Are ball pythons good pets?
Yes! Ball pythons are a favorite of breeders and are one of the best snakes in the world of husbandry.
But why are ball pythons good pets?
Experts and snake owners alike agree ball pythons are docile, easy to care for, and attractive.
Let’s learn more about why ball pythons are excellent snakes and whether or not beginners should consider them as a good place to start their journey into the world of snake ownership.
Overview of Ball Pythons
|SCIENTIFIC NAME||Python regius|
|COMMON NAME||Ball python|
|ADULT SIZE||4-5 feet|
|LIFE EXPECTANCY||Typically 20 to 30 years, but 50 or more is possible|
Table of Contents
Why Ball Pythons Make Great Pets
If you have a soft spot for slithering reptiles, taking home a pet snake might be a dream come true. But the breed of snake you take home could turn your dream into a nightmare if you’re not careful.
Lucky for you, you’re thinking about taking home a pet ball python–the best snake for first-time snake owners. But why are ball pythons good pets?
Well, let’s start with their size. A ball python grows to around 3-5 feet long, which makes them super easy to handle. It also makes it easier to keep them in small places, including enclosures.
Another reason why a ball python is a good pet is its temperament. This snake breed is known to be calm, docile, and even shy. For new snake owners, learning how to handle their pet snake is often challenging, but ball pythons don’t react the way other snakes would, like corn snakes, for example.
Ball pythons are also very beautiful, with gorgeous markings and colors ranging from white, brown, and gray to black.
When cared for properly, ball pythons can live anywhere from 20 to 30 years, and some have been documented to live even longer. In their first three years, ball pythons grow a foot per year and then typically stop growing.
Their diet is also relatively simple, consisting of mice and rats, which is what they hunt in the wild. A batch of frozen mice will keep them full until their next feeding, keeping costs low. This breed is also nocturnal, so be prepared for increased nighttime activity.
One more reason why ball pythons are great beginner snakes is they have minimal care requirements. They don’t require much of your time during the day to take care of them.
One of the most challenging issues you’ll face is getting their enclosure temperature and humidity levels just right. Check out our guide to ball python temperature, humidity, and lighting to get started. Before you bring your pet snake home, practice getting the temperature just right to avoid creating an unsafe environment for your pet.
Overall, ball pythons’ friendly, docile, and calm nature make them a great option for beginner snake owners.
What Does A Ball Python Look Like?
The next step is to learn everything you can about the ball python breed now that you’ve agreed you want to be a parent to one. We’ll help you with that!
For starters, let’s explore what they look like.
Ball pythons have flat heads and boxy snouts. Most of them are black with pale/white stripes on their face and black stripes over their eyes. Younger snakes are yellow and green with white and black outlines. Adult snakes have large brown spots that are outlined with white and black.
You’ll also notice a black or dark brown, almost puzzle-piece design on the back and sides of your new pet ball python. You’ll see beads or stripes along their spine, which become more prominent towards the end of their body. Their underbellies tend to be white or cream-colored, too.
There are tons of ball python morphs, but the description we just gave fits most snakes of this breed.
Concerns about Having a Pet Ball Python
Pet stores sell ball pythons as easy snakes to take care of, and while that is true, there are exceptions to every rule.
We’ve turned pet owners’ most common complaints about ball pythons into a brief list you should consider before adoption. Check it out below.
Feeding Your Snake
A healthy snake eats rodents. Depending on the size and weight of your snake, you’ll have to feed him or her baby mice or adult mice. Fortunately, the rodents will be frozen, but some people cringe at the thought of feeding one animal to another, even if it’s dead. Over time, you’ll get used to the process, and it likely won’t be as unpleasant. However, if you’re particularly sensitive to feeding your snake, it could pose a problem for their health.
Lack of Affection
Snakes aren’t dogs or cats. They are not known to be particularly affectionate creatures. Don’t expect to come home from a tough day at work and cuddle your snake or for them to be excited to see you. It’s not going to happen. But if you are comfortable with this strange reality, then a ball python could be the perfect pet for you. The more you handle them, the stronger your bond becomes and the easier it is to accept how unaffectionate they are.
Not Vacation Friendly
If you thought it was tough to get someone to feed your cats while you’re out of town, hold onto your seat–it’s extremely difficult to find a snake sitter! Depending on when you leave town, your friends or family members might be subjected to feeding your pet snake while you’re away. That’s a big ask for someone who doesn’t even want to hold it!
They Aren’t Trainable
Most snakes aren’t trainable. They don’t have the same way of communicating and processing information that we do. Other pets are trainable; even a bird can be trained, but not ball pythons. Don’t expect your snake to learn how to roll over or want to bring you a ball–although, admittedly, that would be incredible to witness. Instead, be prepared for your snake to do little besides sleep and slither around their enclosure unless you’re handling them.
You’ll Need An Exotic Veterinarian
If you live in a rural area or don’t have tons of extra cash to spend on an exotic vet, owning a ball python could be a problem. If your snake falls sick, you’ll need to get them to a veterinarian who knows what they’re doing. While they don’t need constant upkeep like a dog or cat, snakes still need medical help from time to time. Keep that in mind before you make this species a part of your family.
