- Lifespan 30+ years
- Size Females 3-5 feet, Males 2-3 feet.
- Carnivores Rodents (Rats, mice and African Soft Furs), small birds, etc.
- Temperature 78-96'f
- Humidity 50-60%
- Minimum enclosure 36x18x12 or long enough for the snake to stretch out completely. Bigger is better!
Ball Python LifeSpan and Size
With proper care, ball pythons can live 30 years or more. The record age for a ball python is more than 40 years.
Ball python hatchlings are approximately 10 inches in length, 50-65 grams. Adult female ball pythons average 3 to 5 feet long ~1500-2000 grams, and adult male ball pythons average 2 to 3 feet in size ~700-1200 grams. This is a species in which mature females are typically much larger than the males. A 5-foot ball python is considered big, although rare cases for lengths of 6 feet or more have been reported.
A minimum of 36-inch by 18-inch by 12-inch enclosure will comfortably house an adult ball python, but given a larger enclosure they will make use of it.
Substrate should be thick enough to hold humidity and allow digging, use coconut choir, chunks, jungle earth and reptile soil and moss combinations. Include sticks, rocks, cork bark, and a humid hide. Ball pythons are primarily terrestrial snakes that appreciate and utilize hide spots. Provide at least one on each end of your python’s enclosure so that it doesn’t have to choose between temperature and security.
Spot-clean your ball python’s enclosure as necessary. Remove feces and urates as soon as possible. Do a complete tear-down every 30 days by removing all substrate and reptile accessories and completely disinfecting with a 5 percent bleach solution. Rinse the enclosure thoroughly with water, and allow it to dry completely before replacing cage accessories, substrates, and your snake.
Or research Bioactive Vivarium which includes creating a natural living space with plants, substrate and living microfauna (isopods and springtails) that act like a cleanup crew in the enclosure.
Reptile Heating & Lighting
Enclosures must allow for a proper thermal gradient that the ball python can utilize, with a hotspot on one end of the enclosure and a cool spot on the other. Provide your ball python with a basking spot temperature of 88 to 96 degrees Fahrenheit and an ambient temperature of 78 to 80 degrees. The ambient temperature should not fall below 75 degrees. Monitor temperatures by using a digital indoor/outdoor thermometer with a probe or temperature gun.
Use a basking bulb as your primary heat source, with ambient heat sources such as ceramic heat emitters, deep heat projectors and side mounted heat mats/tape as supplementary heat. Do not use hot rocks with snakes as they can heat unevenly over too small of a surface area and can cause serious burns. With focused heat sources it is crucial to keep an eye on the humidity within the enclosure, especially if combined with a screen top, as both will dry the air quickly. Use thermostats and/or timers to control your heat source.
Light sources should be kept on a 12/12 cycle, meaning 12 hours on (day) and 12 hours off (complete darkness, NO light emitting heat bulbs at night!).
UVB lighting is beneficial to all animals. Depending on the size of the enclosure, interference and mounting configuration, use the chart below to determine the best UVB intensity. The 7% Arcadia Shade dweller is typically recommended for most snakes. Mount UVB Lighting adjacent to the heat source so the snake benefits from the UVB while basking.
Ball pythons prefer ambient humidity levels of 50 to 60 percent. Maintaining proper humidity and hydration will allow your ball python to shed properly. Keep the humid hide moist and always provide clean drinking water in a dish large enough to soak in. Deep substrate allows for a humidity gradient. If using a screen lid, consider attaching plexi-glass or coroplast plastic on a portion of the lid, away from the heat sources, to help hold in moisture.
Ball pythons can eat rats from the time they are young – starting off with rat pups or “crawlers” at first and moving up in size as they grow. Do not handle your ball python for at least a day after feeding, as this can lead to regurgitation. Ball pythons can be fed frozen/thawed or pre-killed rodents. Never leave a live rodent unattended with any snake, as they can injure the snake.
