Advice for a beginner

Hi I’m new here and I purchased a ball python about two years ago for my daughter for her birthday. She had always wanted a ball python(a snake period), but I absolutely am terrified of them but she had a sand boa when she was little but we got rid of it. I digress, the ball python we had, whose name was Fluffy just recently passed away. Like days ago. We unknowingly/ignorantly left a feeder mouse in his tank and we woke up the next morning and saw he had been bitten twice pretty bad. He didn’t survive the day. it devastated my daughter to lose him and also crazily broke my heart as well.
My question now is what are y’all’s opinions on ball python’s in particular, but snake’s in general, and them having “feelings” or affection/bonding/attachment to a human being ? I used to would say they’re cold blooded so they’re cold hearted. But now after having witnessed the bond Fluffy had with my daughter (to whom didn’t feed him and so it wasn’t a bc he associated her with food thing),I believe they most certainly do form a bond or attachment to people. I mean idk what anyone else would call it but if you were to have been able to witness this little snake and the way he interacted with my little girl you would be hard pressed to come up with any other explanation other than genuine affection. He would literally wag his tail and body when he seen her and for the first few minutes after she picked him up. Then slither all around her arms, face, neck, head, like the most excited little thing. He would get in her face and do boops to her fingers. And (most disturbing of all lol) he would give her KISSES ON HER FACE AND LIPS. SHE would always kiss him on the top of his head and mouth and he would return them. I didn’t know what to think at first bc I was thinking he was tasting her to see if she was food but nope he was loving her. I am dead serious about him wagging his tail and getting all up in her face like look at me look at me. Hey hey I love you. It was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen and the most unbelievable thing. I never thought that would happen and I never thought I would love a snake nor cry when one died. But seeing that little boy love my baby girl the way he did was something special. He would also curl up on her cheek to sleep as well. Like insane!
Okay so my main reason for this post is because I am or rather I have already purchased her two more ball python’s (don’t worry there will never be another mouse left unattended with them again, we were told to leave the mouse in there and leave the snake to do there thing) but I am concerned that Fluffy was just a rare case and other snakes aren’t as friendly and or maybe we were misinterpreting Fluffys meaning behind his behavior with my daughter. I don’t think that is the case bc we tried testing it out with different people holding him and he didn’t act the way he did with her. With others he either wanted to get away or he just was chill. Never as excited or playful as he was with her. So I don’t want her going in handling these new snakes with the mindset they’re all going to be like he was and something awful happening. They’re both juvenile’s like 4 months old. He was also young when we got him so I’m hoping that helps.
Also any other tips and words of wisdom from those with experience in all things ball python that would be great. Any sort of experience u have in terms of teenagers and pet ball pythons let me know please. If there’s ever been a situation where the snake goes from pet to predator please also let me know. Do I need to get her some gloves that prevent her from being bit? Please let me know. I mean it I have never been ok around snakes. I only touched fluffy a couple of times with a finger and he was very tame. Sorry for all of the rambling but I wanna know everything I can to be sure this goes right.


While my immediate recommendation would have been not immediately purchasing two more snakes after the sudden, user error death of the first one, that ship has sailed so here is what I know, and hopefully other more ball python specific people here can help more.

  1. These snakes (now that you have 2) should not be co-habitated, they both need their own enclosures.

  2. Once these snakes arrive at your home, they need to be placed in their enclosures/quarentine tubs and left alone for at MINIMUM 2 weeks. Refill their water, monitor their temperature gradient and humidity, but do NOT handle or feed for at least 2 weeks. If you bother them as they settle down, it increases the odds of them becoming aggressive, flightly, stressed, or strikey.

  3. after the 2 weeks of settling in, you can begin a proper feeding schedule (which includes NOT leaving live prey in with the snake). Ensure the heating is proper and the prey is properly sized to aid in digestion which can help with snake moods.

  4. do not handle for a few days after feeding, or while the snake is in blue, especially for these first few months - doing so will increase stress and handling aversion

  5. other than that, on days where it is allowed, handle for small increments every day

  6. ball pythons cannot eat you, and while they can strike and bite, it often isn’t damaging and will only occur if the snake is stressed. A snake hook would likely be a good purchase especially since you fear these animals, but I don’t think bite gloves are necessary

  7. you are correct that not all animals respond the same to humans; there is no promise these new snakes will be calm and loving, especially as they are young and currently in a huge life change. Just because they are nippy as babies doesn’t mean they will stay that way, especially with proper long term housing, temperature, humidity, and feeding, and proper handling sessions and even tap training

If he isn’t busy, @t_h_wyman is a very good source on BP care and may be able to link you to other helpful forums here on MM


Also if you did not discuss these 2 new purchases with your daughter, be prepared for her to have mixed feelings about this. Her beloved snake died days ago, so she is likely to be grieving, and may have mixed feelings about having 2 new snakes to care for so soon after the death.
She may even feel some level of guilt for leaving the prey animal in the snake’s enclosure, I would recommend definately having a discussion with her about this if you already havent, since she will be the one caring for these animals because of your phobia.

