Ball Python Captive Care
see anapsid.org for detailed care sheets
"Ball pythons (Python regius) are found at the edges of the forest lands of Central and Western Africa. They are equally comfortable on the ground and in trees. They are crepuscular, active around dawn and dusk. Called royal pythons in Europe, here in the United States we call them "balls" due to their habit of curling themselves up into a tight ball when they are nervous, their heads pulled firmly into the center. Like most pythons, ball pythons are curious and gentle snakes.
Ball pythons typically reach 4 feet (1.2 m) in length; occasionally there are specimens that reach 5 feet (1.5 m). When properly fed, their bodies become nicely rounded. Like all pythons and boas, ball pythons have anal spurs. These single claws appearing on either side of the vent are the vestigial remains of the hind legs snakes lost during their evolution from lizard to snake millions of years ago. Males have longer spurs than do the females; males also have smaller heads than the females. "
|Basic Requirements |
- Temperature gradient ranging from 85F (low end) to 90F (high end), nighttime drops into the mid 70's.
- Use thermometers to accurately gauge the temps.
- NEVER use a hot rock
- Provide clean water at all times. This will usually provide enough humidity, and you might often see your snake bathing in it.
- I use a Rubbermaid container with a hole cut in the top to provide the snake a sense of security. My biggest female stays in her water dish ALOT and hasn't had any problems yet.
- Hide Boxes
- Your snake will need somewhere it can "hide" in order to feel secure and lead a stress free life. The absence of stress is vital to its health.
- A plastic flower pot base with an appropriate sized opening cut into one side works very well.
- If you choose to make a "natural" looking vivarium for your snake, make sure that you research the snake's place of origin in order to make a natural vivarium that mimics the snake's natural surroundings.
- I use newspaper on my larger snakes, and plain paper towels on my smaller ones. I find it easy to clean, and messes are very easy to notice at a glance.
- If you prefer to use a "natural" type substrate, again research the serpentís natural local for the appropriate type.
- If you cannot AVOID BARK or any other types of SHAVINGS, them you need to feed the snake in a SEPARATE enclosure. Bark and wood chips can easily be ingested by the snake during feeding, causing serious or FATAL problems. (Use only untainted aspen shavings as cedar, redwood, and possibly pine are toxic)
- One of the first things people naturally want to do with their new snake is to handle it. Ideally, the snake shouldn't be messed with in any sort for a week or two. This gives the snake plenty of time to accommodate to it's new surroundings and begin to feel secure. Try and give it as much time as possible to make the adjustment. Most serpents can live in excess of 10 years, so there'll be plenty of time for handling in the future.
- You also need to watch for parasites and/or worms in the stool of the herp. And be sure to Quarantine any new acquisitions for 90 days to avoid the spread of disease.
- I feed my snakes pre-killed whenever possible.
- Balls can be quite picky eaters. If I have a problem getting a ball to feed on pre-killed, then I resort to fresh killed. If they won't eat fresh killed, or if we have just got a snake that appears overly stressed (i.e. rescues fall in this category alot....) I go with stunned gerbils.
- Inclusion Body Disease
- You need to be aware of this!!!
- I have ripped the following directly from anapsid.org.
Inclusion body disease (IBD) is a virus that affects boas and pythons (boids). It is always fatal in pythons. Unfortunately, the lust to sell has overcome common sense in private breeders as well as pet stores and wholesalers, and an increasing number of boas and pythons are being sold who are infected with this virus.
- Always spend a considerable amount of time observing boids before you buy them, especially at pet stores. Even reptile specialty stores have been selling infected stock so buying from such stores is no guarantee that you are buying an uninfected/unexposed snake. Don't buy a boid because you feel sorry for it, because it looks sick and the store isn't providing proper care for it - you may lose every boid you own.
- Always observe strict quarantine procedures when bringing in a new boid into your house if you already have other boids. IBD may take several months to manifest itself. Owners have reported their new snakes showing signs as little as one month after acquiring hatchlings to well over one year after acquiring a new boid.
- Always have boids who are not acting well (loss of appetite, regurgitating meals, mouthrot, respiratory infection, contorted body positions, stargazing) seen by a reptile vet as soon as possibly after symptoms are noticed. Warn the vet before coming in that it may be IBD so they may take precautions to reduce exposure to other boids who may be in their office at that time.
- Remember that it doesn't require snake-to-snake contact to spread the disease. You may unwittingly spread it by handling other snakes without first thoroughly washing your hands. Viruses are airborne - think twice about taking your snakes to places where they will encounter snakes belonging to people who may not be taking proper precautions.