Are ball pythons good pets?

Ball pythons make great pets for someone who is ready for the commitment of a long-term pet and willing to handle the unique needs of a reptile. 

They live an average of 30 years in captivity and it takes about 4 years for them to grow to their max size: 4-5 feet. 

There are a few things to think about if you want a ball python as a pet. Ball pythons are carnivores and their diet consists mainly of rodents so keeping a ball python means you’ll have to deal with mice and rats, too.

Their food can be purchased frozen from pet supply stores and thawed to give to ball pythons, but some ball pythons have trouble eating frozen/thawed rodents. So, beware that you may have to feed your ball python a live rat or mouse.

Also, consider that ball pythons are not social animals. They spend their time in the wild alone and they prefer it that way in captivity too.

They will climb and crawl around you, but you won’t be able to teach it tricks like a dog or cat. 

Holding your ball python isn’t something you’ll want to do frequently either especially after they’ve eaten or if they are going through a shed. 

After considering all the downsides, here are 15 reasons why ball pythons actually make good pets. 

Not what you’re looking for? Here are the answers to your ball python questions.

Reasons why ball pythons make good pets

1. They stay small

A ball python will be full-grown at about 4-5 feet with the thickness of a soda can and can live in a 15-gallon tank their entire lives. 

Most other snakes, especially in the python family, will grow more than 10’ long. A ball python’s size of 4-5 feet max is ideal for most people who want a pet that won’t take up too much space.

2. They are easy to handle

People love these heavy-bodied snakes because their size and constricting behavior make them easy to handle.

In comparison to a corn snake, a ball python will wrap around your arm to secure itself to you, whereas a corn snake is a thinner snake that would rather flee and they won’t constrict around you to stop itself from falling.

3. They are non-venomous

Ball pythons do not have venom. They are a species that hunts by striking and constricting their prey. 

Ball pythons will even constrict their frozen/thawed, pre-killed meals out of instinct even though it’s not necessary. 

Keep this in mind when considering a ball python as a pet since mice and rats are it’s main source of food.

4. They are friendly

friendly ball python

Ball pythons make great pets is because they are known to be calm and friendly making them great for kids. 

A ball python’s first line of defense is what gave them their well-known name. They’ll curl up into balls protecting their most vulnerable parts like their head and vital organs. 

Most ball pythons are shy especially when it comes to their head and neck.

Being head-shy, they’ll shy away from being touched on their heads and noses especially when they’re babies. 

The good thing about ball pythons is that if they ever have a defensive personality, they are easily tamed especially when they grow bigger and older.

5. They only need to be fed every 1-2 weeks

Ball pythons are able to live off of one meal for several weeks at a time in the wild. Their metabolism lets them survive for long periods of time with little food.

Even though they can survive that long without food, ball python owners prefer to feed their snakes weekly with an appropriately sized meal. (table?)

The ball python’s metabolism allows them to go 1-2 weeks between feedings while maintaining a healthy weight. 

This saves you both time and money compared to most other pets who need daily meals.

6. They are great for beginners

Ball pythons are one of the easiest reptiles to start with as a pet. Reptiles, in general, are one of the best pets to own, but not all reptiles are the same, especially snakes.

Ball pythons are the easiest to care for compared to most other domesticated python species such as the Burmese python, reticulated python, green tree pythons, etc.

Find a reptile to fit any lifestyle HERE.

They are beginner-friendly snakes because they are easy to care for, easy to clean, and easy to handle.

7. They rarely bite people

Ball pythons will bite usually to eat, but they can use it as a defense mechanism, too. Baby ball pythons are the ones that will bite as a defense since it’s their only way to defend themselves. 

As they get older, the chances of them biting you get lower once they’re familiar with the smell of their food and their feeding routine. 

Even though bites from your ball python are rare it can still happen especially if they smell their food around you or on you(after you touch a rodent). 

How to treat a ball python bite

8. They’re Low Maintenance

ball python
Mojave OD het Hypo

Ball pythons are overall low maintenance pets. Here’s how your schedule will look taking care of your ball python: 

  • Monthly: clean out the substrate 
  • Weekly: feed your ball python and provide clean water. 
  • Every day: spot clean and/or mist their enclosure with water.

That’s it! Pet ball pythons are simple and easy to care for making them great for busy people and lazy people. The most work you’ll have to do is switch out their substrate which you can do every 4-6 weeks.

