Dealing with a pet Ball Python bite is stressful and shocking. As a snake owner, you should expect this to happen.
That said, it’s not a great feeling when your loving Ball Python strikes you, your friends, or your loved ones.
The good news is that Ball Python bites are generally harmless and otherwise painless.
It’s more panic-inducing than anything else. If the proper steps are taken, the worst that will happen is a few drops of blood and a band-aid.
With that in mind, snake bites are typically a big fear to a lot of people. So, when a bite occurs, it can shake some people up and cause them to panic.
If you own a Ball Python, you should take heed to a few steps so you know what to do if a bite occurs.
Interested in owning a Ball Python? Check out our ultimate guide to Ball Python ownership to learn more.
What It Feels like to Get Bit
Ball Python bites typically don’t hurt at all.
Again, the mental shock of getting bit by a snake is usually more harrowing the the pain from the bite.
The best thing to do if you get bit is remain calm.
When a bite occurs, you’ll feel a pressure and squeeze in the afflicted area.
The grasp of a Ball Python bite is surprisingly strong, and the pressure from the bite is often more alarming than the damage that happens because of the bite.
Read on to see what exactly you should do if a Ball Python bites you or someone you are with.
What To Do When a Ball Python Bite Happens
Keep in mind, I am in no way a doctor.
If a bite happens and you are concerned it could become infected, you should absolutely consult a doctor for treatment.
With that said, here’s what you should do if a bite happens.
First, do not panic.
Becoming frantic, anxious, and scared will only make things worse. Animals, especially snakes, can pick up on emotions, and this will cause them (and you) more stress during an incident.
Just remember, Ball Python bites are not serious and generally painless all things considered.
But, a bite can quickly become very painful if you don’t take the proper steps when it happens.
If the Ball Python bites you and latches on, DO NOT YANK it off.
Ball Python teeth are angled backwards, so they can latch on to prey more easily.
If you yank a Ball Python off of you, it will make the bite much worse and cause you more pain because you’ll likely rip more of your skin off by doing so.
Plus, you can also damage your Ball Python’s teeth by yanking it off.
Ball Pythons are known to latch on when they bite.
This is because they are non-venomous, constricting snakes. When they attack their prey, they bite into them and constrict to kill.
Removing a Latched On Ball Python
If you’re dealing with a latched on Ball Python there are three things you can try:
- Give the snake a minute to calm down and unlatch. Sometimes, they are stressed, hungry, or agitated when they bite humans. They often will realize that you are not prey, and therefore it is not worth staying latched on to you.
- Pour ice cold water over the latched on area. If the snake remains latched on, grab the coldest water you can find and dump it over the bite area. That should do the trick and make the Ball Python uncomfortable enough to unlatch.
- Pour vodka, whiskey, or alcohol over the latched on area. Although you’ll feel a slight sting, this is known to be a very effective way of removing a Ball Python that has bitten and latched on to you.
Treating a Ball Python Bite
Just to clarify, you should visit a doctor to get recommended medical advice.
This treatment recommendation is based on experience alone, and if you’re worried about potential harm to your body from a snake bite or any other injury, consult a doctor.
Moving on from the disclaimer – here’s what you should do after a bite occurs.
First, Ball Pythons are not venomous.
You likely will not have to worry about a hospital visit, or anything of the sort.
After removing the snake from the bitten person, it’s best to wash the wound immediately with soap and water, then treat it with an anti-septic.
Neosporin, rubbing alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide should all do the trick.
Once washed and treated, bandage the wound (if needed or if skin is broken) and move on with your life.
Seriously though, Ball Python bites are nothing to worry about when you treat them properly.
Ball Python Teeth. How Many Do They Have?
Believe it or not, Ball Pythons do have teeth.
Quite a lot of teeth, actually.
The exact amount truly depends on the age and size of the snake. Now, there’s a difference between fangs and teeth.
Ball Pythons do not have fangs, and are not venomous at all.
Typically, only venomous snakes have fangs that inject venom into attacked prey. On the other hand, many non-venomous snakes have teeth, including Ball Pythons.
Ball Python teeth are small, barb-like, and very sharp. They are all faced backwards toward the body of the snake. This helps with two things:
- Ball Python teeth are barb-like and face backward. This helps them latch on to prey while striking and constricting. Because they face backwards, that allows Ball Pythons to hold prey more firmly as they are constricting them.
- The teeth facing backward also helps swallow and digest the food once a Ball Python constricts and kills it’s prey.
