Ball Pythons in Captivity

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Some of the most common are pastel, albino, Mojave, and lesser. Breeders are continuously creating new designer morphs, and over 6, different morphs currently exist. Unlike many reptiles, the species in captivity does not require UV light to synthesize Vitamin D3. Ball pythons are one of the most common reptiles bred in captivity. They usually are able to produce a clutch of six eggs on average, but clutch sizes also range from one to eleven.

Ball Pythons in Captivity (Professional Breeders Series)

Ball pythons reach sexual maturity at the age of two to two and a half years and a weight of grams. These snakes usually lay one clutch per year and the eggs hatch around sixty days later. Usually these eggs are artificially incubated in a captive environment at temperatures between degrees Fahrenheit. Some captive breeders use ultra-sounding technology to verify the progress of reproductive development.

This can help to increase chances of successful fertilization as the ultra-sound can help predict best times to introduce males and females during breeding season. In captivity, ball pythons are often bred for specific patterns, or morphs. It has been shown that the Spider Morph gene is connected with major neurological issues, specifically related to the snake's sense of balance.

This species is particularly revered in the traditional religion of the Igbo people of southeastern Nigeria. It is considered symbolic of the earth, being an animal that travels so close to the ground.

Do Ball Pythons Make Good Pets?

Even among many Christian Igbos, these pythons are treated with great care whenever they happen to wander into a village or onto someone's property; they are allowed to roam freely or are very gently picked up and placed out in a forest or field away from any homes. If one is accidentally killed, many communities on Igbo land still build a coffin for the snake's remains and give it a short funeral. The folklore states that this is because a python once helped them flee from their enemies by transforming into a log to allow them to cross a river.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Ball python Conservation status. Retrieved 13 March Herpetologists' League. Living Snakes of the World in Color. New York: Sterling Publishers.

Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 12 September Accessed 12 September Saginaw Children's Zoo. This should also make you suspicious when a pet store tells you that their ball pythons are eating well. Buying captive-born ball pythons reduces the stress on the threatened populations in the wild and helps ensure you will get a healthy, established eater and a snake already used to contact with humans. Buying from a reputable breeder will ensure that you will get the help and advice you need to assure that your ball feels comfortable and secure enough to eat after you bring it home and let it get settled for a week or so.

With the increased popularity of reptiles as pets there is increased pressure on wild populations. In addition to the more than 60, ball pythons that are imported annually, ball pythons are killed for food and their skin is used for leather in their native land. For some reason, despite their low reproduction rate, wild ball pythons are the least expensive pythons on the market, generally wholesaling for under ten dollars. Imported ball pythons also harbor several different types of parasites which may go unnoticed by the novice snake owner.


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All around, it is better to buy a captive-born hatchling or an established, well-feeding juvenile, sub-adult or adult than an imported ball of any age. In captivity, young ball pythons will grow about a foot a year during the first three years.

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They will reach sexual maturity in three to five years. The longest living ball python on record was over 48 years old when it died. Egg-layers, female ball pythons encircle their four to ten eggs, remaining with then from the time they are laid until they hatch. During this three month period, they will not leave the eggs and will not eat. Selecting Your Ball Python Choose an animal that has clear firm skin, rounded body shape, clean vent, clear eyes, and who actively flicks its tongue around when handled. All ball pythons are naturally shy about having their heads touched or handled by strangers; a normal reaction is for the ball to pull its head and neck sharply away from such contact.

When held, the snake should grip you gently but firmly when moving around. It should be alert to its surroundings. All young snakes are food for other, larger snakes, birds, lizards and mammalian predators so your hatchling may be a bit nervous at first but should settle down quickly. All snakes are escape artists; ball pythons are especially powerful and cunning when it comes to breaking out. A good starter tank for a hatchling is a 10 gallon tank approximately 20"L x 10"W [50 x 25 cm].

A young adult requires a 20 gallon tank, and full adult may require a 30 gallon tank 36" x 12"W [91 x 35 cm].

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Ball Pythons in Captivity | Josh's Frogs

Select a suitable substrate Use paper towels at first. These are easily and quickly removed and replaced when soiled and, with an import, will allow you to better monitor for the presence of mites and the condition of the feces. Once the animal is established, you can use more decorative ground cover such as commercially prepared shredded cypress or fir bark. Pine and aspen shavings should not be used as they can become lodged in the mouth while eating, causing respiratory and other problems.

The shavings must be monitored closely and all soiled and wet shavings pulled out immediately to prevent bacteria and fungus growths. The utilitarian approach is to use inexpensive Astroturf. Extra pieces can be kept in reserve and used when the soiled piece is removed for cleaning and drying soak in one gallon of water to which you have added two tablespoon of household bleach; rinse thoroughly, and dry completely before reuse.

