Ball Python (Python regius)
Getting to Know Your Ball Python:
🐍Ball pythons originate from central and western Africa. They are great snakes for beginner keepers because of their minimal care requirements, easily handleable, and friendly attitudes. However, they also make an interesting pet for reptile keepers of all levels because of their large variety of color morphs and variations.
🐍Ball python sizes differ depending on the sex of the snake. Male ball pythons are smaller than females; their size ranges from an average of 2 to 3 feet. Female ball pythons have been recorded at 6 feet before, however, most females average 4 to 5 feet. Despite their size differences, the lifespan of all ball pythons is around 30 years.
Building Your Ball Python’s Home:
🐍Ball python tank requirements change depending on the size of the snake, putting a juvenile ball python in a tank that is too large for it could cause the snake stress and prevent it from eating. Therefore, the snake’s enclosure should grow with the snake. The tanks required for ball pythons range from a 20 gallon (30inx12inx12in) to a 40 gallon (36inx18inx16in).
🐍Ball pythons need an ambient temperature of 78 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with a hot spot of 88 to 96 degrees. A good way of achieving this is through an appropriately sized under tank heat pad. Sticking the pad on one side of the enclosure creates a temperature gradient throughout the tank, allowing the snake to regulate its body temperature. Make sure the appropriately sized water bowl is on the cool side of the tank, the water bowl should be large enough for the ball python to soak in it if they want.
🐍When applying heat to a reptile enclosure, it is important to have a way to ensure the tank is the proper temperature. It is recommended to purchase a thermostat; this device measures the tank’s temperature at the hot spot, and turns off the heating mechanism when it reaches the appropriate temperature. Having a thermostat prevents the tank from overheating, and is recommended when using under tank heaters.
🐍Substrate for ball python habitats can include cypress mulch, reptile bark, or coconut fiber. All of these substrates are appropriate for controlling the humidity required for ball pythons which is around 50 to 60 percent.
Feeding Your Ball Python:
🐍Ball pythons should be eating about every week. However, it is not uncommon for fully matured ball pythons to refuse feeding every now and again. This is normal as long as it does not go on for an extended period of time and as long as the snake is not losing weight. However, juvenile ball pythons should be eating and gaining weight every week. One of the only times when your juvenile ball python might not eat will be when it is shedding.
🐍What you feed your ball python depends on the size of your snake. Ball python food ranges from mice hoppers or rat pinks for hatchling ball pythons to medium sized rats for adult ball pythons. The general rule for picking a size is that a ball python can eat a rodent 1.5 times the largest part of their body. It is important to note that you should avoid handling your ball python after feeding it to prevent the snake from regurgitating it’s meal.
Interacting with Your Ball Python:
🐍Ball pythons are a generally slow moving, easily handleable snakes. They are very tolerant of long periods of handling with little to no stress. If you want a moderately sized, easy to handle snake that will hang out for awhile, this is the snake for you.