Caring For A Pet Ball Python

14/03/2011 10:11

Ball pythons, also known as Royal pythons are native reptiles of Central and Western Africa. Both the common names have an origin like the name 'Ball' comes from the defense strategy of the snake to curl up into a tight ball. And the name 'Royal' originates from the ancient Egyptian mythology that the Egyptian queen, Cleopatra supposedly wore these snakes around her wrists!

Ball Pythons Information

Ball pythons are popular pet snakes. They do not fit into the general image of pythons, that is, 'Giant Killer Snake'. They are actually very docile snakes and come under the group of non-venomous snakes. You will find that there are over 100 different alterations, colors and designs of these snakes to choose from. They are brightly colored, stocky snakes with longer spurs and shorter heads in males.

Ball pythons are small to medium in size and adults reach about 3 to 5 feet in length. Females have larger and heavier bodies than male ball pythons. The female ball python can reach a monster size of about 6 feet. The females lay 2 - 10 eggs/ clutch. The eggs take about 56 days to incubate and require 88º F – 90º F temperature. The hatchlings of ball python are about 14" - 17" in size.

The captive ball python diet consist of pre-kiled small rats or mice every week. The baby ball pythons should be fed hopper mice. In the wild, ball pythons love feeding on lizards, other snakes, birds and small mammals. They do not feed on mice in the wild, thus, wild-caught ball pythons tend to be picky eaters as they do not recognize mice as food. They can go for days without food and even up to a year, till they are fed lizards and other snakes. Thus, buy captive-born ball pythons as pets, as these snakes are used to human contact and become an established eater.

The ball python habitat consist of west Africa, Togo and Ghana. Ball pythons as pets are the best snakes for a beginner. They are absolutely docile and seldom bite. But remember to supervise children, while they are handling the ball python. The average life span of a ball python is about 20 to 30 years. The oldest living python till date is about 48 years old. The following ball python care sheet will help you handle your pet snake better.

Ball Python Care Information

Ball Python Habitat
Let us go into the details of ball python care information. Ball pythons are escape masters and need a fully secure enclosure to prevent escape. When you bring home a baby ball python, do not buy a very large aquarium. This tends to overwhelm the tiny reptile. You need to invest in a 10 to 20 gallon aquarium that is sufficient to house 1.5 to 2 feet long ball python.

Adult male ball pythons require about 30 gallons aquarium. However, the female ball pythons need a bit larger aquarium due to their enormous size. To help save money and avoid re-investments in aquarium, you can buy a large adult size aquarium and block the extra space with dividers. As the ball python grows in size, shift the partition as required. Remember, to block the extra places securely, as these Master Houdini's will wriggle out of any escape routes available.

Enclosure Substrate
The substrate that works the best and is the least expensive is newspaper. You can easily clean and disinfect the ball python habitat and change the newspapers. You can use cypress, as it helps control humidity. Aspen and fir bark also work well as decorative substrate. While feeding make sure that no loose substrate gets lodged in the snakes mouth. Avoid cedar totally, as it is poisonous for the ball python.

Ball Python Enclosure Decorations
Ball pythons are nocturnal creatures who love to hide in dark places. You need to provide your ball python with at least one dark spot as a shelter. You can place logs, empty cardboard boxes, upside down container, etc as hiding place for the ball python. The purpose of decorations is to provide the ball python with shelter. Do not use too big or too small shelters, as the ball python won't enter it. Add some fake branches, climbing branches, etc. in the enclosure. You need to keep a dish of water in the enclosure, that is large enough for the python to soak in fully.

Lighting Requirements
Ball pythons do not require light and you can use red or dark night bulbs at night. Keep the bulbs away from the snake to avoid burn injuries. Ball pythons do not need basking bulbs or heat emitting bulbs.

Heating Requirements
The air temperature for ball pythons is 85º to 90º F during the day. At night the temperature should be maintained at about 75º to 80º F. You need to provide an under tank heater that will heat the snakes belly and hence aid in proper food digestion. Use thermostat to control the temperatures of the heating pad and avoid burn injuries to the snake. Never use hot rocks as it may cause thermal burns to the snakes. Too hot snakes die and too cold snakes won't eat. So better use a thermometer to access the correct temperature of the enclosure.

Humidity Levels
Care for ball pythons includes maintenance of the correct humidity levels. These snakes are native to arid areas and need about 50% humidity. Use a hygrometer to measure the humidity levels and you can maintain the levels to about 60 to 65. You should not increase the humidity levels when the snakes shed. Instead bathe the snake in warm bath the day you see their eyes clear. When you see the milky or blue state of their eyes disappear, soak them in warm water for about ten minutes. Then dry them off lightly and return the ball python to its cage. The ball python will shed completely within 24 hours after the warm bath.

Ball Python Diet
A constrictor by nature, the ball python completely suffocates it prey before eating it. When you bring home a ball python, do not feed the snake for at least one week. Let it get accustomed to its new home and then feed a 15" snake with one pre-killed mouse. Smaller snakes need small mice. As mentioned earlier, ball pythons are picky eaters and will stay without food for months. If your snake is losing weight, consult a reptile veterinarian. He will help you force feed the ball python. Never ever force feed your snake alone, especially, if you have no idea how it is done. Always keep a clean bowl of water in their enclosure. Ball pythons love to soak in water and drink from the same bowl. They even defecate in the water, so keep the water clean at all times.

Ball Pythons Facts

  • The Latin name for ball pythons is Python regius, that means, Royal Python.
  • Ball pytons spend most of their lives underground, where the temperature is constant and humidity is as required.
  • Ball python uses rectilinear movement to crawl forward, due to their broad bodies.
  • Ball pythons have a shy and secretive nature and thus love to hide in their secret places.

These were some ball python care instructions that you can follow while handling your pet snake. Ball pythons will be a part of your life for many years. The ball pythons will continue to be alert and active even in their old age. Improper care of ball pythons leads to their untimely death. Therefore, take good ball python care for many years of reptilian pet pleasure.

By Batul Nafisa Baxamusa




The Reptile Site

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