13 Common Mistakes Made by Ball Python Owners

There are a lot of simple errors people make with their ball pythons. I hope this can help ball python owners to prevent injury and sickness in their snakes.

1. Heating with a bulb.

What’s so bad about this? First of all, these snakes should be getting belly heat FIRST. So, as long as your humidity is carefully monitored, you can use a ceramic infrared heater to supplement your primary heat source. Ball Pythons require 60% humidity, and up to 80% while in shed. Too high humidity can cause respiratory infection. The only heat sources used for these snakes, are heat mats, heat tape, or heat cable. If you use any sort of bulb (ceramic heater, not light bulb) at all, it should be the secondary heat source only, and if you do, be sure to watch your humidity, and sheds extra carefully.

There are some newer studies that show that some UV lighting can be helpful, even if the wild ball doesn’t get much the wild.

Hatchling pastel ball python

2. Not using a thermostat.

This is a common, serious mistake which can lead to serious burns. Ball Pythons require warm-side temps (warm end of habitat) of 90-92 deg F.

3. Using a Screen Lid or Screen Cage.

While BP’s do need ventilation, a screen cage or screen aquarium top can cause too much humidity to escape. Never use a screen cage to house a Ball Python. If you have a tank with a screen top, cover part of the screen and monitor your humidity. You can adjust the percentage of your screen that is covered until your desired humidity and temps are reached. You can cover your lid in part, a number of ways, such as bristol board, cardboard, towel, etc., to change your humidity level.

4. Underfeeding/Overfeeding.

Remember this rule of thumb: feed a prey item that, at its widest part, is the same width as the widest part of the snake’s body. Do not go over 1.5X the width of your BP’s body, up to about 1000 grams of the ball python. At that point do not continue to increase the rats size at the same rate as that of the snake.

A ball python should NEVER need to be fed mouse pinkies, unless force or assist feeding a hatchling, because pinkies are too small of a food item, and for early eaters, they don’t move enough to catch their attention. If you have alternatives, don’t feed with mice at all. You do not want your ball python to imprint on them, and refuse anything else.  However, hopper mouse moves around a lot more than a pinky rat, and can better entice a hatchling snake.

I personally don’t feed mice to adult balls, unless that ball is very stubborn, and won’t take rats. Mice can actually be more nutritious, but it takes several to feed an adult snake.

If you feed mice you will probably want to switch them to rats one day, and balls aren’t big fans of making changes. They will likely resist, it will likely be a huge headache. If all you have in your area is Petco/PetSmart to buy feeders from, you can try getting rodents at expos or by going on Craigslist to the pet section and looking for someone advertising feeder rats, advertise looking for someone selling feeder rats advertise looking for someone to split the cost of an online order. Depending on the level of rodent love in your area you may get flagged and removed.

Unless a snake has refused it’s last meal(s), you should be offering no less often than every two weeks. (3 weeks for adults not building for breeding season) Starving your snake can make it very aggravated, and nippy. AKA: hangry.

Feeding size and frequency can be a good sized topic on it’s own. Here is additional information on feeding ball pythons.

Bad Advice

You might find people suggesting scenting and braining, (don’t do this AT ALL) you will find this disguising, and if you’re really unlucky your snake may not reliably eat for years after that.

5. Improper use of glass terrarium.

While the ideal enclosure would be a plastic tub, it is possible to keep them successfully in a glass tank. Ball Pythons in the wild live in holes. Whether you notice it or not, a completely open, glass tank can be very stressful to them. This can be rectified by making a couple simple modifications: provide plenty of hiding places, and blank out the back and sides of the tank to ensure the snake feels less exposed.

6. Feeding live prey unsupervised.

This can lead to serious injury or death. Rats can easily kill an adult Ball Python. We’re not saying you must watch them eat, because this can also be stressful, but don’t just toss a live rat in, and go to bed.

7. Not providing a “cool area”.

All reptiles require a “cool side” to their enclosure. They cannot regulate their temperature, if there is no place to cool down. This “cool side” should be about 80-83F.

8. Housing non-breeding pairs together.

This can lead to stress, cannibalism, health issues, feeding issues, etc. Even breeding pairs should not be put together for more than 2-3 days at a time.

9. Using “Heat Rocks”.

Pet stores still sell and promote these dangerous pieces of equipment, because they heard it somewhere and are just passing along misinformation. Heat rocks heat unevenly and can have spikes in temperature, they can cause serious burns and injury. A heat rock is way too small, and only heats a small area. Too low of an ambient temp, and a snake will, huddle tightly on a source too hot even if they are getting burned.

10. Not properly securing the cage.

Not securing a lid leads to the eventual escape of the animal. A pile of books or rocks or bricks will work until the day it doesn’t. Ball pythons are amazing little escape artists and what may work for years will one day fail and you’ll be left snakeless and amazed. If your animal does escape don’t give up looking for it too easy. They turn up sometimes weeks later, (if they don’t get sick and die) so don’t go out later that day and buy the replacement, give yourself some time. Remember, with missing snakes start by looking everywhere that you think the snake could possibly be, then look everywhere that you know it can’t possibly be. If it’s not the heat of summer, check for warm places, like under appliances.

11. Using hides that are too big/too small.

In order for a snake to feel secure, hides are a must. Ideally, you should have two hides, each large enough that your snake can fit its whole body inside, but small enough that the snake will feel safe and protected. Place one hide on the cool end and one on the warm end, over the under-tank-heater. A hide that takes up most of the enclosure is too big.

