Ball Python Care
First off, thanks for stopping by the website. Ball pythons as you may or may not know are one of the most common pet snakes in the world, reason being, is they really do have all the qualities for the perfect pet snake. Unlike a cat or dog these guys require only a minimal amount of attention and maintenance.
Stack that with that fact that they don’t have to be boarded when you go on vacation and you’ve got yourself a very low maintenance non-allergic pet.e. They also don’t put off any dandruff like other more common household pets that cause pet allergies, which makes them very popular with people that are sensitive to dog and cat dandruff
Now lets move into some quality care guidelines and tips. Like with any animal in captivity it’s very important that we meet the requirements these animals need in order for them to strive and live the healthiest life as possible. I suggestion you get all of your ducks in row by setting up the enclosure and getting it dialed in to the optimal conditions well before you have the animal in your care. For this article we’ll cover some basic requirements and guidelines like:
Enclosure – I remember going to a pet store back in the 1980′s and asking the employees about snake care maintenance and them telling me to get a 10gallon fish tank with a screen top as well as a heat rock for warmth. Several other “so called” experts also advised to get a good spot light for added heat inside the tank. Well, this information couldn’t be further from the truth. Ball python care sure has come a long way since those days.
Nowadays we realize that fish tanks are for FISH and heat rocks are extremely dangerous to both the snake inside the cage as well as the people inside the home because of the fire risk. Being that ball pythons are nocturnal and live 95% of their entire life either in a termite mound or underground in an abandon rodent burrow we’ve found that in captivity we need to try our best to duplicate their natural environment as much as possible.
For enclosures I recommend using a small rack system or another type of expandable plastic cage designed specifically for reptiles both of which are capable of maintaining heat and humidity extremely well unlike glass fish aquariums. There are plenty of excellent sources on the web that offer small rack systems that hold 2-3 tubs which will also allow you to maintain more than one animal without having to buy additional thermostats and artificial heating sources (which we’ll discuss later.)
Temperature – In the wild ball pythons experience an average season temperature of just about 80 degrees fahrenheit which tells us that these animals do very well at a range that closely mimics their native conditions. With that, the optimal temperature range seems to be in the area of the mid to high 70′s at night during the cooler months of the year, to the mid to high 80′s during the hotter months of the year. Some online care sheets advocate temps in the mid to upper 90′s which in all reality is just too hot. I went through a period in the past where I kept my whole collection at these higher temps and in my personal experience these animals just don’t do as well in this higher temp range of low to mid 90′s. They don’t do as well because when you increase the animals core temperature you also increase it’s metabolize which affects the manor in which the animal stores and processes meals, making it less effective and therefore making it more difficult to gain or maintain healthy body weight. They also appear to have a little added stress when exposed to higher temps as they’re always moving and even more flighty when held. That being said, I’ve been keeping my animals in the cooler range of (78-86 degrees) for the past couple years and my animals are much healthier and robust as a result.
Substrate – The most worry free and safest substrate for keeping these animals in captivity is hands down print-less newspaper. Although, it is safer than many other substrate options there are several downsides to keeping your animal on print-less paper. Just a couple quick examples of the negatives aspects of print-less newspaper are that it doesn’t hold humidity very well, it requires manual misting with a couple times a week in order to maintain proper humidity levels. Another downside, is it doesn’t provide the animal much comfort or security and it’s not very naturalistic. That being said, I prefer cypress mulch for my substrate over anything else as it holds humidity extremely well, provides great natural cover for the animal which reduces stress, it’s very absorbent so it doesn’t smell, and spot cleaning is a piece of cake.
Handling – Ball pythons do really well being handled on a regular basis, but you never want to handle your animal the day you plan to offer it a meal and you don’t want to handle the animal for at least 48hours after it’s eaten a meal. Handling it before a meal can very easily take it out of feeding mode which could result in the animal refusing to take a meal. Handling it after a meal will have a negative affect on digestion and possibly cause the animal to regurgitate the meal well before it has been digested which can in turn lead to more negative health effects down the road.
For additional information on these guys like feeding, natural history and conservation status please check out the rest of this website if you still have questions please submit a questions on the Question and Answer page and I’ll do my best to give you a detailed reply.