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Ball Python Snake Care

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(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.

ball-python-life-expectancyOwning 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.

snake-cageOriginally 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.

ball-python-varietiesPythons 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

ball-python-handlingAs 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.

Photo credits: mattmcdole bbum, Viper76, merfer_99

16 comments… add one

  • Matt Mcdole

    Lovely article, and I’m thrilled to have my photo used. 🙂 Great submission choice as well, Gillian. I’ve kept snakes and various other reptiles and amphibians for around 17 years and I’ve converted many “snakes are gross” types to hardcore reptile enthusiasts.A little knowledge goes a long way, and the more people understand animals like these, the less inclined they’ll be to shy away fromt hem.

  • xavier

    i have one snake and i love readed this

  • jaland

    We have been very interested in buying a ball python. Your information was very helpful. It has fully convinced my mom into letting me get one. Thank You

  • ball python care

    my ball python just ate its first rat today! It was smallish tho. Caring for your ball python is so important for having a healthy pet

  • Michael

    thank you for the info i just got a 4 foot ball python and she is great i feed her every two weeks and was wondering if that is too much or too little if you could help me it would be greatly appreciated thank you

    • Judy Wurster

      I have had my ball python for 22 years. Started him on pinkys and gradually graduated to rats. They eat when they are hungry. The younger they are the more they will want to eat. But if they don’t want the rat, don’t force it. Mine has gone as long as two months or more without eating. I offer the rat and if he won’t eat it right away, the rat gets his freedom. I wait three weeks and offer food again. After having him all these years I can tell when he is hungry. He’s more active and follows me as I walk by his terrarium.

  • Gillian Luszik

    I haven’t been on here for a long time. I’m so glad my information has helped people. My personal ball python collection is at 17 right now. And Michael that sounds like a good feeding schedule for a snake of that size.

  • Harvey

    What do they live on at first? What should I pay for a baby? How long should I wait to handle it after buying

  • lindsey

    So a question…i know alot about pythons but one thing i do not
    Know is can the oder of the uric acid or fecal matter harm a baby like there development or anything?

  • Matt McDole


    Every time your python eliminates the feces and urate should be removed along with any substrate it touches. If the animal eliminates in a water bowl the bowl needs to be removed and thoroughly cleaned with an anti-bacterial soap (Dawn or other dish soaps work fine.) Substrate should be changed outas soon as it stops smelling like it did when you put it in. This usually takes a few weeks to a month or two depending on the size of the enclosure and volume of substrate.

    I wouldn’t be concerned so much with retarded development as I would a bacterial or viral infection due to a dirty enclosure. Long story short; if you keep it clean you’ll be fine.

  • Matt McDole


    Sorry for the late reply, I missed your question in my inbox. What you pay is going to depend on who you buy from and what the current market is. I have been out of the game for a while so I can’t give you a good answer here. A few years ago when I left the industry, hatchling CBB Balls went for about $30 American.

    Balls hatch large enough to take rat pinks, and personally I recommend starting there. Rat pinks are harder to get your hands on than mice of any size and they’re considerably more expensive but Ball pythons are notoriously picky feeders and they often refuse to switch to a new prey item when they outgrow mice (which they will do within a year of hatching.)

    Ball Pythons, like any new snake should not be handled until they’ve eliminated, fed, and eliminated again. Don’t handle your new baby until it’s eaten and pooped. Ball pythons stress easily and will often refuse to eat if handled to early, often, or vigorously.

  • Maddie Kocher

    I have a snake and she is the best and if anyone needs any information about them let me know

  • cody

    My ball python has eaten twice so far and I have had no trouble with that but I have yet to find any fecal matter in her tank. should I be concerned?

  • Matt McDole


    I just got a notice in my email about your question, blame the site for the delayed response! Hopefully your critter pooped shortly after your post.

    In the future give your snake a soak in a tub of water that is about 3/4 as deep as the snake is tall and about 85 degrees. Should feel just a hair warm for people and I recommend using a thermometer for a while until you’re confident with testing by touch. Hard to give any more advice without knowing the particulars of your animal (age, size, feeding schedule, prey type.)

  • debbie

    hi im debbie i live in england uk and was wondering if you know where we can get an albino python please

  • Diamond

    I own one it 4 feet longmy son love it they are good with kids but don’t hold them right after eating because they will bit

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