12. Not knowing exactly what your temps are.

You should know what the temperature is down to the degree, whether it changes at night or when the door opens, and know what it is on the warm side and the cool side, don’t put your thermometer in the upper corner of the cage. The snake doesn’t spend any time there, your thermometers should be measuring the temperature at ground level. Or better yet, invest in a heat gun. I like wireless thermometers. I can place one in a zip-lock bag, and put it anywhere I want, then see the temp from several feet away, or even my desk

13. Too much handling.

Snakes are not social animals, and don’t like to be picked up and played with, for hours at a time, or hours in a single day. They do like to explore, but sometimes this just means they are looking for a way to escape.

You can get them used to more handling if you’re gentle, but take it easy! Start small and work up, always being careful not to overdo it and develop negative associations.

Keeping these things in mind, will help your ball python, have a long and happy life.

13 Common Mistakes Made by Ball Python Owners was last modified: June 12th, 2022 by Tom
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103 Responses to 13 Common Mistakes Made by Ball Python Owners

  1. asad says:

    Thank you for sharing your valuable insights and information about specific genes and morphs. I’ve updated the article to include more about rare morphs, keeping your knowledgeable input in mind. Your reference to Morph Market and the importance of health alongside rarity is greatly appreciated. Wishing all the best to you and your incubation creations!

  2. Jimmy says:

    So I’m currently setting up a glass enclosure for a ball python. I have a uth and a ceramic emitter. Temps are all good but I am having troubles with the humidity. I have 2 hygrometers on both sides and they both read at about 57% humidity. Temp on the hot side is 85, 79 on the cool side and 90 Fahrenheit inside its basking spot that is on top of the uth. I just bought a hygrometer with a probe that I stuck inside the basking spot and the humidity level in there is 90. I am using cypress mulch as substrate. Clearly that’s not good levels for humidity. What should I do so that all the humidity in the enclose is at 60?

  3. Kara Kusalich says:

    I have a 55-gallon composite terrarium, made of recycled polymers and wood by-products. I have been struggling to find a main heat source, as all heating pads I’ve found specify for glass terrariums only.
    You advise use of plastic tubs, as well as heat pads for tummy heat. Is there a specific heating pad you recommend that can be used with plastic/composite tubs/terrariums?

    • Tom says:

      I would recommend one that is large enough to cover 1/2 or one end. Too small and you risk putting all your heat in one place which could be bad for the animal, and bad for the composite materials. I’m not sure I can recommend a specific model, but go with a larger one like this. Do make sure it’s on a proportional thermostat, so it runs at gradient temps as needed and not just high and off.

    • Chris says:

      Kara I’ve had success by taking old floor tile and putting a piece in the bottom of the tank and then the heat mat and another tile on top of that. Basically a sandwich or tile with heat mat in the middle. I have done this with all my snakes. (Boas and Balls) I have been using germination heat mats from Amazon and hook them to a thermostat. I place the thermostat temp prode in the substrate but not touching the tile. Maybe this helps.

  4. Victor Remer says:

    Hey, my ball python went under the big cork log that’s a little bit of the ground. He burrowed to the point where he was on the glass. This was in about the middle of the tank. He has done this twice now same spot.

    • Tom says:

      Without knowing more about your setup I cannot guess, but I can give you some common reasons. If the heat is coming from above, he may be trying to cool off, if the heat is coming from below, he may be trying to get warmer. Or maybe he just wants privacy.

  5. Jaala says:

    I live in Alaska and humidity and steady temp are a constant battle due to our huge fluctuations of season. For example it is currently 5 degrees out side and incredibly dry. Summer can get up to 80 and humid. I’ve been struggling with humidity for my python in a class tank. Summers the humidity and Temps were perfect but winter is completely different. The humidity would drop so low so today I got him a plastic tub and fixed it up nice for him. Except it needs to air out a bit because I was so used to misting a bunch and it drying up it 10 minutes that I did the same in this enclosure and humidity shot up to 80%. Lucky for me he’s going into shed so he’s likely happy to have some humidity finally.

  6. Cassie says:

    I just bought a supposedly dwarf python supposedly aged 5 months, however he is very large, larger then the other snakes at the pet store and he was just giving a new tank 3 sides blacked out with a spray foam interior that has a large hollow tube back for snakes to get in, he has NOT COME OUT OF THE TUBE since we put him in the new cage (because it was bigger) in twoo days he has been in there and I have NOT seen him come out to drink and today is supposed to be his feeding day (Wednesday according to the pet store, they said they were feeding him hoppers but he is easily 50 inches long. I don’t know how old he is for sure and I was t him to feel safe, I have never had a python and I don’t want to hurt him, how do I get him to come out of that hole. And eat. I’m going to feed him in a separate box so he doesn’t associate his cage with food. And how do I keep a good temp on either side of the tank. HELP!!!

    • Vicki says:

      You need to lure him out with a much larger meal. There is no possible way he should be eating those tiny things. I just got my daughter her first baby ball and it is eating fuzzies. A full size rat is what you probably need, frozen and thawed will get him out. Good luck to you.

  7. Ashley says:

    I have a 67 gallon for my baby ball python coming thursday. It is 48 x 18 x 18. I am understanding that it may be too big for him. What can I use to black out the back and sides so he feels safe in it? He has 3 hide places and a half log to go under.

    • Tom says:

      You could always tape some dark construction paper on the outside.

      • Bill says:

        I painted mine black on all 3 sides. I did the same with my fish tanks, but only in the back. The nice thing, you can easily scrape the paint off if you don’t like it.

    • Vicki says:

      I have a 20 gallon tank for my daughters baby ball and we blacked out the back and sides with black vinyl. We also put a frosted glass vinyl on the front(top 25% strip and bottom 30% strip) to give a little window for observation but he feels nice and safe, not on display. We had some on hand but you can buy on Amazon for cheap.