What Type Of House Does My Ball Python Need?
While ball pythons make wonderful pets, it’s up to you to provide them with proper care so they can thrive and live long, healthy life. And that process starts with their home! Ball pythons require different-sized enclosures based on their age, weight, and length. You can check out our complete guide to ball python tank size, but the general requirements for ball python enclosures are as follows:
- Hatchlings need at least a 10-gallon enclosure or tub that measures 20″ x 11″ x 13″.
- Juveniles need at least a 40-gallon enclosure measuring 36″ x 18″
- Adults over 3 feet long need a 120-gallon enclosure measuring 48″ x 24″ x 24″ or bigger.
Once a ball python is past its hatchling stage, it can be moved to an adult-sized enclosure with enough cover to make it feel secure.
Ball Python Enclosure Types
It’s worth investing in a quality enclosure for your snake. This enclosure will be its home for most of its life. Give your pet a safe, secure, and relaxing place to live. Learn more about different ball python enclosure types below.
Wood enclosures are super reliable and cheap. They come in countless shapes and sizes and are a great option if you’re on a budget. Ensure your enclosure meets the minimum requirements for wood enclosures to keep your snake happy, healthy, and safe.
Also called aquariums, glass enclosures aren’t the worst thing you can house your snake in. Yes, many people claim they are, but if you know what you’re doing, you can use a glass enclosure. Be ready to pay a pretty penny for one, however. Also, be aware that glass makes it more difficult to manage temperature and humidity. Still, its ability to dissipate heat makes it highly sought after if you want to create the perfect temperature gradient. It’s also easier to eliminate mold growth if and when that arises, inside a glass enclosure.
Pro Tip: Use construction paper on 3 of the enclosure’s four walls to create a secure environment for your snake.
PVC is easy to clean, maintains humidity levels fairly easily, is super durable, and comes with a mesh top for safer lamp fixture placement and ventilation. If you opt for a plastic or PVC enclosure, make sure the one you buy is built for snakes instead of other reptiles.
Consider Lids, Too
If you choose a front-opening enclosure, which we recommend, you’ll find it easier to get ahold of your snake and won’t startle them as easily. If you get an enclosure with a screen top, make sure it locks! Ball pythons can be escape artists, so ensure you safely secure the lid without reducing ventilation.
Choosing a Ball Python
When you’re all set up to welcome a brand new ball python, there are lots to consider before choosing the perfect pet.
Some things to look for in young ball pythons include:
- Alert & Curious
- Gently Grips Your Hand
- Slightly Skittish But is Easily Calmed
- Well-Rounded Body
- Clean Eyes & Vents
- No Signs of Wheezing and Bubbles in the Nostrils
If you’re heading into an animal rescue or pet store to find your snake, it’s not out of the question to ask for a feeding demonstration to ensure the snake takes food easily, too.
Next, you should consider the snake’s temperament and morph type. Most ball pythons are docile by default and tend to not be aggressive if unprovoked. However, no two snakes are identical. Some individual snakes can have horrible tempers that lead to repeated attacks.
For example, some ball pythons don’t enjoy being touched on the top of their heads while others don’t mind it at all. Snakes that aren’t fond of a good head scratch can get used to it with repeated handling but be prepared for this behavior to be permanent. Some snakes of this breed even curl up into a ball when touched. So, if you’re looking for a ball python that enjoys being touched, watch them closely before you bring them home.
Choosing the right ball python morph is equally important. For the most part, this decision is based on aesthetics. If you’re starting a collection, you might want to secure a specific type of morph, which plays a role in selecting your pet snake.
Are Pet Ball Pythons Dangerous?
First-time snake owners often worry about whether or not their snake is dangerous. Ball pythons are not dangerous, however. Yes, they are pythons, but if they feel frightened, they tend to hide, curl up into a ball, try to escape, or use bluffing displays to ward off danger.
Ball pythons are non-venomous and don’t have long sharp fangs that make bites painful. Their teeth are designed for repeated, small, needle-like teeth that make it easier to clamp onto their prey and squeeze it. This process makes their bites non-life-threatening.
Add to this the fact that ball pythons are a popular choice for families with small children, it’s not a big risk to take one home with you.
One word of caution: Letting any python wrap around your head or neck is a bad idea. It’s unlikely your ball python will be strong enough to kill you, it’s simply a bad idea to get them into the habit of doing this.
Do Male Or Female Ball Pythons Make Better Pets?
Some people mistakenly believe that female ball pythons are more aggressive than male pythons. That’s simply not true. Both sexes are docile creatures. Their temperaments are equally the same.
Females tend to cost more because they produce offspring. Snake breeders enjoy having females because they produce more hatchlings, and only one male is needed for the process.
You simply cannot go wrong with either a female or male ball python.
Beginner Snake Owners–Rejoice!
First-time owners do great with pet ball pythons. This breed makes great pets for anyone who is inexperienced or has limited expertise with snakes.
All ball pythons need is a safe enclosure, tasty food, and a gentle touch. If you listen to the experts, you’ll do just fine as a beginner ball python owner.
Want to learn more about your brand-new snake? Check out our blog to uncover everything you need to know about ball pythons!
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