Ball Pythons, or Royal Pythons, are a ground dwelling constrictor snake from Africa so called for their tendency to roll into a ball when frightened. They are non venomous constrictors with no fangs but instead a row of sharp backwards turned teeth that can hold onto their pray while they wrap their body around and squeeze until the pray asphyxiates before swallowing it whole. In the wild they live much of their life in old rodent burrows underground in the desert where there is some humidity and the temperature is more constant unlike on the surface where the days are dry and hot while the nights can get quite cold.
For successful housing of these snakes it is important to recognize how their range and adaptations in the wild impact their needs in captivity. Ball Pythons require some relative humidity, around forty to sixty percent, and a warm tank of around seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit with a basking spot in the nineties. This allows the snake to regulate its own temperature by moving from the warmer to cooler parts of its cage. The most important part of a Ball Python cage is the hides. To feel secure and reduce stress on the animal it is important that they are able to fit completely inside dark hides located throughout the temperature ranges in the cage. If the hide is too small not all of the snake will fit inside so it is not sufficient, but also if the hide is too large your snake will not feel secure and this may lead to unnecessary stress on the snake.
Ball Pythons in captivity are fed mostly mice and small rats. A rule of thumb is to never feed anything that is larger across its midsection than twice the size of your snake's head across the jaw. Owners often choose to feed multiple smaller pray in one sitting rather than one larger pray item. The most common ailment with these pets is when they go off food. This can happen temporarily when they go into shedding or when the temperatures drop during the winter, but if they stop eating for long periods that means there is a problem. It may be stress or illness so check your temperature and humidity levels and make sure your snake has sufficient hides. If everything seams fine and it doesn't get better you may need to force feed your snake while you work on getting them eating again.
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