If youre new to the world of reptiles or Ball Pythons (opens in new tab) in particular, then you may be wondering, What is substrate and why does my ball python need it?
And while the flooring in our homes doesnt typically play a big role in affecting our health in the world of reptiles? Lets just say substrate plays a MAJOR role in maintaining proper husbandry which DOES significantly affect a ball pythons lifespan .
So, it should come as no surprise that one of the most critical aspects of planning your ball pythons set up will involve selecting the RIGHT substrate. The type, source, and depth of substrate have a significant impact on your pets health and happiness. So, if youre looking for a little guidance when it comes to finding the right ball python substrate, rest assured this post has got you covered!
Some substrate are infamous for introducing itchy mites to your helpless pet or encouraging the growth of mold in high humidity environments. As long as the substrate is appropriate for a ball python, the next most crucial factor for most snake keepers is cost. It wont matter much if your ball python is housed in a rack or an opaque plastic tub, but display enclosures will require more thought.
Now that weve covered the criteria that will be used to rank the substrates, lets dig in (pun intended!) While the following 6 substrates all make fine choices, well now focus on discussing in depth how they differ from one another using the 8 criteria outlined above. Rest assured, you cant really go wrong here but as youll soon discover, some substrates simply outshine others in specific categories.
Its widely considered the BEST substrate choice for ball pythons and other tropical reptile and amphibian species. Purchasing: Coconut husk bags are sold by volume, not weight, and it isnt particularly dense or heavy. Youll probably need to make a trip to your local pet or reptile specialty shop for this product or order it online.
Although not ideal for burrowing and potentially dangerous in terms of a small impaction risk, if you can stomach the more expensive price, this substrate is in our opinion (and that of many owners!) It offers endless opportunities for enrichment, creating a beautiful landscape, and just letting your ball python live as naturally as possible. Fungus and Mites: When properly maintained, the beneficial organisms in the bio-active substrate will handle any unwelcomed, harmful microorganisms.
However, if youre confident in your abilities to create and maintain a bio-active environment, and have the time, patience, and resources to do so, by all means consider this substrate in 1st place! Fungus and Mites: Being dense and thus limiting airflow, this substrate has a slight risk of developing mold . Compressed coco fiber bricks are even more affordable, and often you can pay $5-$10 for an amount that hydrates and expands to 2-3x the volume of a large bag of loose coir.
Aesthetics: Since coconut coir looks like dirt, it gives a very natural appearance that appeals to many ball python owners. However, it can be very difficult to clean and has the potential to develop mold without regular maintenance, which hurts it in our overall ranking. Since its typically sold in sealed bags, creating a very high moisture environment, mites usually do not stow away in it.
Additives such as pesticides, fertilizer, and cedar are common, resulting in potentially deadly consequences for your ball python. Cleaning: It can be hard to adequately spot-clean contaminated bedding , and even harder to identify when your snake defecates in the first place. Aesthetics: These attractive wood pieces create a gorgeous and natural terrain for your ball python.
Grocery stores, newspaper stands locating paper substrate wont be a problem. Aesthetics: Paper isnt visually appealing to most keepers , but it can work out if you are going for a basic, clean look. Good for a short term substrate considering how affordable it is, aspen unfortunately has more cons than pros.
However , changing the litter can be a messy ordeal since things can get dusty, and the lightweight shavings seem to just float away and all over the room. Darker colored ball python morphs will benefit from the contrast provided by the yellow-white wood shavings. To continue your education, consider and review the following 5 substrates, all of which should be on any ball python owners naughty list.
On top of this, it also reduces humidity , can irritate the respiratory tract , AND can cause impactions due to its clumping properties. Pine and cedar shavings surely seem natural, almost like something your ball python may encounter in the wild, right? Well, consider this: These seemingly safe substrate options may release harmful oils and compounds into the air , which can lead to neurological damage and respiratory irritation in your ball python.
Well, lets just say it gets a big, fat F in this subject on its report card considering how easily ingestible it is.
Whats the best bedding for a ball python?