Now, just how many teeth do Ball Pythons have? On average, Ball Pythons have about 25-35 teeth.
The teeth are all closely aligned in the roof and the bottom jaw. There are nearly double the amount of teeth on the top row vs. the bottom row in the mouth of a Ball Python.
Ball Pythons have 4 rows of teeth on the roof of their mouth, and 2 rows on the bottom part of their jaw.
Now do you get why it’s best not to yank a Ball Python off of you in case it bites and latches on?
All those little jagged teeth could do some serious damage if you try to force remove a latched on Ball Python.
Are Ball Pythons Venomous/Poisonous?
Well first, snakes are not poisonous. Saying this can be a sore spot for many folks, and will likely stir up debate depending on who you’re speaking with.
Since snakes ‘inject’ their deadly liquids, they are technically ‘venomous’.
Poisonous creatures/plants don’t have any method of injection.
Rather, their poison is typically on the surface of some protrusion or area.
Think Poison Ivy.
In any case, Ball Pythons are not poisonous or venomous, nor are any other species of snake that fall under the Pythonidae family.
So if you’re bitten, don’t worry.
There’s no muscle debilitating side-effects that will happen, and you will certainly not have to rush to the hospital for anti-venom.
While they aren’t venomous, Ball Pythons can sometimes have harmful bacteria in their mouths.
So, if a bite occurs, it’s still important to wash and treat the wound — especially if their has been a puncture and blood is drawn.
Two Most Common Times Ball Python Bites Occur
First things first, Ball Python bites from captive snakes rarely ever occur. It’s very uncommon that these snakes will bite you or someone handling them.
Now, there are some times when you should be more wary of disturbing Ball Pythons, as these are the most common times bites occur.
Below, you’ll see the exactly when you should avoid handling your Ball Python to prevent biting or striking.
Before or After Feeding Time
Most snakes are ornery when they are hungry and it’s close to feeding time. Consequently, snakes and Ball Pythons are typically vulnerable and defensive right after feeding, too. It’s best to avoid handling your Ball Python all together before and after they eat. Ball Pythons, and many other snakes for that matter, tend to strike during these times.
You should wait until the snake has had a bowel movement or the lump from feeding is no longer visible before handling again. This will reduce the chances of the snake being defensive and hence biting and latching onto a human.
During the Shedding Process
Snakes also become defensive around the times they are shedding. There are a few key giveaways that you will notice that indicate your Ball Python is ready to shed. First, if they are hanging out in their water bowl more than normal, they are preparing to shed. Second, if you see their eyes are turning blue, this is a dead giveaway that the are about to shed.
Ball Pythons will be come defensive during these times, too. It’s best to wait until a day or so after shedding to handle again. Sometimes, fresh snake skin can be sensitive, and they do not wish to be handled during this time.
Picking Up Warning Signs
It’s pretty easy to tell when your Ball Python is getting ready to strike you. Often times, they will strike when being picked up from their terrarium.
All reptiles have emotions, and there are some clear warning signs you can pick up on. One of the most noteworthy emotions a Ball Python can have is the strike position.
It’s a distinct stance that many snakes take when they are aggressive and about to attack.
Here’s what a Ball Python looks like when it is getting ready to strike:
That’s the exact pose most Ball Pythons make before getting ready to strike. More often than not, they will only make this pose when getting ready to eat.
If you see your Ball Python coiled up like this, avoid handling and try again later. This is a way of your pet telling you, “Not now. Don’t touch me”.
Best Way to Prevent Biting
- Handle your Ball Python regularly so they become familiar with human touch and your personal smells
- Feed you Ball Python on a regimented schedule
- Avoid handling before and after feeding
- Avoid handling before and after shedding
- Keep an eye out for warning signs and snake body language that indicate it’s going to bite you
- Make sure whoever is handling the Ball Python is confident and calm
- If someone is nervous and jumpy, do not let them handle the snake. Ball Pythons pick up on nerves, and it can in turn make them defensive and more aggressive
- Avoid handling your Ball Python in large crowds, areas with loud noise or heavy vibrations (think music bass), and in areas that other unusual or unfamiliar stimuli
Overall, you should be fine if you are bitten by your Ball Python. Ofcourse, we hope it never happens, but it is unfortunately part of the joys of snake ownership.
Just remember, if you do get bitten, don’t panic. Gently remove your python, wash the bitten area with soap and water, and most importantly, make sure your Ball Python is OK!
