This care sheet is supposed to give you a brief overview of the requirements you must meet when caring for ball pythons (Python regius)
Remember that a care sheet for ball pythons cannot provide nearly enough knowledge required for caring for your own animal and is just supposed to give you a brief summary on the species.
Size and age
Female ball pythons can reach anything between 1.20m and 1.70m when fully grown while males remain shorter at 0.90m – 1.40m. If the animal is well cared for, I can easily reach 20-30 years of age.
Ball pythons inhabit the mostly tropical-dry savanna landscapes in western and central Africa, specifically in Benin, Ghana, Togo and Nigeria. The rather small python species uses abandoned mammal burrows as hiding places during the day.
Ball pythons are mostly active at during dawn and night hours. When dawn sets in, they leave their burrows where they’ve been hiding from the intense head during the day and start hunting.
When handled during the day, ball pythons usually remain unmoved since you have most likely just awoken them. However, around dawn these animals can be highly active and curious, making them highly interesting and engaging pet snakes.
Ball pythons are very calm and easy to handle snakes. Only very rarely you meet an individual that is not hesitant to strike at you when bothered. Usually, ball pythons rarely show signs of aggression or stress and are very tolerant.
Generally, when handling snakes. I recommend avoiding any rapid movement or touch to the head, since they are very sensitive around this area and more likely to get stressed out. If you handle you python in a calm and gentle manner, you will not have any trouble and can enjoy the experience.
Humidity is usually not too big of an issue with ball pythons. As long as it stays in a range of 40 – 80%, your animal should be just fine. Provide an occasional spray when it is in shed to avoid shedding issues. In addition, since ball pythons like to hide in moist mammal burrows during the day, you must provide at least one shelter with some moist sphagnum-moss inside to ensure that your animal is comfortable.
Ball pythons are used to the hot climate of central Africa. This means that the temperature should be around 28° – 35° Celsius during the day and around 24° – 29° Celsius at night. If possible, always provide a hot spot of 35° during the day for your animal to occasionally heat up. Although ball pythons are quite robust, they should not be kept under 20° Celsius at night (22° for juveniles).
To ensure that it can move freely and stretch out, provide your python with a cage of at least 1.25 * 0.75 * 0.5 times its length (length * width * height). This means that if your animal is 1m in length, your tank should measure at least 1.25m * 0.75m * 0.5m. This should be fine for no more than 2 individuals living inside (Add 0.5m * 0.25m * 0.25m for every additional individual).
In your cage, provide at least one hiding opportunity for each individual and a water bowl large enough for the largest individual to fully submerge (bath) inside. I also recommend adding some branches, stones or obstacles for your pythons to explore and maybe some twigs or plants for aesthetic purposes. As a bedding, I can recommend chipped wood or wood shavings. If possible, avoid anything too rough and also don’t house you python entirely on sand.
Before you buy a tank/cage, check for any cage requirement regulations in your country.
Fortunately, there won’t be very much to do here. I recommend spot cleaning your cage quickly every day, which just means checking for snake waste or skin and removing it quickly. That way, you only have to replace the entire bedding and clean the entire cage once every six or seven months. Make sure that there is always a bowl filled with fresh water and that the sphagnum-moss is always appropriately moist.
I recommend feeding your snake frozen-thawed mice once a week for juveniles and once every 10 – 14 days for adults. Choose the mouse/rat size according to the snake’s size; the snake should be visibly thicker after the meal but still manage swallow comfortably.
If you want, you can of course feed live prey, but I prefer frozen-thawed because it is cheaper and I do not like watching animals die. Ball pythons may be tricky feeders sometimes; some do not accept dead prey at all. A simple trick is to quickly heat the prey up in hot water to simulate body temperature to the snake’s heat detector pits which makes it seem alive. If your individual sees through that, you must offer live food. Only reach to methods like assist- or even force-feeding if you have a mentor who can show you the procedure without injuring your python.
In the wild, ball pythons start breeding at the beginning of the rainy season, which is around November. If successful, a mother will begin to lie her eggs around February, when the dry season kicks in. In the terrarium, this is simulated by reducing night temperature to 21° – 24° Celsius and also day temperature to 26° – 31° Celsius. You can also reduce the amount of daylight entering the cage from 12 – 14 hours to 8 – 10 hours. During this time the male must be placed with the female if they are otherwise housed separately. The female will usually shed 27 – 35 days after breeding and lay the eggs in the following days. After that, the eggs should be removed and incubated carefully around 30° Celsius and 90 – 100% humidity until the babies’ hatch.
Ball pythons, like any other animal are prone to getting infectious diseases, snake mites, respiratory infections or other diseases. I cannot cover every scenario in this care sheet. Generally, I recommend regularly checking you pythons scales, mouth, nasal region, eyes and faeces for anomalies. However, don’t be alarmed immediately if you discover anything. Instead, do your research, check more aspects in detail and inform a vet if necessary. For more information on this topic, check the detailed article on common problems with ball pythons on my website snakeinfos.com
that a care sheep can never provide enough knowledge for a keeper to care for his animal. Always do more background research and get enough trustworthy information from literature on your desired species. If you are interested in more in-depth knowledge about Python regius, visit my website snakeinfos.com where you can find detailed articles on all the above-mentioned subtopics.
I highly recommend the book by the experienced ball python breeder Stefan Broghammer: Python Regius – Atlas of Color Morphs, Keeping and Breeding (Ball Pythons) Click on the link to get a copy from amazon.com or from amazon.de
I have visited his farm personally and also purchased a beautiful and happy young animal from him myself. His book provides excellent knowledge for both beginner and advanced keepers.
If you are interested in my sources, click HERE!