Substrate and Furnishings. Reptile bark (orchid bark), cypress mulch, pulverized coconut husk (bed-a-beast), or a mixture of both are prime choices. Avoid any excessively drying bedding including pine shavings, sand, or paper products. And never use a cedar bedding… cedar is toxic to all snakes!
What substrate is best for pythons?
Coconut husk, also referred to as “coco husk,” is made from roughly chopped chunks of coconut shell. It’s widely considered the BEST substrate choice for ball pythons and other tropical reptile and amphibian species.
Is Aspen bedding good for ball pythons?
In general, aspen shavings are a pretty good substrate for ball python habitats. The only thing you have to watch out for is the humidity level inside the cage. … If it gets too dry inside a ball python’s cage, the snake could have a hard time shedding its skin. It’s just something to keep an eye on.
What do you put in the bottom of a ball python cage?
The most popular substrates for ball pythons are newspaper, aspen wood shavings, cypress mulch, and a paper-based product called Carefresh bedding. There are many other types of substrate as well, but I recommend you choose one of those I just listed.
The ideal substrate for pet snakes can depend on several factors. If the snake is a tropical species, such as a rainbow boa that requires high humidity, there are certain substrates that will work for this species better than they would work for a ball python, who require lower ambient humidity.
This material is also highly irritating to a snakes skin and constant contact can result in abrasions and ulcerations. Within the confines of an enclosure, especially one with solid sides such as an aquarium/terrarium, the pet cannot escape the fumes from cedar shavings, and the phenols and acids this material releases will eventually erode the lining of the lungs and trachea.
Its dandy if applied on top of food as a calcium supplement occasionally, but as a substrate, it can cause dehydration and irritating. The effects can be so harmful that veterinarians recommend that to ensure the safety of birds and reptiles, these pets should be removed to a safe location for 10-14 days until the rooms are completely aired out and toxic gasses dissipated. Even when using carpeting with special, environmentally friendly (less toxic, vastly reduced outgassing) backings, birds and reptiles should still be removed for several days.
In fact, synthetic carpets are made from nylon fibers with a polypropylene backing known to release over 40 noxious chemicals, including styrene and 4-phenylcyclohexane (4-PC), which can cause eye and respiratory tract irritation and may also affect the central nervous system. Bags of plain soil may be easily purchased at garden centers, building supply stores, and even some supermarkets. Rainbow boas tend to burrow a little more often, especially juveniles, but also generally seem to prefer a hide as well as high humidity and a moist substrate.
It is best to remove all chunky bits and have a smooth and soft surface that is cleaned everyday if there is a medical issue with skin or eyes.
For your ball python to be comfortable, you need the right substrate for the pythons bedding. There are many options available such as aspen shaving, cypress mulch, coconut fiber, and even paper towels.
These are easy to find, non abrasive and promotes the right level of humidity needed by snakes. They are absorbent, contain no toxic oils or resins, and are great for the environment.
It is also resistant to mold growth and help keeps a moist yet bacterial free snake enclosure. Why
Use Zoo Med Eco Earth Loose Coconut Fiber Substrate? It is excellent for snakes that
require very high humidity levels to thrive.
Another super absorbent substrate is the Zoo
Med Repti bark mix. This substrate absorbs moisture very easily and increases
humidity levels. As you already know, high humidity levels keep snakes healthy
and ease shedding.
Not only are they easy to replace, but they are also very comfortable especially Reptile Prime Coconut Fiber Bedding Substrate. Because of its light tone, you can detect any abnormalities in the excrement such as blood, worms and other parasites. Why
Use Reptile Prime Coconut Fiber Bedding Substrate?
You really need to watch out for these as they
may be mixed with other substrates good for snakes. You need to properly check
the materials if you are buying a substrate mix. Also, avoid sand, rocks, pebbles and other materials that can be abrasive and hurt the snake.
Once you get a cage for your ball python, you need to add substrate (bedding) on the bottom of the cage. There are many different options for ball python substrate, and each has its own pros and cons. In this post, you will find a list of best ball python substrate options, their pros and cons, bad substrates, substrate depth and best substrate for humidity.
