Ball (Royal) Python

  • Common Group: PYTHON SNAKES
  • Common Name: Ball/Royal Python
  • Scientific Name: Python regius
  • Distribution: West Africa
  • Size: 3′ – 6′

Ball pythons are among the most popular of snakes to keep as a pet. They are native to tropical western Africa, and are known for being rather shy snakes, preferring to spend most of their time hiding. They get their name “ball” from curling up into a ball when feeling vulnerable or even just as a defense mechanism. Ball pythons can be found in a variation of environments, including savannahs, rainforests and everything in-between.

Ball pythons are on the smaller side of pythons, typically measuring 10-15 inches as babies, and topping out around 4-6 feet. Young ball pythons usually grow around a foot per year for 3 years. As with most other snakes, females are usually larger than the males. Properly maintained ball pythons can be expected to live upwards of 20 years, with some examples living close to 50 years.

*When choosing a Ball Python it is important to never consider a wild caught snake. Not only do they carry a range of parasites when compared with captive-bred snakes, taking any animal from its environment and putting it up for sale as a pet is cruel and inhumane. Many snakes captured will be stressed to the point of not wanting to eat, and will end up dying a short period later. With such an abundance of captive-bred snakes to choose from, this should be important when considering any reptile.*

Ball Python Housing

Size – Babies can be raised in 10 or 20 gallon terrariums for the first year. After the first year, they move them to a 30 or 40-gallon enclosure with proper climate factors. Ball pythons are not climbers so floor space should be prioritized over height. Pairs should be given proportionately more size.

Substrate – Reptile bark (orchid bark), cypress mulch, pulverized coconut husk (bed-a-beast), or a mixture of both are prime choices. Avoid dry substrates including pine shavings, sand, or paper products (such as newspaper or paper towels).

Temperature – Temperature gradient (95°F for the warm end and 80° for the cool end); recommend radiant heat (like a UTH).

Habitat – Ball pythons tend to inhabit underground in varying habitats in Africa, primarily in old rodent burrows or abandoned termite mounds. The humidity tends to be higher underground than above, so this needs to be accounted for. Higher humidity is recommended, and can be achieved by using a spray bottle to mist water into the enclosure. If your cage is open at the top, something like a cage-fogger is recommended – plus they look really cool. Maintain 40 to 80% humidity; can be a tad higher during their shedding period.

Decorations/ Furnishings – When designing a terrarium/enclosure for the ball, keep in mind its shy nature. Provide a few places to hide on both the warm and cool sides of the cage. Half-logs, cork-flats, cork-rounds, and grapewood all make excellent hiding spots for ball pythons.

Lighting – Ball pythons are mainly nocturnal, and don’t require any UVB light to thrive. A full-spectrum light such as a 2.0 bulb is recommended however, especially if you want to keep any plants in the enclosure.