R E P T I L E   C A R E S H E E T
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Ball Pythons

Ball Pythons are great for anyone wanting to care for a snake, who likes the look of a python without the normally massive size. Ball pythons usually only average 4 feet in size (some may reach up to 5-6 ft. Females generally get larger than males) This makes them a great pet as they will not require a lot of space and will never need anything larger than small prey to eat.

General Diet
Ball Pythons are carnivores, which means they eat meat. In the wild, Ball pythons will eat a variety of small mammals, birds, amphibians, lizards, and other snakes. Captive-bred snakes will generally accept mice and rats as food. However, Ball pythons don't eat mice in the wild, so, wild-caught specimens may not recognize them as food (which is probably the most common reason people label Balls as being picky eaters). Mice and Rats can be offered, however, and will generally eventually be accepted as food. Just keep in mind if you decide to purchase a wild-caught specimen (Which we do NOT recommend) you may need to offer other types of foods, such as lizards, frogs, gerbils, etc., to get them to eat. Some Captive-bred specimens willingly will eat frozen mice. The prey size should be the correct size for the snake, about equal to the snakes body size, and never too big. They should be fed about once per week.

It is best to feed your snake in a place that is not its normal home, such as a large, deep storage tote. That way the snake will not associate its home as a place that it could be fed (and will be less likely to strike at your hand). If frozen food is used, it must be thawed out first and at room temperature before it is fed.

Never feed a snake anything cold. If live food is fed, watch the snake and prey item carefully. If the snake doesn't seem hungry, take the prey item away, and try again in a day or so, and be sure the habitat is not too cold. Ball Pythons can be tricky eaters, and will sometimes stop eating for short periods of time. This is normal if they are healthy otherwise.

Housing
Ball pythons stay small, so a 30-50 gallon tank will work well throughout snakes life. A hatchling can be started out in a 10-20 gallon tank. A full cover should be used on top of a tank with clamps.

For a substrate, we recommend using either finely ground cypress bark, fir bark, or coconut hulls, such as Bed-a-Beast, or a reptile carpet. If you decide to purchase a wild-caught snake (again, we don't recommend) use plain white paper towels the first couple weeks. This will make it easier to check for mites in their enclosure. It is also very easy to clean.

Provide two hide boxes or caves. One at the warmer end of the tank and one on the opposite/cooler end.

Always have a bowl of fresh water in your snakes inclosure. They will drink and soak in it.

Temperature and Humidity
Reptiles are ectotherms, which means they get their heat from an outside source. A heat lamp is our recommened source of heat. A heat pad or nocturnal heat bulb may be necessary if the enclosure temperature drops below 73 degrees at night. Different areas of the habitat should be at different temperatures, so they can move around to heat up or cool off. Ball Pythons are comfortable with a daytime temperature in their habitat of 84-88 degrees with a basking area that is about 90 degrees, and a nighttime temperature ranging between 73-80 degrees. Use a ceramic reflector or daylight heat bulb in a heat lamp during the day to keep the temperature up in their habitat. Do not use hot rocks with Ball Pythons.

UV lighting is not necessary with Ball Pythons as they are a nocturnal species.

Ball Pythons come from a warm, dry environment, keeping the humidity high is not necessary (or recommened).

Sanitation/General Care
Check the water bowl daily to make sure it stays clean and change as needed. The litter or substrate used on the bottom should be cleaned as often as needed, and this will depend on habitat size and your snake's size.

Ball Pythons will shed their skin periodically and this is normal. Mist them lightly during these times and make sure a large water container is available. Be sure the habitat is at the right temperature at all times, as a chilled snake will not eat well or at all and may get sick.

Handling Precautions
Reptiles can carry a disease that can be transmitted to people called salmonellosis. This disease is usually caught by people after they eat undercooked eggs or meat, but reptiles can give it to people as well. Although it is rare for a reptile to carry this disease, it is always important to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after you have handled your pet or anything in your pet's cage. Keep your pet out of the kitchen area and do not allow very small children to handle any reptiles. Taking just a few precautions will keep the chances of catching the disease to an absolute minimum.

Supplies Checklist
Heat lamp with heat bulb
Fish or reptle tank with screen lid
Large water dish or tray
Bed-a-Beast, Reptile Carpet, or other substrate
Branches or other decor. for climbing and hiding
Two Hide boxes or caves
Books about Ball Pythons

 

 


 

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