Pros of paper towels include ability to watch your ball pythons poop, ease of cleaning and low cost. It is recommended that you use paper towels for juvenile and ball pythons, to monitor their poop.
Using simple paper substrate will help avoid any accidental ingestion and impaction. What is more, always make sure to use newspaper or paper towels only, when you have just brought your new ball python home. Cypress mulch is a good substrate option for humidity loving snakes, including ball pythons.
One of the cons is that it can sometimes get stuck in your ball pythons heat pits on the snout, or in the mouth. Make sure to regularly check your ball python and remove any stuck bits if you find any. In higher humidity settings, aspen shavings might also harbor bacteria if wet and mold easily.
So, theres no need to add a thick layer of substrate it should be thin to help absorb waste and provide some traction. You can use some sphagnum moss added to your main substrate, such as cypress mulch or fir bark. Also, you can add some sphagnum moss in your ball pythons hide to help with shedding.
What is more, it is not as absorbent and will start smelling once your ball python pees or poops, and you would have to take it out very often to wash fully. Cedar shavings or chips toxic Redwood shavings or chips toxic Highly aromatic pine/cedar/other wood shavings oils/phenols are dangerous when inhaled Sand not suitable for ball pythons and pose an impaction risk Reptile carpet only use if you cannot use anything else (but even paper towels/newspaper is better), harbors bacteria, hard to clean Alfalfa can start molding easily, dusty Walnut shells dangerous if ingested and sharp Gravel or stones impaction risk, abrasive Corncob impaction risk, irritating Carefresh dusty Apart from the above substrates, please do not use any wet towels or pieces of cloth in your ball pythons tank.
Some people might recommend wetting a cloth and adding to one side or in the hide to increase humidity. Sphagnum moss added to a hide or main substrate can also help with increasing humidity. If you live somewhere very dry, you will prefer substrates that can keep humidity such as cypress mulch, bark chips or tropical soil mix.
Ball Python Substrates to
Before we discuss all of your options for substrate, let’s first briefly discuss what you should consider when comparing one substrate against another.The following 8 criteria will be used to rank the top 6 best substrates in the next section. As such, getting acquainted with them now will help ensure you make the most informed pick possible for you andNow that we’ve covered the criteria that will be used to rank the substrates, let’s “dig in” (pun intended!) to your available choices!While the following 6 substrates all make fine choices, we’ll now focus on discussing in depth how they differ from one another using the 8 criteria outlined above.Rest assured, you can’t really go wrong here… but as you’ll soon discover, some substrates simply outshine others in specific categories.It’sIt offersA good option for those who are in a pinch, any of the 3 aforementioned substrate options can provide an easy-to-clean and simple aesthetic that make them low maintenance and ideal for temporary husbandry.Good for a short term substrate considering how affordable it is,But, with that being said, if you’re in a pinch and have a work-around for the potential humidity problems and impaction risk, it’s a solid choice.
Zoo Med Aspen Snake Bedding
One of the best substrate for ball python is the ReptiChip Premium Coconut Substrate. These are easy to find, non abrasive and promotes the right level of humidity needed by snakes.Apart from being used as bedding for reptiles, they are also used as potting mix for plants as well. There are several brands of coco coir substrates on the market.Great alternatives include the Exo Terra Plantation Soil and the Zoo Med Eco Earth Coconut Fiber Substrate. This substrate may come compact or loose. If it is compact then you need to soak it in water to loosen it.
Zoo Med Repti Bark
This is another excellent choice. This bedding is great at increasing the humidity in the snake’s tank. They also work well with other reptiles, and not just snakes. It is also resistant to mold growth and help keeps a moist yet bacterial free snake enclosure. It is also very affordable. I must say if you want the best ball python substrate for humidity then you must consider it.
