Ball Python is also called the Royal Python. Ball Pythons are native of the rain forest and the savannahs of the central and western Africa. These pythons are seen mainly in Guinea, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea Bissau on the western coast of Africa.
Origin of the names
Ball pythons are called as they are for the reason that they have the tendency to shape into a ball, when they are frightened or stressed, hiding their heads inside the shape that they form. These peculiar pythons maintain such a shape of a tight ball for lengthy periods. Ball Pythons are called Royal Pythons as Cleopatra supposedly wore them on her wrist. The word ‘regius’ of its Latin name means Royal.
Structural features of the Ball Python
Ball Pythons are black or chocolate brown in color having an underbelly color of tan-yellow. However, their breeders in pet industries and herpetological have formed morphs by selective breeding. Morphs are genetic alterations that affect the scale patterns and colors. An adult ball python stretches from about 1 - 2 meters in length with female pythons scaling an average of 1- 1.5 meters to the males who are at 60 – 90 cm. Males grow distinctly smaller than female. A ball python between 1.5 – 4 years attends sexual maturity. They live between 20 – 40 years.
Process related o determination of gender
Royal Pythons have Anal Spurs on either side of their vent. Anal spurs are significant for mating, helping them to clasp their mates. Anal spurs are larger in males. "Popping" and "Probing" are two ways that can help in determining the genders of the pythons easily. Probing involves inserting a metal lubricating rod into cloaca of the pythons towards their tail. Males will have the rod moving into the hemipenes, allowing deeper passage than seen in a similar sized female. Popping involves pressing the frontal portion of the cloaca of the python held in inverted position. Opposite hand thumb is placed behind Cloaca and the thumb is strolled to the head. Male has the eversion of their hemipenes.
Ball Python Care Sheets
Ball Python Care Sheets helps proper breeding of Ball pythons. The following cares are specifically maintained to keep a ball python healthy:
1. Escape-Proof Enclosure
Pythons know the art of escaping from an enclosure. An enclosure should be designed keeping their skill in mind and it should be made escape-proof. An enclosure of 30-galloon is required to keep an adult royal python.
2. Optimum Temperature
Ball Pythons survive best in a temperature between 80° - 85° F in the daytime and 75° - 80° F in the nighttime along with 90° - 95° F of basking temperature.
It is yet to be proved the effect of photoperiods on the preservation of ball or royal pythons in an enclosure. However, fluorescent bulbs are preferred over incandescent ones for the less heat generated by them.
Hot rocks should be avoided for accommodating heat into the enclosures. It leads to severe burns to the royal python. Ceramic emitters and "Red Basking" Bulbs is useful for generating basking spots. Heating pads can be useful for raising enclosure’s ambient temperature. It is advisable to monitor the temperature of the tank with thermometers regularly.
4. Choosing a proper substrate
Newsprint and Newspaper are unattractive but excellent substrate for keeping in the enclosure. Such substrates are significantly easy to use and clean and acclimatization of new royal pythons in the enclosure. Wood shavings form a nice alternative to newspapers. However, you should watch out for any wood shavings going inside the mouth of the python. Using Cedars or Pine as substrate can be harmful to the health of the python.
5. Feeding habits of the python
Ball Python care sheets indicate that Babies of ball pythons feeds on pinkie mice. Adults and Juveniles prey on adult mice, young rats or fuzzy mice. Young ball pythons are fed almost twice a week. Rodents that are Thawed Frozen form the safest and simplest way of feeding the python. A bowl should be used to give water to the pythons. Python drinks from the bowl and impregnate itself before shedding.
6. Proper maintenance of the enclosure
Proper maintenance is a necessity to keep a ball python. A supply of fresh water daily along with an enclosure completely neaten if using newspaper as substrate. Wood shavings are to be cleaned whenever it came under notice. Disinfecting the enclosures thoroughly by rinsing with 5% bleach solution helps the python to survive longer. It is suggested to clean the hands after handling a ball python or enclosure’s accessories.
If Ball Python care sheet is properly followed than the chances of survival of the royal one is the maximum. However, some states have not legalized keeping wildlife in an outside environment. It is our job to spread the message of "stop the captivation of the python" to everyone. Such a gesture helps to maintain the beautiful environment of the nature.
By Jayashree Pakhare