      • Zack says:

        U need a bigger tank and make that 20 gallon take the feeding cage get like a 70- 100 gallon tank bc they get 6 ft long so 70-100 gallon tank will be good like right now I have my snake in a 50 gallon tank and it’s 3 feet long With a 20 gallon feeding tank and it’s lifting the best life

      • Tom says:

        For a baby ball, a 20 is fine. Most adults would be fine in a 40 or 50 gallon tank, as long as it’s not a 40-high. The main things are being able to keep temp and humidity, if he/she won’t eat one possibility (out of many) is not feeling safe in too big of a space.

  8. My BP is very healthy she only has 2 hides a small one she fits in perfect meaning her body takes entire hide up and a larger hide she also spends 1/2 the time in my glass tank has a screen too with a custom built wood frame covered with a piece of 1/4 inch plexiglass with ventilation holes she eats 1 time a week and it’s frozen weanling rats which are quite large but she has no problem eating but I’ve been noticing she has not been dead on with her strikes lately she misses a few times only the 3rd or 4th time this happened but in a row it seems like she’s looking at me or something else not the prey but never misses a meal all 3 sides I recently blanked out the enclosure has 87 hot side 80 cool side humidity runs about 60-65 all day and night should the front be covered at night or day time for more security for her she’s about 1-1/2 years old about 2-1/2 feet long and very thick she’s always hungry she hangs her head out hide when hungry about every 3 days but I waited till 7 days to feed why do you think her strikes have been off she started out on live rats I switched her to frozen which her strikes were always dead on she comes up very close to unfrozen rats and finally gets after 1-3 misses very strange and holds on to it for a lot longer then usual before eating it after blanking out the 2 sides and back it’s very dark in tank any thoughts on why the missing I use a pro product radiant heat panel with Spyder Robotic herp stat heat is perfect she lays on top of hide under heat a lot any thoughts and she always sheds in 1 piece

    • Micha G says:

      Is your BP an Albino? Because I have an albino, and she does a lot of what you described. Her cage is fine, she has proper heating and hides, but she’s incredibly uncoordinated when it comes to eating. I’ve never fed her live ones cause she’s a baby, but I noticed she’ll strike in the weirdest directions when I offer her a rat. Then, after I leave her alone, she just keep it in her mouth for a bit before she starts to eat it. She’ll tell me she’s hungry by laying next to the exposed glass where I can see her, so I know she’s not just striking because I’m angering her. That’s the most I can ask, because I am curious to know why my girl does that too.

  9. William Gilmour says:

    I have recently re-homed a Royal Python, at present in a wooden enclosure with glass doors. So the heat Matt is inside. I am panicking that the matt May cause heat burns…I have it set between 30- 32 c.
    I will be getting a proper glass enclosure as soon as possible, but I just want to check that for the moment that this is ok. The temperature on the cool side is approx 22 c to 24 c, and the humidity is approx 50%. I would be most grateful for your advice on this!
    Thank you.

  10. GINGERSNAPPED88 says:

    Well I think I’m on track then.

  11. Kristine Hawkins says:

    So I really don’t need a fogger for my ball python? I have a plexiglas top on my 40 gallon terrarium with holes for the light, heated light & fogger hose. I have a hard time with the fogger I use to get it as high as I need. Can you suggest a good fogger or do I need it at all? I have a 40 gallon terrarium that opens in the front. Also how can you tell how old your snake is? This is my 1st ball python I did have him sexed.

    • Tom says:

      It sounds like you’re more setup for frogs than ball pythons. I’ve never used a fogger for any of my snakes, but do have a couple that could possibly use one once in a while, because they have a more difficult time with sheds. You may need one (very little) too, if you’re using a heat lamp, because that can dry out the air. Be sure you also have ample heat for under your setup, in one end.

      • Zack says:

        I mean I have a fogger for my snake and I got it since it was a baby and everytime it’s about to go through shed I use it or even oh hot days I let it cool down and stuff for the snake is that good for it ?

        • Tom says:

          I’ve never used one for a ball python, but I know people that have. I would not recommend you letting it get too moist, or too hot, but know of no other situation where it would be a problem at all.

  12. Leanne Paton says:

    What is the best way to reduce humidity we have a ball python age 30 weeks

  13. Thanks for pointing out that a cool area is needed for ball pythons because that would be comfortable for them. I’m currently looking for ball pythons for sale because I’ve always wanted to take care of my own reptiles someday. Having a dedicated terrarium for it might also be a nice addition to my home.

  14. My dad would like to buy a ball python this year, which is why I’m currenlty helping him look for a legit dealer. Well, thank you for sharing here the importance of using the proper warm-side temperature. I’ll also keep in mind to inform him that he must feed it with mice.

  15. Shawna says:

    Hi I have a 14yr old ball python named Creeper that was soaking in a tub on my porch earlier to assist him with shedding (for probably 20mins in a water level that was lower than the biggest part of his stomach) & when I walked back out front he was swimming frantically. Upon picking him up he is acting as if he is drunk (bobbing his head around- no body coordination) and he is also acting very lethargic. Additionally he has water bubbles coming out of his nostrils & Now he is holding his mouth wide open w/saliva dripping. There are No reptile vets in my area & I am really scared I’m gonna lose him if I don’t get him help. Can you tell me what to do to help this? Or what it will cost to bring him to you for an emergency visit?? Thanks in advance, hope you respond back soon. Shawna

    The verbiage above was sent about 2 hours after soaking incident. And now I’ve checked on my snake periodically throughout the day and he was being non receptive to me spraying him/his cage with water to raise moisture level so I decided to get him out.

    He now acts very skiddish/sensitive to any physical touching of his body, crawls much faster than ever before to get away from me & while he was on the ground in the yard I noticed him having muscle/body spasms (portions of his tale area were randomly twitching & rolling). He also had a couple water bubbles come out of his nostrils and overall is acting very uncoordinated like he can’t keep his balance. What should I do??

