Are ball pythons aggressive? (Yes or No?)

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Are ball pythons aggressive? We talk about having a ball python as a pet, how to handle it and what to do if you, your child or another pet is bitten by a ball python.

Are ball pythons aggressive?

Ball pythons are one of the most harmless and least aggressive pythons known. This species is especially docile, and his appearance is really beautiful.

However, here’s what you should keep in mind. All animal species have characteristic features common to each species. A snake can have a bad day because it feels bad, uncomfortable, hungry, in the heat … just like us. Then, in some cases, yes, a ball python can be aggressive.  

When it feels restless, annoyed or frightened, the ball python has a peculiar defence behaviour that consists of curling upon itself, in the form of a very compact ball, hiding the head in the centre with what is well protected between its rings. These snakes also hiss.

They do not usually defend by biting since it is a peaceful snake, but the jaw of these animals must always be taken into account!

Handling a ball python

Suitable for beginners, but always try taking into account the basic safety regulations. 

After the animal gets used to its environment (approx. 2 weeks), it can be manipulated. It should be taken from the centre of the body and held gently but firmly. At first, the animal will try to move away but then it will gain confidence. 

Daily contact will establish a good level of confidence. Ball pythons are naturally somewhat shy, but this does not mean that they cannot get used to being treated by their owners (excessive handling and hand-to-hand transfer stresses the animal and leads it to defend itself ).

The most important thing is to be gentle and avoid sudden and violent movements, if the snake wraps itself too much on the armour around the neck, keep calm and gently unscrew it.

After its acquisition, it is advisable to take the snake to a specialized veterinarian to carry out an examination of the animal, and if necessary an internal deworming.

Ball pythons are possibly the most popular pet snake in the United States. These reptiles are calm, do not grow too large and make low maintenance animal companionship. Despite this, many people remain sceptical about the idea of keeping a snake as a pet.

How often do ball pythons bite?

A ball python, especially one born and raised in captivity, is usually a well-behaved pet. These snakes are not aggressive, and as members of the constrictor family, they are not programmed to bite.

A python in the wild is more likely to constrict its prey than to hit and bite it. This is because the ball python is a non-poisonous breed. However, a ball python is not incapable of biting. These reptiles have teeth – fortunately, though, not fangs.

Is a Ball Python bite poisonous?

No, the ball python cannot pass poison or venom through the bite. Its teeth can break the skin, but there will be no need for an antivenom.

A more significant concern is the ball python’s ability to crush and squeeze prey. Pythons are too small to hurt a human, but other pets can be at risk.

Why would my ball python bite me?

Ball pythons bite in self-defence when threatened, or to protect their food and territory. It will be a rare occurrence, but your ball python could use its teeth.

Some of the things that can lead a ball python to bite a human include:

Surprise and fear. Let your python learn their scent before handling them, especially if they are neonates. Ball pythons have poor eyesight in the conventional sense. They won’t recognize you by sight, but they will get to know you. Until then they will fear you as a potential predator.

Food assault. Ball pythons sometimes get aroused when it comes to eating. If a ball python is hungry, it can mistake anything in its habitat for prey. This includes your hands, especially if they smell like the food in question. Don’t handle your python at mealtime.

Handling after eating. Leave your python alone for a few days after its feeding. A ball python can take up to five days to digest a mouse. They prefer to be left alone during this time.

Handling during a period of skin sensitivity. A snake’s skin can feel very sensitive when it is shedding. When this time comes, try to leave your python alone. If you need to bathe them in a warm bath to stimulate shedding, you should wear thin gloves. Here’s more information on how a ball python loses its fur.

Discomfort. A snake that is uncomfortable and unstable becomes aggressive. Is your snake’s habitat heated to a suitable temperature? Are they comfortable with their substrate? Are they struggling to shed their skin? Is there too much light or noise in the room? Snakes get stressed and destabilized very easily. You will need to replicate a python’s natural environment, even if it was born in captivity.

Aggression. Sometimes ball pythons bite for no good reason. This could be because they were not sufficiently domesticated as hatchlings. Maybe they are in a bad mood or pain. Like all animals, a python can bite from time to time. Fortunately, the impact when they do is minimal.

In general, though, avoiding a bite from your ball python should be comparatively simple. Just remember that each snake is different, and has its personality. Learn your pet’s habits and routines and act accordingly.

Does my ball python bite me because it doesn’t like me?

A ball python will not bond with a human similar to a dog. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t dislike you either. The truth is that a snake’s brain is not wired to feel one way or another about a human. The reptile brain is concerned with simple survival, not with making friends.

To add to this, remember that your snake is more than likely very afraid of you. Wild snakes keep to themselves, hiding underground to avoid predators.

Your python doesn’t understand the notion of being a pet. They sense that there is a very large mammal around them and they are terrified to be eaten.

Your ball python may eventually come to recognize your scent. This does not mean that they love you, but they will stop fearing you. If your snake considers you a food provider, so much the better.

Don’t panic if your python spends hours hiding, or digging in the substrate. A snake hidden from view is typically a confident, contented, and happy snake.

