Diet and Feeding
A ball pythons diet consists primarily of rodents that range in size from pinkies to large rats. We recommend frozen rodents, thawed/warmed to above room temperature, over live as it is easier to keep food on hand and there is no chance of a frozen rodent biting and injuring your snake or you.
The size of the rodent should not be larger than 1.5 times the diameter of the largest part of their body and no more than 1 a week at this size. While you can feed smaller rodents, you should not feed more than can be placed in a line up to the same length as the larger rodent, and you may have to feed more frequently to maintain the same calories.
Ball Pythons can be picky eaters as they hunt using the thermally sensitive holes on their mouth as opposed to their eyes. This is why it is important to warm your frozen rodents as this is how they will find them. It is not uncommon to need to wiggle the rodent using tongs in order to get the snake to strike and constrict their meal or they may ignore it.
- Feed your ball python once a week
- Size the rodent between 1 to 1.5 times the diameter of the largest part of their girth.
- Purchase frozen rodents and thaw to above room temperature
- You may need to stimulate your snake to eat by wiggling the rodent with tongs.
Ball Pythons, like most snakes, should be housed in an enclosure that is as long as their length and as deep as half their length. The height of the enclosure can vary depending on the the design but should be at least 4 times the girth of the snake.
Your enclosure needs to be ventilated but also secure. Ball Pythons are quite strong and can easily push lids off enclosures that are not locked or fit though holes smaller than their girth.
Provide a good substrate for your python. Aspen shavings, mulch-type such as coconut fiber bedding or reptile bark; dampened sphagnum moss are great options. Never use cedar as this can cause respiratory infections. Just take care that your snake does not ingest the substrate when feeding as this can cause impaction. Remove an feces to keep the enclosure clean.
Your enclosure should have fresh water and if possible enough that your python can soak but not deep enough that they may drown. Soaking is an important part of the shedding process and also helps to eliminate mites.
Your enclosure needs to have a source of UVB lighting but never be in direct sunlight. UVB light regulates the synthesis of Vitamin D3, and it is Vitamin D3 that allows reptiles to properly absorb and metabolize calcium. While Ball Pythons are nocturnal and generally get all of their calcium from the rodents they eat, research has found both UVB and UVA light have many other benefits for reptiles as a whole, assisting the immune system, in skin, and with color vision.
Your enclosure also needs a temperature regulated warm side of about 80 degrees Fahrenheit and cool side in the lower 70's. Since snakes are cold blooded, it is essential that they are able to regulate their temperature based upon the environment. Too cold and they can no longer digest their food, too hot and they can overheat and die. We recommend under tank heat mats for glass enclosures and Infrared ceramic or LED units for wooden enclosures. You must run these with a thermostat and must make sure that the area of heat is the correct temperature and not just go by the thermostat setting.
Your Ball Python should have a place to hide so they can feel safe. Make sure their hide is slightly larger than they are when curled into a ball. It is best to have a hide available at both the hot side and the sold side so that the snake can choose which one to be in based upon what is best for digestion and/or comfort.
- Make sure your enclosure is at least as long as the snake so they can stretch out.
- Make sure your enclosure has adequate ventilation but is also secure from escape
- Provide a comfortable substrate that can absorb liquids. This will help you keep the enclosure clean.
- Provide fresh water, enough that your python can soak in.
- Make sure to provide a UVB light source to help keep them healthy
- Make sure to provide a temperature regulated heat source as well as a cool side to your enclosure
- Make sure your Ball Python has a place to hide
Ball Pythons are generally easy to handle. When frightened, they curl up into a ball and protect their head. When active, they move a bit slower than other snakes so they are generally easy to keep under control. Always approach picking up your python away from their head so they do not mistake you for food. Their eyesight is not as good as their heat detectors so they may not recognize you until its too late. Make sure to always support the bulk of their body as Ball Pythons are much heavier in the middle so their head and tail cannot support the full weight of their body. Be cautious of small opening that your python might try to slither into. They are very muscular and can wedge themselves into spots making them very difficult remove without hurting them.