One of the most important parts of caring for a ball python is having an enclosure large enough to house them comfortably and tall enough to allow them to climb at their leisure.
Additionally, the tank must be wide enough to create a gentle temperature gradient from the warm side to the cool side.
Thankfully, ball pythons can thrive in reasonably small to medium-sized enclosures, making them very popular amongst novice reptile keepers.
If you’re getting ready to bring a ball python home, keep reading.
We’ll cover everything you need to know regarding how much horizontal and vertical space they need in their enclosure, depending on their age and size.
For baby and juvenile ball pythons under 3′ feet long, an enclosure of 10 to 20 gallons in size is sufficient. However, as your ball python reaches their adult size of 4 to 5′ feet, they will need a 40+ gallon tank with at least 2 to 3′ feet of vertical climbing space.
Table of Contents
Brief Intro to Ball Pythons
Before we dive into the ball python’s specific tank requirements, let’s learn a little more about these snakes so we can better understand why they have specific tank requirements.
Ball Python Characteristics
Ball pythons are medium-sized snakes.
Their maximum length capability is around 6′ feet long, but typically they stay within the 2′ to 4′ feet range.
Female ball pythons grow longer and larger than male ball pythons, averaging lengths of around 3′ to 5′ feet., while males typically only grow 2′ to 3′ feet long.
Ball pythons have thick, stocky bodies, square snouts, and flathead.
In the wild, their coloring is typically a dark brown base with light brown or golden flecks and an ivory underbelly.
These subtle colors help camouflage them for hunting and hiding from predators.
In captivity, however, breeders have produced ball pythons with a wide range of colors and patterns.
Ball Pythons in the Wild
Ball pythons (known in Europe as “Royal Pythons”) are native to western and central African countries like:
- Central African Republic
Although originating in Africa, they have become quite popular today as pets, so they are now found in captivity all over the world.
Due to owners releasing their pet ball pythons, there is now a small feral population living in the Florida Everglades.
Ball Pythons Natural Habitat & Lifestyle
The ball python’s natural (and preferred) habitat is grasslands, savannas, and slightly wooded areas.
In this natural habitat, ball pythons experience high humidity levels and both wet and dry seasons.
Click the link to learn more about ball python humidity requirements.
Ball pythons are semi-arboreal creatures, meaning they spend some of their time up in the trees as well as on the ground.
Female ball pythons prefer to spend much more time on the ground than their male counterparts.
As nocturnal reptiles, ball pythons spend their days hiding out in underground burrows and emerging when the sun sets to hunt for prey at night.
They are most active at dawn and dusk.
Ball pythons squeeze their prey to death, thus suffocating them.
In the wild, ball pythons are solitary creatures, meaning they live and hunt alone, so even in captivity, they should always be housed separately from other snakes.
How Big of a Tank Does a Ball Python Need
Now since we’re acquainted with where ball pythons come from and what their lifestyle and natural habitat are like, we can better understand their specific tank requirements.
First, we want to address two common misconceptions about ball pythons.
First, adult ball pythons do NOT prefer small, cramped spaces.
Some people believe ball pythons get stressed in larger tanks and prefer to be housed in cramped enclosures.
THIS IS FALSE.
Follow into this article to learn about other aspects of how stress affects ball pythons.
Second, ball pythons do NOT only grow as large as their enclosure.
Ball pythons will keep growing as large as they are supposed to, no matter their enclosure size.
Learn about how long it takes ball pythons to grow.
Ball pythons need plenty of space to move around, climb branches, exercise, and experience mental stimulation, and if you deny your ball python of this adequate space, it can grow extremely overweight and get other health problems.
So follow these tank size requirements carefully to ensure your ball python stays happy and healthy.
And if you’ve purchased a baby or juvenile ball python, make sure to regularly check in on its size to ensure you upgrade to a new tank when needed.
Also remember, for baby/juvenile ball pythons, it’s best to start with a small tank and move to a larger one when they grow (as opposed to jumping straight to the largest size) since they feel more secure and safe in an enclosure suited to their size.
Check out our picks for the best ball python enclosures.
The minimum tank dimensions for a hatchling ball python (up to 300g) is a 10-gallon enclosure or tub measuring around 20″ x 11″ x 13″.
For juvenile ball pythons less than 3′ feet long, provide a 40-gallon enclosure measuring at least 36″ x 18″ x 18″.
Adults and subadults over 3′ feet long do best in a 120-gallon tank measuring 48″ x 24″ x 24″ or larger.
However, if you choose a different tank size for your adult python, ensure there are at least 8 square feet of floor area and at the minimum 2′ feet of vertical space for climbing.
Ball Python Tank Safety Tips
Make sure the tank or cage you purchase has an escape-proof mesh top securely fitted and locked onto the top of the cage.
You don’t want a runaway snake on your hands! It’s also important for the top to be metal mesh since you will place heat lamps directly on the top cover.
You’ll also need to ensure whichever tank you choose has secure locks on the door/s.
If not, your ball python could potentially push its way out.
- [Patent Design] Size of RK0119 :36" x 18" x 18". Tough screen top provides ventilation and allows uvb and infrared...
- Raised bottom frame in order to fit a substrate heater; Waterproof bottom makes this tank can be used both as desert...
- Front doors can open separately, easy to feed your pet and prevent escape
If you’ve been wondering how big of a tank does a ball python need, we hope this article answered your question!
Ball pythons have specific tank size requirements, ranging from 10-gallon enclosures for hatchlings to 120-gallon enclosures (or at least 8 square feet of floor area and 2′ feet of vertical space for climbing) for adults.
The main thing to keep in mind when purchasing a ball python tank is to ensure it has enough space to move around, exercise adequately, and get mental stimulation.