Ball Python Care Sheet & Ultimate Guide to Ownership

There are several reasons why Ball Pythons are a popular choice when it comes to snake ownership.

First, they come in many different colors, commonly referred to “morphs”. Secondly, Ball Python Care is typically pretty easy.

There aren’t many nuances to owning a Ball Python, making them a great beginner pet snake.

Ball Pythons make GREAT first time snakes for aspiring owners!

In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know when it comes to proper Ball Python care and ownership.

From the best terrarium/enclosure to how humid Ball Pythons prefer their environment… you’ll learn it all right here, right now. Ball Pythons make a great first snake for owners of all ages.

Ball Python Care Sheet Basics & FAQs

At this point, you’re probably wondering if a Ball Python is right for you your kids. Well, here’s some great news: Ball Pythons make a great beginner snake for first time owners. Likewise, they come in many different colors or “morphs” that appeal to more season snake owners.

There are some key piece of info you need to know to ensure proper Ball Python Care. While this breed is often referred to as the most popular kind of captive snake to own, you’ll need to do a bit of research before ownership.

Ball Pythons are easy to maintain and take care of, which is why they are so popular. Plus, they are one of the smaller breeds of python. They don’t get too big, and are fairly docile and shy.

Below are the absolute must-knows when it comes to Ball Python care and ownership.

The Complete Guide to Setting Up the Best Ball Python Enclosure

The right terrarium is key to ensuring the proper Ball Python care. We outlined a few FAQs about general Ball Python terrariums above, now we are going to dive into the specific equipment. Everything you need to know about getting your Ball Python up and running in it’s new home is right here.

You’ll need a few different, key items outlined below.

Ball Python Cage Setup Starter Kit

REPTIZOO Reptile Glass Terrarium 36x18x18

When it comes to caging, REPTIZOO makes a aquality product. This terrarium comes with everything you'll need to get your Ball Python set up in a proper enclosure.

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ReptiChip Premium Coconut Substrate

This is one of our most highly recommended substrate, and is perfect for a Ball Python.

This Ball Python bedding is easy to clean up, doesn't put off an odor, and is sourced from organic materials. Although this substrate isn't required, it comes highly recommended. More below on how often you should change your Ball Python's substrate.

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Zilla Reptile Habitat D├ęcor Shale Rock Den

Ball Pythons enjoy being in cover. In the wild, they spend most of their time curled up in a natural hide. This will do the trick, and feel free to add a few more hides to your Ball Python's terrarium as well.

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a snake house hide
iPower Tank Heat Pad/Digital Thermostat

Ball Pythons don't require a light cycle, so this should do just fine when it comes to a heat source. Make sure you have the properly regulated temperatures, though. More below on what the climate should be for a standard Ball Python cage.

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Exo Terra Water Dish

When Ball Pythons shed, they like to soak in their water bowl for a while to loosen up their dead skin. It's important to have a larger water bowl in general when owning a snake. This bowl should be plenty big enough for your new python to get a get soak and stay hydrated.


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california king snake water bowl
iPower Digital Heat Mat Thermostat Controller for Reptiles

You'll need at least one thermometer for your Ball Python's cage. One side of their cage should be around 90 degrees F and the other should be more ambient, in the range of 76-83 degrees F. These digital thermometers should do the trick & will help you make sure you're giving your snake a comfy living space.

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Fluker's Repta-Clamp Lamp Ceramic with Dimmable Switch

This heat lamp should do the trick for your Ball Python if you choose to go this route. You don't necessarily need a light-emitting bulb, as Ball Pythons don't need a light cycle to survive. Whatever heat source you choose for your Ball Python, be sure to get a thermostat so your Ball Python terrarium is properly heated.

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fluker heat lamp for snakes

That will be everything you need to get set up for your first Ball Python’s enclosure. Keep in mind, these are just the very basic setup items you’ll need to get started. Eventually, you’ll need to incorporate different hides, caves, rocks, and other things into your Ball Python terrarium.

At very least, this will get you off the ground and able to house your new Ball Python! While you don’t need each specific branded product above, it’s recommended to at least get those items in general.

