Where do ball pythons come from?
The proper name for ball pythons is Python Regius and are also commonly known as Royal Pythons. In North America they are commonly named ball pythons based on their habit of curling up into a tight ball when feeling threatened. That is their primary defense and are known for their gentle personalities. Very rarely will a ball python ever bite, and when they do it is usually a case of mistaken identity.
Originally come from west Africa. Ghana, Benin and Togo are the main countries that they populate although small groups are being discovered and bred elsewhere.
They live right on the equator and experience a 12/12 light cycle. They are primarily a nocturnal animal that leave their dens, usually made up of old termite mounds, at night in search for food. They primarily feed on rodents and are constrictors, meaning they are NOT venomous.
How big do they get?
Ball pythons can grow to be 6 feet in length, but 4 to 4 1/2 feet is more common. Females are bigger with males averaging out at 3 - 4 feet in length.
As a general rule of thumb, females reach sexual maturity their 3rd winter although some reach it earlier. This is certainly the exception and not the rule.
Males achieve sexual maturity as early as 6 months but again this is the exception and not the rule. Usually their second winter is the time they start to breed.
Are ball pythons dangerous?
No! They will not eat your dog or cat and they are very gentle snakes.
Would you recommend a ball python as a pet?
Ball pythons come in many different morphs. Probably more morphs than any other snake today. They are gentle, non-aggressive snake that have personalities that are endearing. They like to be held and very rarely try to get away.
They are quiet and with water can be left while going on vacation without a problem. They can be fed every 7 - 14 days without any negative effects and they only relieve themselves based on the frequency of meals.
Some ball pythons have been known to be problem feeders. This I believe is as a result of hatchlings being started poorly on food. If you are planning on purchasing a ball python, I would strongly suggest purchasing one from a reputable breeder who has quality stock. There are some specialty reptile pet stores that sell quality stock, but most that dabble in all kinds of pets are not a good choice.
What size aquarium should I use?
The general rule of thumb is an aquarium or better yet, terrarium, that is 2/3 the length of your snake.
What do you keep your snakes in?
A: We build our own racks constructed out of melamine. We use 4 different designs ranging from extra large for our large adult females, to extra small for our hatchlings. Our containers are Rubbermaid's and range in the following sizes:
- Large Females - 33 X 16 X 6
- Medium Size - 22 X 16 X 6
- Small - 16 X 11 X 6
- Hatchling - 13 1/2 X 8 X 3 1/2
What do you feed your snakes?
We feed all our snakes rats. Mice are not on the menu at MJBP.
We start all our hatchlings on rats and they never look back. We try to match the girth of the snake with the size of the prey. The following is our feeding schedule:
- Adults - 4 week old rats every 7 - 10 days depending on the season
- Sub Adults - Same as above
- Hatchlings - sized prey every 5 - 7 days
If adults are on a feeding binge prior to the breeding season, we will offer them multiple feeds. We try not to get our snakes too fat.
If you have a few pet snakes mice are fine as a food source.
How do you breed ball pythons?
Check out our 'Breeding' page.
What kind of substrate is best?
I have been using shredded aspen for 3 years now. I started with cypress mulch and switched due to cost and availability in large amounts. Some breeders use newspaper exclusively and are very happy with it.
I find aspen the easiest. It is easy to spot clean once a week and I've never has a problem with it. I do start all my hatchlings on paper towel until after their first shed.
Do I need a hide box?
I don't own a hide box! Although I would strongly recommend one if you are keeping your ball in an aquarium. 2 are actually preferred. One on the warm side and one on the cool side.
What temperatures and humidity do you recommend?
An ambient temp of 80 is good with a hot spot of 90 - 92 F is recommended. Ball pythons need heat in order to properly digest their food. A basking light or under tank heat pad can provide a good hot spot. Try to purchase all your equipment from a specialty reptile pet store. They sell products that are specifically made for these purposes.
A humidity level of 60% is recommended.
Can you please explain genetics?
Please refer to our 'Genetics' page.
If you have more questions...check out our FAQ page.