Ball Python Care Sheet (What to Expect)

What You’ll Need to Care for your Ball Python

What It Takes

  • Daily check-ins
  • Spot cleaning
  • Weekly or Bi-weekly feeding
  • Monthly enclosure clean out

Enclosure Requirements

  A ball python set up can be as simples as having the basics of a hide and a water dish or as complex as having an entire vivarium complete with plants and climbing decor. 

Many ball python owners opt to keep their ball pythons in an aquarium tank. This is perfect as long as you add places for it to hide, substrate and water. Too large of a tank can stress the animal out because they will feel exposed. The challenge with an aquarium setup is that you needs a metal screen cover with locks in order to keep the snake secure. This can be troublesome when it comes to cleaning and feeding. An easier(but definitely more pricey) option would be a front-opening enclosure like the one Exo Terra has which features doors in the front so that you can easily access the snake. This type of enclosure is ideal for tropical species like the royal python(the fancy name) since it keeps humid air from leaking quickly with a mesh screen on the top.

Don’t know where to start? Click here for setup ideas!

For snake lovers with more than one ball python, you’ll sometimes see snakes kept in tubs. It can be as simple as a clear storage bin(with air holes of course) or an entire snake rack. Hides are a absolutely necessary when picking out your ball python’s new home. The hide makes the snake feel  more secure and replicates their environment in the wild. A hide can be as simple as a cardboard box or a classic coconut shell. For adult ball pythons you may need to opt for a plastic hide with cutout in front. A baby ball python may even find comfort in an empty paper towel tube.

Ball Python Substrate Options

To make its house a home substrate is a must. Coconut husk works best for me since it holds humidity and absorbs the pee for easy clean up. You can also opt for aspen, cypress mulch or newspaper. You’ll want to avoid pine, cedar shavings which are toxic to some reptiles. 

For more info on toxic substrates for your ball pythons CLICK HERE

Temperature and Humidity 

 A heat pad or a heat lamp should be used on one side of its home to help the snake regulate its body temperature.

Not sure which is for you? Click here for a comparison.

Ball pythons are cold-blooded so they need places in their enclosure where they can warm up or cool off. They should be able to bask at a temperature of 95 ° F and cool off at room temperature. UVA and UVB bulbs are NOT necessary.

 Humidity should be kept high (70-80%) to prevent any shedding problems. Shed should come off in 1 piece. If it comes off in pieces bump up the humidity.

A spray bottle or mister that can be sprayed whenever their enclosure gets too dry works great for this. If you really want to get fancy you can use a fogger, but its definitely not necessary. It is also important not to keep the enclosure too wet as this can lead to respiratory issues. 

Ball Python Behavior 

Ball pythons are very timid and docile so they are great for kids or beginners. Their first defense is to curl into a ball and hide their heads, which gave them their famous name.

ball python balled up

Other defensive behaviors include hissing, bucking, and striking. Though these defense mechanisms are rarely seen in domesticated ball pythons, you could see this behavior with animals in distress, pregnant(gravid), or territorial. Like many other pets, ball pythons each have their own personalities that you’ll get to know as you spend more time with your new friend. 

Health and Wellness 

Exploring is normal for a ball python, though they should settle down and relax. Their life span averages about 30 years. They’ll spend most of their time hiding. This is nothing to worry about. While in hiding they will be digesting their food or even shedding.

Ball python during Shed

You should check on your ball python to daily to make sure it is ok. Since they don’t have eyelids it is hard to determine if they are asleep(or worse). Signs of health problems can be leaky nostrils, lethargy, decreased appetite, non-responsive or slow response behaviors. If you see any of these behaviors please treat them immediately or take them to your local reptile/exotic vet.

Ball python is in shed? Click here to see what you can do to help.

Food and Diet 

Rats and mice are the main food source for ball pythons. They can be bought live or frozen/thawed. The size of the rodent should be about the same girth as the snake. Babies should start with pinkies and pups. After they eat you should see a small lump. If there is no lump after your ball python eats it’s best to size up. 

Clean water should constantly be available for your ball python.

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Wrap up

Ball pythons are great snakes for beginners and kids especially since they are docile and easy to care for. Ball python tank set ups can be simple and cheap or elaborate and decorative. Keep them at a temperature 75-80°F with a warm spot up to 95°F. They are tropical animals! Keep them humid. With the correct conditions and feeding , your snake will be happy and growing.

Ball Python Care Guide information sheet