Just to reiterate, we want to give a little more info on our recommended tank for Ball Pythons. It truly is a great terrarium for Ball pythons, and many other snakes for that matter like California King Snakes.

Best Ball Python Tank/Cage:

REPTIZOO Reptile Glass Terrarium,Double Hinge Door with Screen Ventilation Reptile Terrarium 36″ x 18″ x 18″

REPTIZOO makes a solid product, and when it comes to a Ball Python terrarium setup, this one comes highly recommended. It’s got a lot of space, so your new pal has plenty of room to stretch out and grow. Also, the doors open from the front, so this terrarium makes it easy for you to feed your Ball Python. Plus, it comes well ventilated and is very easy to set up. Ball Python enclosures come in many shapes and sizes, and this is the one we think is best.

While we do highly recommend this REPITZOO product for your Ball Python’s terrarium, there are plenty of alternatives out there. From a shoebox with holes in it to a plastic storage container, you can get really creative when it comes to an enclosure for your Ball Python.

Water Habits

Like most snakes, Ball Pythons enjoy water. They enjoy drinking it, soaking in it, and they also enjoy the humidity emitted from the water bowl it self. The latter especially applies to Ball Pythons since they are a tropical snake and prefer more humid climates.

There are a few best practices when it comes to water and proper Ball Python care. Below are the steps you need to take to ensure that your Ball Python stays healthy and enjoys clean, fresh drinking water.

  • Make sure you give your snake plenty of fresh drinking water. We recommend dumping and filling your Ball Python’s drinking dish once every day. The reason is because often times, they like to soak in their dish. They can sometimes defecate in the dish, which makes it a breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Sanitize your Ball Python’s water dish once every 3-4 days. Red slime tends to build up in snake dishes rather quick, and it’s good to wipe it down with a snake-safe sanitizper spray on a regular basis. As for the spray, we highly recommend Carolina Custom Cages Chlorhexidine Solution .
  • Know that your Ball Python will takes regular baths. it’s totally normal for them to do this, but can also be an indicator that something is wrong. You’ll find more info below on why Ball Pythons like to soak in their dish, and what it means if they are in there for too long and are showing other signs.

Snake is Soaking in Water Bowl – What Does it Mean?

It’s COMPLETELY normal for your Ball Python to spend time in it’s water bowl. They like to soak for a number of different reasons, and it’s very important to observe how often and for how long they spend in their water bowl. Below we’ll go over when it’s totally normal for Ball Pythons to soak, and when you should be alarmed about your snake being in it’s water bowl too frequently or for too long.

So just why do Ball Pythons soak in their water dish? Here are the main reasons, the last being rather uncommon:

Reasons Why Ball Pythons Soak in Their Water Dish:

  1. Your Ball Python is getting ready to shed. This is the utmost common reason that Ball Pythons hang soak in their water dish. It’s totally normal, and they should not be disturbed when this process is happening. Give it a few days, and chances are you’ll find skin shed in your Ball Python’s cage. It’s a regularly occurring, natural thing that happens with any snake and with many reptiles. No need to worry if your snake only takes temporary soaks in it’s water dish. Now, if your Ball Python spends a lot of time in it’s dish and does not shed, it could be due to one of the two reasons below.
  2. Your Ball Python Could be Dry or Overheating. If your Ball Python continues to bask in it’s water dish without shedding, it’s likely too hot or too dry in the terrarium. Be sure you have at least one thermostat, and you may want to get a humidity tester, too. Remember – Ball Pythons like to have a basking temperature of around 88-90 degrees F, an ambient area of 76-83 degree F, and enjoy about 50-60% humidity.
  3. Your Ball Python might have mites. This is absolute worst case scenario. If you’ve followed this guide and kept proper care of your Ball Python, your pet likely doesn’t have mites. However, if you have brought your Ball Python outside and in the grass, or if you brought foreign, un-sanitized objects (like rocks, sticks, branches) into it’s terrarium, there’s a chance it has mites. If this is the case, look up your local specialist veterinarian and give them a call – there are plenty of solutions to ridding your Ball Python of mites.

