CARE SHEET FOR BALL PYTHONS – PYTHON REGIUS
Ball Pythons are one of the most popular snakes kept in captivity worldwide. Keeping them can be very rewarding, and on the whole, is not very difficult.
It is very important to have your enclosure complete and ready for your ball python before bringing it home. This way, your animal can acclimate to its new environment as seamlessly as possible without any health issues.
There are two methods to house your animal. The first, and most popular way is in a terrarium. The second method (used more commonly by breeders) is in a rack system.
The size of your enclosure should not exceed one and half times the length of your animal and should not be less than two-thirds the length of your animal. In a terrarium, you should go a little larger so the enclosure is not too cluttered.
Ball pythons are known to be shy animals and (like other snakes) will seek comfort in a small and dark space.
As ball pythons are cold blooded animals, they rely on external heat that you, as the owner, will provide for them. The snake itself will modulate its own heat requirements and will therefore need a healthy range of temperatures throughout the enclosure.
The warm side of your enclosure should be between 87 – 90 F and the cool side should be between 77 – 82 F. As a beginner, and one that has not kept ball pythons successfully before, it is important to have two thermometers affixed, one at each end of the enclosure, so you can see the exact temperatures at all times.
If your enclosure is too small, creating a proper heat gradient will not be possible.
Ball pythons do not need very special humidity requirements. The average humidity in your home will be between 35% and 45%. A ball pythons humidity should not drop below 50% but 55% – 60% is ideal. As a beginner, go to your local pet store or gardening store and pick up a hygrometer to accurately measure the humidity in your animals enclosure.
An easy way to adjust humidity levels in your enclosure is by increasing/decreasing the size of the water bowl. Conversely, you can increase/decrease the amount of ventilation the enclosure receives. Daily misting is not necessary for ball pythons.
Ball pythons are clean animals and choosing a substrate is not difficult. Almost any type of substrate you find in the pet store will be fine. The more porous the substrate (like mulch) the more it will retain moisture and bolster the humidity. The most popular is probably aspen shavings. Aspen is easy to spot clean and easy to replace entirely.
Remember that cedar is not a suitable bedding as it is TOXIC to all snakes.
Like most snakes, ball pythons seek dark and secure places to spend most of their time and providing the right amount of hides is critical to the snakes sense of security. If the snake does not feel secure, it will stress and give you feeding problems.
Provide a hide on both the warm side and the cool side of the enclosure. If your enclosure is very large, then providing more hides will be necessary. Some people also like to provide a damp hide – a place the snake can go when it needs more humidity.
Make sure there is always fresh water in the cage of your ball python. Water should be changed every 3 to 4 days. Obviously, if the water gets dirty beforehand, change it immediately.
A healthy ball python will not typically soak in its water bowl. Therefore, this does not need to be a consideration when choosing a water bowl for your snake.
You will be able to recognize when your snake begins to shed by three main markers.
1. The belly will begin to turn pink
2. The skin of the snake will begin to get significantly duller
3. The eyes of your snake will become milky and appear opaque. This last stage is called “being in blue”. Eventually the eyes will clear up and within the next 36 hrs you can expect your snake to shed.
Ball pythons do not typically have problems shedding as their humidity requirements are not too intensive. Should your ball python shed incompletely, soak the animal for two hours in warm shallow water. Afterwards, the remaining skin should come off easily. It is always important to check the animal after it has shed to ensure that there is no skin remaining on the tip of the tail, and that the eye caps have been completely removed.
Ball pythons can feed on mice their entire life however nutritionally speaking, it is best to get them feeding on rats as soon as possible. They should be fed on a weekly basis and require 1 appropriately sized meal per week. This means that the rodent should be the same size as the largest part of the animals body. While frozen-thawed is an option, we only feed live rodents in our facility. Ball pythons tend to go on and off food more when feeding frozen-thawed rodents. Just remember the bigger the rodent the bigger the teeth. NEVER leave a live rodent unattended with your snake.
When purchasing a baby ball python, the breeder you bought it from will (typically) ensure the animal is eating well before selling it to you. This is why it is critical to source your animals from reputable breeders only.
Ball pythons are known to be very docile animals and are very comfortable with being handled. On the rare occasion, you will find a ball python that is snappy. Even with these snakes, regular handling will eventually calm them down. It is important NOT to handle your snake for at least 24 hours after it has eaten as this could disrupt digestion of its food and lead to regurgitation. Aside from dealing with the awful smell and mess, it is bad for the animal and could lead to future eating problems.
It is also best not to handle your snake while in the shedding process. The main reason for this is because as their eyes turn blue, the snakes ability to see becomes greatly diminished. As one can expect, when an animal cannot see its surroundings, it will be more likely to strike. As you have kept your snake longer, you will learn when it is appropriate to handle it. Can you handle your snake too much? The short answer is that as long as your snake does not become agitated, you can handle it as frequently as you like.
Make sure you spot clean your enclosure at least once a week. Do a thorough cleaning once a month. This means removing all of the contents of the enclosure and disinfecting them with appropriate cleaning solution. The substrate should also be completely changed once a month. If you are using paper, it should be changed once a week.
SEXING YOUR SNAKE
There are two methods to accurately determine the gender of your snake. Popping and Probing. Ball pythons are especially easy to pop but if you have not been taught by a professional, never attempt it on your own. The same applies for probing which is tricky for any snake. If you don’t know what you are doing, you can cause serious harm to the animal. The easiest thing to do is enquire from the breeder you are purchasing the animal from before taking ownership of that animal. Female ball pythons can grow up to 4.5–5 feet while males will grow to 3.5-4 feet.
Please contact us with any questions. View our available Ball Pythons.
Lone Star Reptiles