Q. Where do ball pythons come from, what makes them good pets, and how long do they
A: Ball pythons come from Africa, in the regions bordering the southern Sahara Desert.
They are usually very docile snakes, and rarely bite. They do not get to be very
large, and thus make a manageable pet, unlike some other snakes.
Q: Can we keep several together, how big will they get, and how do we keep them tame?
A: Yes, you can keep several together, but it is always recommended when you get
a new reptile that you quarantine it for several months ( 4-6 months+) to make sure
it is not carrying any diseases that would spread to your other reptiles. Also,
when housing more than one snake together, it is absolutely mandatory that they be
fed in separate cages. Otherwise, they may accidentally eat each other. Ball pythons
average 3-5 feet. A few unusually large ball pythons get close to 6 feet long. They
are heavy-bodied snakes, and are fairly slow movers. While they are usually of a
calm temperament, handling your snake regularly will help keep it tame and accustomed
to being handled.
Q: Considering their size, what kind of cage should I use, and what other cage accessories
will I need?
A: A ball python can easily be kept in a 40 gallon breeder sized terrarium, but
anything larger would be better. Many people provide habitats as large as 6’x 3’,
though that is not required. Obviously, the more snakes you have in the cage, the
larger the cage needs to be. Regardless of size, your cage needs to be fitted with
a very tightly closing lid or door. Ball pythons are especially notorious for being
escape artists. You should plan on getting cage clamps to hold down the lid if you
are using a glass terrarium and screen lid. In addition, you will need hiding areas,
climbing branches, and a water dish large enough to soak in. A good quality substrate
will keep your snake happy. ( Plastic turf-style carpet irritates many snakes, and
does not clean easily. Consider reptile carpet instead – it is like pressed felt,
and is much better.) Heating your cage can be accomplished via heat lamps (protected
from the snake), under-tank heaters, ceramic heat emitters, or a combination of those.
Q: What do they eat, and how much?
A: Juvenile ball pythons will eat either fuzzy mice or small adult mice, one or
two per week. As they grow, the size of the mouse can increase, too. ALWAYS FEED
YOUR SNAKES PRE-KILLED PREY!!!! There are several reasons for this: 1) It is more
humane to the prey animal 2) Mice, rabbits, gerbils, etc can KILL your snake with
one properly placed bite. If they don’t kill the snake, the bite can get infected
and lead to problems later. 3) You don’t want your snake thinking of live animals
as prey. If they do, then you or your cat/dog/bird/hamster may smell like food and
be a target of unwanted attacks.
Q: What temperature and humidity does it need?
A: Ball pythons need hot, moderately humid cages. A basking spot of 90-100 degrees
on one end of the cage should be offered, with the other end of the cage being 75-85
degrees. The humidity should be moderate, 40-60%. Many people aid the humidity
by use of a humidity box. This is a plastic shoebox with damp moss inside. A hole
is cut into it to allow the snake to go in and out as needed.
Q: How will I know if my ball python is sick, and how can I tell whether it is male
A: Many ball pythons sold in pet stores are wild caught, and carry various internal
parasites. Upon purchase of a wild caught ball python, a trip to the vet to take
care of such pests is necessary, and will help your ball python live a longer, healthier
life. This is good advice even for captive bred pythons, though the liklihood of
parasites is lower. Aside from that, an ball python that is healthy will appear
active, alert, and have clear eyes. A well-rounded out body shows that your ball
python is not dehydrated or starved. If you see that your ball python is thin, eyes
sunken, or has black spots on the head behind the eyes, TAKE HIM TO A VET that is
experienced with reptiles! Small red or black dots that move around on your ball
python are mites, and may be treated at home with any number of medications available
at your pet store. If you notice that your python is not shedding all in one piece,
increase the humidity. The gender of most snakes must be determined by your vet
or someone experienced with probing them. External features are usually not a reliable
indicator of gender.
Q: Does my Ball Python need a Vitalite or other UVB bulb?
A: Exposure to unfiltered sunlight or a UVB-producing bulb such as a VitaLite, IguanaLite
5.0, or Desert 7% bulb is not necessary in snakes to facilitate Vitamin D3 production,
so it is an optional accessory. It certainly can’t hurt, though!
Q: What if my ball python lays eggs? How do I care for the the eggs and babies?
A: If your python lays eggs, contact an experienced snake handler for help. A herp
society near you would be a good place to start. While not impossible, incubating
the eggs can be difficult.
Q: What are some good books I could use to get more info about ball pythons?
A: Here are some good references for you:
The Ball Python Manual by Phillipe De Vosjoli, Advanced Aquarium Systems, Escondido,
Melissa Kaplan's Herp-Care website on the Word-Wide-Web has much more about reptiles,
including ball pythons. The URL for her site is: http://www.anapsid.org
Keep in mind that reptiles, as with ALL animals, may carry salmonella. See your doctor
or vet for more info on the possible effects of this disease.
There is MUCH more to know about ball pythons and reptiles in general. Please look
online or join your nearest herp society for more information.
If you're shopping for ball python supplies,
Cage with lid
Under-tank heater OR
ceramic heat emitter & fixture
shallow water pan
For more info about ball pythons or any reptile, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org