Before making the decision to own a ball python as a pet, you’ll want to make sure to read all about having a snake as a pet and determine if having a snake is a good idea for you. Ball pythons are actually one of the best pet snakes to have because they are generally not as large as other constricting snakes and are rather docile and easy to handle.
Ball pythons grow to be a maximum of 3-5 feet and can be excellent pets if given the proper care. While growing, ball pythons will increase in length by about a foot a year for 3-5 years. The lifespan for a ball python is generally in the 20-30 year range, though some pet ball pythons have been reported to leave for up to 50 years.
Ball pythons are named for their reaction when threatened – the snake will roll itself into a tight ball and tuck it’s head inside its coils. When bred in captivity, ball pythons seem to be a lot less likely to feel threatened by their owners and resort to curling into a ball. Captive bred ball pythons are also less likely to have parasites. Finding a pall python bred in captivity can be harder and more expensive than having a wild-caught pall python, but the extra cost is often worth it in terms of getting a quality snake with good health that will make an excellent pet for many years.
Ball Python Health
When choosing a ball python to keep as a pet, choose a young snake that is preferably captive bred. A healthy ball python will have clean eyes and a well-rounded body without any noticeable signs of health issues such as wheezing. A young, healthy ball python will also behave a certain way when handled. If the ball python is immediately scared and curls into a ball without loosening up after a few moments, the snake will probably not make a good pet. Find a snake that will let you handle it, gripping your hand and arms while you hold it and eventually feeling comfortable with your touch. You can also try feed the snake before you purchase to make sure that you will have no problems with feeding since ball pythons are notoriously one of the harder snake breeds to feed.
Ball Python Care
Caring for a ball python is relatively easy because this breed of snake is not very active. A 20-30 gallon tank will be suitable for young or adult ball pythons, granted there is a secure top to keep the snake from escaping. Inside the tank, the ball python should be provided with bedding such as shredded bark or newspaper or an AstroTurf-like liner that can be purchased from pet stores. Branches and a place for your snake to curl up and hide will increase the snake’s happiness in their habitat. Also provide a shallow dish filled with water for your snake to soak in, or a humidity retreat. Snakes love to soak, and it is also important for them to do while shedding their skin. Ball pythons may require a warmer temperature than your home or apartment can provide, so invest in an under tank heating pad and a basking light to maintain a temperature of about 80-85 F at all times. Nighttime temperatures can be a bit lower (around 75 F); so any heat lighting can be turned off for these nocturnal snakes.
Ball Python Diet
A typical diet for a ball python includes pre-killed mice or small sized rats. Young ball pythons should be fed small mice weekly. Adult ball pythons should be fed a little bit larger prey (such as small rats) about every 10-14 days. Ball pythons can be a little hesitant to take food, but dangling the prey in front of the snake usually increases their interest in eating the prey. It is usual for a ball python to fast for up to a month or two, so a snake that has not eaten for a few weeks should not be a cause of alarm. If the fasting goes on for longer than a month or two, consult a veterinarian for more feeding instructions.