Choosing a Ball Python

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Housing

At hatching, ball pythons are just over a foot in length. If fed often they will grow quickly, doubling size in the first year of life, and attaining maturity in their third year. Ball pythons are most active in the evening and early nighttime hours. The minimum floor space for one or two babies should be 12 by 30 inches. As they grow, a larger cage – one having a floor space of at least 18 by 48 inches will be necessary. Cage furniture in the form of sizable limbs and hide boxes should be provided. Be sure no furniture can shift or topple and injure your python. The terrarium or cage must be tightly lidded.

A substrate of newspaper, packing corrugate, paper towels, or non-aromatic mulch can be used. Ball pythons hide much of the time, but might come out on cool days to bask under a heat-providing lamp. Be sure that the snakes cannot come in contact with a bare bulb or ceramic heating unit, lest they burn themselves. Under cage heating pads can also be used. A cage temperature of 75 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit nights and 82 to 90 F days will suffice. Heat only one end of the tank to provide a thermal gradient.

Common Diseases and Disorders

  • Thermal burns can occur from a malfunctioning hot rock or improperly baffled bulb or ceramic heater.
  • Rodent bites can be very serious. Never leave a live rodent unattended in your snake’s cage. In fact, we suggest that you never feed a snake a live rodent.
  • Mouth rot (infectious stomatitis) can occur if a snake’s teeth are broken, the mouth lining is injured, or if a struggling rodent being constricted, bites the snake.
  • Respiratory distress can occur if the cage temperature changes radically, especially if humidity is high or the cage is damp.
  • Blister disease can occur if the cage is too wet, and especially if the cage is both wet and dirty.
  • Inclusion body disease (IBD) is a very communicable, insidious and eventually fatal affliction of boas and pythons with no known cure. If your ball python shows a lack of body coordination, consult your veterinarian immediately.
  • Improper shedding (retained eyecaps, etc.) may occasionally occur if your snake is not properly hydrated or if the cage humidity is too low.
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