Ball pythons are one of the most popular snakes kept as a pet mainly because of its docile personality and easy handling and maintenance requirements. Many find keeping them to be a rewarding experience as a whole.
Where can you get ball pythons to rear or breed?
These generally docile reptiles are quite easy to acquire. You will probably find one that you would like to keep from pet stores, reptile breeders, reptile expos, and even through online sellers and breeders.
Biological facts about Ball Pythons
A ball python is also known as the Royal Python. They got their name from their unusual habit. You will notice them coiling themselves up into a tight ball around their head when they get nervous or upset. Another interesting fact about this exotic animal is that they are nocturnal. They prefer to hunt at night. During the day, they rest in underground burrows.
Hatchlings of ball pythons are about 10 inches in length. An adult female ball python can grow to an average length of about 3 to 5 feet long. However, an adult male ball python can only grow to up to an average of 2 to 3 feet. Although the average length of the biggest ball python is 5 feet, there have been reports indicating that this snake can grow to a length of about 6 feet or more.
If you plan to keep a ball python as a pet, you should be surprised to know that with proper care and handling, this reptile can live up to 30 years or even more. Records indicate that there are ball pythons that have reached more than 40 years. In fact, the oldest known ball python lived to about 48 years old before it died.
With a lifespan like that, you know you should be ready and totally aware of how to care for your ball python. It is critically vital to have your snake’s enclosure complete and ready before bringing it home. This can help the snake to quickly and easily acclimate itself to its new habitat without endangering its health.
Proper housing for a ball python
You have a couple of option when it comes to your snake’s enclosure. The most popular option is to set up a terrarium for the ball python. The second option, which is also a common practice by breeders, is to enclose the snake in a rack system.
When deciding for the appropriate housing for your pet snake, it is important that you keep the size of its enclosure to only one and half times the length the ball python. It should not be less than two-thirds of its length.
Heating and lighting for ball pythons
Ball pythons like most reptiles are cold-blooded. As a responsible snake owner needs to know how to provide a healthy range of temperatures in their new habitat. This way, the snake can self-adjust its own heat requirements.
Make sure that the warm side of your pet’s enclosure has to be set between 87 – 90 F. The cool side, however, should be about 77 – 80 F. Installing thermometers at each end of your pet’s cage will help you monitor the exact temperatures in the enclosure at all times.
As for lighting, your ball python will actually not need special lighting. It will just be fine with the natural photocycle of inside your home.
Ball pythons’ humidity needs to be set so that it will not be lower than anything between 55% – 60%. You will need a hygrometer set up in your snake’s enclosure to have an accurate measurement of the humidity inside its enclosure.
Increasing or decreasing the size of your pet’s water bowl will help you change the humidity within your pet’s cage. This is also true when you increase and decrease the amount of ventilation that your snake’s enclosure receives. There is really no need to mist your ball python to maintain your pet’s humidity.
When it comes to the substrate for your pet snake, you won’t have any difficulty as this reptile is normally clean and about any type of bedding or substrate will just be fine for your pet. The most popular bedding, however, would be aspen shavings. But you can also use pieces of paper or newspaper as a bedding for your pet snake.
Note, however, one of the possible substrates that you can think of to use for your ball python, a cedar will NOT be appropriate for your pet as it is toxic to all snakes.
Ball pythons naturally seek dark and secure places to spend most of their time like most snakes. This means that you will need to provide the right amount of hides for your pet. If not, they will feel stress and give you feeding problems. You can place hides on both the warm or cool sides of the enclosure.
Your pet snake will need water from time to time. Make sure there is always fresh water in their enclosure. It is best to change the water every 3 or 4 days. However, if the water gets dirty beforehand, you need to change it immediately.
Your snake is designed to shed at regular times. You will spot if it is already their time to shed. Here are your cues: the stomach turning pinkish, then its skin will begin to look duller, and finally, its eyes will become milky and look opaque. This stage won’t last long and their eyes will eventually will clear up within the next 36 hours and then your pet will begin to shed.
Note that the shedding time will be about every 4 – 6 weeks, depending on your pet’s age. During this time, your pet will normally not have any problem shedding off its skin. However, if it does just soak your pet in a bowl of water until its old skin has completely shed off. You will still need to check the tip of its tail and the eye caps to see if there are no trace of old skin on these usual problem spots.
Unlike mammals, ball pythons do not usually feed on demand. They can also go without food for weeks or months and still remain good. That is especially true if and when you have been providing the right environmental condition for your pet. In this case, your pet may just be doing what ball pythons usually do: binge, feeding, and fasting.
In general, however, ball pythons can feed on mice their whole lives. If you want to provide optimum nutrition, you need to provide them with rats as soon as possible instead. Feed your pet on a weekly basis and an appropriately sized meal each week.
As your pet ball python gets older, you may need to feed it frozen-thawed food. Note that older rodents will have more developed teeth and can cause serious health problems or damage to your snake.
Even though your pet snake is normally clean, you will still need to do spot cleaning of its cage at least once a week. A thorough cleaning is also necessary once each month. That includes changing the substrate as well. Clean and sanitize the cage thoroughly to ensure that your pet and its cage will be free from disease-causing microorganisms growing in them.
Lastly, proper handling of your pet should be only when your pet is quite docile and is not snappy or agitated. However, you need to make sure that you regularly handle your pet as a way to train it is handled.