Ball Python Question..


Mar 5, 2007
Okay, I finally talked my parent's into letting me get a ball python, but I have a quick question, first.

If I got an adult ball python, how much would it cost to properly house him/her for life?

And if possible, maybe some tips on care?

Thanks in advace,


Mushroom Spore

Old Timer
Oct 14, 2005
If I got an adult ball python, how much would it cost to properly house him/her for life?
The cost of the following:

-The snake, obviously. Adults are going to be expensive, but a good breeder (check faunaclassifieds' Good Guy or Breeder Review or whatever the forum is) should have normal babies for 30-75 bucks plus overnight shipping. I cannot stress enough how important it is to go to a good breeder with a good rep, because if you get an animal from some random jerk off Craigslist or a chain pet store, you could well be getting an unpleasant, unhealthy, non-feeder who will cost you a ton of money in vet bills and might not make it anyway.

-An enclosure big enough that the snake can stretch out if it wants to, this could be anything from a 20-long for a 3-foot male to a 40 for a really big female. It should have secure locking mechanisms of some sort, even if it's "just" those cheap metal L-clips that snap down over aquarium screen lids. (I use those myself, very effective.)

-An undertank heating pad roughly 1/3 the floor size, or whatever size is marketed for the tank size you get. Do not use a heat lamp, this will suck all the humidity out of the air, which is a tremendous health risk.

-Two hides, big enough for a comfortable fit but fairly snug. One on the warmer end of the tank (90F on the floor), one on the 80ish side.

-A water bowl big/deep enough that the snake can get down in it and soak, and heavy enough to not be flipped over.

-Bags of aspen shavings--not pine or cedar, those are toxic. Yes, pet shops will still try to sell it to you, just like they might try to sell you a hot rock; you shouldn't buy either one. Given a layer 6-8 inches thick, your snake will happily burrow about and generally enjoy itself. Buy a kitty litter scoop to remove any feces you see, and give the whole enclosure a change-out every month or two (or whenever the "whups I missed a poop somewhere" smell starts).

-The cost of rodents. It's cheapest and healthiest to order frozen online from a good dealer; I use Big Cheese Rodent Factory. You pay shipping, but at 15-50 cents per mouse or rat or whatever, a good sized order saves you a ton of money. Pet shop frozen mice are often unsanitary and can cost up to three dollars or more each.

-A pair of long metal tongs, in case your snake needs its prey to wiggle a bit first.

And if possible, maybe some tips on care?
Basically? Everything I just said. They're very easy to take care of, but a whole host of problems can result if you don't get their (fairly simple) needs met. :)

Feed one prey item roughly 1-1.5x the girth of the fattest part of the snake, once every week to ten days. Make sure the prey is adequately thawed, either by leaving it out a few hours or overnight, or by putting it in a ziploc bag and floating it in some warm water for a few hours. Do not use boiling water or a microwave, because the results are seriously disgusting.

A healthy fat older snake may not be hungry that often, so don't freak out if they only eat once every two weeks or whatever. Sometimes they fast for longer periods, particularly in the winter, and double-particularly males in the winter (has to do with breeding season). As long as they aren't losing a ton of weight, don't panic.

Feed in a seperate enclosure, like a rubbermaid tub. You don't want the snake to eat wood shavings along with that mouse or rat.

Keep humidity 50% or better, preferably more like 70%. Poor humidity leads to messy sheds, retained eyecaps (which can result in eye damage or blindness if you don't get them off--and if you try to get them off in a rough or clumsy fashion, you could blind the snake yourself), and respiratory infections. An easy way to keep up humidity is to put a layer of wet paper towels over the top of the screen lid, then put a regular towel over that. Leave a good few inches uncovered for ventilation's sake!

If you see the snake's skin looking saggy or wrinkly, they're either dehydrated or coming up on a shed (a shed will also make them have a glazed-over look, esp. the eyes). An easy way to help out is to buy a small plastic tub with a secure lockable lid, not too large, just big enough to contain but not completely cramp the snake. Drill a few small ventilation holes in the sides (I did this with one blade of a pair of scissors, sat on a towel in front of the tv and watched the news while I turned it by hand, took maybe 20 min), but be sure there's no sharp edges on the inside. When the snake looks a little dried out, line it with warm wet paper towels, lock it, and go put the box on the bathroom floor. Turn the shower on as hot as it will go, shut the door, and leave the snake in the sauna for 30-60 minutes or however long your hot water lasts. You may need to do this as often as daily, if it looks like the animal needs it. (Just don't do it on feeding day or for at least two days afterward. Any kind of excitement in this period could make them regurgitate the prey, which is bad.)

Bathroom saunas are also awesome if they shed in a mess and still have bits stuck to them afterward. Gently stroking the snake with a towel immediately afterward (preferably while still in the very warm, humid bathroom) should get everything off, though it may take 2-3 times. If they retain their eyecaps, give 'em an extra long sauna and then VERY GENTLY I CANNOT EMPHASIZE THIS ENOUGH stroke that size of their head with the towel, repeatedly, going in the same direction each time (like petting a cat). The one time my boy retained an eyecap, he very quickly realized that this was helping to get that blasted thing off, so he started putting pressure against the towel himself as I went. They have an instinct to want to get all that business off of them, so let THEM decide if there needs to be more pressure, and let them handle that part. You don't want to damage their eyes, above all else.

The previously mentioned box can also be half-filled with aspen shavings and used to transport them to the vet...or to take them down into the basement during a tornado scare, as I once discovered. {D
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Old Timer
Mar 6, 2006
typically tubs are preferred by most breeders for many reasons. You can get these at wal-mart easily...treat the same as an aquarium with the heat pads and hides