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Ball Python Care

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Ball Python Care

Ball pythons have to be one of the easiest snakes for a beginner.  Ball pythons do not attain the great size of many other pythons - they  seldom grow larger than four feet long. If kept properly, they will  live a long time. We have one animal in our collection that we obtained as a baby in 1975! He is 33 years old and still going strong.

Ball pythons do not like large cages. They prefer to feel confined,  as they live most of their lives underground. One of the biggest  problems in getting a ball python to eat, is finding a small cage to  their liking. Often, as a ball python grows larger, the tendency is to  put them in ever larger cages. Though this is obviously necessary, keep the cage as small as possible. We have often found that a non-feeding  ball python will eat readily when moved to a smaller cage.

Like all pythons, ball pythons need to be warm to do well. The warm  side of the cage should be 85-88F during the day. Ball pythons may be cooled at night, but keep the overall cage temperature above 75F. When  heating the cage, use a heat gradient - make one side warmer than the other, so your ball python can move to the cage temperature where he is most comfortable. There should be hiding places at both the cool and warm end for this reason. They also require a water dish, and an occasional misting, especially when they are in shed.

The cage itself may be as elaborate as you'd like. Keep in mind  that, the more furniture there is in the cage, the harder it will be to clean. The cage may be bare with a newspaper substrate, or you may use cypress mulch or commercial reptile bark. Keep the cage cleaned  frequently.

Ball pythons eat rats and mice. If you obtain your ball python as a  baby, it is usually possible to get it to eat dead rodents. If feeding  frozen animals, thaw by soaking in a plastic bag in warm water. If you get the food item a little extra warm, it will enhance the feeding response. A beginner's mistake is feeding a rodent that is too small. A ball python, even a newly hatched one, will never eat a mouse or rat  pinkie. Try rats a couple days old, just beginning to get fur, on a baby ball python.

Ball pythons are notorious for going off feed. Virtually all our animals will go off feed in the fall, and will stay off for 4-5 months.  Surprisingly, this is true even if the heat is not turned down for the  winter .. they know. As long as you are aware this happens, and the animal is otherwise healthy, there is nothing to worry about. When they are good and ready they will eat. It is best to continue to offer them food every few weeks, but they may be off feed for over a year.  Consider it a vacation from cleaning, and enjoy your animals.

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