Snake Substrate Explained
For the economically minded, you can use coco coir. Not only are they easy to replace, but they are also very comfortable especially Reptile Prime Coconut Fiber Bedding Substrate.Because of its light tone, you can detect any abnormalities in the excrement such as blood, worms and other parasites. They eliminate in bad odor as well. This versatile mix can also be used to incubate eggs.
Any of the discussed substrates can be the best substrate for ball python racks and tanks. It all depends on your preference. They are easy to be found and can be ordered online.A healthy snake needs a healthy substrate. While substrates discussed make the best bedding for ball pythons, there are also substrates to avoid since they are bad for snakes.The first are cedar and pine shavings. These are toxic to ball pythons. You really need to watch out for these as they may be mixed with other substrates good for snakes. You need to properly check the materials if you are buying a substrate mix.Also, avoid sand, rocks, pebbles and other materials that can be abrasive and hurt the snake.
Option #2: Cypress mulch
Cypress mulch is a good substrate option for humidity loving snakes, including ball pythons. It is absorbent and can help retain optimal levels of humidity and temperatures.Cypress mulch like this is also easy to clean, and replace when necessary. What is more, it is aesthetically pleasing. It is a good substrate for ball pythons, especially if you are struggling with humidity.One of the cons is that it can sometimes get stuck in your ball python’s heat pits on the snout, or in the mouth. Make sure to regularly check your ball python and remove any stuck bits if you find any.
Option #3: Aspen
Aspen shavings like this is another popular choice of substrate for ball pythons. It is light, clumps easily when wet (waste) and can be spot cleaned easily.However, aspen can get stuck in your ball python’s mouth. Also, your ball python is likely to ingest aspen shavings when eating food. In higher humidity settings, aspen shavings might also harbor bacteria if wet and mold easily.That’s why if using aspen, you will have to check your ball python’s mouth to see if there’s any stuck aspen. To help prevent ingestion, when adding aspen, make sure that your ball python has time to compress it before you feed it (when adding for the first time).You will have to replace the whole substrate in the tank once a month. All in all, aspen is very absorbent, inexpensive and easy to clean. However, it can mold in the tank when wet and otherwise be dry, sometimes causing scale irritation.
Option #4: Bark chips or shredded bark
Bark chips is another substrate option for your ball python. Pros of bark chips are that it’s decorative, and can helps with shedding and to regulate humidity. But however, it can also be ingested with food, causing impaction.That’s especially true if your ball pythons loves to burrow. So, there’s no need to add a thick layer of substrate – it should be thin to help absorb waste and provide some traction.When choosing chips, make sure to choose medium or larger grade orchid chips like this. You can also choose beech, fir bark like this or even coconut chips. Make sure to spot clean when you see poop.
Option #5: Coconut fiber
Coconut fiber, also called coco fiber, is another substrate option for your ball python. Coco fiber clumps rather easily, is soft, and will be increasing humidity in the cage.However, coconut fiber is very fine, and can be easily ingested with food. What is more, it can get dusty and bit messy in the tank. Also, coco fiber can get stuck in your ball python’s heat pits. So, you would need to check them and your ball python’s mouth frequently and remove it if there’s any.
Option #7: Tropical soil mix
Another substrate choice for your ball python is a tropical soil mix. It can help with holding humidity, is soft and can be cleaned easily.You can buy a ready tropical mix like this one by Josh’s Frogs, or make your own mix. To make your own mix, mix around 60-70% organic topsoil, 10% sand, 10% peat moss, 10% coco fiber.When choosing soil, make sure it doesn’t contain any fertilizers or pesticides. Another great product is ReptiSoil like this, that is a mix of peat, soil, sand and carbon.
Option #8: Reptile carpet
Reptile carpet like this is widely used as a substrate for a big variety of reptiles. It’s aesthetically pleasing and often comes in green or brown colors.However, it doesn’t help hold any humidity (unless misted). What is more, it is not as absorbent and will start smelling once your ball python pees or poops, and you would have to take it out very often to wash fully. It can be very hard to keep clean, and you would need to disinfect it regularly.If a carpet gets wet, that would also harbor bacteria.