This question gets asked many times (mostly by inexperienced snake owners), but don’t worry, we have all been there at one point or another. The answer is YES! Anything with teeth can bite. However, the chance of a ball python biting you is very uncommon. Most captive bred animals (like ball pythons) are born with human interaction from day one, so they are accustomed towards being handled most of the time. Even wild caught ball pythons rarely bite. Most ball pythons are quite docile, which is why they are recommended as one of the beginner pet snakes.
Do Ball Python Bites Hurt?
A baby ball pythons bite will not hurt much. Sometimes, you will barely even feel it. An adult ball python bite will hurt a little more, nothing worse than a dog or cat bite. The bites are nothing that will need emergency attention.
Reasons for Ball Python Bites
The best way to avoid bites, is to avoid giving your ball python a reason to bite you. Below are the main reasons why ball pythons bite.
When hunger sets in, the chances of you getting bit are increased by a lot. Always keep your ball python fed on a scheduled routine. The last thing you want to do is mess with a hungry snake. He might go after one of your fingers for lunch.
A feeling of threat is another reason why your snake might bite you. Try to avoid cornering your snake or handling your snake for a week after you first get it. Allow your ball python to get accustom to its new surroundings and allow it get a feel for its new environment. At this point, your snake is scared and will feel threatened if messed with. However, if you do get bit, do not worry. These types of bites do not hurt too much. These bites are what we call ‘tags’. A tag is when a snake hits you with their mouths, not necessarily a bite. They will sometimes draw blood, but you will barely feel the teeth. It’s quick and quite painless. They will tag you to get away or to let you know that you need to leave them alone.
Here is a great video of a threatened ball python trying to bite (tag) a hand. The video also explains very well on why this ball python is acting in such a way.
When a ball python sheds, it is very important that you do not put your hand in front of their face. All they have is a sense of smell at this point. Their vision becomes altered at this point because of their eye caps that they get when they shed. If they are hungry, they might smell your hand as being food and might try to bite you (thinking you are prey).
How to Treat a Snake Bite
If you haven’t removed the snake from your area that you got bit, you might want to do that first. Pour a little bit off Listerine mouthwash in the moth of the snake and it will let go almost almost immediately. If you do not have any Listerine, you can try some juice (cranberry juice to be exact). If you do not have any of the above two items, you could try running the snake under some warm water, but it might not work. There have been many different views about using water.
After the snake has been removed, you are going to want to wash the bite area with soap and water immediately, then apply some antibiotic ointment (neosporin). The last thing you want is the snakes saliva all over your wound.
Tips to Avoid Getting Bit
- Do not mess with your snakes head
- Always go from behind to pick up your snake
- Keep your snake fed on a routine schedule
- Keep your distance if your snake shows signs of defense (coiled up, running away, etc.)
- Wear appropriate clothing or hand gloves if you are dealing with an aggressive snake.
So do ball pythons bite? The answer is yes, but it is very uncommon.