Are Ball Pythons good pets? (Yes or No?)

In this blog post, we are going to find out whether ball pythons are good pets. We talk about the character of ball pythons, how to care for this species and about their food. After reading this article, it will be easier for you to decide if a ball python is a good pet for you or not.

Are Ball Pythons good pets?

Yes, Ball pythons are good pets if you are looking into getting a snake pet. Anyone 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.

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.

Besides, these snakes are not poisonous. Since they kill their prey by constriction, there is no need for them to possess venom. They do not have fangs, but they do have several small teeth that they use to grab their prey. So if you’ve ever been bitten by a ball python, it won’t do you any harm. You would bleed, but the bite wouldn’t hurt much.

You will wonder about the risk of constriction. However, there is nothing to worry about. Because ball pythons are so small, they would never try to eat you. Ball pythons eat rodents in the wild, and humans are too big for them. Even if a ball python mistakes your hand for food, you can easily separate the snake by unwinding it, starting with the tail.

 Although males and females differ in size, the life expectancy of the ball python for males and females is the same. In nature, they tend to live for around ten years. However, a well-treated captive ball python could live to be in their 20s or 30s.

The oldest ball python on record was 48 years old, according to the Chicago Herpetological Society. It lived at the Philadelphia Zoo from 1945 until its death in 1992. Interestingly, although it was old, it did not grow much more than the “size of a young adult” throughout its long life.

Do Ball Pythons like to be held?

It would be anthropomorphic to say that any snake “likes” to be handled. Snakes are solitary creatures and do not interact with or groom each other in nature. Therefore, they do not enjoy manipulation. Handling our snakes is purely for our enjoyment as snake lovers.

However, as snakes go, ball pythons are incredibly docile. Captive-bred ball pythons typically do not view humans as a threat and tolerate handling very well. 

As long as you hold them properly (keeping them one-third and two-thirds the length of their body), they’ll be very happy to be in your arms. Ball pythons are good-natured and do not usually hiss or show signs of aggression towards their keepers. If anything, they are a bit shy.

Ball Python Terrarium Requirements

Now that you know the basics of the ball python, let’s get into its care requirements. The first topic we’ll cover is the terrarium – where your ball python will live. There are many elements that must be fine-tuned to form the perfect terrarium.

Ball python box

When choosing an enclosure for your ball python, there are many things to consider. The first is size. Your ball python will need room to fully stretch out. Therefore, if your snake is 2 feet long, the enclosure must also be at least 2 feet long.

This means that if your snake is a juvenile, it will have to replace its enclosure as it grows. You may be tempted to buy a massive enclosure for them to “grow”, but this is wrong. A baby snake will feel lost and terrified in an enclosure that is too large.

For this reason, a plastic tub with a snap-on lid is generally a good idea to start with. These are much cheaper to replace as your snake grows, compared to decorative glass or wooden cages.

There are many benefits to plastic tubs:

  • They are lightweight and easy to move.
  • Their closing caps make it easy to a) keep moisture in and b) prevent the snake from escaping.
  • Plastic bathtubs hold on to heat much better than glass tanks.
  • Plastic is easy to clean and non-porous, giving it an advantage over wood.
  • The only downside to plastic bathtubs is that they are not as attractive or “stylish” as glass or wooden nurseries. The choice is yours.

Ball python temperature and humidity requirements

Although ball pythons come from a tropical part of the world (central sub-Saharan Africa), they do not live in the rainforest. This means that their humidity requirements are not as demanding as other tropical snake species, such as the boa constrictor.

Ball pythons generally require 50-60% humidity throughout their enclosure.

A large container of water contained inside the terrarium should be enough to keep the humidity high enough. It will also meet your ball python’s other water needs (drinking and soaking).

Use a hygrometer to monitor humidity levels. If it drops below 50%, you can spray the inside of the enclosure once a day. Keeping a fur box full of sphagnum moss moist can also help.

Regarding the heating, you have several options

  • Heating mat
  • Thermal tape
  • Ceramic heat bulb (glass tanks only, as they can melt plastic caps)

Whichever way you choose to heat your snake’s enclosure, use it only on one side of the enclosure. This will create a cold finish and a warm finish, allowing your snake to regulate body temperature.

The cold end of the tank should be around 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit, and the hot end should be around 90-95. Monitor the temperature closely with a thermometer. If possible with your chosen heating method, use a thermostat to automatically adjust the temperature.

