Caring for a Ball Python
Lifespan: Approximately 20-25 years
Ball Pythons have become extremely popular pets and are considered a "beginner's snake" as they tend to be very calm, slow moving and unlikely to bite. Easy to handle, they tend to curl up and get comfortable immediately during handling. Females Ball Pythons are known to grow to a manageable 5 feet in length with males topping out at about 3 feet.
A juvenile Ball Python is happiest in a 20 gallon long tank. Being mostly ground-dwelling, your Ball Python will enjoy having more space to stretch out rather than climb high. A 20-long enclosure is also a more effective height for heating, since the lamps will be closer to the bottom of the tank. Be sure to choose both a daytime and nighttime heating bulb to allow your snake to maintain a normal circadian rhythm while staying warm. An appropriate daytime temperature for a Ball Python is 80-85 degrees, dropping down to 75 degrees at night. Proper heating is essential to the care of your ball python because a cold snake can't move or digest its food. Humidity is also a key factor in your Pythons health, as a dry enclosure leads to poor shedding of the skin. Mist your snake's tank both morning and night, and choose an appropriate bedding that will help maintain the proper humidity during the day.
When feeding your snake, it is essential to move them into a separate feeding tank to keep them from developing aggressive habits. Your snake doesn't know when feeding day is, so if you feed him in his home tank he may assume that every time your hand comes into the tank it might be time to eat, and this can cause even the friendliest snake to strike out. Young snakes will need to be fed weekly and once they are mature, feedings may even be spread out to once every two weeks. As your snake grows, so should the size of its food. Your snake can stretch its jaws to the width of the widest point of its body, so choose an appropriate sized mouse or rat accordingly. Fresh drinking water should be available to your snake at all times and in a dish large enough for your snake to submerge its body if necessary.
Frozen food is always recommended, as it eliminates any change of parasite infestation and/or injury to the snake. Transitioning from live to frozen takes more than one shot, but is definitely worth it. Ask a store employee today about transitioning tips!
Your Python's tank should be spot cleaned of waste regularly and the glass wiped clean weekly. All substrate/bedding should be changed or washed once per month and any ornaments/hides cleaned as well. Water dishes should be bleached once per month and rinsed/dried thoroughly before use.
ALWAYS wash your hands after handling your reptile!