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Ball Pythons as Pets

Ball Pythons Africa

Ball pythons are small snakes that are found primarily in Central and West Africa. African natives consider the ball python to be sacred.  The color patterns of ball pythons are very attractive, which has led people to keep them as pets. If you are a reptile lover, then you will definitely love the ball python.

When threatened, Ball pythons coil their body as tightly as possible with their head in the center. When they do this, they look like a ball, which is why they’re called Ball pythons.

Royal Pythons

Ball pythons are also called royal pythons because of a myth that says they are treated as live jewels by the kings and queens of Africa or by tribe leaders to decorate their necks. Since they are petted or worn alive by royals, they are also called Royal pythons. There are also a few rumors about them, including one that states Cleopatra used to wear a ball python.

The appearance of the Ball Python

We can identify ball pythons easily because they have chocolate brown markings with lighter brown spots and yellow stripes on their nose. The bottom of their belly is ivory white. They move slowly compared to other species of snakes.

Ball pythons have flat, square-like heads with a boxy nose. Their eyes appear to bulge a little from its head. It has more than 150 sharp teeth. They are not fond of daytime and are often found to be very lazy.  They love to hunt at night, and their eyesight is also extraordinary in the dark.

Size of the Ball Python

Baby ball pythons are called hatchlings. They don’t grow much, but they are heavy-bodied. On average, the size of the hatchlings is 25 – 43 cm.  Their heads are large compared to their body and slender neck. Adult ball pythons grow to about 4 – 5 feet and weigh about 3 – 5 pounds.

Adult female ball pythons are larger than adult male pythons and also have long, strong jaws compared to male ball pythons.

Are ball pythons good pets?

Ball pythons are definitely good pets, but they are not cuddly pets like cats or dogs. Every reptile lover will love ball pythons. Ball pythons aren’t high maintenance. They don’t need constant attention, and it is enough to feed them once or twice per week, depending on their age. They are friendly, live long, and easy enough that even a beginner can keep them as a pet.

  • Ball pythons are not venomous.
  • Ball pythons don’t have fangs because they are non-venomous.
Ball Python Pet

Be cautious if you have infants or toddlers

Ball pythons are not aggressive and won’t attack or cause harm to fully grown humans or young ones. There is a risk when it comes to infants and toddlers under two.

These pythons won’t eat them or swallow them, but they may coil tightly around the neck of infants and break their windpipe leading to the infant’s death. No such cases have been reported, but there is always a possibility.

Types of Ball Python:

Ball pythons on average live up to 30 years and all the morphs are native to Central and West Africa. Below are the few types of Ball pythons along with their costs.

Morph Color Price
Acid Dark brown or black base color with golden brown spots $1,500
Albino Bright yellow and white snake with bright red eyes $250-$400
Axanthic Gray, black, white, brown, and silver colors $200
Banana Strong yellow colored blotches and spots against a tan base color $150-$250
Black (Black-Backed) A thick, unbroken stripe of concentrated pigment running down their spines $50-$100
Black Pastel Dark, dusky black and shadowy gray base colors $1,000
Blue-Eyed Leucistic Pure white with blue eyes $800-$1,000
Blue-Eyed Lucy Faint yellow dorsal stripes with blue eyes $700
Bongo Pastel Black base color and fades to white $300-$500
Bumblebee The bright yellow $450
Butter Soft, creamy-yellow color with Caramel markings $100
Candino Light pink or lavender base color $300
Candy Dark lavender, gray, and beige base colors $350
Champagne Dark brown in color $200
Chocolate Dark chocolate-brown colors $100-$250
Cinnamon Rich brownish-red color $450
Clown Tan and brown color $200
Coral Glow Dark lavender base coloration with bright orange blotches $250
Dreamsicle White or pinkish in color $2,500
Enchi Orange-tinted color $100
Fire Coffee-brown color $100-$400
Fire Ivory Pink-lavender base color $375
Ghi Ball Python Patternless, light colored bellies and a black base color $100
Ghost Lighter tans, yellows $100
Highway Copper-brown to gray-brown $550-$650
Ivory Pinkish-white color. $200-$300
Lavender Albino Lavender base color $400
Lemon Blast Dark brown and black $200
Lesser Dark brown $125
Mojave Dark brown to bluish-black $100
Mystic Dark brown-black base $150
Pastel Blushing brown base color and clean white $75
Pewter Light brown or tan base color $200
Phantom Black base color and white shades $100
Piebald White base with patches of color with patterns $300-$400
Pinstripe Light brown to copper color $100
Purple Passion Lavender-pink bodies $400
Red Deep red undertone blotches $100
Ringer A ring of white near the end of the tail $150
Scaleless Totally scaleless with just belly scales $2,500
Spider Tan-brown base colors $150
Spotnos Faded light brown color $150
Stormtrooper White with gray and black color NA
Sunset Deep auburn-red color $1,000-$1,500
Super Blast Hazy, bright pastel yellow color $400
Tiger Light yellow color with faded orange shades $200-$400
Vanilla Blushed-out brown color $100
White No pigment with standard dark eyes $650
Woma Brown color and fades at the sides $250
Yellow Belly Yellowish color $50

Ball Python Diets

Mostly you can feed ball pythons with frozen mice, but before feeding, make sure the frozen mice are at room temperature.