Recommended Water Dish

Exo Terra Water Dish

Recommended Water Dish for Proper Ball Python Care

Water is an essential part of your Ball Python’s enclosure. The Exo Terra Water Dish is a great option for Ball Pythons of all sizes. It holds plenty of water, and will ensure that your Ball Python is hydrated and has plenty of room to soak.

We find this water dish easy to clean, too. The light colored interior makes water mold and other residue easy to see, which is a huge plus. Snake water bowls can be a breeding ground for slime and bacteria, it’s it’s really nice to be able to easily see any residue that should be cleaned and sanitized.

Ball Python Feeding

Feeding your snake the right meals at the right time is key to ensure the proper Ball Python care. Feeding isn’t difficult with Ball Pythons, and you will have two options when it comes to how and what you feed them. (Hint: the two options are frozen mice and live mice).

If you choose to get an infant Ball Python, you’ll need to change the size of mice you feed it over time. It’s fairly easy to plan out, and we recommend training your Ball Python to feed on frozen mice. Trust us, frozen mice are much easier to manage than live mice. We’ll get to more on that later. In this section we will outline how often to feed a Ball Python, how big of mice to feed a Ball Python, and what type of mice you should feed a Ball Python.

Ball Python Care Pro Tip:

Before buying your Ball Python, ask the breeder about it’s eating habits. Some snakes can have odd eating habits, and checking with the breeder can ensure your get a “normal” eater. Avoid the snakes if the breeder mentions any eating habits that seem sketchy or unusual.

How Often Should You Feed a Ball Python?

The short answer to this question is, “it depends”. While your Ball Python is growing, the best practice is to feed it once every 7 days. You can continue to feed your Ball Python once every 7 days throughout it’s life, too.

That said, if your Ball Python begins rejecting food or seems disinterested in food after it’s full grown, try feeding it every 12-15 days. Snakes have a very slow metabolism, and when Ball Pythons become adults, it’s fairly common to stretch out their feeding frequency with longer periods in between meals.

Note that Ball Pythons usually go through a period of time during the year when they will not eat as much. Although it can be unnerving to the owner of the snake, it’s completely normal for this to happen. Usually, healthy Ball Pythons will eat more sparingly during dry, winter months. Don’t be alarmed if your BP rejects food during this time. Also, try to space out their feeding a little more than normal if your BP rejects food in the winter months. That will give them a chance to build up an appetite.

More about Feeding

Ball Pythons are a rather “thick” snake, and have a good size girth. You can even feed some Ball Pythons crawlers or baby rats at a young age. The right size food really depends on a case-by-case basis, as some Pythons prefer different sized rodents. Rule of thumb, try to feed your Ball Python a rodent that is 1-1.5 times the size of the largest part of your snakes body. Try not to go any smaller than that, because you’ll run the risk of underfeeding your snake.

Another good method to feeding your snake is to feed it based on how much it weighs. Usually, you want each meal to be about 10% of the Ball Python’s total body weight. This is a really convenient way to understand how much to feed a Ball Python because when buying bulk frozen mice, the different available feed sizes are typically broken down by how much they weigh in grams. So if your Ball Python weighs 300 grams, go with large mice/small rats that weight 25-33 grams.

Feeding Your Ball Python Live Mice vs. Frozen Mice

You essentially have two options when it comes to feeding your Ball Python: live mice or frozen mice.

Live Mice

Live mice are one route to go, although you will have to either plan a weekly trip to the pet store or breed your own. It can be done, but it usually more consuming than the alternative. If you don’t have a pet store near you in a convenient location, or you don’t want to have a cage full of mice, steer clear of feeding your snake live ones.

Plus, once you start feeding your Ball Python live mice, it can be difficult to transition them to frozen ones. Lastly, live mice can seriously damage captive Ball Pythons. Why take the risk? Avoid the hassle and potential threat to your snake by opting for frozen mice.

Frozen Mice

We highly recommend starting your Ball Python off with frozen mice as their regular diet. It’s far easier to manage than buying a new live mouse each week. Plus, you can buy frozen mice in large quantities on Amazon. How convenient is that?