    • Tom says:

      Did you say the water was as almost as deep as the snake is thick? It shouldn’t have been more than about ½ inch. (much less for a small snake)

      Sounds like you almost drowned him. In the future, I recommend a humid hide, instead of a bath.

      I don’t know what to do, but he sounds like he has water in one or both of his lungs. Knowing he’s in trouble is probably why he’s become afraid and skittish.

      Moisture in the lungs could cause a respiratory infection. I highly recommend a vet.
      Holding him with his head down MAY help drain, but I’ve not experienced this, and I’m not a vet.

      Where are you located that you thought about bringing him here?

    • Bill says:

      Sounds like he has pneumonia, I only know this because I had a ball get it. I would take him to the vet. I regret to inform you, mine ended up passing.

  16. Hayleigh says:

    Hello! I’m a new owner to a ball python I call Jasper. I’ve only had him a week and I’m having a hard time controlling the temperature and humidity in his glass tank. I live in a very humid area, especially in the summer time, so during the day his humidity is perfect, however, it often gets too hot. I use a heat lamp, it gets to hot, closer to 95°F, but keeps the humidity normal, if I use a heat mat it stays 85°F and the humidity rises to 70%. At night I cant use the heat lamp because he is kept in the bedroom and I’ve read its important to simulate natural day and night cycles. The humidity at night rises to about 70% without the heat pad on, and stays about 80°F, sometimes dropping to 78ish. I left it on my first night not knowing any better and the humidity was almost 90% when I woke up.
    Currently using Coconut fiber substrate but someone pointed out it’s too small and could get stuck in his heat pits so I have coconut husk on the way. The lady at the pet store recommend Aspen but I’m allergic to it. Any advice would be amazing. I’m doing kinda okay regulating it while I’m here to change things as needed, but if I’m at work for a long time it can get out of control. I want him to be happy and healthy so please help

    • Dave says:

      I use a small 14″ UVB T5 fixture for the day light on a timer and i use a heat pad all the time with a thermostat and i use a heat emitter, they give off no light at all and keep the temps perfect day and night.. its a 100 watt heat emitter. Im using a 40 gallon breeder so depending on ur size tank u can get stronger or weaker wattage.. UVB isn’t a must but its better than led because its like natural sunlight and they come out more in the day when u use it. The bulbs last about 8 months with 12 hours a day use.. the heat emitter will make u lose humidity but its not that bad, sense i covered most of the top screen with plastic i just mist the enclosure once or twice a day to stay near 70%. This is all what I do to keep a ball python healthy in a glass tank and I will be buying a animal plastics enclosure, so listen to whoever u want, i did tons of research b4 i got my baby BP sent to me. I thought it was gonna be hard to take care of the temps and humidity but now that I am doing it it is simple..

      • Tom says:

        While in the wild Ball Pythons get almost no light, some studies have shown that they can benefit with a small amount of UV. I wouldn’t go as far as 12 hours a day, and would be sure to back off if humidity suffered.

        As long s your humidity is good, and your heat widespread (not just a 6×6 area) and constant you should have no troubles. The one thing I would question about your setup is the 40 gallon tank for a ball python. That is a lot even for the biggest of females.

  17. Madison Hyzdu says:

    How dangerous would it be for my bunny rabbit if I owned a BP? I’ve had corn snakes before and had no problem, but Ball’s are so much bigger. If it escaped, would it pose a threat to my 7lb bunny?

    I know it depends on the size of the snake, but if having a snake is a 20-30 year commitment, I need to make sure it would be safe even when full grown.

    • DUSTIN says:

      A Ball Python shouldn’t be able to threaten a 7lb Rabbit. I’d be more afraid of a rabbit that size biting and hurting a bp.

  18. Rachel S. says:

    Hello! I’ve been researching ball python set ups, care, and quirks for the past three months before finally getting one, and I’ve come back to this article quite a few times to answer some of my questions (so thank you!). My new BP arrived today healthy and just a little stressed! I do have a question, though: I have a PVC enclosure and my humidity, cool side, and warm side are all fine and dandy, but I’m a little worried about the ambient temp dropping too much at night. I have LED lights that light it up during the day and they add a bit to the ambient temps (80-82), so when I turn them off at night, the ambient gets to about 76-77. Since it’s PVC, there’s no opening on the top for a bulb (and I don’t want to use one anyway). Do you think a RHP would be my best option? Or is the drop to 76-77 okay? Thanks!

    • Tom says:

      Unless it’s in your bedroom, I wouldn’t bother shutting anything off at night. Ambient temp around 80 is still low though.

    • Michael Dolan says:

      Those temps are fine as long as you have a thermostat controlled hot spot using under tank heat pads. Check out Kane heat pads on amazon they are for large reptiles but they may have small. They last lifetime. But any of the popular ones are fine just be sure to put the thermostat probe secure exactly where he goes on the hot side.

      The cool side can drop no lower than 75. Typically you wanna shoot for 78-82 but a slight nighttime drop is ok.

      If you really want to get the ambient up. Go on amazon. There are double lights. One turns in and the other off vice verraa also there are a lot of cool things such as power plugs made for reptiles in order to put thins on a timer for day and night. Heat pad must always be on and on a thermostat. Make sure your light is on the same side as the heat pad, on a timer 12-14 hours of light a day. You can use a bulb at night but it has to be made for nighttime. Usually those red bulbs in petco are good. And the outlets and timers allow you not to have to manually change or turn on or off something everyday and night at the same time. Lol lot of work. Check out reptile products on amazon. Pretty cheap. And you don’t need to buy specially made bulbs for reptiles. Pet stores just charge the shit out of everything lol. If your ambient is low 80s at day and high 70s at night that’s perfect. Don’t over worry I do the same thing 15 years later. Not saying NOT to worry! Just to be clear. Just know everyone had their own opinions and ways.