Remember: the easier it is to clean, the faster you'll do it!

15 Reasons Ball Pythons are Awesome Pets

Provide a hiding place A half-log is available at pet stores. An empty cardboard box or upside-down opaque plastic container, both with an access doorway cut into one end, can also be used. The plastic is easily cleaned when necessary; the box can be tossed out when soiled and replaced with a new one. The box or log must be big enough for the snake to hide its entire body inside; you will need to eventually replace it as your snake grows.

Ball pythons prefer dark places for sleeping and, as they are nocturnal, they like the dark place during our daylight hours; they also like to sleep in something that is close around them, so do not buy or make too big of a cave for its size. Place a nice climbing branch or two in the tank with some fake greenery screening part of it; your ball will enjoy hanging out in the "tree. Keeping it warm Proper temperature range is essential to keeping your snake healthy. The ambient air temperature throughout the enclosure must be maintained between F C -during the day, with a basking area kept at 90F At night, the ambient air temperature on the coolest side may be allowed to drop down no lower than F C only if a basking area of at least 80F 27 C remains available.


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Special reptile heating pads that are manufactured to maintain a temperature about 20 degrees higher than the air temperature may be used inside the enclosure. There are adhesive pads that can be stuck to the underside of a glass enclosure. Heating pads made for people, available at all drug stores, are also available; these have built-in hi-med-lo switches and can be used under a glass enclosure.

You can also use incandescent light bulbs in porcelain and metal reflector hoods to provide the additional heat required for the basking area. All lights must be screened off to prevent the snake from burning itself. All pythons, especially ball pythons, are very susceptible to thermal burns. For this same reason do not use a hot rock. New on the market are ceramic heating elements. They radiate heat downwards, do not emit light, and are reported to be long lasting.

Plugged into a thermostat will enable you to adjust the temperature inside the tank as the ambient room temperature changes with the seasons. Buy at least two thermometers - one to use in the overall area 1" 2. Don't try to guess the temperature - you will either end up with a snake who will be too cold to eat and digest its food or one ill or dead from overheating. Humidity Ball pythons are native to generally temperate to arid areas. Depending on where you live, they may be fine with the ambient humidity. If there are any problems shedding, or feces are dry when deposited or there is straining to defecate, check the humidity with a hygrometer and get it up to 50 percent.

When shedding, they will need higher humidity: increase enclosure humidity to percent, or mist daily during the shed. If you bathe them in a warm bath the day their eyes clear, they should shed completely within 24 hours. Lighting No special lighting is needed. Remove feces and urates as soon as possible.

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Do a complete tear-down every 30 days by removing all substrate and reptile accessories and completely disinfecting with a 5 percent bleach solution. Rinse the enclosure thoroughly with water, and allow it to dry completely before replacing cage accessories and your snake.

Ball pythons are secretive snakes that appreciate and utilize hide spots. Provide one on each end of your python's enclosure so that it doesn't have to choose between temperature and security. Clay flowerpots, plastic flowerpot trays and commercially available hide boxes all work well.

Remember that enclosures must allow for a proper thermal gradient that the ball python can utilize, with a hotspot on one end of the enclosure and a cool spot on the other.

2. They Curl into Balls

Provide your ball python with a basking spot temperature of 88 to 96 degrees Fahrenheit and an ambient temperature of 78 to 80 degrees. The ambient temperature should not fall below 75 degrees. It is vitally important to know the temperatures at which you are keeping your snake s.

Do not guess! Stick the thermometer to the inside of the cage on the cool end and place the probe on the warm end, and you'll have both sides covered at once. There are several types of snake heat lamps that help heat a ball python enclosure. Undercage heating pads and tapes like the Zilla heat pad , ceramic heat emitters Flukers , basking bulbs both regular daytime and red night bulbs are just a few.

With heat emitters and basking bulbs, it is crucial to keep an eye on the humidity within the enclosure, especially if combined with a screen top, as both will dry the air quickly. Do not use hot rocks with snakes as they can heat unevenly over too small of a surface area and can cause serious burns. Continuous bright, overhead lighting is stressful to snakes, especially a nocturnal species such as the ball python. Ball pythons seem to prefer humidity levels of 50 to 60 percent. Newspapers and paper towels are the cheapest and easiest substrates for ball pythons with regards to cleaning and disinfecting — out with the old, in with the new.

Cypress mulch and orchid bark are great substrates for controlling humidity, but remember that too much humidity can be as detrimental if not more as too little. Never use any substrate containing cedar, as it contains oils that can be deadly to reptiles!