Ball pythons and corn snakes are one of the most popular pet snakes. However, today we are going to talk about handling your pet ball pythons.
So, did you recently got one, or maybe you’ve had one for a while but are still learning the ins and outs of snake care?
One of the most common questions ball python owners have is, “How often should I handle my pet snake?”
This is an important question, both for your snake’s health and safety and for your enjoyment as a pet owner, so today, we’re going to answer this question and give you a few tips on handling pet ball pythons.
Ball pythons should be handled at least once a week, but typically no more than 3 to 4 times per week. Never handle your pet snake more than once per day.
Table of Contents
Why Do Ball Pythons Need To Be Handled
If you’re a reptile enthusiast or a proud pet owner of ball pythons, you must be curious about handling them.
Keep in mind that ball pythons like to be handled, but occasionally!
Here are some reasons why it is important to handle ball pythons:
1. Taming and Socialization
One of the primary reasons people handle ball pythons is to help them become more comfortable with human interaction. By engaging in regular and gentle handling, you can help your pet snake become less prone to stress and defensive behavior when exposed to human contact. This can be useful if you’re planning to use the snake for educational purposes or if you enjoy interacting with your pet. Taming your pet snake can make the experience more fulfilling for both you and your pet.
Human contact allows them to explore and experience new things, which can provide mental stimulation and enrichment. Although ball pythons are not as active as some other pets, exposing them to different environments, smells, and textures can be beneficial. When you handle your snake, you’re introducing them to a variety of sensations they may not encounter within their enclosure. These sensory experiences can help keep your ball python engaged and alert, contributing to their overall well-being.
3. Health Checks
Regular handling can also serve as an opportunity to check your snake for any signs of illness or injury. During a handling session, you can inspect your snake’s body, scales, and overall condition. This close examination can help you identify potential health issues early, allowing for timely intervention if needed. It’s crucial to be attentive to your snake’s physical condition and behavior and to look for any changes that may indicate underlying health problems.
While reptiles don’t form bonds in the same way as mammals, some pet owners develop a sense of connection with their pets through regular interaction. Although this connection might not be based on emotional attachment, there can be a mutual trust and familiarity that develops between a snake and its owner. This can be enjoyable and rewarding for pet owners, making their relationship with their pet more meaningful.
Do Ball Pythons Like to Be Handled
While not characteristically emotional or “cuddly” creatures (they probably will never eagerly come towards you to be picked up), ball pythons like it when you handle them.
Most ball pythons may even enjoy getting out of their tank and exercising while you handle them.
Just remember to always keep an eye out for signs of stress.
If your snake is stressed when you handle it, it could be because you’re handling it too often or at the wrong times. It could also stress it out when you’re in unfamiliar places or outside.
So, if you’re wondering whether your ball python like being handled, there are a few factors to consider:
For starters, it’s crucial to observe your snake’s behavior and respect their comfort level. When you first acquire a pet snake, give them a few weeks to settle in and get used to their new environment. This period can help reduce stress and build trust.
Additionally, the frequency of handling is important. While some snakes like handling over time, overhandling can lead to stress. Pay close attention to your snake’s body language during handling. Signs of stress, such as coiling tightly, hissing, or attempting to strike, indicate discomfort.
Finally, consistent, gentle, and predictable handling can help your snake become more accustomed to human contact and potentially reduce stress over time. Building trust through regular, respectful interactions is essential. Remember, not all ball pythons have the same preferences when it comes to handling. Some may enjoy it, while others may prefer to rest during the day and become more active at night.
Handling ball pythons can be a fun and rewarding experience if done right. To ensure the well-being of your snake, respect their comfort level, adjust your handling practices as needed, and be attentive to their body language. Building trust with your snake through gentle and consistent handling can lead to a positive interaction.
When Should I Not Handle My Ball Python
Although it’s important to handle your ball python regularly, there will be times when you need to leave it alone.
Pay attention to the following situations and your ball python’s body language, as too much handling can stress your pet out or cause possible health issues.
After Bringing It Home
When you first bring your pet ball python home, it most likely will be stressed out from the ordeal of transportation and change in environment, so you’ll need to let it settle in and adjust to its new home before trying to handle it.