44 thoughts on “Ball Python Bite – Does It Hurt? What You Need To Know”
This helped a lot because my sister has a ball python and this is her first time handling it and we already have done lots of research on picking them up but we needed to be aware about the snake biting and this helped a lot and we will be very careful and follow these instructions/rules
Glad you found my blog post helpful, and happy to hear your sister is a proud new Ball Python owner!
Remember – snakes can sense if you’re feeling hesitant or scared to pick them up. Just be confident, and you and your sister will get used to handling her in no time!
ty for the amazing article. It is really helpfull and I have been reasearching my new ball python for about 2-3 month’s and I still wasn’t sure about this topic. (BTW I got most of my information at https://www.youtube.com/user/NCNatureNews which is goherping)
My friend yanked his Ball Python off my leg and I still have a mark to prove it.
The bite doesn’t hurt. It’s when you stupidly yank the snake off it hurts.
The bite really isn’t that bad. I pretty much read this article while my ball python was latched to my arm! Being calm is key.
Glad to hear you’re ok! And I agree – the bite isn’t that bad for most. It might be more traumatic to others, though. I also 2nd that being calm is key during a bite of any kind.
I just bought a banana ball python for my daughter 13th birthday and just wanted to say thank you for the
Fantastic choice! Banana Ball Pythons are a great beginner snake, and are a beautiful species/morph. I wish your daughter many happy years of ownership!
Hello would that be the same for a Ghost Ball Python? We are beginners as well.
I just bought a banana ball python for my daughter 13th birthday and just wanted to say thank you for the info
This was really helpful because am in high school think about becoming a reptile keeper and handling all types of snake and other reptiles
I have had my Firebee for almost a year, had her since she was a hatchling. tonight was my first time getting bit. She latched on for a good amount of time but staying calm she eventually finally let go. I’m fine and will pick her up again tomorrow so she has time to not be as stressed. 😁
i read this article when the snake was biting my stomach because i had him there and he was sleeping but i wanted to move so i tried to set him down and he bit me. im all good though! thanks for the advice! poured a cup of cold water on him and he came right off! <3
Glad to hear you’re ok, Ana! Sometimes Ball Pythons get a little stressed — he was probably just spooked. Good move with the cold water — that’s a great way to get them off when the Ball pythons latch on.
Just picked up 2 ball pythons and the one bite me as soon as I picked it up. Didn’t hurt but the shock was overwhelming. These are babies too. I have a 3.5foot cinnamon ball Python at home and the place we got her said she bites and I’ve never been bit by her. I’m just in shock because I’ve had snakes for awhile and never been bitten!!
It’s unnerving when it happens!
Just remember, they’re probably just scared. Typically, they will grow more fond of you over time and become more comfortable being handled.
I have a banana python hatchling he never comes from his hide and is always in the striking position how do I get him use to human contact if he never comes out of his hide and to stop striking
Sorry to hear that. Ball Pythons are timid by nature, and often times they like to stay hidden. Give it time — hatchlings can show aggression because they aren’t used to you yet. When handling your snake, be sure you’re confident. Just go right in and pick him up. If you hesitate or are jumpy, they can sense that. In my experience, the more frequently you handle them, the more familiar they become with you.
Wish you the best of luck, and hopefully your little guy will stop striking as much!
Im glad the author replied. I would just like to add, personally, with hatchlings, I like to allow them time to adjust before picking them up. Normally for about 2ish weeks (depends on where I bought it, I judge the time based on how ell the sore is maintined as far as cleanlyness and animal care- poor thing could have had a rough life until getting to you) After said time- before taking it out, I like to give it a few days with me just touching it, and allowing my hand in its home. Just to allow that “Hey, hes not trying to hurt me” felling. After that though I go in and handle it as any other of my adults. —- I cant say for sure as im not a vet nor a “keeper” I just really like my snakes- I tend to treat them more like dogs- I believe Snakes can build a bond with their owners (I might be crazy though) but this seems to work for me and i can count on one hand how many times I got bit. I will however point out that if you do JUST go in EXPECT to be bit, not that you will but expect it. Dont worry it sounds way worse than it is. Just stay calm, be confidant.
Couple points from a medical perspective:
With any skin break, cleaning with lots of (clean) water is probably most important. With a snake bite, it should be soap and water. Most people seem to recommend antiseptics, alcohol, peroxide, and/or antibiotic ointments but most of what I have read in the medical literature (including the CDC) emphasizes soap and water.
Also after a bite it is generally recommended to get a tetanus booster if you haven’t had one in 5 years. You have a couple days to get that, so no need to rush to the emergency room for that.
