Anyone have ball pythons?

ember

Arachnosquire
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Feb 13, 2007
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I ask because I have to opportunity to rescue one tomorrow... and I would like to hear from people that have them. Knowing about them, reading about them, touching them, etc is NOTHING compared to learning from people that keep them!

This dude is about 4 feet long, and "tame" (was a preschool class pet for 7 of its 17 years).

Are these fun snakes? What are some of the difficulties that you have with yours...? What would you like to tell a newbie?

Thanks!
 

Alice

Arachnoangel
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oh no, ball pythons are like the worst kind of snake for a class room :mad:.

ball pythons are very stress sensitive, and most of them don't bite but just roll into a ball (hence the name) when they feel threatened. many people owning them handle them a lot due to their 'tame' behaviour, but they don't realise that they stress them out no end... so kudos to you for rescuing it, and mind you don't handle it too much :clap:.

i've kept two balls myself, and once your setup is good, they are not very complicated. offer it temps from about 24-30° c, preferably with a day-night-cycle light source. some of them like to sunbask. at night, 20° c (room temp) are fine. they need about 60% humidity, many enjoy using a wet box from time to time.

they absolutely need a hide in the low temperature zone and at least another one in the high temperature zone. and it will use them, ball pythons are out at night but seldom to be seen during daylight hours.

don't give them too mich hight, as they like to climb but are somewhat heavy as adults and tend to fall and risk injury. my tank was about 60 cm high, overall measurements 130/80/60 cm, and they used all that space! so for a single one i'd recommend at least 120/70/60 cm. a big waterdish is fine, but if a ball python takes a good soak, look out for mites.

for food, 2 mice and other small rodents once or twice a month are fine. don't overfeed it, they die early from too much body fat. ball pythony can be picky (only live prey, only white prey, only rats, only gerbils...), and they like prey items that don't smell too intense better. so don't feed it gerbils or some such, or you risk ending up with a pythons that has an expensive taste and refuses normal mice!

hm, that's all i can think about in a hurry, but ask away if you want to know something else.
 

AviculariaLover

Arachnoknight
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It all depends on the personality of the snake. Some tolerate handling better than others. My ball python has never curled into a ball, perhaps tried to grab onto a branch or the edge of her hide box while being picked up out of the tank, but thats it. She loves coming out of her cage to explore, and is great with neck massages and gives tons of snakie kisses. I bet handling every day would stress it out though. And you should give it some space after feeding, at least a few days.

Cage requirements and such are pretty straight forward as Alice mentioned, and the bigger the cage the better.

As for feeding, depending on the ball it can be tricky. I got mine easily onto f/t, and she gets a smallish rat every two or three weeks (she's getting close to three feet long, and close to three years old). Find out how yours has been fed, hopefully not live! Mine has scars from getting attacked by a mouse before I got her onto f/t.

From my experience, they can be very inquisitive. Forget about trying to type on the computer, mine will climb into my shirt, down my sleeve, and try to wrap around my hands and fingers {D

My ball python is by far my favorite snake, she's so beautiful. If I'm bored I'll just sit by her cage and watch her, can be better than tv, watching her slither around.

Good luck with your new guy, try to feel out its temperment, and enjoy :D
 

green_bottle_04

Arachnobaron
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i agree with Alice 100% they are VERY stress sensitive. handling them once or twice a week for 5 mins is about the MAX you want to mess with them. yes...they might tolerate it. but they most certainly DONT enjoy it! ball pythons (actually almost all snakes) enjoy the following. eating, resting, and being left alone. they are reclusive animals and contrary to what some people will say they DO NOT want to be handled.

anyway...for balls. keep them warm and humid. the biggest problem you might run into are mites. as this is a perfect environment for them. i set mine up as follows:

-tank of appropriate size
-glass lid that cover 75% of the top. (holds in heat/humidity)
-screen top with locks (they are amazing escape artists)
-50-75 watt bheat bulb
-under tank heating pad
-hide caves (yes thats plural. i put one on the hot side and one on the cool
side.)
-water dish (with clean fresh water in it constantly)
-something for it to climb on (branches, vines, etc.)
-anything else you want for decoration.

