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Why Ball Pythons Make Great Pets

I have been keeping ball pythons for a long time and hope to share what I've learned about this wonderful species with others.

This is my male josie ball python, a morph that is very rare and makes great combinations with other types of morphs. I'm very proud that my photo ended up on an international website to be used as a reference.

This is my male josie ball python, a morph that is very rare and makes great combinations with other types of morphs. I'm very proud that my photo ended up on an international website to be used as a reference.

About Ball Pythons

Ball pythons (Python regius) are great snakes for a beginner snake owner. They grow to an average size of 3-5 feet, which makes them ideal for handling. They are also beautiful, shy, calm, and docile.

In the U.S., they are called ball pythons because they roll into a ball and tuck their heads in the center when frightened. Over in Europe and many other countries, they are known as royals because Egyptian royalty used to keep ball pythons as pets and often wore them wrapped around their wrists.

A pet ball python is a joy to own and flourishes when given proper care. They usually live between 20–30 years, although some have been known to live even longer. They grow about a foot a year for 3 years, then their growth slows down significantly. They are nocturnal, which means they hunt rodents at night, although ball pythons in captivity will easily learn to eat during the day.

This is Butterscotch, a Female Albino.

This is Butterscotch, a Female Albino.

Why Buy From a Breeder?

Ball pythons have a reputation for refusing food, but that’s much more common in wild caught specimens. In addition, wild-caught snakes tend to be very stressed from capture and transport, often harboring a large parasite load such as worms, mites, and ticks. Captive-bred snakes tend to be slightly more expensive, but they are well worth the extra cost. They will tame down and adjust quicker to their new home, and will already be eating regularly.

Breeders will also will also offer ball pythons in all different types of exciting colors & patterns, which are called morphs. Most ball pythons sold at large chain pet stores are imported from Africa. You can find healthy, local, quality captive bred snakes at a reptile expo or an exotic animal store. If you are already experienced with other types of snakes, you may even want to consider choosing to adopt a ball python from an animal rescue.

Male pewter ball python named Ouri. What a crazy pattern!

Male pewter ball python named Ouri. What a crazy pattern!

What to Look For When Choosing a Snake

Choose a snake that has a well-rounded, muscular body, clear clean eyes and vent, and one that shows no signs of respiratory problems (e.g. wheezing, bubbles around nostrils). Look for one that is alert, curious, and gently grips your hand/arms when handled. They may be skittish and timid at first, but should calm after handling for a bit. It is not a bad idea to ask for a feeding demonstration to be sure the snake readily takes a meal. The skin should be somewhat shiny, rubbery feeling, and shed free.

A nicely decorated tank with fake plants and a log hide for the snake to feel comfortable in.

A nicely decorated tank with fake plants and a log hide for the snake to feel comfortable in.

Bringing Your New Pet Home

If you already have another reptile at home, the new snake needs to be quarantined due to the risk of parasites and disease. Three to six months quarantine in a separate room with separate equipment from the other pet is ideal. In addition, an initial checkup with a vet is in order, especially for internal (take a recent stool sample with you in a bag) and external parasites. Contracting Salmonella bacteria is an extremely low risk as long as good hygiene is practiced.

Quite often a tame snake will get comfortable and  curl up in your warm lap. I like to watch movies with mine.

Quite often a tame snake will get comfortable and curl up in your warm lap. I like to watch movies with mine.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Comments

Power Ball Pythons (author) from Mobile, AL on May 29, 2015:

"lisa pedraza" Sorry, but I believe NYC bans the private ownership of pythons. I know, it sucks. As for how I first got started, I had a pet beta fish when I first started living on my own. I liked him, but I wanted a pet that was more interactive and at the time I couldn't have a dog. So I ran across this exotic pet store where I fell in love with a female baby albino Burmese python. (Not a beginner snake.) The owner directed me to a corn snake. She was pink and tiny and adorable! I named her Baby. I also wanted to get a bigger snake but felt like I was not quite ready for a Burmese python so I got an albino ball python and named her Butterscotch. She was so sweet and pretty, and I wanted to breed her! Then I went nuts for ball pythons. They are like the puppy dogs of the snake world. I've been actively keeping, breeding, selling, wrestling and performing educational shows with snakes and other reptiles for over ten years now, with many types of species, including huge, rare, and venomous animals. Ball pythons, corn snakes, and Burmese pythons are still my top favorite three species for keeping as my personal pets.

