Ball Pythons don’t grow much and females grow longer than males. The Ball Pythons’ maximum length averages 6 feet (females grow up to 2-4 ft. and males reach 2-3 ft. The enclosure that you purchase should be wider than its length so your pet can fully stretch its body when it wants.
Why the enclosure should have enough space
The size of the enclosure completely depends on the size of your Ball Python. Always keep in mind that the larger the enclosure, the much happier your Ball Pythons would be.
Some people tend to think that the stress of a Ball Python equates to the large space it is put in, but this is a false belief. Adult Ball Pythons require more space in their enclosure so that they can spend their time exploring the tank, doing exercise, and playing with the branches.
There is also another myth that attests to the Ball Python’s growth according to the size of the tank, but this is also wrong. Growth stunting and/or boosting in this manner does not apply.
Note that if the vivarium does not have enough space, your Ball Python may start to grow and gain weight, and will lead to many health problems.
Picking the size of the enclosure
If you have bought a baby or juvenile Ball Python, I recommend buying a small tank for the meantime, then progressing to a bigger vivarium as they grow. Baby Ball Pythons are stress-free when they are inside a tank concerning their size.
For the Hatchlings, the tank should be at least 10 gallons. If you are building the enclosure on your own, you have to make sure the dimensions are 20″ x 11″ x 13″. You can keep a hatchling that weighs 300g – 400g in this type of enclosure.
For Baby/juvenile Ball Pythons, the enclosure should be at least 40 gallons, and if you wish to build one on your own, then make sure the dimensions are 36″ x 18″ x 18″. This type of tank will be suitable for Ball Pythons measuring 3 feet.
For Adult Ball Pythons, make sure the tank is as big as possible to stretch their bodies. The tank should be at least 120 gallons and if you want to build up one by yourself, ensure the dimensions are 48″ x 24″ x 24″. You can even maximize the dimensions further but never minimize them.
Type of Enclosure
Always choose a glass or plastic enclosure for your Ball Pythons, with the length wider in contrast to the tank’s height so they can stretch their body. The transparency will allow you to see your pet while also keeping the heat and humidity up inside the snake’s tank.
Never choose Screen or mesh cages as they can’t hold the heat and humidity level required for the Ball Python. Though these cages provide fresh air circulation that may free your pet from respiratory infections, your pet needs humidity more than anything else – although it is okay if you have a screen top decorated with branches, otherwise, the rest of the cage must not be made of that material.
If you maintain the humidity and temperature properly, you needn’t worry about the top lid or replace it with a solid lid.
A good terrarium will last the entire 30-year lifespan of the Ball Python. One with poor durability will need to be replaced every few years.
Whatever type of enclosure you choose, make sure the tank doesn’t have sharp edges with secure locks and a lid.
Places to Avoid
Never place your vivarium near
- Air conditioning vents
- Doors opening to the outside
Cost of the Enclosure
The main expense when you have a Ball Python as a pet is for the enclosure. You have to buy a durable one or else you’ve to change them every time it sustains damage – so even if it is a bit costly, you might as well purchase a durable enclosure.
The cost of setting up the vivarium is a one-time expense. The enclosure may cost around $20 – $150 depending on the size of the enclosure.
Most people use a glass vivarium, and it is advised by all. The vivarium does not come along with a lid so you have to buy them as well. You may have to buy an enclosure lid depending upon the type of the enclosure which may cost you around $20 – $150.
If you want to buy some premium cages made up of specific wood that goes along with your room, it may cost you a few thousand dollars.
Important accessories for the enclosure
The enclosure, whichever you purchase, never comes with the lid, so you have to purchase one on your own to prevent your Ball Python from sneaking out of the vivarium. Some of the accessories that you have to buy along with the vivarium are:
- Bottom tray for removing the dirty substrate
- Gauges like Thermometer and Hydrometer
- Backgrounds for the vivarium (forest backgrounds within the vivarium would look like a centerpiece in your room)
You have to use bedding for the enclosure to withhold the humidity level of the enclosure. You also have to change that substrate once a week when cleaning the enclosure since Ball Pythons spend all their time on the floor of the cage and tend to burrow like in the wild to escape in response to fear and stress. The commonly used substrates are:
- Coconut fibers
- Coconut husks
You have to include a water bowl so that your Ball Python can soak and drink water. You can even use a plastic tub which you may already have at your house, but do make sure that the edges are not sharp.
You have to purchase a hide for your Ball Pythons because they spend most of their time hiding from the light. You can make one on your own by designing a cave using cardboard or a plastic mold. Always make sure that whatever material you decide to use, is free from chemicals and has no sharp edges.
Plants for Ball Python Enclosure
Believe it or not, the availability of the plants inside the enclosure makes the Ball Python think they are safe. They play with the plants, too, and it gives them a feel of the forest. But you have to make sure the plants are safe for Ball Pythons.
Some of the safe plants for Ball Pythons are:
- Weeping fig trees
- Episcia cupreata (Flame Violet or Silver Skies)
- Neoregelia (Tiger Cub)
- Neoregelia (Zoe)
- Fresh moss
- Neoregelia (Fireball)
- Philodendron cordatum
- Ficus elastica (Tineke Rubber Plant)
Ball Pythons are cold-blooded animals which means they depend on the environment for heat and humidity, and their body temperature changes accordingly. If you don’t maintain the cage parameters properly, then it would be deadly for your Ball Python.
