Ball Python Care Sheet: The Complete Guide

Ball Pythons are among the most popular snakes to own as a pet, this is because of their calm and easy to cater for lifestyle.

Before picking up your Ball Python, you’ll need to know how to properly care for them, in this article I’ll explain in detail;

  • Terrarium Requirements
  • Terrarium Setups
  • Ball Python Diet
  • Cleaning Schedules
  • How To Safely Handle Ball Pythons

Species Overview

The Ball Python (Python Regius), also called the Royal Python is native to Western and Central Africa. 

Ball Pythons get their name from their reaction to being afraid or stressed where they coil into a ball shape.

Overview
Lifespan20 – 30 years
Adult Length42” – 79.2”
Adult Weight2lb – 4lb
Temperature & Humidity RequirementsDaytime Temperature: 88°F-92°F Nighttime Temperature: 82°F-85°F Humidity Levels: 50%-60%
DietRats and Mice
VenomousNonvenomous

Terrarium Requirements

When setting up your Ball Pythons terrarium, you’ll need to consider their size and age as this determines the size enclosure you’ll purchase. 

Size and Growth Chart
AgeMale Ball PythonFemale Ball Python
Hatchling: 0-2 Months10” – 16”10” – 16”
Juvenile: 2-36 Months16” – 42”16” – 48”
Adult: 3 Years and Over42” – 50.4”48” – 79.2”

Terrarium Size

Plastic terrariums with only one glass panel at the front for viewing are recommended for pythons, this is because it supplies them with safety and privacy. Pythons don’t appreciate being in view at all times. 

I also recommend ensuring the lid has a sliding door with a locking mechanism to prevent any unwanted escapees.

  • Hatchlings: 10-20 Gallon Terrarium (20” x 11” x 13”)
  • Juveniles: 20-40 Gallon Terrarium (36 x 18” x 18”)
  • Adult: 40-75 Gallon Terrarium (48” x 18” x 21”)

Temperature & Humidity

When setting up your Ball Pythons enclosure, you’ll want to set up a temperature gradient throughout. 

Split the enclosure into three sections cool, ambient, and warm. These sections will have different temperatures from each other;

  • Cool Side: 76°F – 80°F
  • Ambient Temperature: 80°F – 85°F
  • Warm Side: 88°F – 92°F
  • Humidity Levels: 50% – 60%

You can monitor temperature and humidity levels by using a digital thermometer and humidity gauges.

Lighting

Unlike other reptiles, Ball Pythons don’t require UVB exposure, however, they do need lighting to mimic the day/night schedule of the sun. 

Due to their natural habitat being Western and Central Africa, I recommend having a day/night cycle of 12 hours on and 12 hours off.

Substrates

When choosing a substrate for your Ball Python, you’ll need to consider the quality of the material and the amount of cleaning and replacing you’re willing to do as an owner.

I recommend these three substrates because they provide great humidity retention, odor absorption, and are easy to replace and clean.

  • Cypress mulch
  • Reptichip
  • Reptisoil

Cleaning Schedule

Conduct spot checks daily for feces and urine, to prevent mold and bacteria build up within the enclosure.

Substrates within the enclosure will need to be replaced monthly, and the terrarium cleaned with reptile-safe cleaning products. This provides your Ball Python with a clean and healthy environment.

Decoration

When providing decor in your Ball Pythons enclosure, it’s not just to make a pretty aesthetic for you to look at, it’s also to replicate your new pets natural environment. 

Branches

Ball Pythons are semi-arboreal snakes, meaning they spend time within trees and on the ground. So providing objects like thick branches provide enrichment for these reptiles.

I recommend providing one or two strong branches for your snake to slither up, this provides exercise and improves appetite.

Heavy Water Dish

Ball Pythons require a large and heavy dish within their enclosure, they’ll use it for more than just drinking out of. 

Ball Pythons are known to soak within the dish when shedding to help soften the skin and assist them in the process. 

Ceramic or clay dishes are a great use within your Ball Pythons enclosure.

Foliage

Foliage is great for Ball Pythons because they’ll use it to hide when they’re shedding and vulnerable. 

I recommend using artificial foliage like artificial plants, and shrubbery as live plants aren’t strong enough to withstand the weight and power of Ball Pythons.

