Ball python facts are fun and interesting, especially if you are thinking about owning one. Ball pythons may initially seem like a scary choice for a pet since they are constrictor snakes, but they are gentle, docile and make great pets.
There are 26 species of pythons; the ball python is one type in this reptile class of animals. Pythons are constrictors, which means they wrap their bodies around their prey and squeeze them until they suffocate. Ball pythons are one of the smallest of all pythons, and they only grow to about three or four feet long.
Some Interesting Ball Python Facts
Knowing and understanding a few basic ball python facts will help you decide if you would like to own one as a pet. Following are some important ball python facts.
A ball python has a flat head and boxy snout. The coloring is black with pale stripes on the face and black stripes forming a mask over the eyes. The body of a ball python has large spots of brown outlined in white and black. The spots on young ball pythons are yellow and green outlined in white and black. A healthy ball python will be round and firm.
Captive ball pythons can live up to 50 years, but the average lifespan is approximately 30 years. In the wild, due to predators, their life span is much shorter.
Why Are They Called Ball Pythons?
In Europe, the ball python is referred to as the royal python. In the United States the name ball python was given to them because they curl themselves into a ball with their head in the center when they are nervous or upset.
Ball Pythons originated and live in the dry grasses of the Savanna desert or along the forest edges. They can climb into trees, but they rarely do. In captivity, these pythons need a secure habitat such as an aquarium with a lid from which they can't escape. An adult ball python will need a cage that is at least 36" in length, such as a 30-gallon aquarium.
Heat and Lighting
Ball pythons require a warm environment, therefore the cage should also contain a light and a heat lamp to simulate the desert climate and keep the snake warm. Keep a thermometer in the cage so you can monitor the temperature at keep it at approximately 80-85 degree Fahrenheit. Ball pythons have sensitive skin and are easily burned, so it is not recommended to use a heat rock in the enclosure. Specialized reptile heating pads are recommended.
Ball pythons are accustomed to a moderately humid environment. If the habitat is too dry, the snake may not be able to shed his skin or defecate. The humidity should be approximately 50% for the ball python to remain healthy.
In the wild, ball pythons hide under rocks or inside dark crevices. So, it is important to provide your pet with a hiding spot in his cage. Most pet supply stores carry hiding spots made from bark, cork and other suitable materials that will serve this purpose and also look quite natural in your pet's habitat.
Ball Pythons hunt rodents in the wild such as rats, gerbils and gerboas. In captivity, Ball Pythons will eat either a live mouse or small rat once per week. Some pet pythons can be trained to eat pre-killed mice, and this is best done while they are still hatchlings. However, you can train an adult ball python to accept pre-killed food if you are patient and persistent.
Ball pythons are sexually mature at approximately five years of age. Breeding typically occurs in late December and January. These snakes lay eggs that have a leathery shell. The female will breed only once every two or three years, and she will drop between four and ten eggs each time. You can tell that a female is bearing eggs because her color will turn dark. After her eggs are dropped, she will coil herself around them to keep them warm. Incubation takes approximately 80 days during which time the female will stay with her eggs and not eat.
Ball pythons shed their skin periodically. Once their eyes begin to look cloudy, shedding will commence very soon. The process takes approximately one to two weeks. It is helpful to have a tree branch in the cage so the snake can rub up against it to shed the skin.
Ball Pythons in the wild have many predators, and very young and small snakes are most vulnerable. Their predators can include:
- Larger snakes
- Carnivorous mammals
- Large frogs
Snakes Need Attention Too
Ball pythons are docile snakes, but they can be very friendly and comfortable with being handled by humans if you hold them once per day. An adult ball python will enjoy wrapping himself around your arm or waist, but you can easily unwrap him when you need to. After holding your snake, always wash your hands.
Now That You Know the Facts...
If you are interested in owning a ball python as a pet, visit your local pet shop or search for a local reptile club to find a breeder. Remember, ball pythons can live up to 50 years, therefore you'll most likely be making a lifetime commitment to care for your pet.