BALL PYTHON CARE
This small python is terrestrial, residing in the grasslands and open forests of Central and West Africa.
They are not commonly found climbing on trees, but rather prefer burrows and termite mounds. The enclosure should not be overly large (about the size of a ten gallon aquarium for a juvenile, twenty gallon size for a small adult, and about thirty gallon size for larger adults) in order to minimize stress. Many substrates have been used successfully such as newspaper, aspen shavings, and cypress bark. Cedar and pine shavings are harmful and should be avoided. Most ball pythons seem to feel most comfortable when a suitable hide is provided.
Temperatures are warm and humid in their native region. Provide your BP with ambient day time temps of 80-85, and a warmer basking area of 90-95. Always have fresh, clean water available.
Ball pythons have a reputation for being picky eaters. This most likely evolved because of the tendency of some individuals to fast periodically, usually during the winter. In captivity, they eat rats or mice. Offer food regularly, particularly at night when the animals are most active, but be patient and do not stress the animal trying to convince it to eat. There is no cause for alarm unless it is a prolonged fast and the animal appears to be stressed or losing weight. For the true picky eater, there are a number of feeding tricks keepers have shared on online forums and in the recommended books.
The majority of my ball pythons eat frozen/thawed, warmed rats offered on the end of tongs. A few prefer to eat live prey, and an occasional one will have a taste for mice. During breeding season, adult males seem to have more of a tendency to skip a meal than the females.
To help acclimate your new ball python, prepare its home in advance and allow it to become accustomed to it in peace for a few days to a week. Do not attempt to feed it right away.
With patience and understanding, ball pythons can thrive in captivity.
Please refer to the recommended reading list for more detailed information. Kingsnake.com and Ball-pythons.net are also excellent online resources.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Name: Python Regius, Ball Python, Royal
Location: Grasslands and open forests of West and Central Africa
Food in Captivity: Rats, mice most commonly.
Typical Adult length:
Males - 4 feet
Females - 5 feet
Reported lifespan in Captivity: 30 years
de Vosjoli, Philippe, et. al. 1995. The Ball Python Manual. The Herpetocultural Library. Mission Viejo, CA
McCurley, Kevin. 2005. The Complete Ball Python: A Comprehensive Guide to Care, and Breeding. ECO Herpetological Publishing and Distribution. Lansing MI
Barker, David G. and Tracy Barker. 2006. Ball Pythons: The HIstory, Natural History, Care, and Breeding. VPI Library. Boerne, TX