Every pet owner wants their pet to be happy and healthy, but we should be able to identify when our pet is not happy and act accordingly so our pets are more comfortable.
Ball pythons are quite shy and get easily stressed over nothing, so it’s absolutely necessary to understand their mood swings by analyzing their body language.
Normal behavior for ball pythons
It’s hard to judge the exact nature of the ball python because every species is different with regards to their character and normal behavior.
Once you have owned a ball python for several years you will learn its nature and normal behavior. This is how we develop a baseline for their “normal.”
Happy Ball Pythons
When your ball python is in a happy mood, they won’t rush their body movements. They flick their tongue in the air and observe their environment by analyzing the chemical properties in the air.
Usually, a ball python’s mood depends on its environmental parameters, including temperature, humidity, and chemicals in the air. They freely roam and play with branches.
When they’re happy with you handling them, ball pythons will play around your arm with a gentle grip, not a tight grip. If they grip too tight, they are not comfortable with your handling.
Stressed Ball Pythons
Ball pythons are quite lazy. When you find your ball python constantly moving around the enclosure it is a sign of stress. They will rub their nose against the wall of the enclosure. If they try to open the lid or are constantly staring at you and the room, it means they’re hungry.
If they are staring at some other place inside the enclosure by lying down, you should be concerned about the enclosure parameters. They could be cold. Usually, they flick their tongue out. If they don’t, they are experiencing stress.
If they avoid you whenever you go near them, don’t handle them and leave them alone. They are under stress!
If they urinate on your while you are handling them, they don’t like to be handled. Place them back in the enclosure and try again tomorrow.
It is common for a snake to raise its head now and then but when your pet constantly raises its head and stares at something, it means they are not comfortable with something in the cage. If they like to be handled, handle them. Check temperature and humidity levels as well.
If your ball python is not eating after 2 weeks, they are under constant stress. Try cleaning their enclosure. Sometimes they will not eat if they feel their surroundings aren’t hygienic.
The primary reason for stress is unhappiness with cage parameters. It is their home and personal space, so it should be taken care of.
Angry Ball Pythons
Ball pythons show their anger by hissing, biting, and heavy breathing. Don’t handle them at this point in time. It can take them hours to cool down so don’t panic if they breathe heavily for a while. They are stressed and will overcome it.
Sometimes they will strike at you as a defensive behavior. When a new person tries to handle them, they become stressed and angry so they strike out to avoid handling.
Body language of ball python
- Climbing trees
- Slow movement
- Relaxed muscles or curling
- Long sleep
- Periscoping – It is a way of positioning their head lifted and putting it forward. It may seem like they are ready to strike. In some cases this is true, but when they are looking around their enclosure and they are happy, they periscope.
- When their movement is in an S shape, it’s a sign of stress
- Periscoping when handled
- When their bellies change to a pink color it means they are undergoing the shedding process and should be left alone
- During breeding season, they won’t eat for weeks.
- When their color is pale, it’s related to health issues. Take them to the vet.
- Heavy breathing with their mouth open. In this case, you ball python is unable to breathe properly, so you must take them to the vet.
- When your ball python’s head is not steady and they often miss their target, this indicates a morph-related problem. This is the result of bad cross-breeding or a gene mutation. You can’t help them with this problem because it’s how they were born.
- When ball pythons climb to the top of a branch and stare at the lid of their cage, they are hungry. This behavior can also happen when they have ticks and mites.
Ball pythons aren’t able to express their emotions, so we have to observe their body language in order to know when to help them. Their mood depends on cage parameters and adequate food intake. Ball pythons must be taken care of properly for them to live happy life.