Do you have allergies to pet dander? Here’s some great news: Reptiles are hypoallergenic for those who suffer from pet hair allergies!
(Albino Ball Python – Royal Pythons, Python Regius)
Ball Pythons are often called starter snakes because of their very calm disposition. They are typically easy to handle and not inclined to strike. (A baby may be slightly nippy until it gets accustomed to being held, but once the snake reaches 12 inches long, it will not be inclined to nip.) Ball Pythons make great pets for all ages. Of course as with any animal, children should always be supervised when interacting with a snake. Because any reptile can carry Salmonella, be sure to wash your hands after each handling.
Pythons are a relatively low maintenance pet and do not cost much to care for after the initial purchase and set up. In feeding 5 Ball Pythons, I spend about $40 a month — that is less than it costs to take care of one dog for a month. Cleaning their enclosure is relatively simple, too: take a paper towel and remove the fecal matter and uric acid as needed, and clean the entire enclosure every 3-4 weeks.
Owning a Ball Python is not a small commitment for the pet owner though, as the Ball Python can live to be over 20 years old — sometimes even up to age 40. Deciding to bring a Ball Python into your home is a long-term commitment.
Ball Pythons are mid-sized snakes growing anywhere from 3 to 6 feet in length, although 6 feet is very rare. As all reptiles do, this Python sheds it skin as it grows, every 2-3 weeks when young, and then less frequently as it reaches adult size.
Originally from the heat of Africa (specifically Ghana), these Pythons will spend much of their time in a hide cave which must be provided for them. A 40 gallon tank is sufficient for one adult Python. Include in their enclosure a hide cave, a water dish big enough for the snake to submerge itself in, and if you desire, decor for the snake to climb on such as mopani drift wood (sold in most pet stores). Their tank enclosure will need to stay between 85-90 degrees during the day and about 78-82 at night. These temperatures can be obtained by using light fixtures, but I recommend under-tank heaters.
Ball Pythons do not drink much water because they produce urine in a solid form called uric acid to conserve moisture. This is a natural adaptation to living in dry, desert areas. Yet the water in their enclosure must be clean when they do drink or soak to prevent health problems; therefore, provide fresh water daily.
Pythons can be fed frozen thawed (f/t) or live feeders. I feed my five Ball Pythons live without incident. Many Ball Pythons refuse f/t food. Generally speaking,
- A baby Ball Python will eat mice fuzzies or rat pinkies once or twice a week
- At 6-8 inches: mice fuzzies or rat pinkies twice a week
- At 12 inches long: one rat pup a week
- At 18 inches long: a smaller adult mouse once a week
- At 24 inches long: an adult mouse every week
- At 36 inches long: 2 adult mice every two weeks
- At 48-60 inches long: 3 adult mice every 3-4 weeks
As with most snakes, the Ball Python has very few health issues and any issue that might crop up is most likely to be a symptom of inadequate housing or sanitary conditions. Mouth rot and scale rot are common in Ball Pythons whose enclosures and water are not cleaned on a regular basis. Respiratory infections are also common in snakes that are not kept warm enough or in clean habitats. As long as their water and enclosure are kept clean, the snake is fed enough, and the enclosure is kept warm enough, you should not have any health problems.
This pet-care article was written by Gillian Luszik and edited by Puppies Are Prozac. Gillian breeds Bearded Dragons, Ball Pythons, and Crested Geckos. She also owns Dumerils Ground Boas, Red Tails Boas, and a Macklott’s Python. Gillian is currently attending college for herpetology with plans to go to veterinary school.