They don’t eat vegetables, so don’t try. They will always enjoy all kinds of rodents. You can feed baby hatchlings with pinkies once per week and feed adult ball pythons once every two weeks.

Ball pythons are carnivorous.  They eat:

  • Rodents
  • Small birds
  • Hamsters
  • Small chicks
  • Ducklings

Don’t feed them often because ball pythons take a long time to digest their food and gain energy. If you overfeed them, they become obese, and then their life span is shortened.

Water routine

Ball pythons like to play in the water and live near a water source. Always keep water in a large bowl so they can drink and soak as required. If you have a younger ball python, you can keep a smaller bowl so they can get out the bowl easily.

Types Ball Python

Ball Pythons vivarium

Ball pythons require enough space to stretch out their body. I would recommend having a 5 ft x 2 ft x 2 ft vivarium for adult ball pythons. Though they don’t use the entire space, it would be large enough for them to stretch out.

You can keep a baby ball python in a fusarium. They don’t require much space, and they feel safer when there is less space in their enclosure.

The type of vivarium recommended by most ball python owners is a plastic/ PVC vivarium. These are more durable compared to the glass ones. You have to clean the vivarium at least once per week.

It’s recommended to keep the temperature of the vivarium at 95oF at the warm end and 75oF at the cool end. Don’t house ball pythons with any other pet snakes.

Ball Python Appearance

Can you allow your ball Python to freely roam in your home?

Yes, you can allow your ball python to roam in your house freely, but you should always keep an eye on them. If you don’t watch them, they will find somewhere to hide, and you will struggle to locate them.

You can even take them into your yard, where they will enjoy basking in the sunlight and wandering in fresh grass. Again, keep an eye on them as they are prone to eat things and are pretty to large birds like eagles.

Are ball pythons aggressive?

Young ball pythons are more aggressive than adult ones. When they feel threatened or experience changes in their environment, they act aggressively by biting you. Their bite is not venomous or painful as their jaws are not strong.

They act aggressive or bite for the following reasons:

  • When they feel threatened
  • To kill  prey
  • When you’re grabbing them
  • When they are shedding
  • When you have fed them, and you have the scent of the prey.

Pet ball pythons won’t attack humans, but when they bite, they release their jaw within a minute. Don’t try to hold open their mouth, or they won’t release their jaw from the biting point. They have inward-sloped teeth and because of that, you will see a bite mark in a curved shape.

Ball Pythons

Ball python shedding

Ball pythons shed every 5 – 7 weeks. During the process, they are more aggressive, and you shouldn’t try to handle them. Don’t try to remove the shed skin on your own because it can hurt the new skin of your ball python. They also don’t eat much during this period.

Do Ball Pythons like to be touched?

Ball pythons are pet snakes, and they should be bred by a breeder. Captive pythons that are exported like to be handled by humans because they have been surrounded by humans from the moment they were born. Thus they don’t view humans as a threat. Freshly caught, wild ball pythons won’t like being handled by humans.

Don’t handle them after you feed them because they find it quite irritating to be handled after eating.  You should never handle them more than once per day.

Ball Python Pets

What to do if your ball Python bites?

The ball python bite is not venomous, but there is a possibility of contracting bacterial infections. After the bite, check with your doctor; an opening in the skin can cause bacteria to enter your body.

Wash the wounded area using soap and warm water. Use bandages to cover the wound.

Doctors will prescribe you antibiotics to avoid bacterial infections. They may ask you to take an MRI scan to determine the severity of the bite. If the bite has caused any damage to nerves, then you would require a surgical repair.

Reproduction in Ball Pythons

Male ball pythons sexually mature earlier than females. They attain sexual maturity between 18 months and four years. Ball pythons mate every 2 – 3 years. The male ball python initiates  copulation by using its spurs on females. The gestation period of the female ball python is 44 – 54 days.

Ball pythons are oviparous, which means they lay eggs. After four weeks of copulation, the female ball python starts to lay eggs. On average, female ball pythons lay 4 – 12 eggs.

After laying eggs, the female will incubate the eggs and increase their temperature to 4 – 6 degrees through rhythmic movement. During this incubation period, the female ball python won’t eat, but she will be around the eggs all the time. The incubation period can last up to 3 months.

Usually, the female ball pythons lay eggs from mid-February to the first week of April, and the eggs hatch from mid-April to June.

Ball Pythons Pet

Common diseases of Ball Pythons

  • Dermatitis
  • Respiratory diseases
  • Stomatitis
  • Ticks and mites
  • Abnormal symptoms to notice in ball pythons
Unusually frequent or infrequent shedding
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargic or reluctant to eat
  • Abnormal feces
  • Bumps or spots on the skin
  • Labored breathing
  • Difficulty shedding
  • White, cheesy substance in the mouth

The life span of the ball python

If you take care of ball pythons, their average life as a pet can be up to 30 years. It can even last up to 50 years, but it completely depends upon the type of snake and how you take care of them. Ball pythons are believed to be the only snake species that have life spans this long.

Yes, it is legal to have a ball python as a pet, as it is mentioned in the CITES papers in Appendix II. Thousands of ball pythons are exported yearly. There are few restrictions to export ball pythons, as some people export freshly caught, wild ball pythons, which is illegal. Captive bred ones alone are approved for export.

Always ask for CITES papers when you buy a ball python. Without them, owning a ball python is considered illegal.