Ball Python Care Sheet
Due to their docile nature Ball Pythons are without a doubt a great starter snake for those of you who have never owned a snake. Pictured is a 15 yr old female Ball Python. She is about 5 1/2′ long and weighs about 6 lbs. Ball Pythons are good for even young children. Children can handle, play with and enjoy all there is to enjoy with a Ball Python. In captivity Balls will live from 15 to 25 yrs so it is quite the commitment. As with all animals, snakes do have mouths and have the ability to bite. However the Ball is the least likely of all constrictors to leave teeth marks on your arm.
As with all snakes housing is a very important part of your pets happiness. Select an escape proof enclosure as Ball Pythons are one of the best escape artists of all the constrictors. A baby Ball should be housed in an enclosure about 24″l x 12″w x 12″h. A full grown Ball Python would appreciate a cage 36″w x 12″w X 24″h. Balls also like to have a hiding spot in their cage such as an empty cardboard box or a half log.
There are many different options available to you for the bottom of your Ball Pythons cage. You can use paper towels, newspaper, astroturf or purchase Reptile Bedding at your local pet store but this can get a bit pricy. My recommendation would be Cypress Mulch. Only about $4.00 at your local Lowes or Home Depot. (NEVER use pine or cedar mulch as it can be toxic). Cypress Mulch looks the best in my opinion and allows you to spot clean soiled areas as opposed to totally replacing the bedding. You do however need to completely replace bedding at least every three months to avoid mites and other insect problems.
Lighting is very important. You must be able to allow you Ball to experience both day and night. Therefore you must use some type of lighting (a normal household incandescent bulb will work just fine) during the day to simulate daytime and the light must be turned off to simulate night. If you do use bulbs inside the cage ensure that you have a wire mesh over the bulb to avoid burns.
Proper heat is a must. The temperature in the cage should be kept between 80 and 85F with a basking area of about 90F. Basking area can be achieved with a heat rock or overhead ceramic heat source. Keep in mind when using a heat rock you must cover the rock with the bedding as there is a potential for thermal burns. Never allow the temperature to drop below 73F.
Also you should be able to keep the humidity at about 60 to 70%. This can be achieved in a number of ways such as a reptile fogger or even easier spraying your cage 2 to 3 times a week with water. Spray the bedding and the walls. The moisture combined with the heat source will increase the humidity and assist the snake in shedding and its overall well being.
Allow your snake to acclimate to its new surroundings for at least two weeks before trying to feed. Hatchlings will eat “fuzzies” that should be pre-killed. As your snake matures you can introduce small mice and then medium rats as it is full grown. There are many different opinions out there as to if you should feed your snake live or pre-killed rodents. I personally like to watch the hunt and the kill when a live rodent is placed in the feeding area. The only draw back of feeding live rodents is the potential for harm to your snake. A mouse/rat can not kill your snake but can scratch and scar it. Never feed your snake in the same cage it lives. It will start to identify the opening of the cage with feeding time and make it harder to take it out of the cage. NEVER feed wild prey to your snake as they may contain parasites and other diseases.
Be sure to provide a fresh bowl of water at all times. This water will be used for both drinking and soaking so make sure that your snake can completely fit in the bowl without knocking it over. Soaking in the water assists in molting (shedding)
Handle your Ball Python as often as possible. The more you handle a snake the more used to you it gets. This will decrease the possibility of a bite.
Now that you have all the basic information I hope that you enjoy your Ball Python as much as my family and I have enjoyed ours.