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Why Do Ball Pythons Hiss & What You Can Do About It

ball python hiss

A ball python hiss can be intimidating if you don’t know why it’s happening. Even though ball pythons grow to much smaller lengths than other pythons–an average of three to five feet max–, they can nonetheless be frightening when they hiss.

In this article, we uncover the real reasons why your ball python might be hissing and give you some helpful tips to bring hissing to a bare minimum.

By implementing the advice in this post, you will lower the chances of your ball python hissing, make them content, and guarantee that you are a stellar snake owner if you adhere to the suggested steps that we have laid out.

Ready to learn all about ball python hissing? Let’s dive in.

Why Do Ball Pythons Hiss?

If you’ve heard a hissing sound from your ball python, you might be curious about what’s causing it. There are multiple reasons why your ball python hisses. Consider the following top six reasons for ball python hissing.

#1. It Feels Threatened

Snakes may not make as much noise as other animals, but they still have their own way of letting you know when something is wrong.

As pets, snakes are often kept in small enclosures and cannot flee from perceived threats.

When feeling threatened, a snake will hiss to alert its owner.

It’s important to remember that sudden movements or the presence of other animals can cause the snake to become frightened.

If your pet snake feels threatened, expect them to voice their discomfort with a loud hiss.

#2. Because It’s Feeling Uncomfortable

If your ball python is hissing, it could also be because it feels uncomfortable.

Imagine being a snake locked inside a tank that you can’t get out of, and all you want to do is stretch and relax.

Chances are, you’d be hissing too if you couldn’t stretch out!

Key Takeaway:

Don’t make that your snake’s reality. Let your ball python stretch and enjoy its time as your pet by creating a comfortable tank.

Not sure how big of a tank your ball python needs? Check out our brief guide to ball python tank sizes.

big enclosure ball python

#3. It’s Feeling Stressed

Speaking of your snake’s tank, what’s in it could also be causing them to feel stressed–which is our second reason why snakes hiss.

For example, if your ball python has a tank mate, are you sure they’re getting along? Do they both have their own basking spot and water bowl to drink and soak in?

Other snakes can increase the stress levels your ball python experiences. In fact, ball pythons are typically solitary creatures, so if you can afford to, house your snakes in separate tanks.

If that’s not an option, and you have two ball pythons, make sure they enjoy being in the same cage. Snake hissing is a natural result of feeling stressed out by your roommate.

Another element that could cause stress for your ball python is temperature. Since snakes are cold-blooded creatures, they feel stressed if the temperature in their tank is too cold. Use tank heaters and humidity cages to reduce stress levels for your ball python.

#4. Shedding

If ball pythons hiss, it could also be due to shedding. Examine its body to find out if your ball python is hissing because it’s shedding time.

Are their scales dull? Have their eyes turned cloudy and blue?

If so, they could be about to shed. Other signs of shedding include loss of appetite and hiding from you. A ball python can quickly change its attitude if they are shedding its skin.

ball python shedding

#5. It’s In Pain

Like people, snakes can get grumpy when they don’t feel well. When a ball python hisses, it could be because they are hurting.

Snakes obviously can’t communicate with us about their health. A hiss tells us something is up, especially if you’ve eliminated all other possibilities. Ball pythons are notorious for hissing if they are in pain.

If you suspect your ball pythons hiss is due to illness, contact your veterinarian.

#6. To Claim Territory

A ball python hiss could also be a sign of defensiveness. Your ball python could be worried that their space is being encroached on and hisses as a defense. They could also let other snakes know that this is their territory and they’ll defend it at all costs.

Ball pythons are fairly defensive, just like other snake species. However, their primary defensive position is to curl up in a ball–hence the name ball python. So, be on the lookout for that position if you think your snake is being defensive.

What To Do If Your Snake Hisses

Let’s say you have a new ball python hissing at you. What should you do? Now that you know the most common reasons that ball pythons hiss, the next step is to figure out how to stop your ball python from hissing.

Here are a few steps to stop ball python hissing and keep your snake happy.

Step #1. Move More Slowly

Disturbing your snake can stress it out. Start by moving more slowly. Slow, gentle movement keeps your snake calm and prevents it from thinking you’re a predator. Never move quickly or suddenly, especially while handling your snake.

Step #2. Learn How to Handle Your Ball Python

Handling your ball python is its most stressful experience. Don’t make it harder on them. When you’re holding them, support their body carefully. And don’t expose them to cold temperatures.

You can make the experience more enjoyable by letting them climb around on your houseplants or another surface they might like to explore. Keep them under close supervision to make sure they don’t slither away; otherwise, this is a great way to stop hissing and keep your snake happy.

Step #3. Stick Around While It Eats

Finally, if your snake is still hissing at you, it could be because it isn’t comfortable around you yet. One way to navigate this is to stick around your ball python as it eats. Being a calm presence for your snake as it enjoys its dinner is an excellent way to get it to stay calm with you in the future and do less hissing.

How A Ball Python Hisses

Wondering how your ball python hisses? Snakes hiss thanks to a structure on their throat called the glottis. This is a hole in the back and bottom of the throat that connects to its windpipe.

The glottis is also the same mechanism that allows a snake to continue to breathe while it swallows big prey.

Keep Your Snake Quiet & Happy with These Tips!

While there are many reasons ball pythons hiss, including fear, territorial reasons, shedding, sickness, stress, and pain, it is a natural response. The primary way ball pythons protect themselves is by curling up in a tight ball, but if you find your snake hissing, it could be because of any of these reasons.

Keep your pet healthy and happy by paying attention to the noises it makes, and always take it to your vet if you’re concerned.

Learn More About Ball Pythons on our blog here.

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