Frozen mice are far more manageable than live ones. It’s really a no-brainer.

Recommended Feeding Mice

UG Rodents (Mice Range from Pinkies to Crawler Rats)

UG Rodents has a great product that comes in many different quantities of frozen mice.

When it comes to feeding your Ball Python frozen mice, UG Rodents is a great way to go. They sell a lot of their mice through Amazon, which makes buying your Ball Python’s dinner very convenient.

Plus, you can get quantities of up to 100 frozen mice in one package, which should be enough to feed your snake for years to come.

Proper Handling Best Practices

Ball Pythons are by nature docile and reclusive animals. In the wild, they spend a lot of time hiding out in trees and in enclosures. They are not aggressive, and they have a great tendency to warm up to humans. That’s a big reason why Ball Pythons are such popular pets.

While the breed tends to be friendly, there are a few best practices to note when it comes to handling your Ball Python.

Handle on a Regular Basis

Ball Pythons like to be held, and are normally friendly and docile snakes. To make sure they stay friendly and approachable, it’s best to handle your Ball Python at least a few times a week. This will ensure that your snake becomes comfortable with you and remembers all of your smells.

Be sure to avoid any fast movements when handling your Ball Python. You need to build trust with it, and this breed of snake is typically shy at first. Once you establish trust with the reptile, they will remember you and be more willing to be handled.

Lastly, be aware of your Ball Python’s temperament when tempting to pick him or her up. If it seems abrasive or skeptical, it might be best to leave them be and try again a different day. Below, you’ll find the situations when it’s best to avoid handling your Ball Python.

Ball Python Care Pro Tip:

If you haven’t purchased your Ball Python yet, ask the breeder about the temperament of the different available snakes. Some will likely be more friendly and social than others. It’s best to identify ones that could possibly be mean or aggressive before purchasing. While Ball Pythons are typically less temperamental than other breeds, they are still wild animals.

When to NOT Handle Your Ball Python

Although it’s recommended to handle your Ball Python frequently, there are certain times when it’s best to leave them be. Is your BP acting aggressive, or is resisitent to being picked up? While they love the warm-blooded warmth of your touch, sometimes Ball Pythons like to be left alone.

To ensure proper Ball Python Care, be wary of handling your snakes during the following times:

  1. Right before or after feeding. It’s best to not handle a Ball Python, or any snake for that matter, before or after feeding. Rule of thumb, give them a day before and after feeding before handling again. If you try to pick up your Ball Python too soon after feeding, it could regurgitate as a defense mechanism. Snakes feel vulnerable right after a meal as they are typically slower and more dormant during the digesting period.
  2. When they are about to shed. Has your BP been hanging out in it’s water bowl for a day or so? It’s probably about to shed, and it’s best not to disturb them at this time. Watch for signals that the snake gives you; if it doesn’t seem to want to be held, it’s best not to handle them. Just like after they eat, snakes are vulnerable when they are shedding, too. So it’s best not to spook them.

Read Also:

  • Cute Snakes – Check out 25 of the cutest snakes you’ll ever see

5 thoughts on “Ball Python Care Sheet & Ultimate Guide to Ownership”

  1. My brother loves reptiles and since he is now living alone, he would like to get a snake as a pet. I found it interesting when you said to ask the breeder about the temperament of the different available snakes so that he can pick the most friendly one. I will definitely share this article with my brother so that he can have a better idea of how to take care of a snake.

    Reply
    • Glad to hear you found our article interesting, Derek! Wishing your brother the best, as well as many happy years of snake ownership.

      Reply
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  3. This is really helpful as I want to convince my parents to let me buy a pet snake (I would pay for everything with my own money and birthday money) and I was worried that they would require a bunch of special care and require us to be home every day (we all work a lot and are sometimes gone for a few days at a time) but seeing this let’s me make the right decision for tank size and food as well as what snake to get. Thank you so much for the beautifully written guide!

    Reply
    • Just make sure you plan for the long run! Ball Python’s can live for decades, and it’s super important to have a long term plan to owning one for a pet.

      Reply

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