CARE TIPS FOR BALL PYTHONS
Ball pythons can live quiet comfortably in a 20-30 gallon terrarium. Most importantly, ball pythons need an escape proof housing. These snakes are escape experts. Most owners have experienced their pet being at large at one point in their relationship. Make sure the terrarium has a tight lid. Most pet stores sell caged covers with a good latching system.
Ball pythons also need a hide box to make them feel safe and cozy. A ball python without this can be stressed and uneasy. This leads to poor health and poor sheds. It is very important for your pet to feel comfortable. Make sure the hide box is easy to keep clean and large enough for your ball python to curl up in. They feel safe and cozy when they have a hide box. It can be as simple as a cereal box to a large clean upside down bowl with a door cut out in it.
Use a quality base for the ball python's home. We chose aspen chips because there are no chemicals in them and they are absorbent. Some people prefer Astroturf because it's less messy. You can also use shredded newspaper or simply use white paper towels. We believe a natural product is better, for less exposure to chemicals for your pet.
Always keep the bedding clean. (It's not hard because ball pythons are very clean.)
The ball python's water dish can be a simple bowl, a shallow rock basin available at your local pet store or a dog or cat dish. Make sure it cannot be tipped over by the ball python when it is out exploring its home.
Lighting and Heat Source
To have a happy healthy ball python, it is very important to have proper heating and lighting. Different heat sources available are under tank heaters or lighting sources. You will need a thermometer to monitor the temperature of the air in your snake's home. It is very important to keep the heat between 85-87 (29-30.5 degrees Celsius) with a warmer basking spot of 90-95 degrees (32-35 degrees Celsius). Make sure the ambient temperature of the python's home is no greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.5 degrees Celsius).
A basking spot is an area of the ball python's home that is warmer than the rest of the home. This can be easily be made by using a infrared light shining on to your ball python's home, or putting an under tank heater in the corner or a ceramic heater along one wall of the ball python's cage. Do not use a hot rock. A basking spot for a ball python should not be too hot for a human to hold their hand on for a number of minutes without feeling uncomfortably hot. Make sure the surface does not exceed 90 degrees (32 degrees Celsius); anything hotter can cause severe or even fatal burns to your ball python.
Of course in every heat and lighting set up, please make sure it isn't a fire hazard and monitor the heat levels to make sure the air in the ball python's home doesn't get too hot. The basking heat source can heat up the whole terrarium so be careful when setting it up.
Ball pythons can eat small rodents. It is best to feed ball pythons thawed and warmed dead rats.
Baby ball pythons will start on "fuzzies" or "hopper" mice. It is better to feed a baby ball python smaller meals, twice per week to keep it growing. Soon you can move up to rat pups.
Feed the ball python by jiggling the warmed rodent with a longer pair of tongs. Don't use your bare hand, because the ball python sense the heat of your hand and could mistake it for dinner. The ball python should eat within five minutes of giving them food. If not, try again later.
Adult ball pythons eat juvenile to adult rats once per week. Once the python has eaten leave it alone to digest its food for a couple of days. Keep track of your ball python's eating schedule and soon you will know when to feed it. It is also good to keep track of how often your ball python ate for its health and tracking its weight.
It is not uncommon for a ball python to refuse eating for long periods of time, especially during mating season.
Royal Python Ranch Housing
At Royal Python Ranch, we house our snakes in custom built units with separate homes for each "rancher". We use large plastic containers which slide in and out of specifically built shelves. The heat source are roof heating cables secured with aluminum tape at the back of each shelving unit. This cable and heat source is monitored in quadrants with and alarm system set up, should the temperature drop below 78 Degrees (26 degrees Celsius).
We have carefully labeled each individual ball python's home and keep track of each ball python's eating behaviour, shedding times, schedules and any other specific behaviour.
We like to bed our snakes in aspen shavings and think this keeps our ball pythons comfortable and dry.