Ball pythons are well-known for not eating at certain times throughout the year, particularly in the winter months. If your ball python is healthy, continue your husbandry routine as usual, but keep the amount of handling to a minimum. Offer your ball python food every 10 to 14 days until it is interested in eating again, as the snake will eventually resume feeding normally.
Feed adult ball pythons every 1 to 2 weeks and younger ball pythons weekly as they need this energy to grow. Snakes generally do not eat while they are in the shed cycle. Overfeeding a reptile is not recommended as obesity can result in an early death.
Ball Python Handling and Temperament
Ball pythons are generally shy and will spend much of their time hiding.
Some snakes may not eat for several hours or longer after being handled, so avoid handling if you plan to feed. Do not handle a snake for 3-5 days after feeding to allow proper digestion. Avoid putting your snake’s cage in a heavy traffic area, excessive movement, and other pets should be avoided.
Always support your ball python’s body and avoid fast movements. Once a ball python realizes that you will not hurt it they often will relax and explore. Some ball pythons may try to hide when handled and occasionally may even bite due to excessive fear. Relax when holding your animal; sit down and give the animal a chance to settle.
A ball python’s bite is a superficial wound. If a snake looks like it is going to strike (Hissing and/or in a “S” configured strike pose), it is best to not handle it.
What to do when “Tagged”
Typically snakes will only strike when aggravated or in confusion over prey. A Tag will be a quick strike and release, with small puncture wounds. Rinse the area and pat dry until bleeding stops.
If a snake strikes and coils this is a misplaced feeding response. Stay calm and do not attempt to tear the snake off as their teeth and jaws are delicate. Grasp their head firmly behind the jaw and move them forward to unhook the teeth. Another method is to try introducing a small drop of ethanol alcohol or gently submerging the snake in water temporarily.
Shedding Issues: If your Ball python has stuck shed, first make sure that your humidity is high enough in their enclosure and they are well hydrated (sometimes soaking prey items helps). If necessary, soak your Ball python in about an inch of luke warm water or damp paper towel for 30 minutes under supervision in a tub with a lid and ventilation. This should allow the snake to finish shedding the loose skin. If you notice that you are unable to remove an eye cap or a piece of shed that looks restricting, please go to a local exotic vet (Trilake Animal Hospital/ Rutland Pet Hospital) to have it professionally assessed and removed.
Other health Issues: Seeking veterinary assistance is highly recommended but early treatment consists of doing a sterile “nursery enclosure” with paper towel as a substrate. Scale Rot: Snake will appear have a rash, blisters or dark discoloured belly or mouth scales. Scale rot is typically due to the humidity being too high. Antibiotics and husbandry adjustments are often prescribed.
Burns: These will appear as unnaturally pink or red belly scales or misformed and peeling patches along the sides and back of the animal. Flamazine ointment and betadyne soaks along with immediate heat source and husbandry adjustments.
Respiratory Infections (R.Is): If your Ball python has signs of Respiratory infection, please visit a vet to diagnose your snake and receive antibiotics to treat the infection. For minor RI, there is some success with using F10 veterinary disinfectant to nebulize your snakes with.
Mite Prevention: Anytime you bring a reptile in your home or collection, make sure that you quarantine them away from other reptiles.
Mite Symptoms: Ball python is continually soaking in their water dish and you see black specks floating around in the water, along with raised scales with mites underneath, especially on the belly and around the mouth.
Mite Treatment: If you find that your Ball python has mites, make sure to bathe your Ball python in warm water about an inch deep with a mite treatment. Completely disinfect their enclosure. Repeat every week until resolved or seek professional assistance if the infestation persists for over a month.
Python regius, Ball Python Care
By The Bug Guys, Adapted from Arcadia Reptile, Reptile Magazine and BHB Reptiles
Please call or contact us with any questions 250-766-4646 Lake Country Pet The Bug Guys