9. They’re easy to clean

Ball pythons aren’t messy especially compared to other pets. The messes you can expect from them are poop, urates(pee), and their shed which can easily be spot-cleaned whenever you see any of those.

Depending on what substrate you decide to use it only needs to be changed out every month or so. 

Here’s a list of substrates to use for ball pythons

For the allergy-prone folks like me, they don’t produce any dust, dander, or any other allergens that furry pets have and their scales won’t cause any skin irritation.

10. Low cost to take care of them

The simple needs of a ball python keep their pet care costs to a minimum. After the initial $$ you spend on getting your ball python and its enclosure, the only recurring costs are the food and substrate. 

Their food is usually sold in bulk and you only need to feed them once a week if you feed them the right size.

Their substrate is changed out every month or so which also comes in bulk and some substrate even comes compressed so they take up very little space. 

Coconut substrate review 2021

11. They don’t need attention

Ball pythons are solitary creatures that prefer a life alone. A male and female ball python can be housed together safely, but you should only do that if they are breeding.

It’s a huge risk to keep multiple ball pythons in the same enclosure because, even though they won’t hurt each other, they will be stressed out and uncomfortable.

Even when they are breeding the males are separated from the female after certain amount of time to reduce stress on both animals. 

Since they thrive on being alone, they don’t require much attention. Ball pythons will live a content life if they stay in their enclosure most of their lives. Taking them out and letting them explore is good for enrichment, but it’s not necessary for their well-being.

If or when you choose to handle your ball python just know that it isn’t required for them to live happy and healthy lives.

12. Exotic is rare to have

Ball pythons are native to Africa. They originated in Africa before they were brought to the US to domesticate as pets. 

Ball pythons are now in homes all over the United States, but their origin makes them exotic pets. 

Dogs and cats are a joy to have but exotic pets like the ball python are unique and fascinating. They are foreign to most people and having one is a learning opportunity for you and the people who visit you. 

It’s also exciting to own something that makes most people squeamish or even fear.

13. Low odor

Ball pythons make good pets because unlike furry friends they don’t let off very much odor. 

They’re self-cleaning animals that shed every so often so their scales stay relatively clean. 

The only odor you’ll have from a ball python is from their feces, which can easily be cleaned and doesn’t have a smell that travels far. 

Other than that, the strongest smell you’ll have from a ball python’s home is from their substrate. Coconut husk gives off a slight odor when wet so as long as you can handle that a ball python is perfect for you.

14. They don’t get attached

Ball pythons are great pets to have if you don’t have time to spend bonding with an animal. They don’t create any attachments to things or people so you don’t have to worry about them being lonely. 

Dogs, cats, and many other domestic animals need companionship to survive. Ball pythons don’t need any type of connection to survive or even be “happy.” 

This makes adopting a ball python from someone easy since they won’t have any attachments to their previous owners or their previous home. 

Ball python body language: Understanding your ball python’s behavior

15. There are tons of morphs to choose from

Ball pythons don’t have any subspecies, but they do vary in colors and patterns. These patterns and colors are created from genetics that were passed down from their parents.  The combination of genes a ball python has is a morph. 

Ball python morphs range from all white snakes to completely dark snakes, lots of patterns and minimal patterns, and everything in between. 

Each ball python morph has a different price depending on how rare the genes are and how many genes they have. Females tend to cost more than males because they produce babies that can be sold. 

The range of price points allows anyone to get a ball python no matter what your budget is.

16. They’re quiet

Ball pythons don’t have vocal chords so the only sounds you’ll hear them make is from their movement. 

The loudest noise they can purposefully make is a hiss. Ball pythons will hiss if they are irritated as a warning that they don’t want to be messed with, but it rarely comes from ball pythons that are handled frequently.

A quiet pet is hard to come by so this is one of the best parts about having a ball python as a pet. 

You’ll never hear them complain or cry, bark or howl. 

I thought about keeping this out of the post, but there is one more noise that ball pythons make…farts. Yes ball pythons fart and it happens very loudly! Don’t be startled when this happens, it’s completely normal…for everyone.

Conclusion

Ball pythons make great pets for so many reasons. Owning one has its downsides and there is still a lot to consider before getting one as a pet, but the pros outweigh the cons immensly. 

Even though these exotic animals are pets to us, make sure to treat them right and create an environment that is best for their health. Click here for tips on ball python temperatures and humidity details.

Hopefully this article gives you the insight you need to decide on getting a reptile. Share it with your parents, significant others or anyone who is skeptical about getting a ball python.