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Why Is My Ball Python Trying To Escape

Is your pet ball python trying to escape its cage? Are you overwhelmed by the idea of them breaking free?

Don’t be!

In this article, we’re going to look at why your ball python is trying to escape, what you can do about it, and what to do if your snake actually escapes.

Let’s dive right in.

ball python hand

Why Is Your Ball Python Trying to Escape?

There are several reasons why ball pythons try to escape. Adult ball pythons are unique creatures like every other reptile, with their own wants, needs, and curiosities. So, when they’re trying to escape, it could be for a good reason.

But there are a few common reasons ball pythons might try to escape their enclosure. Of course, like all things with your snake, if their behavior is abnormal take them to the vet for a quick health evaluation to make sure they aren’t ill.

Once you know your snake isn’t sick, it’s time to explore other possibilities they’re trying to be Houdini.

Here are the top 8 reasons why your ball python might be trying to escape.

1. Because It’s In A New Enclosure

Any adult snake that’s placed in a new environment can be nervous. Moving your pet snake into a new location can also make it curious about its new home. Even if it isn’t trying to escape, it could end up poking its head over the top of the enclosure to see what else waits for it in this strange new place.

Don’t worry if your ball python begins climbing up the walls to see what is happening outside the snake’s tank. It could very well just be excited to be in a new home.

2. Stress is Making Them Want Out!

Stress makes all of us act abnormally, including snakes. It could also be stress causing your ball python to try to escape its enclosure. If something inside the tank stresses it out, it will want to escape the stressor.

A few stressors that could push your snake to run away include:

Other Snakes

Any other pet or reptile that is too close to your snake’s tank could cause stress.


Anyone who gets too close to the tank, including adults and children, pestering the snake can cause it to be uncomfortable.

TV & Lights

While your ball python doesn’t hear high-pitched sounds, a loud TV close to the snake’s cage can cause stress. It should be obvious, but don’t put your snake’s cage right next to your TV or any other loud device.

Lights, too, have an effect on your snake. Ball pythons are nocturnal, so it’s also important that your lights are off at night. Giving your snake an environment that suits its natural habitat is the best way to keep its stress levels low.

3. Their Enclosure is Dirty

Snakes are similar to people in that they don’t want to live in dirty homes. If you’re asking why is my ball python trying to escape, stop to see if it could be because their cage is dirty. Snakes intuitively know that a dirty tank can lead to illness and disease.

A happy ball python lives in a safe and clean home. Take care of their cage by cleaning it on the following schedule:

  • Daily–Removing feces, shed skin, and uneaten food.
  • Weekly–Scrub it regularly of any dirt and grime.
  • Monthly–Change out the snake’s substrate and completely clean every inch of the tank.

Make this cleaning checklist a part of your regular cleaning routine, and you’re less likely to have a stressed-out ball python from a dirty enclosure.

ball python enclosure

4. You’re Not Feeding Them Enough

Every ball python requires a different amount of food. Adult snakes don’t eat the same amount that young snakes do.

And if you’re feeding your snake the incorrect amount, they could be trying to escape to look for more food.

Double-check that what you’re giving your snake fits its weight, age, and breed requirements. Don’t expect that just because other snakes eat live rodents, that yours will. Speak to a trusted reptile expert to define the right diet for your snake. You don’t want a hungry snake wandering around your home in search for better food.

5. Mating Season

When mating season is open us, your snake could be making its way to the exit. If you have other snakes in your home, your snake could very well be trying to mate with them!

If you’re keeping multiple ball pythons in the same room or area, don’t be surprised if they try to get friendly during mating season. And if you aren’t a breeder, this is the time of the year when you’ll want to keep an eye on your snakes to make sure you don’t end up with a load of baby snakes.

While your snake is a pet, they are still a wild animal and mating is perfectly normal, although it can turn your pet into an escape artist.

6. They Aren’t Escaping. They’re Curious.

Another reason for your snake trying to escape is curiosity. Snakes are notorious explorers, especially at night time.

If you pay attention to your snake at dusk, you’ll notice they are more active. This is when most escape attempts happen. They simply prefer the evening to the daytime.

Animals that increase their activity during twilight hours are known as crepuscular creatures. For the most part, there is no reason to be concerned if your snake is more active at night.

You might notice your ball python crawling the sides of your tank to try to escape during this time, however. In their natural habitat, ball pythons climb tree branches. But if they don’t have a tree to climb, they climb the sides of their enclosure. If you’ve done a good job with their enclosure, this shouldn’t be a problem.

7. Looking For Water

Is your ball python looking for water? If your snake is thirsty, it could start to try to escape.

