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 5-6 feet in length with males topping out at about 4-5 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. A ceramic heat emitter will do the job! You should provide a heat gradient in your tank with the coolest ambient temperature being 70-75 degrees, the middle being 80-85 degrees & the basking spot being 90 degrees. Proper heating is essential to the care of your ball python because a cold snake can't move or digest it's food. Humidity is also a key factor in your Pythons health, as a dry enclosure leads to poor shedding of the skin. Monitor the humidity in your snake's tank is very important, every few days you will also need to re-hydrate the soil completely to avoid respiratory infection. Choose an appropriate bedding that will help maintain the proper humidity during the day.
When feeding your snake, it is optional to move them into a separate feeding tank to keep them from developing aggressive habits. 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.
Keep an eye out for burns and scale rot by checking their belly for deterioration & browning often. Also be aware of signs of respiratory infection, signs include wheezing and mucus in their mouth. If you are worried your snake may be ill you must visit an exotic vet immediately.
ALWAYS wash your hands after handling your reptile!