Species group: Boas, Anacondas and Pythons
Other common names: Royal Python; Imperial Ball Python
Scientific name: Python regius
The exceedingly popular Ball Python is a great choice for those who want a “big snake in a medium package”. Although this stoutly-built and powerful constrictor displays all of its larger relatives’ behaviors, at an average length of 3-4 feet is much easier to accommodate. Generally calm and easy to handle, Ball Pythons breed readily, and wild caught individuals are no longer a major factor in the US pet trade.
The Ball Python inhabits much of Sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal east through Mali to Sudan and southeast to the Gulf of Guinea and the Central African Republic; there are possible records from Zaire and Uganda.
Ball Pythons are found in open, often arid habitats such as savannahs, woodlands, overgrown fields, farm borders and village outskirts. They typically shelter in mammal burrows, termite mounds or hollow logs, but will also climb and occupy tree hollows if available.
Appearance / health:
Although small by python standards, this species is stoutly-built. Most average 3-5 feet in length, with rare specimens reaching 6 to nearly 7 feet. Ball pythons are dark brown to nearly black in color and marked with numerous blotches of tan, reddish-brown or yellow-orange. The color of wild specimens varies tremendously among different populations, with the savannahs of Ghana are known for their predominance of beautiful yellow-orange individuals. A mind-boggling array of color morphs have been produced by breeders.
The Ball Python is, when given proper care, a very hardy snake. Pets aged 20-30 are common, and one individual at the Philadelphia Zoo has the distinction of being the longest-lived of any captive snake. Acquired at an undetermined age, it lived in the collection for 48 years! New owners are often dismayed by the Ball Python’s habit of fasting for long periods of time, but this seems related to circadian rhythms (an “internal clock” of sorts), and is rarely a serious concern.
Behavior / temperament:
Ball Pythons are often calm in disposition, and usually tolerate gentle handling. They should not be induced to tuck the head within body coils, as this defensive posture indicates a high degree of stress. Like all snakes, they can and will bite, and must be handled with care.
Hatchlings may be housed in 10 gallon aquariums, while adults (depending upon their size) do well in 20-55 gallon tanks or custom built enclosures. The screen top should be secured with clips or locks as this species is amazingly strong, even by snake standards.
Stout, well-anchored branches work well as basking sites, and a hide box should always be available. Newspapers, terrarium liners, or aspen bedding may be used as substrates. Ambient temperature: 80-85 F, with a reduction 77-80 F at night if possible. Basking site: 92 F.
The natural diet is comprised mainly of grassland rodents such as cane and Nile rats, gerbils, jerboas, and zebra mice. Shrews, ground-nesting birds, and lizards are also taken on occasion.
Ball Pythons can be picky feeders at times, but most accept mice or rats. Particularly stubborn individuals may be tempted by gerbils or rat pups.
A wide array of conditions is used to induce breeding, and in some cases Ball Pythons will reproduce without any temperature manipulations at all. Many breeders reduce the ambient temperature to 78 F and the basking temperature to 82 F as autumn arrives. Day length need not be reduced. Males are introduced to females’ enclosures at this time. Temperatures are returned to normal in the spring, although in many cases a much shorter cool period will also be effective. When incubated at 86-90 F, the eggs hatch in 50-60 days.
Written by Frank Indiviglio
beautiful morphs, amazing temperaments, friendly snakes, new snake owners, beginner herp owner
feeding difficulties, wild caught imports, finicky eaters, ticks, usual hunger strike
reasonable handling sessions, African SoftFurred rat, handleable length, hidey holes, scented mouse
Little Ball of Joy
I don't remember when we got our first ball python, I may have been 12 or so, but I remember thinking they were so interesting. Just a small little ball of snake, perfectly content to stay rolled up. Out of the several breeds of snakes we had over the years, the ball python is the one I would recommend the most. They don't get very large and are one of the more docile breeds. They don't require an extremely large enclosure and simply require a heat source, a water bowl and potentially something to climb on. They're simply a very content animal. Their diet is pretty easy, it mainly consists of small rats or adult mice. Some of our snakes would only eat live rats while other preferred them to be frozen and then thawed. This usually just depends on the snake They're great with kids and though I have been bitten by other breeds, I've never been bitten by a ball python. If you're looking for a good first snake, for yourself or a child I can't recommend a ball python enough! You can't go wrong with them. .
From Daphne Petty Jan 2 2019 3:10AM
Under cage heating pads rock!
I have always used this for our reptiles, but especially our snakes. We usually kept them in long horizontal cages and so I would attach the heating paid to the underside of the glass cage on one side. Snakes cannot regulate their own temperature, so you need to give them the option to lay on it or get away from it if too hot. I recommend adding a shallow pool of water on the "cool" side of their cage. But, anyways, under-cage heating pads usually just stick on and plug in and are super easy and effective..
From Jordan Paul 409 days ago
Getting over fears? Sort of!
First, let's all keep in mind that I don't like snakes. I don't like them, I don't like them, I don't like them. When I worked at a local animal sanctuary, I found myself bitten by an ill garter snake and nearly un-handed by an iguana. Reptiles, simply put, just aren't my cup of tea. So having Momma in the house? She's not really the most welcome of guests. My sister (a disabled adult that lives with me) is another story. The slick, scaled, and slimy has always fascinated and, a few years ago, she showed up at my house with Momma, a tank, and a bag of frozen mice. I was not pleased. I'm a softie, and Momma currently lives in the sitting room. Now, don't get me wrong. Momma is not a bad animal. She even tolerates my shaky hands trying to touch her on the tail - the only place I'm willing to put my fingers - and the plethora of cats that enjoy watching her through the walls of her tank. She eats frozen pinkie mice which get kept in the freezer, right next to the baggies of cranberries and the loaf of pumpkin bread I baked last fall and never ate. Her tank gets cleaned twice a week, she likes to curl up in bowls of water, and the shedding, while terrifying to look at, has never caused any issues. Would I own another snake again? No. I really, really wouldn't. But, of all the reptiles I've dealt with, Momma's probably been the most level headed. She's - dare I say it? She's almost sweet. I would call her a beginner reptile, mild tempered, and decent enough to have in the house. And not a garter snake, so that's a plus..
From princesspennywhistle Sep 6 2016 7:17PM