Ball pythons or python regius are found along the edges of Western and Central Africa's forest lands. They are either on the trees or grounds. Although they are termed as royal pythons in the European countries, they are referred to as ball pythons in the US because of the curling habits. They tend to curl up and pull their heads firmly in the center when nervous.
Ball pythons are crepuscular, meaning they are more active at dusk and dawn. Similar to most pythons, ball pythons are gentle and curious snakes. They also have anal spurs like the ones found in boas.
These lone claws that appear on the sides of their vents are formerly their hind legs. The snakes lost their legs in evolution millions of years ago. Males possess longer spurs and smaller heads compared to the females.
If you plan to have one as a pet, it is best to buy a captive-born. If not, then go for well-feeding juvenile, adult or sub-adult breed.
In selecting a ball python, select one with a firm clear skin, clean vents, round-shaped body, and clear eyes. When handled, it should actively flick its tongue.
In selecting a housing for your hatchling, a 10 gallon glass tank with a hinged glass top and fixed screens should do the trick. Take note that snakes are regarded as escape artists. Ball pythons are cunning and powerful in breaking out. Hence, for a young adult, you need a 20 gallon glass tank. For a full adult, you need a 30 gallon glass tanks already..
When selecting an appropriate substrate, you can initially use paper towels. It can be easily replaced or removed when soiled. If your Ball Python is imported, you would need to monitor its feces and check it for mites.
Once established, use a fir bark or shredded cypress. Never use aspen and pine shaving because this can lodge in your snake's mouth while it eats. It may cause respiratory and other serious problems.
You need to monitor these shavings closely. When it gets wet and soiled, pull it out immediately, to prevent the growth of fungus and bacteria.
Place a hiding area for your ball python. You can buy a half-log at any pet store. An alternative can be an upside down plastic opaque container or an empty cardboard box.
Keep the tank warm, 80 to 85 degrees F in the daytime. At night, keep it at 73 to 75 degrees F. You can buy reptile heating pads at any drug store. As an alternative, you can buy incandescent light bulbs in metal and porcelain reflector hoods. Never use a hot rock because bBall pythons are prone to thermal burns.
Make sure your snake gets ambient humidity. You can check this using a hygrometer. Get this up to 50%. When your snake sheds, it needs higher humidity. You can increase the enclosure humidity to about 60-65%. By bathing your snake in a warm bath when its eyes clear, they will completely shed in 24 hours.
For hatchlings, you can feed it with a 10 day old mouse. For the larger ones, you can feed them larger pinkie rats or pre-killed mice.
Always provide a fresh bowl of water inside the tank.
Ball Pythons can live for many years. Amidst coming of age, they need to remain active and alert. In captivity, most snakes die for reasons related to their care and maintenance. Some causes include contact with lighting and heating elements, improper temperature, lack of needed veterinary treatment and care, no access to regular water and careless handling among others.
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