Keep your snake’s enclosure clean and safe with a water dish filled with fresh water. Don’t overfill the water dish, as any excess moisture can lead to bacterial infections for your snake–that’s a big issue!

Help your snake stay hydrated and healthy with a water dish that limits its ability to spill water in its cage. And if it spills water inside its home, it probably wants to try and escape!

Keep an eye out for water spills and make sure to clean them up quickly, to help your snake stay comfy in its tank.

python water

8. The Temperature Gradient Is Off

Bally pythons thrive in warm environments. They require warming spots to stay healthy. The temperature gradient in your snake’s cage is important if you want them to stay inside.

The temperature for your ball python should be within 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and a basking area of 90-92 degrees.

Avoid keeping your snake’s cage at room temperature, typically within the 70-degree Fahrenheit range.

It’s also important to keep a healthy humidity range for your ball python. That’s typically at 60-80% for the best results. Ball pythons and most other snakes thrive in this humidity range.

Make sure your snake’s cage isn’t too far on the cool or the warm end of their comfort levels.

A comfortable snake is a happy snake, and a happy ball python doesn’t try to escape.

How to Keep Your Ball Python from Escaping

If you’re wondering why is my ball python trying to escape, the answer is likely in the list above, but likely what you’re really wondering is how you can keep your ball python happy.

Below, we’ll check out a few ways to keep ball pythons happy no matter what.

Get A Terrarium Cover Slip

First, a terrarium cover slip is an excellent way to keep your ball python inside of its cage. Ball pythons can’t escape from enclosures if there is a safe protective cover.

Ball pythons also require air holes, but the right terrarium cover slip should provide sufficient ventilation and easy access to get them in and out of their cage.

Make Sure Their House Is Big Enough

Another important element to consider is the size of their cage.

Young snakes can be housed in tanks that are 10-20 gallons. Once your ball python reaches adulthood, within three years, they require a bigger tank.

Your adult ball python should be able to stretch out completely in their tank, which is typically around 40 gallons.

The size of the terrarium makes a difference in the happiness of your snake, so don’t sell your snake short if you’re trying to make sure it’s happy in the long run.

Give Them Something to Climb

Another important tank feature to consider is giving your snake something to do while it’s in its enclosure.

Snakes love to climb, it’s in their DNA. If you don’t give them the option to climb inside their enclosure they quickly become fugitives.

The best things to give your snake to climb are tree branches. You can get these at any pet store. These fake tree branches allow your snake to get away from the substrate and feel like they’re in the wild living their dreams.

Tree branches also provide alternative hiding places that they don’t have on the bottom of their tank. Let them hide in a safe spot, with help from enriching elements.

What To Do If Your Ball Python Escapes

Wondering what to do if your ball python escapes? It could happen, and it’s best to be prepared if it does.

To give you some insights and help you out of a bad spot if the inevitable does happen, consider the following steps to get your ball python back in its enclosure.

Do A Walk-Through Of Your Home

The great news is that if your snake escapes inside your home, it is probably still inside your house! Do a complete walk-through of every room in your home. If you have multiple floors, check them all, thoroughly. You’d be surprised how quickly your ball python can get across any sized building.

Look in Unexpected Places

Another thing to do if your python escapes its enclosure is to look in unexpected places.

Snakes are notorious for hiding in obscure places. This includes everything from outlets to light fixtures and everything else in between. Anything that can be used as one of your snake’s basking spots should be examined.

Go beyond ground level, too.

Some ball pythons can find their way into your fridge, dishwasher, and other appliances. Anything that has a gap large enough for your snake to squeeze its way into can become a hiding spot.

Don’t overlook cabinets and the space behind your water heater and walls or even your toilet. These places are easy to forget about, but they make great places to hide and stay warm.

Set Traps for Your Snake

After all that searching around, and you still haven’t found your snake? Not to worry! There is one more thing you can do to get your snake–set traps for them!

Start with a sound trap.

Plastic grocery store bags make a great sound trap because of the noise they make when moved across. Crumble up a few of them and place them along your baseboards and any gaps in your doorways etc., to see if they sound the alarm of your runaway.

Alternatively, sprinkle flour and corn starch across your floor before you go to bed. This will give you a track to follow if your snake slithers across the area while you’re sleeping.

Stop Your Snake From Escaping!

Your ball python is still a live wild creature. It has unique needs that are your responsibility to fulfill.

If you’ve noticed your snake is trying to escape its enclosure frequently, it’s time to create a safer space for them to thrive in.

Use the tips we’ve outlined to ensure your ball python likes its home, is happy and stays healthy!

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