Ball pythons make wonderful, gentle pets for children and adults alike. Once a suitable home is set up for them, they are low-maintenance.
It’s not a cat or a dog, but it offers some advantages: a ball python eats once a week, poops just as rarely, and doesn’t make a racket.
Parents who don’t balk at letting their child own a ball python as a pet often start with a corn snake because of their temperament and attractive colors. But the ball python, also known as the royal python, is equally docile and on average only grows to three or four feet (the corn snake grows up to six feet).
While they’re young, a 10-20 gallon tank will suffice; a 30-gallon tank when they’re full grown. Care must be taken to keep the lid secured because ball pythons are real escape artists. They can climb up any surface. The tanks can cost as much as or more than the snake itself, starting at around $50.
Snakes Sleep on Store-Bought Bedding or Shredded Newspaper
Pet shops sell absorbent bedding, a mixture of shredded bark and mulch. But shredded newspaper is fine, and a lot cheaper. Astro turf, which can be purchased at a home renovation or hardware store, is a colorful alternative. Cut-up pieces can be replaced once they are soiled.
In nature, ball pythons spend a lot of time underground, so it is important that the tank be equipped with one or two enclosures. All pet shops carry wide ranges of such hide boxes. Decorating the tank with branches, real or artificial, offers the snake a rough surface on which to climb, which will make him very happy.
A ball python’s home must always contain clean water. A deeper tub can allow the snake to soak. They can become dehydrated, which causes incomplete shedding.
Dining with a Python
Ball pythons are low maintenance in many ways, but above all, in feeding. They only need to eat every one or two weeks, depending on their size. Technically, they can live for weeks or months without eating. They eat live or frozen mice, both obtainable from a pet shop.
The common advice given is to remove the ball python from his tank and place in a different container for feeding, so that it doesn’t mistake all objects that enter the tank, such as a hand, to be food. Also live rodents left too long in the tank may bite or hurt the snake. Since pythons are not always hungry on schedule, the mouse might be around for a day or two.
When he’s ready, the ball python is quick to kill a live mouse. The mouse never knows what hit him. The python sits very still until the mouse is within reach and then…Snap! His body is wrapped around the mouse. Very quickly, he suffocates it and then after what seems like a period of contemplation, he opens his jaws wide and slowly swallows it.
Keeping the Tank Humid
Snakes like to stay warm, so ideally, the tank should be equipped with a heat mat or a clip lamp. Also useful are a lamp timer and hygrometer to measure humidity—because snakes also need moisture. Humidity levels in the tank should be at least 60 percent. Cold and over-dry conditions may stress out a ball python, which can cause health problems.
Ball pythons are not known to bite, but as with all animals, it is not unheard of, especially if they are frightened or disoriented. A bite won’t hurt more than an injection, but it should be reported to a doctor. Be sure to find a veterinarian close by qualified to treat reptiles.
Once in a while, the ball python sheds, or molts, his skin. This happens more often with younger, growing snakes. Be aware that other reasons for shedding are stress or injury.
A Loving Pet
It’s not hard to refer to these cold-blooded creatures as loving pets when they wrap themselves around one’s arm or shoulders and sit comfortably. They can have good homing instincts too, so if a snake should escape, don’t give up hope of it returning. One ball python disappeared from its tank in a New York City apartment for a whole month. No one believed it would ever come back, but sure enough, a month later, its owner found him sitting atop his tank.
All reptiles do have the potential of carrying the Salmonella bacteria, so although the risk is small, remind everyone who handles a ball python to wash their hands immediately afterward.
But do bring out a ball python from its tank to play. The more it is handled, the better accustomed it will be to human contact. On average, they live 20 to 30 years, and that’s a long time to be alone, even if you’re a snake.
Want a pet snake? know how to care for it!
If your interest in pets lies in the unusual and sensitive types of pets, you should consider taking a snake as a pet. Snakes may seem harmful and frightening to some, but snakes actually make good pets. They have strong loyalty to their owners and they can be lovable in their own special ways.
However, to guide you in the proper pet snake care, there are lots of things which you must keep in mind. First, remember that snakes eat meat and there would be times when you have to alter the snake’s diet from eating a live animal to eating meats. Some owners choose to keep mice and rats to be fed to their pet snakes.
Unfortunately, they smell too much and this would prove very unhygienic especially if you have kids in the house. Keeping this in mind, pre-killed foods tend to be more practical and convenient. However, you have to know if your pet snake is already used to eating pre-killed foods rather than live ones.
Excellent pet snake care also involves providing a habitat where your pet can move freely and do its usual routines. If you have the money, you can choose to make an enclosure not unlike the ones in the zoos wherein your snake can live in a jungle-like place. Or you can just put your pet in a box, either clear or not, wherein there are compartments for hiding and slithering around. Remember that snakes enjoy hiding, so this would be good for them.
There are other pet snake care tips which are also very important in keeping your pet snake healthy. Just keep yourself informed on the do’s and don’ts and remember to treat your snake sensitively.