this should keep your ball QUITE happy. watch for problem sheddings. adjust heat/humidity if necessary. mist once every two days to keep up the humidity. mist every day during shed. keep substrate moist (not wet) all the time. i use a combo of cypress shavings, coconut bark, vermiculite, a VERY little bit of sand, and unfertilized top soil. it works wonders for me.

for feeding:
get on frozen/thawed rats if its not already. if it doesnt take it the first couple of times dont get discouraged, eventually it WILL eat pre-killed. i took in a normal adult ball male that was only eating live rats. it took me 4 months but he finally ate pre killed and after the first time i had no problems. i know 4 months seems like a long time to go without a meal...but i assure you it was fine. if they are hungry they will eat.

i havent owned a normal ball in quite sometime. the only ones i have now are albinos and 100% het albinos. it seems like the hets are alot more nippy than the norms or the albinos. dont know why. but basic ball python husbandry is easy to follow and your snake will be very happy with something similar to the set up that has been mentioned.hope this helps.
 
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Mina

Arachnoking
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Ball pythons are great snakes, I love mine, but as my husband observed, BP's are the rosehairs of the snake world.
I do know that people have problems with balls being super sensitive, being problem feeders, getting respiratory infections, problems shedding........
Personally, we are extremely fortunate. We have a captive hatched male ball that is 11 months old. He is outgoing, curious, gentle, never has had a health problem or a problem shed. He also has the best feeding response that I have ever heard of in a ball, and has never refused a meal.
In general I love balls, they teach the value of patience, but for a first time snake, I really would suggest a cornsnake.
 

Snake_lover_200

Arachnopeon
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Oct 7, 2007
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so is it bad to feed them 5 mice every week if its about 5 feet long...cause i have one and the owner was feeding if 5 mice a week...is that bad for it?
 

jonnysebachi

Arachnosquire
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Maybe a little more research is needed from the answers given so far. An adult ball python should be fed rats, mice are way too small a meal. One meal a week should be offered, of course the snake will refuse a meal if it isnt ready to eat. An adult ball python can commonly be at least 1400grams in weight. A snake that size needs appropriate food items. They are not that sensitive to stress, no more so than any other snake. Handling will help it call and get used to its handler. My goodness, just look online for some info! They are a very common snake with so many color morphs its unbelievable. They range from $20 to $20,000 plus. We are talking a very popular snake here people. I am not trying to attack the previous replies, but they were a bit off. Take the snake, learn about them, and ENJOY it.
 

Mina

Arachnoking
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Are you serious? I wouldn't think anyone could get a ball to eat 5 times a week!!!!!!!!! They are supposed to eat once a week, that is way to much food!!!!!!!! That snake is either going to get HUGE, or start refusing food. If it is willing to eat that much right now if may be going through a growth spirt.
 

guirouno

Arachnopeon
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Aug 8, 2007
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uhhh, no.

Some of the previous responses are off. they're not very accurate.(not trying to bash anyone, just setting things straight)

I find this to be one of the most complete/simple caresheets out there.
Nerd's Ball Python Care-sheet

i agree with Alice 100% they are VERY stress sensitive. handling them once or twice a week for 5 mins is about the MAX
Ball pythons are shy animals, the only "stress sensitive" individuals are the WC ones. Your snake has been in captivity for 7+ years, so you shouldn't have to worry about that.
It's o.k. to handle them a couple hours daily. the only time you don't wanna handle it is 2-3 days after a meal, and possibly the day of the feeding(it depends on the snake)

I got mine easily onto f/t, and she gets a smallish rat every two or three weeks (she's getting close to three feet long, and close to three years old)
this snake should be getting fed a little bit more. Remember to feed appropriately, try to feed once a week, a refused meal is not uncommon, especially during shed. (remember that they go off feed if you "cool" them or change their photo periods (winter = breeding)

hide caves (yes thats plural. i put one on the hot side and one on the cool
side.)
I completely agree, for a ball the more hides the better.

so is it bad to feed them 5 mice every week if its about 5 feet long...cause i have one and the owner was feeding if 5 mice a week...is that bad for it?
no, it's ok to feed it 5 mice once a week, it's just much more efficient/cheap to feed 1 Large rat.
Are you serious? I wouldn't think anyone could get a ball to eat 5 times a week!!!!
That owner is feeding 5 mice to the snake one time a week, (feeding five at a time)

Remember balls are great/easy animals, and can be very rewarding. with a little reasearch, you should be just fine.
 