    • owen says:

      how can i increase or decrease my humidity it’s usually 50-70 i also have a night heat lamp should i leave it on all day or night

      • Tom says:

        I personally wouldn’t use a heat lamp. In most cases, they just destroy the humidity, and ball pythons don’t bask. It’s been suggested over and over again to use under tank heat if at all possible.

  19. Dougie Esposito says:

    I’ve owned high end reptiles in my life Green tree pythons were 3-5 grand 25 years ago and kinda difficult to maintain with heating and misting but all trial and error but there’s no written hand book you go by Ceramic heat bulbs work fantastic BP do not need belly heat I’ve bought every heat Matt on market could not get the temp I needed out of any Matt so you know 90 is a good warm side and 80 is a good cool side with a few hiding spots your fine if your snake is eating and shedding she’s fine I’m finding that my baby Morph is always hungry and barely goes to to the bathroom it’s very small cause she’s using a lot of nutrition from rat pup to grow but whichever heat you use always use a good thermostat to monitor your temps are very important my breeder is probably one of the top 2/3 breeders in world and always 90 high side 80 low side no night drop and no other vitamin bulbs he claims it’s all waisted money good luck keep Herping

  20. Kris says:

    Good day!

    I recently rescued a Ball Python and he is starting his first shed with me. My general humidity is right around 60, and I know when they shed they need up to 80… But… With the risk of respiratory infection looming, what’s the real sweet spot for humidity during shed?

    He’s had bad sheds before, he had some of his last shed on him when he came to me. I want to be sure he’s able to get a good shed but don’t want to make him sick trying to do so.

    Because most people ask: He is currently in a glass enclosure (there’s a new bioactive vivarium in the works but since he’s a rescue everything isn’t perfect just yet) however his heat mat is thermostatically controlled to top out at 92° with a 1° differential. The screen top is insulated from the outside with styrofoam to help keep heat and humidity in. The back and sides of his tank are covered to keep him comfy and I currently use an overhead ceramic heat bulb as a secondary heat source.

    Thanks for your time!

    • Michael Dolan says:

      Use a different substrate such as reptile bark that you mist weekly or so. Once his eyes are cleared up again after the cloudy phase , soak him for 20 mins in warm water in a small container with a lid and some holes.

      Also buy some shed ease on amazon or petco. Worth it. Helps remove bad sheds like silk.

  21. Adriana GOMEZ says:

    Hi my BP is more active when the light is off. When its on he is just inside his rock…. Any suggestion as to why this is?

    • Tom says:

      In the wild, they live in holes in the ground, and only come out to look for food, and move into a new home.

      They do not use lights for basking, like many other species.

    • Kris says:

      BP’ are also a nocturnal animals so that’s when they are most active naturally.

    • Gingersnapped88 says:

      It’s because ball pythons are nocturnal animals. They like to roam around at night.

  22. Michael says:

    Hi, my local pet shop (the closest that does deliveries during this crisis) sell Vivexotic repti-home wood, glass fronted vivariums. Would these be good for keeping the humidity uo for a BP? Also I’m hoping to set up a bioactive enclosure for better enrichment do you have any advice on the sort of substratw, custodians, plants etc to use?

    • Michael Dolan says:

      Use repti-bark. Holds humidity very well. And water so holds moisture from misting here and there. And yes you will not have a humidity issue most likely. Ball pythons need50-60 normally and during shed you can soak them if you wish or spray down the whole cage. Just be sure whatever your getting is worth the money and will last forever.

      Try animalplastics.com

      Expensive but the smaller vivarium a are cheap since you don’t need much. Rule I use is double the width and add the length of the cage should be slightly larger then the snakes adult size.

      36”x18” is a 40 breeder. For example. 18×2 is 36 plus 36 is 72. So that can comfortably house a python up to around 5–7ft depending on the species.

  23. Joanna Juarez says:

    Hello I’m currently taking care of my friend’s ball python snake. I just want to make sure I understand their correct temperature and humidity. His heating mat is 90• highest 94-95•
    His humidity is about 70-75
    Is that’s it’s correct temperature I just wan to make sure he’s in good temperature. Thank you

    • sam cobb says:

      your humidity is way too high unless its sheding. needs to be 50-60. i set my heat pad at 90 and it stay 88-91 in that area. some people say up to 95 but i dont chance it. sool side should be around 80s. its may now i know but i replied anyway. too high humidity can cause respitory infection!!

    • Michael says:

      Hi. Saw that nobody answered you question. The cool side can never drop below 75. 78-82 is best. A slight drop at night is normal and natural. All heat pads need to be connected to a thermostat because they all get way hotter than 90. Invest in a thermostat and a temp gun. Both on amazon. 20 bucks. The temp on the hot side needs to measure 90 on the actual spot that the snake will be. Such as in the hide on top of the hotspot. The ambient temp is the overall temp in the air. Think of it like their version of room temperature. So we topically like 68. Ball pythons prefer around 80. A few less a few more is fine. As long as they always have that hot spot. The prob from the thermostat goes directly where your snake will go on the warm side. Such as in the hide. That will keep the temps exact.

      Everyone will tell you what works for them. There is a right way and wrong way. But there are many ways to achieve the “right way” if you get what I’m saying.

      Example. You can house a ball python in a tank. And use a lamp on a timer. As long as you have a thermostat on the hot side it will be fine. Just all heat sources should be in the same side. Using bedding such as repti bark and some weekly sprays you will easily get the humidity you want. I have issues having the humidity being too high because I use a vivarium with a divider in the center to house my breeding pair. They are business. And my pets. But my actually “pet” is my reticulate python. Who is from a whole other continent and needs the same conditions except higher humidity and lower cool side temps as a ball python. And of course is the largest snake on earth lol. But with constructors males are always smaller. So my guys been 12ft for years now. He can kill me but not eat me. So stick with ball python trust me. Once they settle in and you get their environment right. They will eat properly and are great pets.