Hide Spots

The minimum number of recommended hide spots for Ball Pythons is two, however, I recommend putting in as many as you can comfortably fit within the enclosure. You’ll want one on the warm side and the other on the cool side of the enclosure.

As Ball Pythons are crepuscular, meaning in the wild, they’ll spend their time in the day in a burrow hiding away from the sun and predators. 

The smaller the hide spot, the better. This is because typically Ball Pythons feel most comfortable when they’re in smaller enclosed spaces as this means no predator is able to get in.

Ball Python Diet

In the wild, Ball Pythons will wait for their prey to come to them, they’ll never hunt themselves as they’re ambush predators. They will catch their prey in their mouth and quickly coil around constricting them.

What Do Ball Pythons Eat?

Ball Pythons are strictly carnivores, they’ll eat their meals whole in order to get the nourishment they require to survive. Typically they’ll eat small mammals such as rats, mice, and small birds. 

Never feed your Ball Python live prey because rodents are able to cause harm to your pet, it’s always best to feed frozen meals to your pet.

The meal size you feed them depends on the size of your pet. Here is a table showing a guide to the quantity and frequency of meals compared to Ball Python size.

Snake SizeMeal SizeFeeding Schedule
Hatchling8g – 12gEvery 5 days
200g13g – 19gEvery 7 days
200 – 350g20g – 35gEvery 7 days
350g – 500g35g – 50gEvery 10 days
500g – 1500g50g – 150gEvery 14 – 21 days
1500g150gEvery 14 – 21 days

How To Feed A Ball Python

You’ll need to prepare the frozen food for your pet, it isn’t as easy as throwing in a frozen rat into the enclosure. 

  • Remove the meal from the freezer the night before feeding day
  • Place in Ziploc bag
  • Submerge in warm water to heat temperature to 98°F – 100°F 30 minutes before feeding
  • Use tongs to offer the meal to your Ball Python safely

Ball Python Behaviors

Ball Pythons are typically nonaggressive reptiles, however, they’re still animals and have their own unique personalities.

  • Relaxed Ball Pythons will move in a slow and smooth manner.
  • When scared, they’ll coil up into a ball shape and will hiss constantly.
  • Ball Pythons will shed periodically, younger ones will shed as often as every three weeks, whereas adults will only shed once or twice per year.
  • They’ll typically spend most of their time in the hide spots you’ve provided for them within their enclosure.

How To Handle Ball Pythons Safely

Although Ball Pythons are typically nonaggressive, safe practice when handling is always advised to prevent harm to you and your pet.

  1. Wash your hands
  2. Gently touch your Ball Pythons back to let them know you’re there
  3. Lift from the mid part of their body with confidence and purpose, bringing them to your body
  4. Allow your snake to slither around your arms wherever you and your pet feel comfortable
  5. Keep handling sessions short, 5 – 10 minutes whilst building the bond between you and your Ball Python which can be lengthened to 30 minutes

When Not To Handle Ball Pythons

There are times you shouldn’t handle your pet, and these are;

  • When they’ve just arrived in their new enclosure, wait 1 – 2 weeks to allow them to acclimatize
  • During the shedding process
  • After they’ve had their meal, wait 24 hours to prevent regurgitation from occurring

What To Do If A Ball Python Bites You

As Ball Pythons are nonvenomous, there is nothing to panic about if you’re bitten by one, however, it will still hurt and sometimes they’ll not let go instantly. 

To release a Ball Python from you if you’ve been bitten, gently hold their head and pull it forward. This is because their fangs are rear-facing and if pulled back in a panic, this could potentially dislodge their teeth and cause them pain and likely infections.

Ball Python Keeper Tips

  • Keep a record of their weight, feeding habits, shedding, and behaviors to monitor their health and wellbeing
  • Have a reptile first aid kit in case of injury
  • Have a Reptile veterinarian experts contact information
Youtube Channel: Snake Discovery – How To Care For Ball Pythons

Summary

Ball Pythons are great pets for beginner and experienced reptile keepers, their long lifespan provides a companion for up to 30 years.

Following the information I have provided in this article, you’ll be able to provide a fruitful and happy life for your Ball Python.