If you try to handle your new ball python too quickly, it may feel threatened by you and try to defend itself.
A good rule of thumb is to wait a week or two or until it’s eaten and digested its first meal before attempting your first handling session.
When It’s Shedding
Another time for you to leave your ball python alone (besides regular feeding and watering, of course) is when it’s shedding.
A ball python temperament while shedding is usually grumpy and agitated, so you don’t want to add to the stress by trying to handle it.
Right After Feeding
This one is extremely important, so don’t ignore this one even if you break all the other rules!
After a ball python eats, it needs plenty of time (at least 48 to 72 hours) to digest it without interruptions or stress.
This includes handling. Why?
One of the wild ball python’s main predator-avoidance tactics is to vomit up its food when it feels anxious or threatened.
They do this to ensure they can move at maximum speed without the added weight of their undigested meal.
So if you try to handle your ball python soon after it’s fed, it may regurgitate and vomit up its meal.
Not only is this stressful for the snake, but it also temporarily damages the inside of its throat.
If this happens to your ball python, you’ll need to wait a minimum of two weeks before trying to handle it again.
When It’s Stressed
You never want to handle your ball python when it’s under stress.
When they feel stressed, ball pythons can get defensive and agitated, but they may also develop stress-related health issues.
How can you tell when your ball python is stressed and needs to be left alone?
Signs may include not eating, curling into a tight ball, hiding its head when you’re handling it, and being overly active during the day.
If it’s showing these signs of stress, keep an eye on it from a distance to see if it relaxes, and most importantly, don’t handle your ball python until it calms down!
Take a look at our post on the signs of stress in ball pythons to learn more.
How Often Should I Handle My Ball Python
Now we know why we need to handle ball pythons regularly and when it’s best to leave them alone and not handle them, so now let’s talk about how often you should be handling your ball python.
It’s best to handle your ball python somewhere around 1-3 times weekly.
Always remember, however, you need to wait to handle it at least 48-72 hours after it eats to allow for proper digestion and reduce the risk of regurgitation.
So essentially, the number of times for safely handling it each week depends on how many times you feed it.
Never handle your ball python more than one time per day.
For example, if Monday is your day to handle your ball python, don’t make the mistake of handling it in the morning and again in the evening.
This can cause unnecessary stress to your snake.
How Long Should Handling Sessions Last
Although there is no hard and fast rule on how long you should handle your pet snake each time you pick it up, it’s best to stay under the 20-minute range.
It’s important to keep handling sessions relatively short, especially for younger or more nervous snakes. The goal is to make sure the experience is positive and stress-free for your little buddy.
Start With Short Sessions
To start things off, you’ll want to begin with short handling sessions of about 5-10 minutes. This will give your snake some time to get used to the process without getting overwhelmed. As your snake gets more accustomed to the interaction, you can gradually increase the duration of handling sessions over several weeks or months.
Observe Your Snake
When you’re handling your ball python, it’s important to pay close attention to their behavior. If they seem calm, relaxed, and are exploring their environment, you can extend the handling session. However, if your snake appears stressed, such as coiling tightly, hissing, or attempting to bite, it’s best to return them to their enclosure promptly.
Know Their Limits
Each ball python is unique, so it’s important to know your snake’s limits and adjust the duration of handling accordingly. Younger ball pythons may become stressed more quickly than adults, so shorter sessions are often more appropriate for them. Also, consider the time of day when you handle your ball python, as they are most active during dawn and dusk.
Remember, the comfort and well-being of your snake should always be your top priority during handling. Avoid overhandling, as this can lead to stress and discomfort. Keep in mind that not all ball pythons have the same tolerance for handling, so their individual temperament and preferences should guide your approach.
How Often Should You Handle Young Ball Pythons
You should probably limit handling sessions to no more than once a week if you have a hatchling or juvenile ball pythons.
Keep in mind, they are very defensive at this age, so you’ll need to be persistent, patient, and gentle when holding them, but never overhandle them during this stage, as it may lead to an aggressive ball python.
If you’ve been wondering, “How often should I hold my ball python?” we hope this article answered your question.
While it’s important to handle ball pythons regularly, you never want to overdo it.
Aim to handle your ball python 1-3 times per week, and never more than once per day.