However, this does not mean that you can take your eyes off your ball python. An escaped snake can be dangerous to pets and potentially scare your neighbours. Treat these reptiles with care and respect to ensure you share a positive relationship.

What happens if a ball python bites you?

If the event of being attacked by a ball python, caring for the bite is relatively routine. There is no need to panic and rush to the emergency room. However, a tetanus shot may be advisable if it has been ten years since you last received it. Your doctor can fix this – again, there is no need to rush to the emergency room.

Never pull a snake back when they bite. The snake’s teeth are back in its jaws, and you could do more damage this way. Essentially, you will be dragging sharp teeth through your skin. This is the only way you are likely to be injured.

If a python bites and seems reluctant to let go, you should open its mouth gently. You can use something to take advantage of this. Once you are free, return your python to its habitat and clean yourself. Don’t hold a grudge against your python. They don’t know any better.

When a ball python bites, it can hurt a bit. It depends on how hard the teeth sink in. A ball python from birth will have little impact – certainly less than a puppy or kitten. An adult ball python can pierce the skin and cause minor bleeding.

If they do, wash the puncture wound with cotton swabs. It may also be worth applying an antibacterial solution, in case the snake’s mouth is dirty.

The risk of long-term injury is practically nil. In most cases, you won’t even need a plaster. You are more likely to feel shocked and outraged than in pain when a ball python bites you.

What happens if a ball python bites a child?

Even children will not suffer from a ball python bite. You just have to be especially vigilant to make sure the child in question is vaccinated against tetanus. Also, make sure your child doesn’t experience a reaction to the bacteria in the snake’s mouth.

However, in general, children are not at higher risk than adults. Being bitten by a kitten or hamster provides sensation training.

Would a Ball Python Bite Another House Pet?

Just as ball pythons fear humans, seeing us as potential predators, they are also terrified of other pets. Cats, in particular, are natural enemies of snakes. If your ball python escapes its enclosure, a cat is likely chasing them.

If this happens, a ball python may bite in self-defence. However, this will only buy time for an escape. In a direct flight between a python and a house cat, the snake almost always loses. Both animals are aware of this and behave accordingly.

Dogs and cats are less likely to interact, but it is still possible. Dogs are not more important predators than cats, but they can be curious. If they detect the scent of a snake, they will want to investigate.

Some may even try to make friends. A canine is likely to be bitten by this, so keep the animals separate. Remember, any aggression from either animal is supported by fear.

If you have young pets, such as a puppy or kitten, they will be more at risk from a ball python. There is a possibility that the snake is still afraid of these animals.

However, they can attack by wrapping their bodies around the pet and cutting off its blood flow. This is how pythons subjugate prey in the wild.

A hungry python can take a chance on a kitten and consider them a snack. It’s weird, but it happens. To do this, always make sure your ball python is firmly secured in your nursery. All snakes are escape artists, and this can end badly for the python or other pets.

What happens if a ball python bites a domestic pet?

In theory, a python that bites a cat or dog will cause a howl of pain. Since no venom is transferred, the worst that can happen is that the mammal limps. Ball python will almost certainly turn out worse. 

This is especially likely if they attack a cat. If your pet is acting strange, you should see a vet. They may be having an allergic reaction or the python may have bacteria in its mouth. Similarly, your pet may be in shock after the attack.

Conclusions

In this blog post, we answered the following question: Are ball pythons aggressive? We talked about having a ball python as a pet, how to handle it and what to do if you, your child or another pet is bitten by a ball python.

Any snake enthusiast beginner looking for their first pet, however, should consider a ball python. This breed is undeniably calm, and will not make waves in a home. It’s a big compromise, as captive ball pythons can live up to thirty years. 

Anyone prepared for this, however, will find the ball python to be a docile and passive pet. Along with garter snakes and corn snakes, they are the least dangerous that are commercially available.

If you have any questions or comments on the content, please let us know!

FAQ on Are ball pythons aggressive?

Are ball pythons friendly?

Ball pythons are considered one of the friendliest species of snakes. Many recommend ball pythons as a first pet, as they are very docile and low maintenance. 

Can Ball Pythons become aggressive?

Yes, Ball pythons can become aggressive, especially if they are hungry, they feel in danger or the environment they are living in is stressful for them. 

Do Pythons kill their owners?

It happens very rarely that pythons kill their owners, but yes, it can happen. That is if you are not careful while feeding them and your hands or clothes smell like their food.

How do Snakes see humans?

Snakes see humans through their pit organs, which helps them detect infrared radiation from warm bodies up to one metre away. The pot organs also help the snakes see during the night their predator or prey as an infrared camera does. 

Do snakes follow you?

Some snakes may follow you if they still consider you a possible danger. Although there is no scientific proof, it is said that if you kill a snake its mate will follow you to take revenge. 

 

References

Pet City Australia – Keeping pet snakes

National Geographic – Snakes, facts and information

Pet Place – How snakes behave 

Hi, I am Martin, I am a pet lover! I own a Golden retriever and a Long-eared Owl. They keep me company & I often had questions about them which I couldn't find answers for online. I put this hub together for people like me & you.

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