Ball pythons or Royal pythons (Python regius) are a small sized constrictor native to Africa. Ball pythons can range anywhere from 2 to 5 feet, with females being larger than the males. In captivity the snakes can live an upwards of 30 years if taken care of properly. Being constrictors, the snakes squeeze their prey, both suffocating them and blocking blood flow to the brain while simultaneously crushing bone to make it sufficient to swallow whole. In captivity, ball pythons can be fed either live prey or frozen/thawed (F/T) prey. I personally feed F/T so that my snakes never associate movement with food and to reduce their risk of prey attacking the snake. Their diets (depending on the size of their midsection) consist of rodents and chicks. As a baby and as an adolescent, the ball pythons need to be fed weekly to every 10 days, with the exception of when the snake refuses food (due to being in shed). As an adult, the snake may only need to eat every other week to once a month.
Their enclosure can be simple, mine are kept in Boaphiles Plastic cages. A general rule of thumb is that the python should not be able to touch its head to its tail if it were to wrap around the perimeter of the cage, but bigger is always better! A simple substrate of newspaper or paper towel is sufficient to keep humidity while also being easy to clean. In addition the snakes need a hut to hide in to prevent stress from always being seen. Of course, the snakes need a water dish both to drink from and to soak in if they are hot or dry. The dish should be large enough for the snake to soak in if they choose.
Snakes are cold blooded which means they need to thermoregulate in order to remain healthy. One end of the cage needs to be the warmer side with temperatures in the upper 80's degrees F. I prefer to use a heating pad which is placed on the bottom of the enclosure so the snake can sit on it. Without proper underbelly heat, the snake can not digest an in turn the food in their stomachs will rot. The cooler end of the cage should not drop below 70 degrees F. Snakes also need humidity, ball pythons need humidity in the 60%-70% range in order to shed properly. It is imperative that all the shed comes off the ball python every time they shed including the tips of their tales, their eye caps, and their nose plugs. Bad sheds are a sign of too low humidity. I suggest getting a cage that has minimal openings to keep heat and humidity inside. You will know when your snake is going into shed because first their bellies will turn a pinkish-salmon and soon after their whole body will dull with their eyes clouding up and becoming blue. During this time the snake is incredibly vulnerable as they cannot see and their skin is sensitive. The snake may be aggressive/defensive and may not eat during this time.
I am Lilly Elkin, the owner and founder of Radical Reptile Rescue. Here I will put different posts on reptile care. I will only post blogs on either animals I personally own, or are very knowledgeable about. I will not post on an animal unless I am certain of its care. If you have any questions on the care of an animal, feel free to comment and ask!
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