      My big guy. Reticulated python takes up a lot of my time so I don’t handle the balls as much as him but they are getting ready for breeding season.
      Email me if you have any questions. Same goes for any of you. I have had constrictors (boids) for over 15 years. From balls and blood to Suriname red tailed boas (BCC) , Columbia’s red tail (BCI) carpets. Anaconda. To Burmese and reticulated pythons. Love to educate and help others. Hope all is well.

      I educate elementary school kids and bring in my big guy to show them and teach them about them so the next generation isn’t terrified of serpents.

      [email protected]

  24. Hanna says:

    I’ve read that ball pythons (esp females) might stop eating during the breeding season (Nov-May). My ballie stopped eating after October (ate twice at Dec), but ever since it’s hasn’t been interested in food.

    It has eaten ideally before this, no problems with sheds and nothing hasn’t changed inside the terrarium since I got it; humidity, temperatures and decor are the same.

    It is ~900g and 1,5 years old. I have no idea it is female or male.

    • Tom says:

      Yes, it’s very common. I had one refuse for 10 months once, and another for 6. Do not be alarmed, and offer food less and less often as the refusals continue.

    • Gingersnapped88 says:

      Honestly I heard the same for males as well during breeding season.

    • Michael Dolan says:

      I used to get so frustrated!!!! Lol. I used to force feed and do horrible things. I was 14 and knew no better and didn’t have the resources we have these days. As long as your temps humidity and everything elE is ok don’t sweat it. Offer food every week or 2 and freeze it or out it back if he doesn’t. Only refreeZe an animal one time. If the second time you defrost he doesn’t eat tosss it. Sometimes leaving the prey (Thawed) overnight they may eat. Patience is key with hall pythons. And yes the natural light cycle of our seasons whether we provide our own light or not , they sense the change and may go off feeding when they are sexually mature. 1-2 years depending on sex.

  25. Alex says:

    Please help me!!! I love my ball pythons and there having problems. First off the temps. I have a heat mat under my glass tank that reads 90°on the hot side and 78 on cold side. The temp in the air is around 75 to 78, is that bad ambient air temp cuz we have tryed everything and ends up making the ground to hot when using a lame to assist heat. Second, they have gotten ri from the second snake that had it that we bought unknowingly ofcourse. We took them to the vet and got antibiotics and have been on them for more than 8 days and there getting wrose. Please help before my babys go too down hill, there bith under a years age

    • Tom says:

      There is a common theme to the comments we get on this post. “I’m using a glass tank, and cant get the heat and/or humidity right”. I never recommend heat bulbs, but in your case, you have an emergency situation and MUST get that ambient temp up or your animals will surely die. If you do use a lamp for the time being, make sure you mist your animals and substrate multiple times a day.

      You say the heat mat gets too hot, but still won’t raise your ambient temps up. Is your heat mat large enough? It should cover at least 1 full end of the tank, so the heat is evenly dispersed, and not just in one little spot. Also too much heat is probably escaping the top. Cover the top, at least on the warm end. About 80% cover, 20% open.

      Get a rack as soon as possible. We are not affiliated with these guys, but they have a 3 tub rack system, that might work, depending on the size of your snakes. 3 tub rack

      A rack will better disperse your heat, while holding in the heat and humidity.

      Lastly, you have 1 tank and two snakes? This will stress them out to no end, and is a good reason they are BOTH sick. Get them separated, so they’ll stop sharing germs. Also, the less stress the faster they can heal.

  26. Chuck Matheson says:

    We have a BP that’s about a year old in a 40 gal exo Terra tank. We have gone through 3 tanks now because of using heating pads in addition to basking lamps. Heat pads get to hot and crack the glass. Have abandoned the heat pads now and just using lamps. Hot side temps 87.6 degrees, cold side 81°. Now we cannot keep humidity up. Very afraid to use heat mat again. Tanks are becoming very expensive. She hasn’t eaten in several weeks and hasn’t shed in several weeks either. Please help. Any info much appreciated.

    • Tom says:

      If your heat mat is cracking your glass it must be very hot. You only want about 90 degrees, and if I didn’t have A/C, my house could get warmer than that in the summer. Use a LARGE mat that covers about half the area, and a thermostat to regulate it. It should never get hot enough to crack glass. If it does, it can also bake your animal.

      In nature, ball pythons do not bask in the sun. They hide underground, moving from hole to hole as they soil the old hole, and search for new ones containing food.

      • Autumn B says:

        The thermostat probe was moved in my ball python’s enclosure and led ground temps to reach 105. The ambient air temp was still 78, but the floor on the warm side was very hot. I believe it was like that for an entire day. However while fixing the prob, my snake bit me. She never struck out at me before. I read online that high temps can cause neurological issues, is aggression a sign? Or is she just stressed?

        • Tom says:

          She may have been stressed or even terrified. I know if the temps here reach to 105, I can get pretty grumpy.

          Give her a few days, then take her out and look her over for any physical burns. If you are concerned about picking her up next time, drop a small towel over her before you reach in.

          High temps can cause neurological issues, but I’ve never experienced it myself, and don’t know what signs to look for. Hopefully she ran to the other side of the tank, and was able to protect herself for the most part.

    • Gimgersnapped88 says:

      If you use a thermostat with the heating mat it might not crack the glass….