Flagg

Arachnosquire
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Feb 28, 2007
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For a large adult ball python, 5 mice of about 20g each once a week is okay. I've read from other "experts" that even the largest ball python doesn't need more than 1 small rat, about 50-60g, a week. I'm not sure about feeding larger BPs as mine are still young.

I have 2 ball pythons, a 500g female that gets 1 african soft furred rat of about 40g a week. She's growing very fast but has good muscle tone and is not fat. The other is a 3 month old pastel male that is eating 1 hopper or weanling mouse a week, about 15-20g.
 

Bear Foot Inc

Arachnobaron
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My large female gets a nice sized rat, or guinea pig every 2 weeks or so. She does great on that!

~Samuel
 

Mushroom Spore

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so is it bad to feed them 5 mice every week if its about 5 feet long...cause i have one and the owner was feeding if 5 mice a week...is that bad for it?
In a way, yes. It's roughly similar to you eating five chicken wings, compared to eating one larger piece with actual meat on it. When a snake is small, one mouse is plenty of meat, but five mice compared to one or two big rats is a pretty big difference in the ratio of meat to bones/fur/nails/other indigestible crap. Particularly since rats are so much bulkier anyway, from my experience ordering both frozen from the same shipper.

Ideally, you want to offer one prey item roughly as thick as the thickest part of the snake.
 

ZooRex

Arachnobaron
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Ideally, you want to offer one prey item roughly as thick as the thickest part of the snake.
Yeah that does work, but I choose to go about 1 and a 1/3 or 1/4 times l thicker. I want to see a lump in my snake after a meal, thats how I gage rodent sizes.

I'm also surprised how many people only feed there BPs every two weeks. I'll be switching to this method now :) ~ Rex
 

guirouno

Arachnopeon
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I'm also surprised how many people only feed there BPs every two weeks. I'll be switching to this method now ~ Rex
That isn't the best method.

I feed all my bp's every week. the biggest one gets a jumbo rat, the 2 males get med. rats, 2 smaller females get small rats.
 

Bear Foot Inc

Arachnobaron
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In the wild they would not eat every week, and with a bigger snake, it takes longer to digest there food, its not healthy for the snake to be fed as soon as it manages to digest its food from last week, a big meal may take over a week for the snake to use up... for small snakes once a week is good, but bigger snakes should get bigger food, every 2 weeks or so.
 

Taceas

Arachnolord
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And considering they're the laziest snakes I've ever seen, feeding that much every week can quickly lead to an obese snake.

Mine gets a couple of jumbo adult mice every 2-3 weeks....or whenever he wants fed. Right now especially he's looking for love and really isn't in the mood to eat every feeding.

Ball pythons, regardless of captive or wild ancestry, really don't make good classroom pets, period. They are prone to stressing out with lots of activity around, frequent handling, and they're already not the most reliable feeders anyway.

Get a corn snake or something along those lines. They eat generally every week or two, they're a lot more active, come in a rainbow of colors, and don't stress out with a lot of activity.
 

Jmugleston

Arachnoprince
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Interesting responses so far.

OP: As you can see there are many contradicting opinions on what is the best way to care for a ball python. Take what you read on forums for what they are worth. The internet is a great source for info, but it also allows the rookies to present themselves as an expert. Look at the websites of breeders. See how they are doing it. Look at multiple sites and find what common features they all recommend. There may be more than one way to get to the same end point (ex: feeding schedules for optimal health.). Look to those that have success with the species for advice. There are many of good books and articles that address ball python care, so that may also be a good place to find info.
Joey
 
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