According to Reptiles Magazine, the Ball Python is the most popular snake to keep in America.
They are relatively shy snakes that do well in captivity and can live for 30 years, although have been known to live as long as 47 years.
Ball Pythons are a non-venomous breed of snake that are calm and friendly as long as they are handled correctly.
You don’t need a giant enclosure for ball pythons either – they generally only grow to about 3 feet long, and with the right environment will thrive – perfect for the beginner snake owner.
Heating and lighting
Ball pythons are native to Sub-Saharan Africa, so are used to warm weather. You will also find python species in Florida where they thrive in the humid climate.
Florida has a healthy population of small mammals and amphibians which make a good diet for snakes.
When you set up your enclosure for your ball python, you will need to make sure that it is heated to an ambient temperature of 75 degrees.
You should also provide a “basking end” in the enclosure of between 88 and 96 degrees. Having a couple of thermostats in your enclosure will help you to make sure that the temperature is always consistent.
Ball pythons are nocturnal and have a clear sleeping/waking cycle – your lighting should be set to a timer of 12 hours on and 12 hours off.
Ball pythons generally have a diet of rodents, and will eat both rats and mice. An adult python will only need feeding every 1-2 weeks, and in the winter months will often go off food for several weeks at a time.
During this time, keep an eye on their condition and weight, and just make sure that you continue to offer your python food regularly.
Your python should be fed on dead rodents, which you can buy from the pet store, frozen in bags – you will need to defrost the food before you give it to your snake.
You should never put a live rodent into the enclosure with your snake, or the rodent might actually injure the snake.
Handling your python
Handling a ball python should be done carefully – although they are a non-venomous species, they might still occasionally bite if they feel threatened.
Make sure that you fully support your python’s body if you are handling it, and don’t make any sudden movements – just sit down and relax.
Never handle a python when you are feeding it, as they could begin to associate you with being food.
You should also avoid handling your python for at least a day after feeding, as this can lead to them regurgitating their what they have eaten.
Ball pythons are ideal for a beginner snake as they are very low maintenance. They are beautiful and fascinating animals that will thrive as pets as long as they have a suitable enclosure.
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