Pythons are great for new snake owners, as they are fairly easy to care
for. However, though they are not difficult snakes to maintain, it is
just as important to set up their habitat properly as it would be with
any other reptile.
They have unique housing requirements that are
necessary to preserve their overall health and well-being. The
following tips will help you to set up the best habitat possible for
your Ball Python.
The size of the terrarium will vary with the age of the snake.
Young hatchlings will only need a 10 to 20 gallon terrarium. However,
as your Ball Python ages and grows longer, a significantly larger
terrarium will be necessary. Young adults need at least a 20 gallon
terrarium, and full grown adults will need at least a 30 gallon
terrarium. A good rule of thumb to follow is that the perimeter (two
times the width plus two times the length) of the enclosure should be
two times the length of your snake. Keep in mind that if you purchase a
smaller terrarium when you have a younger snake, you will have to
upgrade it later, possibly more than once.
Ball Pythons are excellent escape artists, so a tight fitting
lid or door with a lock is an absolute necessity. It should be made of
wire mesh to provide proper ventilation.
Appropriate substrates that you can use in the enclosure include cypress mulch, paper towels, terrarium carpet liners,
and newspaper. Never use shavings. Be sure to keep some extra substrate
around so you can switch it when it becomes soiled. Substrates like
terrarium carpet liners can be cleaned and reused.
Landscaping and Cage Accessories
There are two main things that your Ball Python absolutely must
have in its enclosure – a hidebox and climbing branches. Because they
are nocturnal, Ball Pythons will spend most of their days in the
hidebox, which can be a hollow log, a wide terra cotta flower pot
turned upside down with the drain hole enlarged, a cardboard box, or
any other item that provides darkness. The hidebox must be big enough
that your snake can fit its entire body in it, but not so big that it
is significantly larger than your snake.
Climbing branches will provide both a hiding place and a
basking area for your snake. Using fake greenery to screen part of the
branches from view will give your snake a place to curl up out of
sight. Putting the branches in the basking area of the cage will allow
it to climb closer to the heat source if it needs to raise its body
Other landscaping can include a few large rocks for your Ball
Python to bask on and a small pool of water where it can drink from and
submerge itself in occasionally. A food dish is not required in the
habitat as Ball Pythons should be placed in seperate enclosures (such
as a large plastic container or tub) for feeding.
We recommend maintaining the temperature of the habitat at 77° to
85°F during the day, with a 90°F basking area, and at 69° to 75°F
overnight. Use two thermometers to monitor temperature, one under the
light in the basking area and one near the floor on the other side of
Primary heat sources are used to regulate the ambient
temperature throughout the entire enclosure. In your Ball Python's
habitat you can use under-cage heating mats and overhead ceramic heaters. You can also use infrared heat bulbs or room heaters to maintain the terrarium temperature at night.
Secondary heat sources are used to create hot spots in the cage,
such as the basking area, and for this, you should use a 75 watt or
lower incandescent light bulb with a reflector. These should only be placed at the end of the enclosure used for the basking area.
Avoid using heat rocks as a heat source, as they will burn your Ball Python when it rubs against or touches them.
Ball Pythons require a basic 12 hour light / 12 hour dark
photoperiod. "Daylight" periods should be increased to 14 hours in the
summer and decreased to 12 hours in the winter. Changes between seasons
should be made gradually to mimic the natural shortening and
lengthening of the days.
Full spectrum lighting isn't required, but it is recommended as it is beneficial to proper vitamin and mineral metabolism. Use "daylight" or "full-spectrum" fluorescent lights
with low wattages during the day. No night time lights are necessary,
though, as mentioned above, you can use an infrared heat bulb if
All lights should be outside the enclosure and screened in to prevent injury.
Ball Pythons naturally live in a climate with fairly low humidity,
so the humidity in their enclosure should be no more than 50% to 60%.
When your snake is shedding, you may need to increase the humidity to
65%, or you can mist it daily.
Ball Pythons should always have access to a pool of water for
drinking and submersing themselves. The pool should a heavy container
your snake cannot knock over, and the water will need to be changed
daily, as Ball Pythons often defecate in their water. The water
temperature should be approximately 72° to 79°F, and any water added to
the pool should be the same temperature.
A proper cleaning schedule is important to maintain your Ball
Python's health. Every day you should replace soiled substrate and
change the water. You will also need to clean and disinfect the entire
enclosure as needed, usually about once every one to two weeks. To do
this, you can a 5% bleach solution or a product like Nolvasan. Be sure
to rinse everything thoroughly after cleaning it, and always wash your
hands after handling your snake or anything in the enclosure.
Housing More Than One Ball Python
If you have the room, you can house two Ball Pythons together. You
will need a significantly bigger enclosure as well as more hide spots
throughout it. The two Ball Pythons must be approximately the same size
when housed together, and the new one must be quarantined until you are
sure that it is not carrying any diseases. You will most likely have to
feed them in two separate enclosures, and there is always a chance that
they will not eat if housed together, so be sure to have an extra
enclosure handy in case you need to house them separately.