Do ball pythons make noise?
The short answer is sometimes.
Let’s talk about why that happens, what sounds you might hear your snake make and what they mean, and how to keep your pet snake happy.
When Do Ball Pythons Make Noise?
Ball pythons make noise under specific circumstances.
But what are those circumstances?
Let’s find out.
Even the best snake owners can upset their snakes. For example, if you move your snake when cleaning its enclosure, you might upset it, causing it to hiss at you.
For the most part, ball pythons are inquisitive and laid back, but if you disturb them when they’re sleeping or relaxing, they might not realize you’re their owner.
Stress can also cause your ball python to make noise, specifically a squeaking sound.
For example, if you handle your ball python too much or incorrectly set up its enclosure, you might stress it out. The same can happen if you set the tank’s temperature outside its comfort zone of 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit.
These cold-blooded reptiles are extremely sensitive to temperature changes, so make sure your snake’s enclosure is set at the correct temperature.
Ensuring their enclosure is clean and free of dirt and bacteria is equally important. Keep them happy with a clean cage, water bowl, and bacteria-free substrate.
Another reason your snake might be noisy is when your ball python is shedding its skin. During this period, some ball pythons wheeze and make other slight noises that can be somewhat alarming but ultimately are nothing to be concerned with.
Most snakes wheeze when they’re shedding. This can also be a clicking sound.
More than likely, if you notice your snake making a noise and then begin to shed its skin, that was the cause.
When To Take Your Snake to The Vet
If your ball python is making unfamiliar noise, it’s a good idea to examine them to ensure they are not sick. Better safe than sorry, but think about context and environment before you jump to conclusions. Use these three basic causes as a baseline, and then contact your veterinarian if you’re still concerned.
Can Ball Pythons Hear Sound?
Ball pythons operate on a different auditory system than humans.
They do, in fact, have ears, however. Their hearing ranges, though, are much less than humans can hear.
Their limited hearing can pick up sounds in the 80 to 1000 Hz range. They are most sensitive to ground-borne vibrations coming from their lower jaw bone.
They can also hear airborne sounds, but not as well. This means that they can hear percussion and bass but not human voices.
Essentially, ball pythons hear sounds on certain levels but won’t be able to hear what you’re saying to them.
The Mechanisms Allowing Ball Python’s to Hear Sound
It’s commonly believed that ball pythons can’t hear. This is likely because they don’t have visible ears. Many reptiles have visible openings on the side of their heads. However, ball pythons do not.
They can detect loud noises around them, just enough to hear danger coming. If airborne sounds are loud and low-pitched enough, they can vibrate the snake’s skull bones. Low-pitched sounds are easier for ball pythons to hear.
Other snakes and vertebrates have sound waves that travel to the inner ear to create sound. Ball pythons hear sound through their lower jaw bone, as previously discussed.
When these sound waves pass through the jawbone, they go to the snake’s mandible. This causes the snake’s small bone, the quadrate, at the back of the jaw to vibrate. This bone is connected to the columella, a bone within the snake’s inner ear.
As vibrations pass through that bone, it heads to the cochlea, a spiral-shaped open cavity inside the inner ear. This turns into a nerve impulse and sends the impulse to the brain’s sound-processing center. This complicated process allows ball pythons to hear sound.
But which sounds do ball pythons hear?
Do Ball Pythons Hear High Pitched Sounds?
Ball pythons cannot hear high-pitched sounds. Their entire hearing system is based on low-sound vibrations and bass notes.
They can only hear lower vibrations and don’t pick up on high-pitched sounds.
Can They Hear Music?
Instruments produce different frequencies than human speech. Ball pythons can likely hear some types of music.
For example, bass guitar, piano, and drums at certain frequencies can all be heard by snakes. However, it wouldn’t sound the way it sounds to us. It would sound more like a rumbling noise instead.
Ball pythons are more likely to feel confused or frightened if they hear music, even if it’s within their frequency range.
Why Does My Ball Python Squeak?
Ball pythons are typically sluggish and shy creatures. In fact, most of them sleep up to 18 hours a day.
These snakes are ambush feeders and need to conserve their energy for breeding season, so they spend a good amount of time at rest.
So when you let your ball python out to play, they can easily overexert themselves. You may notice that their breathing starts to sound almost squeaky.
Don’t freak out!
This is a normal part of breathing for ball pythons. Snakes have small nostrils, so they have to breathe heavily when overexerting.
Do Ball Pythons Whistle?
This is often the same noise ball pythons make when overexerting themselves. It can be misinterpreted as a whistle if you listen closely.
Healthy pythons are typically silent when at rest and then make slight sounds while exercising. An occasional whistle or two is nothing to be overly concerned with on your python.
But what if their whistle is unusual or out of the norm for them? Respiratory infections are common with snakes. Let’s look at the signs of respiratory infections and what you should know about them.
How to Know Your Ball Python Has A Respiratory Infection
If your snake has a respiratory infection, you’ll notice specific signs, including:
- Excess Mucus in Mouth
- Nasal Discharge
- Loss of Appetite
- Gurgling Sounds
- Open Mouth Breathing
A respiratory infection can be a serious condition if left untreated. Any deviation from your snake’s normal behavior could be a sign of a sickness or respiratory infection.
Also, anytime ball pythons hiss should be noted as a cause for concern if you aren’t handling them or haven’t disturbed them in any way.
So, how do you tell if your ball python is sick or if they’re having too much fun exercising?
Heavy Breathing Noises vs. Infection
Heavy breathing, as we’ve covered, can signify your ball python has simply done too much for the day.
However, the most likely reason your ball python is breathing deeply is that it has a respiratory infection. When your ball python struggles to breathe, it will use its mouth instead of its nose.
Taking these deep, labored breaths can mean your pet has trouble getting enough oxygen and needs to see a vet.
Don’t take a risk in identifying the problem on your own. See a reptile vet who can spot serious illnesses beyond a respiratory infection in your ball python.
How Do I Keep my Ball Python Happy?
These animals live up to 40 years, and investing in their long-term health is up to you. It’s important to pay attention to their behavior and signs they might be under the weather. For example, any abnormal loss of appetite could denote a problem or illness.
Another issue or area to consider is the enclosure you keep your snake in. Is it large enough for them to thoroughly stretch out and enjoy themselves? If it isn’t, they won’t be happy.
Also, ensure their enclosure is kept clean since a dirty tank is the number one reason for snake illness. The noises we mentioned are often associated with these illnesses, so if you want to avoid having a noisy snake, keep them healthy by maintaining their habitat.
It’s Up to You To Keep Your Snake Quiet!
So, to answer the question, do ball pythons make noise? The answer is yes, with context.
While there are several reasons why your pet ball python might be making those noises, if you maintain a safe, clean, and healthy place for them to live and thrive, you have little to no need to worry.
Want to learn more about how to handle your ball python? Explore our other posts about this species of snake and the best way to make it your new best friend.