ZENformation: Getting a Ball Python
Animal Care Manager Kasey includes the Ball Python on her list of favorite reptiles.
Q: Why is the Ball Python a favorite?
Kasey: “I like Ball Pythons because they are easy to handle and caring for them is fairly simple.”
Q: What kind of family is good for a Ball Python?
Kasey: “Ball Pythons can make a great addition to families with responsible children, as they are docile and rarely bite. Being in the constrictor family some parents may be hesitant to let their children handle them, but Ball Pythons are too small to constrict humans, even children.”
Q: What are their personalities like?
Kasey:“Ball Pythons are one of my favorite snake species for their ‘cuddliness’. They get their name from the defensive posture they display when they coil themselves into a ball with their head tucked into the center of the coil. Ball Pythons are sometimes called Royal Pythons. It is believed that name stemmed from the thought that Queen Cleopatra wore a ball python around her wrist as a bracelet.”
Q: What are the main characteristics of the Ball Python?
Kasey:“Standard Ball Pythons are black or dark brown with light brown blotches on the back and sides, while it’s underside is white or cream with black markings. They are stocky snakes. Female balls grow to be 3-5 feet long, and males grow to be about 2-3 feet long. Depending on the sex, their adult weight will be between two and four pounds.”
Q: What kind of environment do they like best?
Kasey: “Ball Pythons are endemic to West and Central Africa. They are typically found in grasslands and shrublands and thrive in a warm humid environment.”
Q: What do Ball Pythons eat?
Kasey:“Like all other snakes, Ball Pythons are carnivores. In the wild they will eat prey animals such as small mammals and birds. You will want to feed your pet a diet of mice or rats, ranging from pinky mice for babies up to medium rats for full grown adults. The prey should not be wider than the diameter of the snake’s body. It is also important to note that some snakes can be difficult with the transition of feeding mice to rats.”
What type of enclosure and accessories does a Ball Python need?
Kasey: “Your new Ball Python will need an enclosure, a substrate, something to bask on, two hides, water dish, UVA/UVB light, a basking light, a heater, two thermometers, and enclosure décor. A Ball Python’s enclosure should measure a minimum of 36”x 20”x18” but your pet would be much happier in a larger enclosure. I think a 4’x2’x2’ enclosure would be best.”
Q: What heating do they require?
Kasey:“They need to be provided with a heat gradient just like other reptiles, this should include a cool zone of around 76-80°F, ambient (air) temp of around 82°F and a basking surface of 88-92°F. Nighttime temps should not fall below 75°F. If you have trouble keeping the enclosure above that temp, you can use a ceramic heater as a supplemental heat source. Balls can be more sensitive to shifts in temperature, so be sure to not ever exceed 95°F or drop below 75°F.”
Q: What lighting is best for Ball Pythons?
Kasey: “UVB/UVA light is required for all reptiles but some snakes including Ball Pythons do not need UVB/UVA to survive. There have been some studies that have shown an increase in immune support when UVB/UVA light has been provided. Your Ball Python can be kept on a 12 hours on and 12 hours off light cycle. Male Ball Pythons are known to slither up trees, while females typically remain on ground level. Because of this I suggest keeping lighting outside of the enclosure just to be on the safe side.”
Q: What humidity level should their enclosure be?
Kasey: “Their enclosure should be kept between 50-60% humidity. This can be achieved by daily misting, a misting system, or placing a heavy bowl of water over an under-tank heater. Providing a substrate like cypress mulch is great to use as it retains moisture.”
Q: What do Ball Pythons need for stimulation?
Kasey: “Décor should include branches to climb, 2 hides (one on the warm side and one on the cool side), plants (either artificial or real), a shallow heavy bowl for water. Your enclosure will also have to be escape proof as these guys are known to be escape artists.”
Zen Habitats offers a variety ofenclosures andaccessories to suit your reptile, no matter the species. We would love to help you select the right enclosure setup for you and your pet! Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (978) 763-3035.