The overall temperature of temperature should never drop below 70oF. If the temperature drops below that, then your pet will die from cold shock.
The required temperature of the enclosure at different ends are:
- Basking temperature 88oF– 96oF
- Overall temperature 78oF – 80oF
- Hide/cool spot 75oF
- Nighttime temperature > 65oF
The basking light should be at the hot end and the hides should be present at the cold end of the enclosure. Fit the thermometer in the middle of the enclosure to monitor the temperature and also use a laser thermometer to specifically check the temperature at the hiding spots and at the basking spot.
Your Ball Python should definitely have a day-night cycle. So you have to turn on the heating lights for 12 hours and then turn them off for the next.
Most of the domesticated Ball Pythons suffer from Vitamin D and calcium deficiencies if there is no UVB lighting in their enclosure. So it is important to have UVB lights at the top of their enclosure where they can’t reach the lights.
Ball Pythons require 50% – 60% of humidity inside their enclosure. It is important to maintain the humidity because it helps them to shed properly. Use a Hygrometer inside the enclosure to check the humidity.
Substrate and plants aid in maintaining the humidity level of the enclosure, so it is advised to decorate the cage with them.
Cleaning the Enclosure
Cleaning your Ball Python’s cage is very important as it helps prevent any hygiene-related problems for your pet from occurring.
There is no problem if you miss a day or two to clean, but make sure you clean your pet’s cage well daily. Deep cleaning the cage every 2 months is required.
Here are some tips for cleaning the pet’s cage through detergents:
- Remove your pet Ball Python and keep them in a temporary enclosure.
- Remove the substrate and all the accessories.
- Clean the surface of the cage.
- Wipe down the surfaces of the cage using an antibacterial surface spray and a damp cloth. Never use cold water because usually, the Glass cage would remain hot for some time – so if you spray cold water on it, the glass would crack.
- Clean the walls and floor of the cage using warm water and either a diluted soap, diluted vinegar, or reptile disinfectant.
- Use a putty knife or scraper to remove any tough spots you may find to make sure you have a thoroughly cleaned cage for your pet.
- Use the toothbrush and dilute soap or disinfectant to clean the corners of the areas of the cage.
- Rinse all the items you’ve used to clean with diluted soap.
- Now you have to clean the accessories and plants or any furniture you keep inside the enclosure. Using a watery sponge, clean the leaves of the pants, and a sponge with the disinfectant to clean the furniture.
- Allow the cage and the accessories to dry and keep the vivarium under direct sunlight.
- Replace the substrate and the accessories (if damaged or cannot be cleaned); and finally,
- Place your Ball Python back.
Sunlight Requirement for Ball Pythons
Ball pythons are nocturnal but they are cold-blooded – meaning they don’t require sunlight but they require warmth. In the wild, ball pythons bound themselves to a hot rock before they go hunting at night.
The heat from the hot rock is absorbed through their bellies. This warmth is enough to give them enough energy to hunt at night and digest their food.
Do Ball Pythons require UV lights?
No, Ball pythons do not require UV lights to survive. Your Ball Python won’t die from the lack of Vitamin D from the sunlight. They get all the nutrients and vitamins from the rodents you feed them. Other external sources or supplements will not be necessary to provide it.
They are nocturnal and they can live without UV lights but for a pet ball python, you should have a day-night cycle by keeping the lights turned on for 12 hours and off for the next. They only need warmth to survive.
Will the sun kill your ball Python?
Constant exposure for more than 30 minutes will kill your ball python. They seek shady regions or will burrow themselves to cool down their body in the wild. Ball pythons will overheat quickly and die because of it. So never take your ball python to a park or your garden during the day.
Can you place your Ball python vivarium near a window?
Never place your Ball Python’s enclosure near a window or a hearth. Window placements decrease humidity; and if placed near a hearth, the air would be dry and cause your ball python to overheat (leading to death).
Can you ball pythons a Sunbath?
Despite hailing from Africa, ball pythons die from too much exposure to sunlight. Ball pythons are nocturnal, so they avoid the intense heat of the day – that is how they survive.
You can take them into your yard in the evening where the sun is not too hot for 10 – 15 minutes. They will enjoy basking in the sunlight and wandering in fresh grass. Keep an eye on them! They are prone to eat things and may be captured by large birds like eagles.
Can you let your Ball Python roam inside your house?
Yes, you can allow your ball python to roam in your house freely, but you should always keep an eye on them. Make sure that you don’t allow them to roam in a room where a hearth is present. If you don’t watch them, they will find somewhere to hide, and you will struggle to locate them.
What about other morphs of Ball Python?
You can allow a darkly pigmented ball python to roam inside your house or in your yard. Never take any lightly pigmented ball pythons like albino ball pythons to your yard and never allow them to roam in your house. They are very sensitive to light. Pigmented ball pythons never survive more than a year in the wild.
Your Ball Python’s happiness and health heavily depend on the cage it resides in. So you have to monitor them daily and clean the cage regularly so that your pet won’t get infected from any of the diseases.
Ball Pythons require warmth at their belly to digest their food. They can live without the sunlight but not without the warmth and heat. They will die if the temperature of the enclosure falls below 70oF. Your Ball python won’t survive in extreme heat or cold.