Ball Python Care Sheet

Scientific Name: Python regius

Ball pythons or Royal Pythons are a beautiful species with variant patterns of gold, brown and black. They can grow up to 6 feet in length, with an average from 3 to 5 feet. Their lifespan in captivity is from 10 to 20 years old, with a record of 47 years old. They spend the majority of their time underground in rodent burrows or termite mounds in the wild.

Enclosure

Juveniles can be housed in a 10 gallon aquarium. For an adult specimen, a 20 gallon long aquarium is a suitable fit, but most would be inclined to provide more space for a larger animal (30 gallons or more). Make sure that the top of the cage is secure, as ball pythons, like most snakes, are escape artists.

Ball pythons are terrestrial creatures, and do not require much as decoration in the enclosure. They do require a hide box as they naturally hide in rodent burrows in the wild, and feel most comfortable in an enclosed area. Always provide them with a water dish with clean water at all times, large enough for them to wallow in. Also, provide them with an object to rub against, such as grape wood dcor, to assist them in shedding.

Substrate

Suitable substrate includes aspen or cypress wood chips, as well as paper towels, newspaper, or Astroturf.

Do not use Cedar, as it is toxic to reptiles. Pine is not suggested either, as the oils tend to aggravate the snake.

Temperatures and Lighting

Ball pythons require a hot spot of around 90-95F, and a cool spot around 85F. Appropriate heating sources include heat pads or heat lamps with thermostats to control high temperatures. If you are concerned, you can place a slate across the heating pad to radiate the heat evenly. Do not use electrical heat rocks, as they are very unstable heat sources, and can burn and damage your snake. Do not allow your snakes to come in contact with the heating source at any time. This can also burn your snake.

Supplemental lighting is not necessary for this species. If you feel the need to provide an overhead light, only allow for 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark, as Ball Pythons are a nocturnal species. You can achieve this by using a timer or switching off the light every night when you go to sleep.

Humidity

Ball pythons require a constant relative humidity. Providing proper humidity for a ball python is an important aspect in its husbandry. 50-60% humidity is appropriate in general terms, but during shedding, this may need to be bumped up a bit to allow for an easy shed cycle. If there is a bad shed (pieces of skin instead of one big piece), this is an indicator of low humidity, and will need to be adjusted.

Feeding

Rats and mice are appropriate food sources, as they are readily available in most areas. Choosing the right size is a matter of viewing your ball python, measuring the width of your snake at its widest point, and providing a food item that is no larger than that width. If you choose to feed mice, an adult ball python will require several mice in place for one appropriate sized rat.

When feeding your snake, make sure to be vigilant if feeding live prey. Rodents can and will fight back, so either feed pre-killed or watch carefully when a live rodent is in with a snake. Another option is feeding frozen-thawed prey. This will require more effort from you, using tongs or forceps to move the prey around to trigger the prey response.

Dont be concerned if your snake does not eat once in a while, such as in the winter months. This is a common occurrence, and should not affect the health of your snake. Ball Pythons are known to go on hunger strikes. As long as your snake looks and feels fat and healthy, you should not be alarmed.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Providing a clean environment is essential for the health and well-being of your snake. Clean up any feces, urates or spilled items as soon as you see them. If they are left unattended to, they can create a bacterial buildup, which can cause your snake to fall ill. Clean and sanitize your water dishes often, and clean your enclosure completely every month at least. You can use 10% bleach to water solution or a Chlorhexidine solution and clean the entire cage, making sure to dry it completely before placing the snake back in.