Should I be worried about my snake? I dropped the mouse during feeding and reached in to get it, the snake struck me instead. He latched onto my knuckle and then let go about 10 seconds later. He finally struck the mouse but then he didn’t eat it. Could he have gotten hurt? Was he maybe just not into the mouse?
Not to worry! This is normal. Your ball python likely got confused, bit your hand, and was stressed after that happened.
Try feeding him in a few hours, or maybe even a day later.
My 14 yr old has had her snake for 2 years and we were surprised last night when it bit her for the first time and even more so that the bite left little bloody dots on her finger. We didn’t even realize it had teeth! After reading your article I think she might have attempted to get her out of terrarium to feed her too soon after shedding. I think this was an eye opener to really pay attention and be respectful to their mood and body language. Thanks for the info!
omg this blog is so helpful!
i just bought a usual ball python and it’s fun.
thanks for making this blog.such a great sharing.cheers!
Hi, thanks for this article. I hope it will never come handy, however you never know, especially with snakes crazy small kids in the house.
Always support your ball python s body and avoid fast movements. Once a ball python realizes that you will not hurt it they often seem to enjoy being handled. Some ball pythons may try to hide when handled and occasionally there are ones that may even bite due to excessive fear. These ball pythons may require a bit more time to settle in and establish trust. A ball python s bite is a superficial wound. If a snake looks like it is going to strike, it is best to not handle it. Relax when holding your animal sit down and give the animal a chance to settle.
Just bought a Ball Python for my 17 yr old grandson. We’re trying to get him/her used to us, and found your information to be incredibly helpful. Thanks!
Along with your snake s needs for a terrarium and a heated one, they will need a substrate at the bottom of their enclosure. It is advised to provide a substrate in your snake s tank so that when it is time to clean, it will be easy and not much of a hassle. It also makes your snake comfortable.
Ball python bites do hurt (temporarily), I got bitten today 21-05-20 for no reason (just by taking out her water bowl). She’s unpredictable in comparison to my male python, he’s never taken a swipe at me. This isn’t the first attempt she has taken a swipe at me. I’ve decided to donate her to a reptile sanctuary as I don’t like her unpredictability and she’s not saleable.
We have a 38 year old 4 foot ball python that was given to us 2 years ago by someone who could no longer keep it. He’s an absolute doll, and the previous owner said he has never bitten anyone BUT one time when he went to put a rat in the terrarium the snake got confused and tried to strike at his hand. Thankfully he missed, and found and ate the rat. That’s totally understandable. However right now he has a bit of a case of scale rot we are treating. We saw a reptile vet who gave us a wash which we gently rub on for a few minutes, leave for ten and then clean off with wet paper towels gently. Then a silver sulfate ointment, and every three days a shot we administer. I’m worried because he is getting ready to shed. He’s never been aggressive before or after shedding in the past, even when we “help him” at the end of it by letting him swim in an inch of water in the bathtub to remove it from his eyes, etc. But this treatment will also go on until he needs to eat in a couple of weeks. Should we suspend treatment during these times?
Wow — 38 years old? That is incredible. For this specific case, I would highly recommend reaching out to the vet who gave you the wash and ask for advice. Hope everything turns out ok.
I was absolutely comfortable with my ball python, I felt love towards it but today it bit me so this has really helped but now I’m too scared of him 🙁
oh no! sorry to hear that. unfortunately, its part of snake ownership… sometimes, it happens. just know it was nothing personal! as long as you’re confident and don’t handle your ball python around feeding/shedding time, you shouldn’t have anything to be worried about.
I have been caring for a beautiful ball python for about 3 months now. I have an opportunity to keep her if I want. Ive been trying to interact with her frequently so she gets used to me. A couple of days ago, she was very lethargic, litterally laying sagged over my arms. I wet down her case and warmed it up a little bit and she was far more active today. She seems to love when I have my front door open, she at very least pops her lil snout out of her hut to see what’s up, but most often, she is out of her hut and exploring the whole side of her case nearest to the door. Today I got her out and was holding her while I sat on the porch. She was very active. She was looping herself in knots around me and seeming snuggling with me. She would nuzzle her head against my hand and I was able to pet her head without her recoiling as she doesn’t usually like it. Then, all of a sudden, out of no friggin where…she bit me! Not a warning strike, mouth wide open, latched on for about 7-8 minutes, blood coming from the wound, bit me. After calling her father, he instructed me to wiggle her tail. I did and she instantly released me and curled into herself.
