Ball Python – Profile, Care, Facts
Taking care of Ball pythons is much easier than what most individuals anticipate. Originally from Africa, these beautiful reptiles are perfect for beginners and make exciting pets to those enthusiastic about expanding their collection.
One unique feature about Ball Pythons is their predisposition to coil like a ball when in jeopardy. Although you may hear other people refer to them as Royal Pythons, Ball Pythons got this name from this inclination.
All told, Ball Pythons are resilient, non-poisonous, live long, and come in various morphs. Compared to other snake species, they do not require special lighting or housing requirements. In fact, all you need is a clean enclosure, well-done substrate, and a proper diet to keep your slithering friend happy. Follow the helpful guide below on Ball Python facts and how to keep them in a suitable environment.
Ball Pythons are some of the smallest constricting snakes in the world. On average, an adult measures two to five feet and has a boxy snout and flathead. However, when fed on a high protein diet, they can grow up to six feet.
Usually, female pythons are enormous and muscular compared to the male species. Note that both male and female Pythons have anal spurs, which resemble tiny claws. Additionally, they have an extremely sensitive fork tongue which they use as a sensory body organ.
Like other non-poisonous snake species, Ball Pythons do not grow fangs but have multiple inward curved teeth. Mostly, Ball Pythons come in dark brown or black color with brownish spots on the sides and back. Also, on its white or cream belly, there are black marks scattered all over. Contrarily, Baby Pythons have green and yellow spots, sometimes outlined in black or white color.
Baby Pythons are some of the most preferred pet snakes because of their easy temperament. Naturally shy, they spend considerable time coiled around their head. In the wild, pythons prefer to hunt after nightfall using heat pits positioned around the upper jaw.
Likewise, they love burrowing and hiding underground during the day. Ball Pythons rarely bite unless when excessively stressed or afraid. It would help if you realized that these species often bite when mishandled, after a meal, and during the shedding season.
Bear in mind that if you touch a prey before heading to the snake cage, they can bite you in defense. Ball Python bites may not transmit any venom, but they can cause painful bruises, scratches, and severe internal injuries.
All in all, Ball Python usually sends warning signals before they strike. For instance, if they curve their head and neck in an S shape, that’s an indication that they want to be left alone.
If you place your pet friend in proper care, most likely, they can live for about 20 to 30 years. Unfortunately, several health conditions can significantly reduce their lifespan. Immediately you bring your Python home, it is essential to quarantine them for three to six months to prevent spreading diseases.
Furthermore, ensure that your pet gets an entire body check-up and stool sample to rule out parasites. Other common snake ailments include mouth rot, respiratory infections, and blister disease.
Most importantly, monitor the environment, handling, and proper dieting. Although snakes can refuse to ear for quite a long time, sometimes it can be a sign of sickness. Even so, check if the snake appears alert, firm, and not losing weight.
If it appears healthy, use various methods and entice them to feed regularly. For instance, expose prey’s brain matter before placing it in the cage or use brightly colored mice. The bottom line is to ensure that your pet snakes remain well-fed so that they can enjoy a healthier contented life.
General Care & Requirements
In comparison to other demanding pets, snakes are less demanding and require minimal attention. If you manage to feed them well, offer a hiding spot, and heat regulate the cage, your pet will be more than content. For these reasons, here are specific snake requirements you should meet.
Since Ball Pythons are cold-blooded, they mostly rely on the environment to get the necessary heat for their metabolism. Even if these serpents come from a hot tropical savanna climate, they prefer a cooler temperature in the caves.
As a pet, allow them to live in an environment within 30 to 32 °C degrees. If possible, expose them to a basking temperature of 35-40 °C degrees. Likewise, you can slightly minimize the room temperature at night without causing any harm to your pet.
During the cold seasons, use a lightless heat source to keep your Ball Python warm. Remember that snakes in the world receive their heat dose from the sun above. Thus, mimic the situation and install heat lamps instead of heat tape and heating mats.
Try to prevent the snake from getting burnt by the lights by building a bulb cage. Given that seasons keep on fluctuating, purchase a comparative thermostat that regulates itself to maintain optimal temperature.
Humidity is an essential factor as it simplifies the shedding process and helps to maintain a healthy respiratory system. You should retain humidity within 45% to 75 % for your pet snake to thrive in an enclosure. Nonetheless, allow occasional dips of about 30% and spikes not more than 90%.
One effective way of monitoring humidity and temperature is to place a hydrometer in the middle of a snake’s enclosure. Preferably, make a humid hiding place for your pet, especially during the shedding period.
Likewise, mist the entire cage twice in the day using hand cramps or instant sprayers. If possible, ensure that the floor lining or substrate remains damp by pouring water on it weekly.
– Cage Size
Naturally, Ball Pythons are docile creatures who rarely move around the cage. Thus, a 10 to 30-gallon enclosure makes a perfect home both for younglings and adult snakes. Given that snakes are expert escape artists, ensure that the cage remains tightly clamped throughout.
There are several options you can use for substrates like newsprint, pieces of bark, or Astroturf. Moreover, provide solid branches and a concealed dark location for your reptiles to hide.
Don’t forget to offer them a huge container to soak in and remain calm. Apart from thermoregulating your pet, regular soaking also quickens the shedding process.
Unlike other reptiles, you do not need full-spectrum lighting with Ball Pythons. Instead, ensure that the snakes enjoy 12 hours in total darkness and the other in broad light.
During summer, increase the light sessions by at least two hours and sparingly decrease the timings in winter. To better control lighting, use an instant timer to ensure that your pets benefit fully from it.
Food & Nutrition
Snake’s feeding patterns depend on activity level, size, and age. While baby snakes comfortably feed twice a week, the larger one can stay up to two weeks without feeding. Altogether, proper feeding and nutrition are vital in keeping your pet snake healthy. Here are quick tips on how to go around it.
In their natural habitat, Ball Pythons kill their prey by squeezing them to death. Though this is not possible as a pet, ensure that you offer them a nutritious diet. For the younglings, feed them on baby mice but increase the share as they grow older.
Even if snakes love hunting for their food, restrain from giving your pets live prey. Most likely, live rats and mice may bite the snake through the struggle leading to infected bruises. Hence, buy pre-killed food from a trustworthy vendor and thaw it before feeding.
Immediately after eating, keep the enclosure temperature within the required limits to aid in digestion. Note that during the breeding season, female snakes are feeding more frequently than before.
– Supplements & Vitamins
While most reptile pets require constant supplementation, snakes mostly get their nutrients from the prey or gut-loaded mice.
Nonetheless, there are mineral deficiencies that can pose life-threatening issues. If need be, seek veterinarian advice on supplementation before introducing your pet to a vitamin regime.
A fresh supply of water daily is vital in keeping your snake healthy. Often snakes defecate in their drinking water. Ensure that the water remains at room temperature and replace it once they make it dirty. Importantly, pour the water in a heavy container that the snake cannot knock over.
Snake breeding is a complex process that you should not rush into. Before mating, both sexes should be separated for weeks and kept in cooler temperatures. After breeding, a healthy snake typically lays four to seven eggs.
Although the mother can efficiently incubate them, you can place them in a separate warmer cage of about 32-35 degrees and 85-100% humidity. Usually, snake eggs hatch within 60 days. In the early stages, you may have to force-feed the hatchlings before they get accustomed.
Even if Ball Pythons are pretty fascinating, they may not make ideal companions for everyone. Therefore take time to research essential requirements needed to keep them healthy.
Above all, be prepared for a full-time commitment that is not only rewarding but refreshing too.