Thinking about getting a Baby Ball Python...

DrGigglez666

Arachnoknight
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Anyone have a caresheet for these lil boogers?? What all do i need to keep and maintain this booger?? Petstore where i live gots them for 60 and thats on sale so i thought what the heck gettin cheaper haha and their all males!! So someone help me out here if yall got one or had one in the past!!
 

SPJ

Arachnosquire
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First piece of advice is DO NOT buy from a petstore.
Baby ball pythons are brought in from Africa and sit in petstores wasting away all grouped together until someone buys one and it dies on them.
Petstore ball pythons are one, if not THE, reason ball pythons have such an undeserved repitation of being difficult feeders and hard to keep.

Besides, established healthy male BP's from breeders would run no more that $20. Even with shipping, it would be less then what a petstore charges.

Here are a few care sheets.
http://www.faunaclassifieds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=77422
http://www.ball-pythons.net/modules.php?name=Sections&op=viewarticle&id=59

Here is a place to get a quality BP at a good price.
http://market.kingsnake.com/index.php?cat=32

Here is where you want to check out the seller to see what kind of reputation they have before you commit to a deal.
http://www.faunaclassifieds.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=13
 

Mushroom Spore

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A local shop with ball pythons on sale is a HUGE warning sign that this isn't something you want. Odds are nigh-infinite that they're wild-caught babies, with parasites, diseases, incredible levels of stress, and they've probably never eaten in their lives and WILL never eat. And even if they do settle down, they'll never be as friendly as captive-bred animals, and may be a huge pain to switch over to pre-killed prey.

My advice is to find a *good* online breeder. I got my young male for $45 plus overnight shipping, which came out to almost exactly what they sell the unhealthy wild babies for in your average chain pet store. He's in fantastic health and eats like a charm (barring winters when he fasts like most other mature males). Check out the review forums here and on Fauna Classifieds for someone with a good reputation. I got mine from serpentpets.net, for example, but I don't know if he has any ball pythons yet this year.

Caring for them is easy, but huge amounts of problems can come about if things are done *wrong,* and it can be a pain to get them right again. A tiny hatchling can be kept in a ten-gallon tank, as they tend to become nervous if kept in too large an enclosure. Or you could go straight to a twenty-long, and just include lots of hiding places (or a heavy layer of aspen shavings) so that he can feel safe and secure.

They need temperatures of 88-90F on the warm end of the tank, and 80 on the cool end. This is best accomplished with an undertank heating pad, as a lightless heat lamp will suck all the humidity out of the air, and they need at least 50-60%, and higher when they're about to shed. Aspen shavings are absolutely the best substrate IMO, you can put down a layer about six-eight inches thick and they'll have tons of fun burrowing in it (as this is a burrow-dwelling species). Mine likes for me to bury his hiding caves, with only the entrances exposed. They prefer a snug fit to their hiding places, and need at LEAST two--one where it's 90F, one where it's 80F.

They need a great big water bowl, wide and deep enough to get down in it and soak if they so choose. They are decent swimmers (once they figure out how) and not likely to drown, but if you get a teeny weeny baby you should still keep its size and lack of muscle and experience in mind, and never have the water deeper than an inch or two, and the bowl should never be so tall that it can't get out easily.

Prey should be 1-1.5x the girth of the fattest part of the snake, once every one to two weeks. (Note that if we're talking about undernourished pet store snakes where you can clearly see the spine sticking up, their apparent girth is not the same as their REAL girth.) You should without exception try to get an animal that is already feeding on pre-killed prey. It's cheaper, safer, and healthier. I buy mine frozen in bulk from Big Cheese Rodent Factory (don't have the URL on this computer, but google should help you), though there are a lot of prey dealers about. Thawing prey is as simple as putting it out on a paper towel for 4-8 hours, depending on how big it is and how warm your house is.

Feeding should ALWAYS take place in a seperate enclosure, even something as simple as a shoebox with a lid. You don't want them to eat a piece of aspen by accident in their enclosure itself. Never handle or bother a snake for at least 24 hours after they've eaten, and for at least a day before you try to feed it.

I've written a lot of borderline essays in this forum about ball python care, so if you use the search function, I've probably mentioned things before that I've forgotten today. In particular, we've dealt with how to handle eating problems pretty regularly. And if you get a male, you WILL have this happen every winter once they're sexually mature. (It's a fair trade--females have the risk of becoming eggbound and dying, as reptiles will produce eggs whether fertile or not, much like human women menstruate. And if something goes wrong and they can't get the eggs out...)

EDIT: Curse you SPJ! :D
 

SPJ

Arachnosquire
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A local shop with ball pythons on sale is a HUGE warning sign that this isn't something you want.
You nailed it with that one.:clap:
They put them on sale to move them out quickly before they end up dying.
 

Mushroom Spore

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I also forgot to add, on the care-sheet portion of this discussion, that you need a VERY SECURE LID on the tank. Any snake is an escape artist and will squeeze out of cracks you'd never expect, but ball pythons are extremely heavy-bodied snakes and it is all muscle. If the lid is only weighed down by books or something, mark my words the snake will eventually force it open.

Most pet shops will sell steel-framed metal-mesh screen lids, along with little metal locking clips that look kind of like an L or a very angular C. These snap on the edges of the frame and lock it into place, and can only be removed by squeezing the clip manually or prying it loose with a pen. This has worked for me so far. :)
 

Taceas

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If its your first snake, personally I would recommend something else for a beginner snake. :eek:

BP's are notorious picky eaters. One day they may like brown mice, the next time it may be white. Some don't like to eat frozen/thawed meals and only prefer live rodents. Some go on lengthy fasts that drive you nuts, always making you guess when they'll eat.

