The Ultimate Guide To Ball Python Care

 The Ultimate Guide To Ball Python Care

What Do I Need To Take Care Of A Ball Python?


Ball pythons are extremely popular for their docile temperament and easy maintenance. All that is needed is a terrarium, lighting, substrate, food, and water. 



The more popular way to house your ball python is with a terrarium. When picking the size of a terrarium, you need to get something that is one times more than the length of your snake.


Ball pythons typically like small places to hide in as well, so a large terrarium will be unnecessary. You want your snake to be able to move around easily with plenty of room to slither. A 30-40 gallon tank will be large enough for a fully grown adult ball python. 



The substrate is another important aspect of the terrarium. Snakes need a lot of humidity and a substrate that can hold some moisture is essential. Ball pythons are also fairly clean animals and a loose substrate will be easy to clean with too.


A porous substrate like mulch will be able to retain moisture for humidity. Aspen shavings are also a nice substrate because the shavings are easy to clean and replace. 



Ball pythons are cold-blooded animals and will be reliant on you to provide heat. A ceramic heat bulb over a basking spot will be perfect for a ball python. In the enclosure, you need to provide a warm side and a cooler side. 


The basking side needs to be between 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit. The cool side needs to be between 77-82 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything less than 77 is too low. You can have a thermometer plugged in with the heat lamp to accurately know the temperature. 




Ball pythons will eat mice and rats their whole lives. You can do a live feeding or give them a frozen rat that has been thawed in warm water. Both methods work, but it will depend on your python’s preference. I have successfully done both live and frozen feedings with my snake. 


A ball python needs to be fed once a week and the size of their food matters too. For younger and smaller pythons, a large rat is going to be way too big. Baby pythons need a small mouse. Once they start to become longer and thicker, you can gradually start feeding them larger meals. The meal needs to be the same size as the largest part of the snake’s body.


Any live rodents that you put in the terrarium also need to be attended. They can bite your python and cause some serious injuries. This is another reason why I prefer the frozen and thawed food method. 


Live feeding is fairly easy. Your snake can hunt and approach their food that way. Frozen and thawed feedings can be difficult at first because your snake wants to hunt and eat something that is moving. I personally use tongs to make the rat move around and catch my snake’s attention. The movement attracts him to his food and then he strikes. 


Don’t be surprised if your ball python is not eating as much during the winter. They typically don’t eat often during the winter.


Fresh water needs to be provided every couple of days for your snake. If you notice that it is dirty before then, change it right away. 

Terrarium Accessories


Providing a hiding place for your ball python is very important because they enjoy having places to hide. They are going to spend most of their time in the dark because it gives them a sense of security. A hide needs to be provided on both sides of the terrarium as well. 


Too many hides or too many accessories in the terrarium can cause a lot of crowding issues and be stressful for your python as well. 



Ball pythons have a reputation for being very sweet and docile. This is why they are a very popular snake to have. They can still become stressed or defensive at times and not want to be handled at the moment.


A snake should not be handled right after it ate food. You need to wait two days after feeding to play with your snake. Anything earlier will risk digestive problems and regurgitation. 


Handling during shedding is also not safe for your snake. Shedding is an uncomfortable process and the last thing they want is to be handled. 


There is not a specific number of times you can or can’t handle your snake. It all depends on their personality or mood that day. If they are agitated, it is best to leave them alone.


They will form an “S” shape with their bodies if they are defensive. Otherwise, you can handle your snake as much as you want. A couple of times a week of handling is the perfect amount to keep your snake socialized. 



Shedding is a normal behavior of ball pythons. When trying to help your snake shed, you need to make sure the humidity in the tank is at an appropriate level. You’ll know when your snake is going to shed when their stomach starts to turn pink and their coloring will dull. Their eyes will also look milky.


After shedding, their eyes will clear up and be back to normal. How often your snake sheds depends on their age. They typically shed every 4-6 weeks. Do not rip the shed off for them. If the shed is not coming off on its own, just soak your snake in a shallow water bowl for a couple of hours. 



Cleaning a terrarium is very easy. Just replace the water every three days and replace it immediately when you see that it is dirty. Spot clean the terrarium every week and the glass itself needs to be deep cleaned once a month. You can place your snake in a safe bin or container with some substrate while you clean out the terrarium.


Everything will need to be removed during cleaning and use safe cleaning products. If you use something with bleach, try to rinse it out as best as you can. Harsh chemicals will be dangerous to use around your snake. A newspaper substrate needs to be changed out once a week if you decide to use that as your substrate. 

Wrapping Up


Ball python care is very easy and does not require a lot of maintenance. This could be another reason why they are a very popular pet to have. Ball pythons are normally very sweet and enjoy handling. They only eat rats and need a couple of hiding places.


Heat lamps or heat pads are the only types of lighting your python will need. If you are looking for a pet that is docile and low maintenance, I suggest getting a ball python.

Jade Messieh

Proud bearded dragon, tortoise, crested gecko, and green tree python mom. I've always been passionate about animals and hope to help other reptile & amphibian enthusiasts along their journey!

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