix. This method allows you to maximize the benefits of each substrate.A good combination is to mix cypress mulch, coconut fiber, and sphagnum moss. The percentage of each substrate ultimately affects the output. We recommend using 45% cypress mulch, 45% coconut fiber, and 10% sphagnum moss. You don’t have to worry about getting the exact percentages. Approximating them is fine.
Substrates To Avoid
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. Reptile carpets are difficult to clean. Finally, substrates with fine textures can get stuck in the holes along your reptiles’ lips, which they use to sense heat.
You want to include a log or two in your ball python’s terrarium. The use of logs or thick branches can be multi-functional. A ball python loves to climb and the log will encourage such activities. It provides exercise opportunities that will help increase the muscle tone of your snake.Another function of logs within the terrarium is to provide a shedding tool for your ball python. The ball python can rub on the log to make it easier to shed its skin.
Branches, 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.Flunker’s Pothos Reptile Vines are great. You can clean them easily by disinfecting them in boiling water.
Every ball python terrarium setup needs a hideout. Mimicking the life of a ball python in the wild is the goal and in the wild, these snakes hide most of the time.Hideouts provide moist, cool areas for your pet to feel safe and to cool down. There many types of hideouts you can buy for your pet. We have a whole article on the best hideouts for snakes. If you prefer to make your own, you could use plastic flowerpot trays or clay flowerpots to create hideouts.You want at least two hideouts: one in the warm area and the other in the cooler area of the cage. This allows your snake to regulate its body temperature, even while hiding.
Food is not technically part of the cage setup, but it is vital and your snake will feed in its cage, so we’re including it here.You have to feed your ball python correctly. In the wild, they eat rodents like gerbils, rats, and more. 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.Obviously finding live rats would be hugely inconvenient, so just give it pre-killed rodents. Frozen mice like these are perfect. Thaw them before feeding your snake.You have to train a ball python to eat pre-killed meals. The best option is to start training early on. If you feed your baby python pre-killed mice and rats, then it will get used to them.
For hatchlings, one hopper mouse per week is good. Juveniles will eat one adult mouse in a week. An adult ball python can eat two mice in a week, or a large-sized rat.It is important not to handle your reptile before or after feeding time. If you handle or carry it after a meal, it may regurgitate the food. Handling before meals could cause them to not eat at all.
Important Ball Python Care Tips
Once you have successfully set up your ball python terrarium, you need to perform routine maintenance. It keeps your ball python healthy and also ensures the terrarium lasts longer. The following is a list of maintenance tips:
Ball Python Natural Habitat
The ball python habitat is stretching from the West African coast to central Africa. Most imported ball pythons hail from the countries of Ghana, Benin or Togo.They primarily inhabit grasslands, scrublands, savannas and open forests. Ball pythons may also live in disturbed areas, around human habitations or farms. They do not typically inhabit rainforests (or other dense forests), nor do they live in deserts or extremely arid places. Ball pythons spend most of their time in rodent burrows, which provide them with shelter and moderate temperatures.
Glass aquaria are readily available and typically quite affordable. They also offer unparalleled visibility, which will make it easy to see your pet. However, aquaria are quite fragile, and they can be difficult to move around. Additionally, glass aquariums do not retain heat very well.
Commercially manufactured cages
Commercially manufactured reptile cages are usually the best option for ball python keepers. Commercial cages are typically made from lightweight plastic, feature front-opening doors and are designed to accommodate heating devices. They aren’t as widely available as aquaria, so you may need to purchase one online.
Plastic storage boxes
Plastic storage boxes can make suitable ball python habitats, and they are both affordable and lightweight. They’re also easy to find at big-box retailers and hardware stores. However, they don’t provide a good view of your pet, as they’re typically translucent (as opposed to transparent). You’ll also need to modify them by drilling air holes and making them escape-proof.
Custom-built enclosures are a great option for keepers who have the skill and desire to build them. However, they are usually best designed by keepers with a bit of experience, rather than beginners.No matter what type of enclosure you select, you must ensure that it provides your pet with enough room. Habitat size is a hotly debated topic among keepers, but generally speaking, adult ball pythons will require a habitat that provides between 3 and 6 square feet of space. Young ball pythons require only a fraction of this space.Ball pythons don’t climb very frequently, so enclosure height isn’t terribly important. Habitats that provide 12 to 18 inches of height are sufficient.
Ball Python Habitat Lighting
Ball pythons – like most other snakes – will remain healthy and happy without any specialized lighting. The ambient light entering their enclosure will provide all the light they need. In fact, ball pythons are primarily nocturnal, so extremely bright lighting will often cause them to hide.However, you can help your snake look his best by incorporating a full-spectrum fluorescent fixture over the habitat. You needn’t use a light that provides UV radiation; simply choose a light that provides a well-balanced color spectrum and a moderate light intensity.Be sure to plug the lights into a timer so you don’t have to worry about turning the lights on and off every day. This will also provide the snake with a consistent light-dark cycle, which is important for your pet’s health. A 12-hour cycle (12 hours of light, followed by 12 hours of darkness) works well, given the species’ equatorial distribution.
Suitable Humidity for a Ball Python Habitat
Ball pythons prefer relatively high temperatures, like those in their natural range. However, you should always provide snakes (and other reptiles) with a thermal gradient. This will allow them to access a range of temperatures at any given point in time.To create a thermal gradient, you’ll need to place all of the heating devices for the habitat at one end of the enclosure. This will create a basking spot, which provides the warmest temperatures in the habitat. Ideally, the temperatures at the basking spot should be about 95 degrees Fahrenheit during the day.The opposite end of the habitat should provide somewhat cooler temperatures. Temperatures in the low- to mid-70s Fahrenheit are ideal. Just be sure that they are below 80 degrees so that your snake can cool off if necessary. The temperatures between the basking spot and the cool side of the enclosure will decrease with increasing distance from the heat source.You can use heat lamps, heat tape, heat pads or radiant heat panels to supply the heat for your pet.However, other keepers prefer the convenience heat pads or heat tape provide. Just be sure to monitor the temperatures provided by these types of heat sources. It’s also important to follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions during installation.Unless the temperatures in the habitat fall below about 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit at night, you can simply turn off the heat sources overnight. If you need to provide supplemental heat at night, do so with heat sources that do not produce light.
Newspaper is probably the simplest, most hygienic and most affordable substrate you can use. It is easy to replace when soiled, and your snake can even crawl under the newspaper to hide if he wishes. Generally speaking, newspaper is the best choice for novice snake keepers.
Paper towels provide most of the same benefits that newspaper does, and it is also a good choice for beginners. It can be difficult to use paper towels in adult-sized enclosures, but it works very well in the relatively small habitats used for hatchling and juvenile snakes.
Aspen shavings are relatively affordable, and they absorb moisture rapidly, which will help reduce odors coming from the enclosure. They also allow snakes to burrow. However, aspen shavings can be a bit messy, and they must be replaced quickly if they become wet, as they’ll rot.
Cypress mulch is another great choice, and it is the author’s favorite substrate for ball python maintenance. This mulch is very affordable (although the price varies by geographic region), permits burrowing and retains moisture well, which can make it easier to maintain the proper enclosure humidity. Cypress mulch also smells nice.
Orchid bark is somewhat similar to cypress mulch in that it is helpful for maintaining a high humidity level. It also looks great and allows snakes to burrow. However, orchid bark is often relatively expensive, so it isn’t commonly used in large enclosures.Just be sure to weigh the pros and cons of these substrates before making your choice. However, you can always decide to make a change later, if you determine that your first choice isn’t working well.