Care Guide for Ball Pythons

Quick Info

Heating:

Warm side: 88-92 degrees F

Cool Side: 78-82 degrees F

Measure heat at the ground, where the python is.

Humidity:

Close to 60% boosted to 80% if shedding

Food chart:

under 200g - Fuzzy rat(8-12g) every 5 to 7 days

200-350g - Rat Pup(20-30s) every 5 to 7 days

350-500g - Weaned Rat(31-45g) every 5 to 14 days

500-1500g - Small Rat(46-79g) every 7 to 21 days

Females only:

1500g or more - Medium Rat(80-150g) every 14 to 56 days

*Wait longer between meals if python is becoming obese or feed more often if thin.

Feeding

Food should be primarily rats that are no wider than the widest part of the snake. Rats can be offered live, freshly and humanely killed, or thawed from frozen. Under no circumstance should a live rat be left unattended with your snake, rats have powerful jaws and sharp teeth that can injure or kill a ball python.

Sometimes a ball python will go on a "hunger strike" and stop eating for an extended period. These hunger strikes can last months and can be frustrating. Continue offering food on schedule and make sure that the temperature and humidity in the cage are within the correct range.

There is no benefit to feeding in a separate container and this practice is more likely to cause stress and defensive behavior than feeding your python in its cage.

Water and Bathing

Water bowls should be large enough for the python to fit in and should be cleaned and changed at least weekly but fresh water daily is ideal. Ball pythons will not drink stale or dirty water and will dehydrate.

Ball pythons do not need to be bathed unless they have made an exceptional mess in their cage. While bathing is considered harmless, it is an unnecessary stress on the animal and should only be done for hygiene.

Humidity

Humidity is most easily controlled by limiting airflow in the cage. A screen lid can be blocked off with foil tape on the outside, aluminum foil, or any other impermeable layer. If blocking the lid, some open area should be left on each end for air exchange. Proper bedding is also important for maintaining humidity in the cage.

A small digital hydrometer can be placed in the cage to ensure that the humidity is within the correct range. A spray bottle can be used to boost humidity or a “humid hide” can be made from a small container filled with moist sphagnum moss can be placed in the enclosure to help the python shed.

Bedding (Substrate)

There are many different substrates available and which one you use depends on the overall climate in your home.

Coco chips - Coco chips are the most often recommended bedding for ball pythons and many other snakes.

Cypress Mulch - Cypress Mulch is readily available and great for maintaining humidity levels, use 2 to 4 inches of it to prevent drying out.

Aspen - Aspen is a great bedding to use if your home is kept humid. It can mold quickly if wet and it can reduce overall humidity in the cage so use only if your home is very humid.

Substrates like reptile carpet, reptile bark, sand, finely ground coco, and gravel should be avoided, they can harm your reptile's digestive tract or provide a poor environment.

Heat

Heating for ball pythons can come from below and/or above but is most effective when coming from below. As nocturnal animals they do not bask in the sunlight but will rest on warm places and absorb "belly heat".

Our recommendation is to use an under-tank heater or heat pad with a thermostat. The heating element should be large enough for the python to fully curl up on but not so large that the python cannot be completely off it. The thermostat is essential because even the smallest heat pad can reach temperatures that can cause burns or heat stroke.

Hides and Clutter

Wild ball pythons are commonly found in savanna or forest environments where they use

the natural plant growth to remain hidden. In captivity, they can be made more comfortable with more places to hide. At the bare minimum, a "warm hide" and a "cool hide" should be offered, one over the heat source and one away from the heat source.

Clutter can be fake leaves, plants, logs, sticks, rocks, or anything that the python can climb over or around. even with lots of clutter, a ball python will often be seen with only its head protruding from a hide, this is a sign of a happy snake.