The bite is fine, as you mentioned the shock and trauma of the bite is worse than the bite itself. I was able to somehow stay calm and get it taken care of without causing further damage to me or any damage to the snake.
So my question is…where did I go wrong here?
I am absolutely terrified of snakes, but I love this one and I am not anxious with her until something new happens. The first time I saw her yawn, I about wet myself. Now with this bite thing, im worried I won’t make a good snake mom for her. 🙁
Oh no! That sounds pretty traumatic. My guess is your snake sensed some kind of predator since it sounds like you were outside. Had you fed her recently? They may have also sensed some prey around, too. If that’s the case, and she was hungry, she may have been agitated that there was food near by and was being restricted.
In any case, it unfortunately happens sometimes. I’d suggest not bringing her outside for a while, and when you do, make sure she’s been fed recently. It’s common for people to be scared after a bite. If possible, handle her just like you would before the bite — if you’re hesitant or nervous, she will DEFINITELY notice and mirror those behaviors. Be confident and calm, and take all the precautions outlined in this article. Hope it all works out!
My daughter has had her ball for 4 years he was a baby when she got him. He’s always been the sweetest thing for 3 years he never even struck at a person. Until he escaped and was loose in the house for 2 weeks. Once we found him it’s like a completely different ball. He’s aggressive he strikes at you just for walking by and we don’t feed him in his enclosure so whenever we have to feed him we put on an oven mit because he strikes without fail every time . So obviously my daughter is scared to death to handle him now and she’s heartbroken because she used to always have him out. What can we do if all we have to do is walk by him? Please help I don’t want to have to rehome him but I feel so bad for his quality of life with us if he can’t be held and just lives in his enclosure. HELP PLEASE!!!
Hi there, sorry to hear about this situation! First, I’d give it some time. Your snake is probably in shock, because it’s never experienced anything like that in it’s life before. Try to approach him slowly and with caution at first, and try to test out handling him every other day or so. If this doesn’t work —
How big is your enclosure? It may be time to upgrade your Ball Python’s tank, sounds like he could be frustrated due to a small home.
At the end of the day, it could be any number of reasons. Maybe your snake contracted some kind of mites when he escaped. May be worth a vet visit if the issue persists.
Best of luck, and don’t lose hope in your Ball Python!
So I was gone for 2 weeks on a trip to California. And I had one of my other friends who owns a few snakes, feed my snake while I was absent. Now my snake typically eats 2 or 3 mice every week on Wednesday’s. Well I got a phone call from my friend saying she would only eat one mouse out of the 3. He tried again the next day and she didn’t eat anything.
I just got home and it’s feeding day so as usual I decided to feed her. She isn’t letting me handle her, she is striking at me and hissing (pushing the air out of her body). I gave her 2 mice and she ate both but when I sat in front of her as usual to give her company while she ate, she struck at me and every time I walk past her she struck at me. I have never been bitten, and I’m scared to start now. I feed her in a drawer and I put the drawer by her enclosure and she went in on her own. I don’t understand what’s wrong. Now both of her lights went out while I was gone as well but where I live the humidity is perfect but her heat is a little low.
Do you maybe have any insight????
I’m not going to lie to anyone here being bit does hurt. My ball but when when he was only two months when I was feeding him. I’m not going to lie i geeked. I screamed bloody murder it was the pressure and him moving his jaw around that hurt the most.
But it was my fault I was being stupid and holding him after I put the mouse down and he thought my thumb looked tasty. But he did eventually let go. Was I skiddish around him for the next couple of weeks absolutely. But it comes with owning a snake, it’s not an if it’s a when.
Don’t be scared afterwards just try not to make the same mistake.
This article was really helpful. I have recently developed an interest in snakes. I have been doing some research on snake bites. This is quite an informative piece on ball pythons bite. Keep up the good work. Thank you.
Ive had my ball python for about 6 months. He’s a year old. Has always been very docile and sweet. Loves being handled and has never startled. I’ve been feeding him rat pups weekly. Today I went to handle him and could tell him demeanor was strange but went against my own instinct and reached for him because I’m so trusting of him. He struck and immediately released. I then fed him another rat pup and he took it immediately! Turns out it’s time to up his feed size. I still trust him, just wondering how he mistook my scent for his prey.
hey there ! i’ve been thinking of getting my own ball python, and i found out that there’s quite a bit of requirements. about how much do you spend on a ball python and it’s accessories?
Hi there! Thanks for writing in :). If you’re looking to see how much they cost, we have a full pricing and care guide. You can see the pricing guide here, and the ball python care guide here.