Ball Python Care: Species Overview
- Common Names: Ball or Royal Python
- Scientific Name: Python regius
- Distribution: Western African countries of Ghana and Togo
- Adult Size: 3.5-6’
- Life Expectancy: 25 years
Ball Pythons are an excellent beginner snake and one of the most popular pet snakes due to their docile nature. Captive-bred Ball Pythons are becoming more readily available in the hobby, and the many color morphs created have added to the growing popularity of this small python species. Ball Pythons named “Ball” because when threatened, they will curl into a ball and hide their head in their coils. In Europe, they are called “Royal Pythons.”
Ball Python Care: Habitat Set-Up
- Hatchling to juvenile Ball Pythons (under 3‘) best housed in a 20-gallon terrarium.
- Adult Ball Pythons will need at least a 40- gallon terrarium. We recommend keeping Ball pythons in an enclosure that is no shorter than half the length of the snake.
- Hatchling Ball Pythons can live together. However, juveniles and adults should have separate terrariums.
- Daytime Terrarium Temperature 80-85° F.
- Basking Temperature 88-93° F.
- Nighttime Terrarium Temperature 75-80° F.
- Create a thermal gradient in your snake enclosure by placing a heat lamp and an Under Tank Heater on one side of the terrarium. Zoo Med’s Daylight Blue Reptile Bulb is an excellent choice for heating snake enclosures.
- Any of Zoo Med’s thermometers will help you keep a close eye on terrarium temperatures.
- Keep all hides, such as ReptiShelter™ or Habba Hut™, on the cold end of the enclosure.
- An Under Tank Heater is essential to provide belly heat to your snake while it digests a meal.
- Snakes typically do not require UVB to meet their vitamin D requirements. However, many snakes receive UVB and sunlight in their natural habitat, and there is new evidence that they benefit from UVB lighting in captivity.
- Zoo Med’s NatureSun® or RptiSun® 5.0 fluorescent lamps can be used to illuminate your terrarium and create a photoperiod (light cycle) that will keep your snake on a natural day/night cycles.
- Ball Pythons will do best on Zoo Med’s Aspen Snake Bedding, Forest Floor cypress mulch, or ReptiBark®. We recommend a substrate layer of 2.5-3” in depth.
- Provide moistened New Zealand Sphagnum Moss in a Repti Shelter to create a humidity chamber. This chamber will help your snake shed it’s skin as it grows.
- Zoo Med’s Eco Carpet can be used as a safe, environmentally friendly, and easy-to-clean substrate.
Ball Python Care: About the Ball Python
- Ball pythons are so named because when threatened, they roll themselves into a tight ball, tucking their head inside their coils. Young ball pythons grow about a foot a year for three years. They can live for a long time with proper care.
- Wild-caught snakes tend to be very stressed from capture and transport and often harbor a large parasite load. Captive-bred snakes tend to be more expensive, but they are readily available.
- When selecting a Ball Python of any age or size, we recommend purchasing Captive Born and Bred animals. Captive Born Ball Pythons fare better in captivity and have fewer problems associated with parasites and disease. Captive born Ball Pythons also tend to be more docile and have fewer issues with their feeding.
- Purchase a quality book on the care and husbandry of these animals. Learn all you can learn about Ball Pythons before bringing one home.
Diet and Nutrition
- Ball Pythons can be fed mice and rats exclusively throughout their lives.
- Have fresh water available at all times. ReptiSafe® Water Conditioner is an excellent choice for removing Chlorine and Chloramines from tap water.
- Zoo Med’s Corner Bowls are an excellent choice water bowl for all snakes.
- Food items should be no more full than the girth of your snake.
- Hatchlings: Will eat one-hopper mouse per week.
- Juveniles: Will eat one adult mouse or rat pup per week.
- Adults: Will eat one appropriately sized rat or 2 adult mice per week.
- Use caution when handling pets and remember they may bite or scratch (especially when stressed).
- Supervise children around pets.
- ALL ANIMALS can potentially carry viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic diseases contagious to humans.
- Thoroughly wash your hands with warm, soapy water before and after contact with any pet or its habitat.
- Adults should assist children with handwashing after contact with a pet, its habitat, or aquarium water.