  27. Preston says:

    Why is my ball python in the corner of her cage its been 4 days and its January

  28. Luna Durante says:

    I just got a bp as a surprise because i’ve been wanting one, but what my mom told me about the previous owners worries me a little and goes against a lot of what I know about keeping a bp. They provided us with a glass tank, but they used a lamp for heating and had a mesh lid. I’m going to the store to see if I can find a different lid, but i’m not sure if I should get a mat to replace the lamp. My bp is already 4 years old, but seems pretty small to be a female. The last owners did not know the gender though, and i’m hoping to go to the vet and find out.

    • Tom says:

      Glass tanks are hard to regulate. They are hard to evenly heat, and hard to keep humidity. With a heat lamp it’s even more difficult.
      You might also want to look at our article Ball Python Care 101

    • Skylyn Barton says:

      I recommend going to Lowe’s and buying some Plexy glass for the top. I would just get a full sheet and have your measurements and then have them cut it up into 4 sections in conjunction with the screen too. That way you can add another section for more humidity or take some away if you have to much humidity.

  29. Anthony says:

    I too have my bp in a glass terrarium, I am sure its a 40 long, I am using multch bedding as well. I keep my digital thermostat at the center of the tank about half way from the top, I keep my humidity hydrometer on the side of his hide, He’s about a good 2 1/2 foot long about 800g. I had buried his hide under the mulch with an entrance to make him feel like he’s under ground where he spends most of his time. I am using an 100w heating bulb for day time and I have a night time moon light heating bulb as well. I have tried the heating pads and they seem to spike at high temperature as well is the reason I stopped using it. He would not lay on it and I thought it would be a healthy risk. It is now winter time and my snake seems to be on a hunger strike, for some odd reason he hasnt wanted to eat for the last 7 weeks…. I try to feed him every other day! I am begin to get worried. He’s currently in shed, I’ve tried soaking him for a 1/2 hour in luke warm water and he hasnt shed yet. I keep the humidity in my tank at a 60?. I mist his tank quite frequently. The last time he even attempted to eat, he made one strike at the adult mouse and missed… Then no longer attempted to take the mouse. The mice I have I breed myself, they stay clean as to I change the bedding once a week. I’m afraid bro say I think he’s looking weak but hasn’t lost any weight. He hasn’t pooped in a few weeks so I know its not constipated. The last time I held him last week I was holding my hand still and for some odd reason he thought my hand was a meal. I watched him open his mouth and advance towards trying to digest,so I put him back. He gets handled about once a month and put on my bed once a week so I can put about a cup of water into his bedding and stir it so his hide stays moiste and cool inside. I would like someones opinion on what may be going on. I’ve done a lot of research and he does not star gaze, he does not have mouth rot. I’m curious as to what could be the problem of the hunger strike he’s taken. I’ve tried feeding during the night and day. If you have any opinion I’d love to hear it. Thank you! My buddy means a lot to me!

    • Tom says:

      The hardest thing to read here is: “he hasnt wanted to eat for the last 7 weeks…. I try to feed him every other day!”.. This is training him to refuse. Similar to muscle memory, the more you do something, the easier it is. The more he refuses, the easier it’ll be to refuse next time. If he doesn’t eat, leave him alone for a week. If he doesn’t eat then, leave him alone for 2 weeks or 3, or even more.

      Next if he refuses to be on the heat pads, they are probably too warm. What is the surface temperature?

      You may also want to look at the article: Ball Python Psychology – The Problem Feeder

  30. Mike says:

    Hello, I just came across this article and I myself have been struggling with regulating temperature and humidity after purchasing a 40gal. with my BP. What I’ve done, and it seems to work great so far, is purchase a folding glass top to replace the screen. I was misting 4-5 times a day and also using a heat lamp which was counterproductive to my humidity. But since I’ve got this new top, it traps the heat from the heating pad and humidity to where I’m not constantly misting. I still have the heat lamp Hanging above and on a timer that kicks on and off every 12 hours just to replicate a regular day/night cycle. I one day hope to get a fogger set up on a digital hydrometer so I no longer have to mist and monitor the humidity so adamantly. If you do get a glass top, make sure that you fabricate some type of locking mechanism for it. Me, I used hooks that stick to the glass with little bungee bands. Whatever works for you. Also if your glass top is like mine, it will have a vinyl strip along the back so don’t forget to drill some small holes in it just to assure ventilation. I purchased Aqueon brand which was great quality and made in the USA! Only $35.

  31. Jack Simon says:

    Hi just checking my new python’s cage is good. It has a little hot with an entrance, 1st hide, but the second hide is a bunch of fake leaves on vines that takes up about half the tank and is right next to the hut, do I need to move it? And is it to big? The floor is mulch with no heat pad but I do have a heat lamp. Can you tell me if this is a good setup? Thanks.

    • Tom says:

      I hope you are using the term “cage” figuratively, and not literally.

      Are you willing to risk your animals health/life on it? Or hundreds of $ in vet bills? You never stated the temps or humidity of this enclosure.

      As stated in this article, a large heat pad should always be used, and unless you are extremely careful of humidity, a heat lamp should NOT be used.

  32. Ryan says:

    Hey, I’m having trouble getting my ambient temperature up. I have a heat pad that covers a little more than 1/3 of the enclosure. I have the probe to my thermostat on top of the heat mat (which is under the glass). So heat mat, probe, glass. I set the temp to 104, because it never seems to get hot enough. That barely makes it up to 90 degrees F on the hot spot. The ambient temperature is 71 degrees on the cool side and 75 degrees in the middle. I know the ambient is supposed to be 80-85. Also the humidity is kinda all over the place right now (keep in mind this is my first day putting substrate). I used a little bit of Coco Husk (the one you soak in water) and the rest Loose Coconut Fibers and then misted it. The humidity is like 70-80% and I’m trying to get it down. How can I fix these problems?