AND they're boring as far as a snake goes, imho. All mine ever does is hide, only coming out after lights out when I'm in bed to drink and do his thing before he's back in his hide by morning.

AND they seem to stress very easily, which for a beginning owner with the temptation to handle, pet, caress, annoy their new purchase isn't going to bode well for a ball python.

But if you're committed to getting one, I would avoid like the plague of plagues BP's in petstores for cheap prices. 98% of those are farmed snakes and kept in dire conditions as they're imported by the thousands to the US. Most don't make it because they're parasite ridden or stressed.

Try to find an individual that has bred their own, the health will be optimum and you've got a source of information should something peculiar arise.
 

DrGigglez666

Arachnoknight
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well

Well im gettin one from ChrisNCT and shes a female and its captive bred. And he said she eats well likes to be handled and is docile as can be. I cant really agree with you on not being the first snake. Every person i know gets this kind of snake.
 

ZooRex

Arachnobaron
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I could go on and on about the care of ball pythons, but I'm sure other members will give you the same info. Just be sure to check out www.snakekeeper.com and www.anapsid.com And if possible get your hands on a good book. ~ Rex
 

jr47

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BP's are great, They can be a pain about feeding sometimes but most are not to bad. Most breeders wont sell you a snake thats isn't feeding.
I did have one female that was a real pain and would only eat white rats or mice but its not real hard to find them so it wasn't a big thing. As far as I'm concerned they are great if you want a snake that you can handle. I dont think you can get a more passive snake.
 

AviculariaLover

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I'd like to point out that not all pet stores have sickly wild caught BPs... the pet store I work at is selling them for $50 and they're all captive bred and eating like crazy, but I have a feeling we are the exception.

Glad to hear you're getting one from a good source.

Here is an awesome link on how to set up a cage, mine is very similar:
http://www.ball-pythons.net/forums/showthread.php?t=32800
 

Mushroom Spore

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I'd like to point out that not all pet stores have sickly wild caught BPs... the pet store I work at is selling them for $50 and they're all captive bred and eating like crazy, but I have a feeling we are the exception.
You are. :( Of course I can't speak for the pet market in Canada, but that's almost always how it goes here in the states.
 

SPJ

Arachnosquire
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Around here they are the imports that come in before their first shed or meal.

They start the price at $99.99 the first week of April and by this time, the prices have dropped to $39.99 for the now severly thin and dehydrated animals. If they don't die, there is usually a 4th of July sale were you can get them for $24.99.

It's really sad because if these were being properly cared for from the beginning, there wouldn't be so many dying.

I even saw a BP baby in one petstore with hardbelly this year. They still wanted $99.99 for it even though the snake is guarenteed to end up dead.
 

Mushroom Spore

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I even saw a BP baby in one petstore with hardbelly this year.
Your post is singularly horrifying, even though it's nothing new and shouldn't have surprised me. :( What's this "hardbelly" though? I'm not familiar with that one. From the name I'd guess some sort of fecal impaction/buildup in the gut?
 

Lorgakor

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What is hardbelly SPJ?

Edit: Nevermind, Mushroom Spore beat me to it.
 

SPJ

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Harbelly is when the yolk cannot be absorbed and solidifies inside the snake.
99.9% fatal to the snake.
It is the result of the animal being taken straight from the egg to soon and shipped to the store and getting dehydrated. Poor conditions in transit and at the store cause it.
Every year there are many BP's that get imported that will end up dying due to this.

The sad part is it can be avoided in most cases. Allow the snake to absorb the yolk, keep it in proper conditions (warm and hydrated) BEFORE shipping it off.

Unfortunately the farms want to ship them out ASAP so they can get paid and your basic petstore has no idea what this is.

It's very easy to spot. Feel the stomach and you will feel the hardened lump. It may also cause a protrusion to be visible on the snake.
 

SPJ

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Thankfully, I got this one and was able to save it. Took a lot but the snake is now thriving with me.



Here is what I was able to manipulate out of the snake so it could pass it. The large white mass.
 

skinheaddave

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I'd like to point out that not all pet stores have sickly wild caught BPs... the pet store I work at is selling them for $50 and they're all captive bred and eating like crazy,
Ditto. The price on "normal" C.B. balls now is dropping. I got two for the store where I work and am selling them for just under $70. I also have access to W.C. balls, but I don't know why you would get them since everyone is breeding balls these days. Yes, I could sell W.C. (or "captive born") balls for $30 -- but the way I see it, if you aren't willing to spend $70 on your snake then you really shouldn't be getting one.

Cheers,
Dave
 

Mina

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I love my BP. He is a almost 2 year old male who is about 47 inches long and about as big around as a pop can. He is a real sweetheart. He is shy, but curious at the same time. Yes, he startles if you move to fast around him, but that, in my opinion, just makes him more relaxing to be around. I need to relax and move slowly with him, and that is relaxing for me. I love the markings and the color on a normal BP, he is calm, gentle and sweet, unlike my corns who are both hyper.
 

SPJ

Arachnosquire
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Not only do BP's have great dispositions and stay a manageable size, they also come in all kinds of colors and patterns. I love these little snakes.:D

 
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