Ball python substrate

Although ball pythons enjoy moist air, they do not do well with a moist substrate. In the wild, they spend most of their time in savannas and grasslands. We recommend that you avoid substrates that retain moisture, such as cypress mulch. A damp substrate can lead to lime rot.

The recommended substrate for ball pythons is poplar shavings.  Many new snake owners choose the newspaper to use on the enclosure floor. Although they are also cheap, they cannot be cleaned. If the snake pees on the newspaper, the entire substrate should be replaced. Some people are concerned that newspaper ink might harm snakes, but it is not scientifically proven one way or another, so use it at your own risk.

Although wild ball pythons hide underground, they do not dig their own burrows. They use the burrows of other animals, such as rodents. They can even hang out on termite mounds. For this reason, burrowing is not a behaviour that ball pythons typically exhibit in captivity. You don’t have to provide a thick layer of substrate – about an inch will do.

Terrarium cleaning and accessories

There are some accessories that you should include in your ball python’s nursery and others that are optional.

Hiding Place. Pythons need a place to hide and feel safe. You should provide at least two leather boxes – one on the hot end, and one on the cold end. The box should be large enough for your snake to curl up inside, while small enough to feel “comfortable” and secure.  You can buy snakeskin made on purpose or use a cardboard or plastic box with a cutout hole. 

Bowl of water. Your snake will need to drink, of course. Many ball pythons also enjoy snuggling inside their water bowls to bathe. Choose a bowl that is at least as large as your snake and easy to clean.

Decor. These are optional, but provide enrichment for your snake, and help mimic a natural environment. You can use rocks, hollow logs, branches, artificial foliage, and plants. We do not recommend the use of live plants, as the soil can harbour bacteria and parasites.

When adding accessories to your nursery, allow plenty of room for your snake to stretch and glide. However, too much space can be intimidating, so make sure your snake has plenty of hiding places.

Cleaning your ball python’s terrarium

It is crucial that you keep your ball python’s vivarium clean. Dirt, faeces, and urine can harbour bacteria. This could result in your ball python developing an infection and getting sick.

Every day, check your snake’s enclosure to clean it. Remove the water bowl from the snake, scrub it with hot soapy water, and disinfect it. A popular disinfectant choice is chlorhexidine.

Then examine the cage for urates (solid urine) or faeces. Remove waste products along with any substrates they have touched. Also, remove any uneaten foods or sagging skin.

What do Ball Pythons eat?

The diet of a ball python consists mainly of mammals. In their natural habitat, ball pythons feed on rodents that live in the African grasslands. For example, this may include African soft-haired rats, Gambian rats, hairy rats, gerbils, and striped grass mice.

Ball pythons can occasionally eat birds as well, although this is not their first choice for prey. Ball pythons feed exclusively on endothermic (warm-blooded) creatures, with the help of their infrared-sensing facial fossae.

In captivity, ball pythons do well on a diet of rats and mice. These rodents contain all the nutrients that ball pythons need, so there is no need to supplement their diet.

We would always recommend feeding frozen and thawed rats and mice, rather than live prey. This is because live prey can often defend themselves, injuring or even killing the snake. Many online vendors sell frozen rodents in a variety of sizes, from pinky (newborn) to jumbo.

You can use mice to start, but your ball python can eventually outgrow them. It is easier for us to use rats from the beginning, to avoid the problems that sometimes occur when changing. Ball pythons tend to “imprint” on a particular food source and refuse to eat anything else.

Conclusions

In this blog post, we found whether ball pythons are good pets. We talked about the character of ball pythons, how to care for this species and about their food.

In summary, we can say that if you are looking to have a pet snake then yes, ball pythons definitely are good pets. They are the most docile snakes, do not have fangs and are venomous. 

However, please take into consideration that this is still a wild animal and predator. Do your research before choosing a snake for a pet and speak with a veterinarian specializing in exotic animals about raising this kind of pet. 

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

FAQ on Are Ball Pythons good pets?

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. 

What temperature will kill a ball python?

A temperature that exceeded 33-34 Celsius degrees is too hot for your Ball Python. he terrarium should always have a daytime temperature between 26º C (in the cold part) and 32º C (in the hot part). 

References

Avianandexotic.com – Ball Python Care Sheet

Reptifiles.com – Ball Python Handling Tips

Petlifetoday.com -How To Take Care Of A Ball Python

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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