    • Tom says:

      We cannot diagnose all problems just hearing about them, but I’d recommend two main things to start, and that would be to cover up most of the screen lid, and get a bigger heat pad to cover about 1/2 the enclosure. Lastly, we never recommend glass tanks for ball pythons. While it is often possible, to get temps right, it’s a lot more work than if you had a rack style enclosure.

  33. Lindsi Lambert says:

    I have a glass tank. Che lamp, heat mat on 1 side, temps stay between 85/91. 2 hides, substrate is reptile prime coconut fiber. Screen top folied completely except sheer the che lamp is I have a circle cut for it, I’ve tried misting and still my humidity wont go up.

    • Tom says:

      If you can keep the heat up without the heat lamp, ditch it.

    • Kenzi says:

      The more surface area of the water bowl the higher the humidity goes up. Also you can put it under the lamp as well I have 2 water bowls on my cage

      • Tom says:

        That is true. Humidity can be increased with more surface area, and by putting it in a warmer part of the setup, but that does have it’s caveats too. Your water will dissipate faster, so you need to fill more often, and bacteria breeds more in warmer water than cool water, so you should sterilize more often too. I recommend chlorhexidine (shameless plug)

  34. Fran says:

    Hi! I’ve just got a banana cinnamon BP and to get the heat up to the required 32 c I am having to use a lamp in addition to a heat mat. as the temp doesn’t get past 24 with only the mat. I have noticed that the humidity lowers when I have the lamp on, but have dampened the bark. Is this ok? also I have a mesh screen lid but have covered half of it with plastic and a t shirt. She is a baby and is exploring a lot, but has plenty of hides – although hasn’t seemed to find them yet!

    • Tom says:

      There could be other reasons, but if your heat pad is not producing enough heat, it’s probably too small. It should cover at least 1/3 or up to 1/2 of the surface area of the bottom of the tank. even if it’s producing enough heat, too small is always a problem, because they can huddle over a small spot for the heat, and often burn themselves.

  35. Chauncey says:

    Hi I currently have a glass enclosure with a mesh top and I am looking into getting a wooden enclosure with a glass front, my question is how would I heat the wooden enclosure with the heating pad or what would I need?

  36. buse says:

    Hi, I really need some help. I bought a ball python a week ago. I have a glass tank with a mesh lid and a basking light. I was having such a hard time with the humidity and just came across your article. the heating pad wasn’t heating above 75 degrees and because of that I bought the basking light. it dries the cage really fast and I have to mist 4-5 times a day ( im pretty sure thats not good). im still not sure what I should do. what would you suggest?

    • Tom says:

      Without seeing your setup it’s hard to be sure, but my guess is your heating pad is too small. If using a glass tank, your heating pad cover 1/3 to 1/2 of the bottom.

      Glass tanks are not impossible to regulate, but are difficult. If that raises up your temps enough, you should be able to get rid of your heat lamp. Then I would seal up much of the screen lid (leaving it open the furthest end from your heat.) This can help hold in heat and humidity.

  37. Aya says:

    Well I just got a normal ball python for my birthday I’ve been wanting to have one since I was 9 years old and now I just turned 14.
    I do have a problem with my snake,it seems like it’s having difficulty on shedding, what should I do?

    • Tom says:

      That’s pretty vague. What kind of difficulty? Coming off in many pieces? Typically you just need to raise the humidity. Misting is good, or a humid hide can help.

  38. Julian miller says:

    I think my BP is going in to shed, when I touched her she immediately ran into her hide and she never does that, and I didn’t get a good look but her eyes looked a little blue, I didn’t get a good look but I did look and I know they need higher humidity during shed so I bumped it up the humidity to 75 with a damp towel over the lid so it wont go down but even if she isnt going into shed am I doing everything right cause this is her first shed.

    • Tom says:

      It sounds like you are doing fine. Do also keep in mind, the blue eyes will often turn back to normal color just before the actual shed. It’s nothing to worry about.

  39. Keely says:

    My snakes eye caps are still on from her last shed, I’ve been keeping the humid up but it’s at 74, is that too high for her if she’s not shedding???

    • Tom says:

      I would back down on the humidity a bit (50-60) because you don’t want it that high for too long at a time. When she is getting close to her next shed, then turn it back up, and maybe a little higher to be sure.

      After her next shed, pick thorough all the shed pieces (assuming multiple pieces) and look for the face mask. That is the absolute best way to be sure if the eye caps came off or not.

      It’s not ideal to leave her be if she has eye caps, but it’s better than thinking they didn’t come off, and being wrong.

      You might even feed her extra well, the next few feedings to rush the next shed. Also ask in some facebook groups, people may have other ideas for you. I’ve not had to deal with eye caps often.

  40. Sage says:

    Can my BP get too hot outside if she’s out there for too long? I take her outside but she is always with me.

  41. chasity says:

    My snake temp 76 degrees ambient and the humidity is a little over 80%. its like this all the time, other than theres hot and cold terrarium surface heat from heat mats… Does this sound good? we have 3 mats and its not heating up more than that.. the humidity is great, i think?

    • Tom says:

      3 heat mats? If you are using a glass tank, your heat mat should cover about 1/2 of the tank. If you have room for 3 of them, they are way too small.

  42. Izabella says:

    Can I keep my ball phyton outside I like in Florida and the temp go up to 90 and the lowest is 75 am I making and mistakes I love him so much I don’t want to make him unhappy or uncomfortable or end up hurting him??????

    • Tom says:

      I would not. You could take him outside, but I would not keep him outside. You really need to keep good control of both the humidity and temps. Always keeping an area around 88-90, and an area a little lower.

  43. Robert McDaniels says:

    Thanks for the information,You have taught me a lot and showed me what I was doing wrong!

  44. Fina says:

    This can help me a lot when I’m ready to get my first ball python!!! :) ^^
    Thank you for this page^^

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