Ball Pythons Have Personalities – Here’s why.

People believe that ball pythons don’t have personalities. I’m here to tell you that’s not entirely true.

For the past 7 years, I have taken care of 100s of ball pythons and I can say that each one has its quirks! 

They even have preferences over certain things. 

By observing ball pythons’ behaviors and reactions to situations we can tell if they “like” certain activities or things. 

Ball pythons like all animals have individual characteristics that make them unique, but there are some traits that are the same for most of them. 

So, what do ball pythons like? Well, I’ve gathered together the most asked questions about a ball python’s likes and dislikes to see what kind of preferences they have. 

ball python

How do we know if a ball python likes something?

There isn’t an exact science to determine whether a ball python “likes” something or not.

We measure our enjoyment of activities based how much it makes us happy. 

Since we don’t know the complexities of a ball python’s emotions like happiness, joy, or sadness, we judge their feelings based on their body language.

A “happy” ball python is relaxed especially when there’s no flight response to a situation. So, that’s how we’ll judge their “like” for something. 

On the opposite side of the spectrum, a ball python that dislikes something would show jerking motions away or flee from the situation or thing. 

There are other ways to judge whether a ball python likes something or not just by small mannerisms and behaviors. 

Each ball python is different, so as you get to know your own, you’ll have a better understanding of what your ball python likes and doesn’t like. 

Ball python body language – what does it mean?

Do ball pythons like to be held? 

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Every ball python has their own preferences, likes, and dislikes. Some may even change their preferences over the years. 

Most ball pythons, though, don’t like being picked up, especially during a shedding phase when they feel most vulnerable.

As babies, ball pythons are easy to pick up and they’ll do 1 of 2 things. They will either ball up or try to quickly crawl away. 

Given their reaction, I’d say they don’t like getting picked up as babies. As adults, ball pythons will get used to being handled and sometimes enjoy it.

Older ball pythons will become curious when you hold them stretching out their neck to find a place to go.

Eventually, they’ll even settle down and lay in your arms or your lap(or somewhere else warm). 

Even though ball pythons don’t like to be held, they can get used to it over time. 

How to hold a ball python

Do ball pythons like to climb?

Ball pythons like climbing even though they’re not an arboreal species. 

In the wild, ball pythons are often found in tree hollows high above the ground. In captivity, they’ll take the opportunity to climb the occasional branch or tree when it’s available. 

Ball pythons aren’t good climbers, they often slip off of a smooth surface, but they’ll certainly try and enjoy doing it. 

Get details on ball python climbing habits and what to safely add to their enclosure.

Do ball pythons like water? 

Ball pythons enjoy drinking water often. Usually, they’ll drink water daily. If you don’t see your ball python drinking water, don’t worry. They’re probably drinking it at night when you’re asleep. 

It’s always good to keep a freshwater supply for your ball python so they can drink as they please. 

But do ball pythons like going in the water?

ball python bowl wrapping

Ball pythons like to go in water depending on their personality. Some ball pythons won’t ever soak in their water bowl while others will soak frequently. 

Over the years, I have given many ball pythons warm soaks to help with shedding and hydration. It’s safe to say that some ball pythons enjoy it and some don’t.

Most ball pythons will try to climb out of the water whereas others will go into the water without any resistance. 

Can Ball pythons breathe underwater? Find out by clicking here

Do ball pythons like to be petted?

Ball pythons don’t like getting petted. After handling hundreds of ball pythons over the years I’ve noticed that any ball python that gets touched will become rigid or even try to evade your touch. 

Even though each ball python has its own personality, this is one trait that all ball pythons share. They’re shy. 

Almost all ball pythons are head-shy meaning they don’t like being touched or pet on the head. And most ball pythons try to avoid touch on their bodies. 

There are some cases when a ball python will get used to being petted, but they’ll almost always have the initial response of avoidance. 

Do ball pythons like to cuddle?

In my opinion, ball pythons like to cuddle. The problem is that most people might not see it as cuddling.

When given the chance, ball pythons would rather explore than sit still and cuddle with you. Even still, I think they like to cuddle because once they are done exploring they like to settle down. If you have them out long enough it’s usually in your arms or on your lap.

Is this really cuddling? Perhaps. It is the closest thing you’ll get to it from a ball python. 

 It’s not going to be the same as if a dog or a cat were to come to cuddle with you, but it’s similar to where they’ll lay on top of you for your warmth.

Ball pythons also have the habit of wrapping around your arm if you were to hold them. They do this for support and sometimes they’ll stay that way. 

Here’s an example of what a ball python SHOULDN’T do.

Do ball pythons like other snakes/ other ball pythons?

 Ball pythons are naturally solitary in the wild so even though they won’t attack another snake they don’t find comfort in being around them.

 In captivity, ball python owners recommend that ball pythons be kept in their own enclosure. The only exception(besides breeding) is if you have an enclosure large enough to where there are many places for them to settle down so they won’t come across each other very often.

Even so, there’s still a risk that they will fight.

 In my opinion, ball pythons won’t tolerate other ball pythons, especially if it’s male with another male.

The good thing about ball pythons is that they are not violent with their own species. When male ball pythons fight over dominance they will actually use their necks to try to push each other away. Whichever is the strongest is the winner that gets the female.

Can ball pythons live together? Find out here.

The same goes for other snake species. If you were to put a ball python with another snake species it probably won’t attack the other snake, but they will find discomfort from being around it.  This would cause the snake a lot of stress on both sides, so I do not recommend putting them together.

Holding ball pythons next to each other won’t instigate any fighting though. They will more likely just ignore each other. So, if you hold one ball python in each of your hands they might not even notice that the other is there.

Do ball pythons prefer mice or rats?

two gray mice
Photo by Alex Smith on

Ball pythons are fed both rats and mice but they actually have a preference between the two. 

Even though rats have a higher nutritious value than mice for ball pythons, especially when they’re larger, ball pythons will actually prefer mice over rats.

I’ve come to this conclusion because I fed both to my ball pythons, but I get a better feeding response when I offer mice.

I try to get my ball pythons to exclusively eat rats, but sometimes they’re finicky eaters. In that case, I will offer a mouse and they’ll usually take that as their meal after a long food strike.

 Believe it or not, there’s actually a rodent that is more preferred over mice and rats for ball pythons. It’s an African soft fur rat. 

These rodents are native to Africa where ball pythons originate from and they get the best feeding responses from ball pythons. Just make sure they’re legal where you live. 

Enrichment ideas for ball pythons 

Ball pythons are very simple creatures. They don’t need very much to feel content or happy in their lives. As long as they’re healthy, well-fed, and have good husbandry your ball python will thrive. 

You know your ball python best so if you think that your ball python is bored or unhappy with its set up you could always add enrichment. 

Enrichment means altering a ball python’s physical environment to satisfy physical and psychological needs. 

For ball pythons, this can be changing their enclosure setup every few weeks or even adding branches for them to climb. 

Taking them out once in a while adds some enrichment to their lives as well. Unfortunately, ball pythons aren’t the best at “playing” with items as they are mostly curious and not very playful. 

Add setups or decorations for inspiration. 

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Ball pythons like different things depending on their personalities. Each one is unique, but some of them share the same preferences. 

We conclude that most ball pythons like mice over rats and they like to climb. Most don’t like water although there are some that do. 

Either way you’ll get to know your ball python best just by being around them. Be sure to add enrichment to keep them happy and healthy.