I wish you luck!


Just here quick as I have a meeting impending.

I have seen this and I have some thoughts. I will loop back around when I have more time to comment properly


Thanks for popping in, I don’t have BP specific tips, so everything I gave was just basic reptile stuff


Alright, for starters, do not attempt to feed them live.

Start with frozen/thaw. Around 1.5x the size of the widest part of their body. Rats, not mice.

Youll need proper enclosures too, im not familiar with racks. So, as juveniles they do well in a 10 or 20 long. If you get a screen lid you will need to purchase aluminum tape and cover the lid, besides where the che is at.

A che is a ceramic heat emitter. Youll need a lamp, and the bulb is what is actually the che. Then, you’ll need a heat mat. These both will have to be hooked up to a thermostat. Set the mat to around 90°f and the bulb to 84°f.

Now, youll see pet shops use aspen bedding for bps. This is incorrect. Buy coconut husk or fiber. I prefer husk as it cant get stuck in their nose, and it holds humidity better. Youll also need a thermometer and hygrometer. Humidity should be around 70-90%. Lower side at night.

For setup, put the heat mat on one side. Then have 2 hides, one on each side. Get lots of fake plants for them to hide. A large water bowl is also needed. I have one my bp can fit inside, though you generally dont want to see them doing that.

As said before, leave them alone for at least 2 weeks. No handling 48 hours after feeding. I try not to handle before feeding either. They are prone to being picky and regurgitating if youre handling in the feeding window.

Juveniles should be fed every week-14 days, while adults may only eat once a month

Good luck

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Okay, meeting over and now I have some time

So… To answer this question first

You are not crazy. Snakes can and do have distinct personalities, some more so than others. And, like people, sometime you are going to meet ones that are great and sometimes you are going to meet ones that are just jerks and there is not a lot you can do about it. I have a some that are absolute terrors and I have a some that are total cowards and I have some that are dopey little puppies and I have some that could not care one way or another. Some of it is just luck of the draw

Now, with conditioning, you can get any animal to be more handleable but that does not mean you can take a complete jerk of an animal and turn it into a cuddlebug

You can think of it just like a dog or a cat. When you get a new dog you do not expect it to be exactly the same as your old one. Same with snakes. This may not be the exact answer you want to hear but I want to give you realistic expectations. Part of it is just going to be the luck of the draw and so you, and more appropriately your daughter, should be prepared that these new animals will potentially not behave the same way as her old snake
Now… With that out of the way there are a few other things I want to discuss.

I am going to contradict a little of what C said and fair amount of what Sarah told you. They are both very well meaning and my contradictions are not meant to denigrate them. It is just that both of them are operating from a bit more limited range of experience. You are approaching these new animals from a very different place than most users here and so that changes the equation a bit

I will start with quarantine. This is extremely important when you are dealing with collections but a bit less so when you are only looking at one or two animals that you are just keeping as pets. It is still very important to monitor your new animals for any symptoms of illness and/or mites but you do not need to go to the extreme of having completely dedicated setup for only quarantine that you will then later move them out of. Just set them up in their proper-sized housing and keep an eye on them. I would recommend not handling both at the same time or back-to-back until you know they are for sure healthy, but just washing your hands and giving it a couple hours between handling is fine. Waiting a full day between handling the other animal is better

As far as the settling in period. You do not need to wait two weeks to feed, but you also should not stress the animal by trying to force it to eat if it does not want to. I do recommend waiting a day or two, but after that you can attempt feeding. Younger animals are often much better when fed live prey. This is just a fact. It is still best to start with F/T or P/K, but if the animal continually refuses then do not be afraid to use live. Sometimes the stress of moving and being rehoused causes them to regress to wanting live for a feed or two before they get back to taking F/T. Just make sure you monitor the situation. And in that vein, snakes will often not want to eat with someone looming over them, it makes them feel like a predator is watching him. So if you are live feeding then place the feeder in and walk away for five or ten minutes before checking back. If the live prey has not been eaten after checking two or three times, then pull it out. And if you see the prey nipping at the snake then remove it immediately. I am going to highly recommend you pick up some long, 14-16", forceps. This makes it easier to present the food to them without your hands being too close

