Please see The Natural History of the Ball Python: Pythons in the Wild, for information on the natural history of the ball python.
Ball pythons are now very well-established in the pet trade, and captive born animals are readily available. They have much to recommend them as pets, including a mild disposition and manageable adult size. Particularly unique is that they offer a “big constrictor feel” in a small package – thick bodied and muscular, ball pythons put one in mind of a much larger snake.
I heartily recommend this species for those interested in boas and pythons, but who lack the space required by larger snakes. The very real safety issues involved in keeping giant constrictors are also not a factor with ball pythons, yet they display all of the behaviors exhibited by their larger relatives.
Ball pythons are available in an amazing array of color morphs and unusual patterns.
Hatchlings may be started off in a 10 gallon aquarium and moved to a 20 long style aquarium as they increase in size. Such might accommodate a small adult as well, but larger specimens do best in a 30-55 gallon aquarium. Screen cover clips or metal cover screen locks are absolutely essential.
Heat, Humidity and Light
Ambient temperature should be maintained at 80-85 F, with a basking site of 90 F. Temperatures can be reduced to 75-80 F at night. A ceramic heat emitter or under tank heat pad can be used to warm the air and create a basking site. You can also use, in combination with these or solely (depending on terrarium size) an incandescent bulb. The Coralife Reptile Spot Brightlight provides UVA and heat. Ball pythons do not require UVB light, but may benefit from the provision of UVA.
The R Zilla Nightlight Red Halogen bulb or other night viewing bulb will provide heat at night without disturbing your pet’s natural day/night cycle. It will also enable you to view the snake’s nocturnal activities. The ceramic heat emitters and under tank heaters mentioned earlier also provide heat without visible light.
A water bowl should be provided for drinking and soaking. Fill it only to a level such that it will not overflow when the snake submerges its head or body. The terrarium should be kept dry…moist conditions will lead to bacterial skin infections (“blister disease”).
R-Zilla Douglas Fir Bedding or Zoo Med Aspen Snake Bedding are good substrate choices. Both allow for easy “spot cleaning”. All substrate should be removed and the terrarium cleaned with R Zilla Terrarium Cleaner on a regular basis (i.e. once monthly).
Physical Environment – Habitat Type and Terrarium Decorations
Your ball python should be provided with a secure retreat….R Zilla Rock Dens and Hagen Hiding Caves are ideal. A piece of freestanding driftwood will provide a rough surface upon which your snake can rub when in the process of shedding its skin.
If space permits, consider adding a log or piece of driftwood for your snake to climb upon.