- Scientific Name: Python regius
- Lifespan: Approximately 30 years based on care
- Handling: Anytime; use caution when handling 1 week before feeding. Try not to handle your ball python for at least 2 days after feeding to insure proper digestion
- Size: Up to 4 – 6 feet
- Care: Easy
- Community: You may house more than one ball python together but it is not recommend. Cannibalism and stress may occur.
- Lifestyle: Nocturnal, active at night.
The size tank depends on the size of your ball python. Below are two tank sizes that you will be needing for juvenile and adult ball pythons.
- Young ball python: 20 gallon long tank is recommended
- Adult ball python: 40 gallon tank is recommended
Note: Lids and lid locks are necessary because ball pythons can and will try to get out of the tank. If you do not have lid locks, put a heavy object on the corners of the lid to keep it from being able to come off.
Ball pythons need 2 hides in their enclosure. This is where they will spend the majority of their days sleeping.
- Dry hide on the cool side.
- Dry hide on the hot side.
Two hides give your ball python options to choose from. If your ball python is cold, he will go to the hide on the warm side. If your ball python is warm, he will go to the hide on the cool side. Options keep your ball python healthy, happy, and comfortable.
Lighting & Heating
Ball pythons do not need a UVB bulb. All they need is a source of heat through a heat lamp or a heat pad (which goes on from the outside of the tank, not the inside). Some people use heat rocks, but it is not recommended due to some incidents of a few ball pythons getting burned on their underside of their bellies from using them. Sometimes heat rocks just get too hot.
When measuring temperatures, it’s best to use digital thermometers. Dial thermometers tend to give off inaccurate measurements.
Cool side: 80 – 85 °F
Warm side: 90 °F
No lights are necessary. The temperatures should be between 70 – 75 °F. If it is too cold to meet these temperatures without lights, I recommend using a ceramic heat emitter or a reptile infrared heat light.
Feeding & Diet
Your ball python will eat a diet consisting of small rodents like mice and rats.
Frozen & Thawed Mice or Rats
Here at clubfauna, we strive for the most humane feedings possible, which is why you should try frozen feeders first. Feeding frozen (pre-killed) rodents will benefit you, the feeder, and the ball python. It will benefit you because you won’t have to keep going to the store to buy live feeders or deal with a living rodent if your snake isn’t hungry. It will benefit your snake by allowing your ball python to easily consume the prey without a struggle (some rodents bite and scratch). Lastly, it will benefit the feeder by not having to endure a painful death. Obviously, the choice to feed frozen & thawed vs live rodents is up to you, but please take all the benefits into consideration when deciding.
Frozen meals should be warmed according to the package directions. You may feed them by using long tongues and dangling the mice/rat to imitate movement. This method can decrease the aggression build up in a ball python making him less aggressive.
Live Mice or Rats
You can throw the live feeder into the tank and let the ball python attack it on its own or you can dangle the live feeder by its tail using tongues or your hand (if you’re experienced) and let the snake attack it that way. However, this method does have a downfall. Live feeders have a tendency (like any other living thing that’s being eaten) to do everything possible to get away. This can cause harm or discomfort to your ball python. The live feeder may scratch your ball pythons face with its nails or even try to bite your ball python.
If in 20 minutes the feeder has not been eaten, the ball python will usually not eat it that day. Never leave a feeder in a ball python’s enclosure for a longer period of time or overnight. This could cause harm, stress, and problems to your ball python. Simply remove the feeder to its separate enclosure along with food and water, and try again in three days.
Humidity levels should be between 50 – 60% throughout the entire enclosure. You can easily reach these levels by putting a water bowl into the enclosure and by misting the enclosure twice daily. These percentages are very important when your ball python starts to shed. The humidity will help your ball python shed more easily. You can easily measure the humidity percentages by using a digital hygrometer (humidity gauge). Dial hygrometers tend to give off inaccurate measurements.
During shed, do not attempt to handle your snake without caution. The ball pythons vision becomes altered at this point and he/she may consider your hand to be food and may attempt to strike you.
You should have a water bowl in the enclosure for hydration and soaking. Your ball python will put great use to the water bowl. The size should be big enough for your ball python to submerge itself in the water completely, but shallow enough for him to get out with no problem. Make sure to change out the water every other day or weekly to avoid bacteria and dirty water build up.
If you see that your ball python is soaking often, inspect your python for mites. This is usually one of the signs that mites are invading your ball pythons enclosure.
Unprinted newspaper, paper towels, or aspen may be used as a cheap substrate. Repti bark or cypress mulch is an alternative to add a little more naturalistic look to the enclosure. However, it is a little more expensive. But, this will help with the more “at home” feeling for your ball python. Sand is not recommended as a substrate.
Note: The information on this ball python care sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care.