Until the animal is consistently feeding, I would advocate not handling them. Often times the reason animals will not eat is because they are stressed so handling them just makes things worse. If the animal is still not eating after a couple weeks then try and figure out if something is not right with the setup that can be fixed - add another hide, check the temps, make sure they are not going into shed, etc. And remember that each animal will be different. One might start feeding immediately and be happy in a totally spartan setup while the other might want multiple hides and will only feed when the lights are out

Once your animals are feeding consistently and settled in then you can begin working on acclimating them to you. The best way to do this is to start by watching the animals. You can often get an idea of when they are most “at ease” and so are most likely to be okay with being handled. When you go to get them out of their setup, rather than reaching directly down on top of the animal, bring your hand in from the side and slide it under them. Again, this avoids the “predator fear” response that is hardwired into these animals, especially when they are young. If you do go to handle the animal and it begins to react in a stressed manner - hissing, striking, fleeing - then skip the session and try again at a later time. I do advocate trying to handle when the animals are naturally most active, generally this will be right around or just after sunset/lights out.

I fully agree with this statement, however, it is important that you are also comfortable as well and if the gloves make you more comfortable and therefore more able to work with the animal then there is no shame in using them. I will also add that sometimes animals will get very excited at feed time and may become overly enthusiastic and accidentally bite you thinking you are food. With younger animals this is fairly harmless and they will realize their mistake and let go almost immediately. Larger adults can be a handful if they are like this though, so using a hook to gently touch them will generally break them of the idea that it is food time

With regard to cohabing… Controversial stance but I believe it is absolutely possible to do this if you can do it right. Now, since you are pretty much still a novice pet keeper I am going to very strongly advocate you not keep the animals together. But once you/your daughter have learned enough then you might be able to look more into the idea. If you/she feel ready for that in the future then just loop back around here and myself and a few others can talk you through that more complicated process
I think that covers pretty much everything but if you have any other questions then please reach out. There are a lot of us here that are great resources. You can also message me directly if you prefer. My schedule can be a little weird, but I will definitely get back to you when I am able


No worries here, that’s why I called in the big guns!


@t_h_wyman Holy cow! I am excited to see if the co-habitation subject comes up! I have 4 bps that I would love to combine down the road so I am ALL EARS about this!!! :pray::+1::blush::heart::snake::snake::snake::snake:


I know its controversial but I have co habitated snakes for years with no issues. Same species, roughly same size, seperated when fed, 2 per enclosure big enough to stretch out in. I prefer my snakes to be in their own enclosures but I have done it with no issues to report.


So a couple of males could be housed together? I would not do more than 2 together……

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I don’t have set plans for this. It’s just nice to have an option if needed…….

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Ive housed males together, as far as I know, no females but sexing mistakes happen.

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Ok thank you for your advice/help! Have a blessed evening! :pray::blush:

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Thank you! I have fed live and some only eat live. I forgot to mention special circumstances. And yes, juveniles do well on live. Really I shouldve sat back and remembered my juvenile. Was the information on setup ok? This is what I have researched and tested. But if its not correct I absolutely will remove the comment.

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I have to agree with @t_h_wyman reply.

As far as setups, I do have to make a few changes to what has already been posted.

  1. a smaller size housing is best for ball pythons. And one for each. You can start with storage containers that have locking lids, at least 1 hide, paper towels or coco husk/chips for bedding and a container work water (this does not have to be big and they do not need to be able to fit in it).
    *I can step you through this setup if needed. But you really only need to drill some holes in it to vent it.
  2. humidity, 70 - 90% is way to high. For balls, it can be as low as 50%, but best around 60.during shedding you should increase it to 70%. You can do this by just misting daily or two times a day if needed.
  3. temps, you really only need the heat pad. Something you can adjust or add a thermostat to control it. (You can find heat pads on Amazon with a controller on it.) you want to keep the hot end (so put the pad on one end, no more then a third of the bottom) sorry, so the hot end set for no higher then 87. I say this because it can fluctuate a couple degrees. The cold side should automatically be cooler as lonf as it is vented correctly.
  4. if using glass with mesh for the housing, you will need to cover the majority of the mesh to help keep the heat and humidity in. Just about anything will work for this and you can experiment with it… But just using foil can work. If you have a glass unit that opens on the front, you can use tape between the doors to help seal them just use a folded over piece on one door that acts like a gasket. If there are vents on the front, cover them with tape, it is a big heat/humidity loss area.
  5. no special lighting is needed. No other heat sorce is needed (unless you can not keep the heat set properly.)