Melissa from South Carolina, USA on May 26, 2015:

I was looking for a turtle for my son when, by impulse, a ball python intrigued me. I bought her by impulse (Bad I know!). I am an animal lover and have had many different type of animals, all whom which lasted their whole life with me, and the ball python is by far my favorite. You shared some useful info there!

lisa pedraza on April 05, 2015:

Im so glad i found ur page. Its well written n I learned a lot thru ur articles. Ive never been so pumped to becomin a ball python owner. I been researchin for few mos. now. My bf wasn't too into the idea but this article was one of the things that helped me out. He was able to see that a girl can own and breed them n that they DO make good pets. Caveman, I kno, lol. But it was assuring to us both that an actual breeder was the voice behind all the info. I would like to kno how u got started wit ur 1st set up n stuff? About how much will it cost? Do u kno any breeders in Nyc area ud recommend?

Power Ball Pythons (author) from Mobile, AL on March 29, 2014:

Bensen32, thank you. I checked out your profile and I noticed you mentioned you had a son. Does he enjoy the ball pythons as well? I love bringing my snakes to educational shows. A lot of times, holding one of my snakes is the first time a little kid has ever held one. I love teaching them that snakes are great and not something to be terrified of.

Power Ball Pythons (author) from Mobile, AL on March 29, 2014:

Nufoundglory, no problem. Thanks for saying my article was well written. Have you gotten a ball python as a pet? If not, you totally should. ;)

Thomas Bensen from Wisconsin on October 19, 2013:

I have two that they make great pets, thanks for sharing this good info.

nufoundglory from Asia on March 06, 2013:

That's the problem, I was talking about their behavior IN THE WILD. Not as a pet. As a pet, they're just some spoiled animals where they obviously get to "choose" what to eat and what not to eat. Read my last sentence on my original comment above. I talked about pythons in the wild that can't afford to choose what they eat.

Anyway, to be fair, it's actually not about the article you wrote particularly. I was just venting after hopping from articles to articles online and noticed most if not all these articles say pythons eat rodents. As if they these pythons particularly choose to eat rodents in the wild. I apologize if my comment came across a bit bold, I meant no harm. Good hub nevertheless. ;)

Power Ball Pythons (author) from Mobile, AL on March 02, 2013:

These snakes hunt rodents. That is their main diet in the wild. Yes, ball pythons will eat chicks, gerbils, other small animals, they are perfectly happy to ingest rodents. I've owned, raised, and bred these snakes for over 7 years now. I know from experience they do "choose" to eat and "choose" to not eat. I have a male now who has gone on a fast for 5 months. Wild ball pythons may be a bit more opportunistic than captive snakes but it is still common for these snakes to ignore food in front of their face for various reasons, such as the winter season, stress, or incubation of eggs. Ball pythons also have preferences in what kind of food they eat, and it even varies among individual snakes. Anyway, I'm not sure what you find wrong with this article? I also was generally speaking about ball pythons as pets, not their behavior in the wild. Also, where do you live? Ghana? Togo? Has you observed this particular species' behavior in the wild or owned any yourself?

nufoundglory from Asia on February 27, 2013:

Why is it that every article I read about python says these snakes eat RODENTS? It's as if these snakes "particularly" choose rodents to eat, as if rodents are available "all the time" in the wild and they get to "choose" their foods. Funny. The REAL truth is, they eat whatever's available to them at the time of hunting. Yes, I said "hunting", because that's what they do around here where I live, they can't afford to "wait and ambush" when foods are little and competitions are many.