Welcome to the community and as you have already experienced, this is a great place for advice and sharing information.


Well you could always start a thread on it LOL

I have numerous species cohabed. It is just about doing it *right and that can be difficult without a lot of experience

This is going to depend some on species. And also space. And individual animal

There are definitely some species I would not want to run the risk with, like retics.


Honestly, there really is no straight-forward answer here. What you have said works, yes, but it is also not the only way. It is also still a bit more geared toward the “breeder” mentality and not that of a pure “pet-keeper” mentality

As an example of just how different but successfully it can be done if you put in the right research and time, I have taken a ball python and raised it from hatchling to adulthood from start to finish in a bioactive 55g fish aquarium set up that was in my living room

Is that the best way for everyone to do it? Nope. Is that a good way for someone with a dozen animals to do it? Probably not. But is it a perfectly acceptable way for a dedicated pet-keeeper to do it if they are so inclined and know how to do it right? Absolutely


@t_h_wyman Yes I do know I could start a thread but I know this can be a sticky subject. Also at this point in time I am not pressed for the room and I may totally put the notion out of my mind because if I have to start combing animals then I probably have too many of them.

But thank you for your response/input! God bless you sir! :pray::blush::heart:



I really like all of the awesome feedback you have received, i know it’s a lot so i hope you are not too overwhelmed… You have received a bunch of great advice/insight into the nuances of husbandry but I’d like to touch on a different note in your post.

You have expressed pretty well that you have a fear of snakes yourself. I understand that, despite my obsession with them, (and getting on double digits sized collection) i struggle with my own fear from time to time.

Here’s what i can offer you from my moderate, strictly pet owner experience, and i truly hope it helps.

Snakes are very VERY different than just about any other pet out there. Even moreso than some other reptiles. They don’t have arms, legs, facial muscles to express emotions, or a way to voice their feelings outside of hissing. Most of them are not social in the wild, and their way of seeing the world is vastly different from us. It can be very unnerving to not be able to read what’s going on in their heads at any given moment.

But snakes do communicate. In their own special ways they speak. If i had to describe it, imagine that you are watching someone who is alone in a public space. You may not be able to recount their thoughts and feelings on different theories of evolution, but even from a distance you can pick up things in their body language. Maybe they’re feeling closed off, so they sit at the most deserted table on the room and keep their head down, mostly focusing on their phones. Maybe they’re happy, so they come in with their head held high, relaxed, and smiling a bit. Even if someone is not directly intending to talk to you, people- animals- betray what they’re feeling at every second. All you have to do is watch and let their patterns tell you what’s going on in their minds.

There are many videos out there for ball pythons nowadays that can teach you a lot about the basics of snake body language and behavior, which can really help jump start your understanding, and in result, confidence towards them.

For instance, you mentioned kisses, and that is a misunderstanding. They don’t give you kisses, but rather they are just sniffing you. In fact they sniff everything. They sniff more than dogs. And the rate and frequency of their tongue flicks actually says A LOT about what they’re thinking. While I don’t think your daughters recently deceased ball python was kissing her, i do think it was a good sign from the snake.

A ball python that is feeling defensive, (scared, nervous, unsure, terrified for it’s life, all of the bad things) isn’t going to fully stretch its neck out out and slowly sniff you after you pick it up. It would try to curl into a ball, run away, square up if you aren’t putting it in a position to be able to run away, get ‘jumpy’ and move fast/erratically or cower… y’know, all of the bad things.

From my experience a great sign of a ball python that doesn’t feel very comfortable when you pick it up is a bp that (possibly along with some of the other aforementioned signs) isn’t tongue flicking at all. They may be trying to move away from you in your hands rather briskly, no tongue flicks, even to the point of full on dashing away from you at sudden sprints if it feels like you are about to attack it. Or if they’re not running, they may be staring up at you, their body feeling physically tense in your hands, holding their neck in a stiff ‘s’ shape and i really mean it when i say staring you down. You’ll never have more intense, direct eye contact with a snake in your hands than right before it’s about to ‘show you what for’ if you know what I’m saying. If you’re seeing these signs then you’re about to get bit if you don’t back off.

On the other hand, a bp that feels safe, of comfortable in your presence is very slow moving, if they decide they want to move at all, they’ll randomly meander to wherever it suits them which usually involves some manner of crack behind furniture if you aren’t watching them well enough. (They really like small, warm, dark spaces. Like, as much as a kid loves candy. Because it makes them feel pretty darn secure and comfy to not be exposed to the everythings around them that may be too bright, too loud, too much, etc.) A content or curious snake that feels secure in your presence will be sniffing everything, long frequent tongue flicks, big chillin’, 'scoping. Fixating very enthusiastically on that one random spot on the carpet that literally has nothing there, literally no reason to spend 5 minutes sniffing that particular section of the carpet, but sniff away they do. Why? What could possibly be there that is so enrapturing that they are giving it more through attention than their own food half the time?
The world may never know.

Lol but yeah, you see? Snakes can be just as silly, stupid, curious, opinionated, and individual as any one of us. All it takes is putting in the effort to look past their differences and understand them at their level (and not your own) to be able to see that side of them. And take it from me, once you do everything starts changing. Nothing fights fear like understanding. And snakes aren’t really alp that different from us. They may not be able to communicate in our way, and they may feel inherently differently towards some things that we wouldn’t give a thought to ourselves, but the feelings are still the same. Snakes can get depressed, did you know that? And unfortunately it’s more common than you’d think. That’s why attentive husbandry and creative enrichment is so important. It’s not good enough to just keep them alive, i personally feel that they deserve a life.

Can they love you the way that dogs and cats do? No. But if they give you their full trust, for them that’s practically the same thing. So, outside of the husbandry and care side of things, the goal is always to hope to be good enough to one day earn their trust. Some individuals may be easier than others, but that’s all part of the fun of it. Sometimes trust earned from hard work tastes sweeter than trust attained easily. There may also be times when the personality of the animals just doesn’t jive with yours and that’s ok. I have my fair share of those too. Doesn’t stop me from loving them in my own way even if they wouldn’t notice if i disappeared as long as they were still being fed.

But every snake keeper interacts with their snakes in their own way. I baby mine 100%, but others are pretty rough with theirs and yet still happen to have earned their trust. I guess there’s a way to be assertive with your snakes without scaring them. (A feat that escapes me personally.) Therefore earning trust is going to look a little different for every person and snake. But here’s the best advice i can give you:
Snakes are like the threefold law. What you give comes back threefold. If you act scared and nervous around your snake, they are going to be thrice as scared and nervous in response. Do it consistently, and the snake will learn to be nervous around you without provocation, and that will be the relationship you experience with them for their whole life or however long you have them.
If you act confident and steady consistently with them that will also come back to you threefold. They will learn to immediately associate positively without prior effort on your part. That will shape an amazing relationship between you and your pet that you and your daughter will get the rare privilege of enjoying for the rest of that animals life with you.

Research & learn, understand & adjust, observe & apply.

I can touch the majority of my snakes anywhere i want. I can open their mouths, hold them down, grab their heads, grab their tails, give them painful/intrusive medical treatment like shots, oral medications, even meds up the butt if i have to, i can even grab them behind the head- (although i avoid it as much as humanely possible, and do not enjoy it at all when i must.) -all without fear of being bitten. Because i understand my snakes. I know how far i can push them. I know how best to make them comfortable even when i have to do something to them that i know they aren’t going to be comfortable with. I have built and earned a mutual trust with them, and i strive to maintain that trust at every interaction. To me, that is what it means to be a snake keeper.

Here is a screenshot I came across at one point that has one of my favorite quotes in herpetoculture:

I hope this helps inspire you to start your own journey with your daughter to build your own confidence and mutual trust with you two new little ones. I’d definitely recommend doing some research on the behavior and husbandry of ball pythons. Fortunately for you, there is no other snake species on this planet that is so thoroughly discussed. (Maybe the corn snake, but i still believe bp’s have more educational material available.) There’s so many people you can learn from. YouTube is your best friend. I’ll recommend Snake Discovery and Clint’s Reptiles. They are both extremely family friendly and also degree holding professionals, so you can watch their videos with your daughter, and feel confident that the education they provide is accurate and applicable. Check out USARK too, as it is the sworn duty of all herp lovers to pay their due diligence to the association that singlehandedly advocates for our rights to enjoy these animals in the first place. Give them a subscribe if you love your reptiles, and i really hope that you will come to love and understand these magnificent animals as we all do here on MRC.

This is honestly probably one of the longest beginner advice posts I’ve made on here. But it just really struck with me. The love of reptiles, discarding assumptions and battling stereotypes, overcoming ignorance and fear in order to get the rare opportunity to see the real feeling being that exists behind some of the most unfairly villainized animals in the world… It’s a whole thing, haha.

Snakes are great, keep ‘em in ya’ house, don’t kill 'em outta hate. :ok_hand::snake: 'nuff said.