New Snake owner

Hello, I have always loved animals. My love for reptiles was in 3rd grade. I have just graduated from High School. I have a full-time job. Recently found out about this page and I am so freaking excited! Now for my actual questions… before I completely freak out. I have watched youtube and looked some stuff up. I noticed some similar problems and I want some help. I love learning new things and want to make sure my future ball python has a good and happy secure home. So please pass down the knowledge. Side note, I am not thinking of breeding. So just take that into consideration.

Info I would like to know:
More about Ball Pythons
Housing
Handling
Sheading
Food
outdoor exploring
indoor exploring
other animals in the house
Anything else you would like to pass down to and eager learner.

Much appreciated for all you might give me I will be taking notes.

1 Like

Welcome! I hope you enjoy yourself here!

So, ball pythons. I got my first one back in August 2018, and now have 13 of them and a boa. I plan to get into breeding myself.

I think ball pythons are a wonderful beginner pet, as they are typically a very docile and laid-back species. They are also relatively easy to care for.
It’s a lot of fun getting to know your snake (they do each have their own personalities!) and watching them grow.

Most pet keepers will house their snakes in a terrarium, which you can decorate and make look nice.
You’ll want to have at least 2 hides for the snake, one on the heat side, one on the cool side. Ball pythons in particular like clutter, so you can put all kinds of fake plants and whatnot in there for them to climb on. You’ll also want a water bowl of course.
Don’t use heat rocks, you risk burning your snake on it.
Usually a heat mat works well, but make sure you have a thermostat to hook it up to! I’ve seen some of those heat mats get well over 120°F without something to regulate it!
With terrariums it may be a bit more difficult to maintain proper husbandry, mainly with humidity and heat. I’ve heard of a few ways to combat this, such as using tinfoil to partially cover the top, or using a damp towel over part of the top to help keep humidity in.
I personally use tubs, but as I said I have way more snakes and so it’s more convenient for me to keep them in tubs/racks.

Ball pythons can be handled as little or as much as you like. Some say handling them while they’re in shed is bad, but I have personally not had any issues handling my ball pythons when they’re in shed.
You’ll also want to give them at least 24-48 hours after a meal before you handle them, or else you risk them regurgitating. Not a fun thing to deal with! I’ve had it happen a few times myself.

When a snake is about to go into shed, their bellies will turn a bit pink and I’ve seem their neck skin right behind their head get a bit wrinkly. They’ll then turn blue, and once they go out of the blue phase they’ll shed within a few days.
I usually mist down the enclosures when I notice they’re in shed, to help boost humidity.
If they shed in one piece, you know your humidity is on par. If it comes off in multiple pieces or you find shed stuck on them, you might want to look at how your humidity is.
On the topic of stuck shed, if this occurs you can just give your snake a soak in lukewarm water. Make sure it’s not so deep as your snake has to swim, but enough to cover part of its body. Don’t leave them unattended, I’ve heard of them drowning.

I feed my snakes an appropriate sized meal weekly. The size of your prey item should be around the same width of the widest part of the snake’s body.
You’ll want to be sure you know what type of prey item the ball python is currently eating, so you can continue with that. Younger ones are typically started out on hopper mice, but they can also be feeding on rats as well. Also make sure you know if the snake accepts frozen thawed or live, it’ll be important to know!
Most people will recommend you feed f/t, but it really depends on what the snake is willing to take and what you’re comfortable with.
You can find frozen rodents in most chain pet stores (such as PetSmart or Petco), though I’ve only found live rodents specifically for feeding at the local Pet Food Centers. If you can find a reptile breeder nearby that also sells feeders, great!
You can also order frozen rodents in bulk to be shipped to you from places like RodentPro. However, I wouldn’t recommend it if you are only keeping a few snakes.
If you choose to feed live, be sure you are supervising at ALL TIMES. Rodents can and will chew on your snake if they aren’t eaten immediately! I personally breed my own rodents and feed live, but always have my feeding tongs handy in case of a poor strike (which happens quite often.) Put the end of them in the rodents’ mouth so it can’t bite anything else.

I would definitely encourage you allow your snake to explore both indoors and outdoors, as long as you are supervising them and don’t let them get into dangerous places (such as stuck under furniture indoors, or somewhere you can’t reach them outdoors)
This gives them more enrichment and exercise than what they would get just sitting in their enclosure all day.

While a ball python wouldn’t be able to severely hurt any other pets (except, well, rodents) I’d be more concerned about how the other pets would react to the ball python. Dogs and cats could very easily injure or even kill your ball python, so I’d recommend either not leaving them together, or doing it under strict supervision.

Hoo boy that was a long one. If anyone wants to add onto what I said or has anything to correct me on, do let me know. I typed this all out on my phone so it may be a bit of a mess. Hope that all helps!

8 Likes

Oh my goodness this is wonderful!!! Lots of notes taken. Thank you so much.

I’ll hold off on the husbandry aspects since I’m sure others have something that covers it all in a more comprehensive and organized way, but I will give some advice on some other points.

First, I’d take your time on actually making the purchase.
Just take time to admire all the different morphs and combos and give yourself time to let them sink in a bit too. Personally when I first started looking I got infatuated with some morphs but after some time I ended up not being as excited about them. The longer I took between liking a morph and actually buying a new snake, the more satisfied I’ve been years later.
I’d also recommend doing your best to find how a morph looks at 2, 3, and 5 years old. Ball pythons all go through some color change as they grow up. It’s sometimes very difficult to find these pictures since most animals are marketed/sold as hatchlings and sub-adults. But getting one that you think looks awesome as a hatchling and awesome as an adult is something to consider.
Also I recommend taking the time to get a working setup going before even starting the process to buy your first snake. Set it up and run it for a week and monitor the temps/humidity/etc. Once it’s totally dialed in and stable, you can just unplug it until you actually go to buy. (Plug it back in a few days before your snake arrives to make sure nothing broke)
Your ball python should live a long healthy life of up to 30 years or so, so missing out on some months is just a drop in the bucket.

As far as other animals, there shouldn’t be much issue I think as long as they aren’t able to open the snake’s enclosure. I probably wouldn’t socialize your ball pythons with any other pets though. Ball pythons are very vulnerable animals, which is why they like to hide in a tiny space all day where nothing can get to them. Even normally tame animals that didn’t mean harm could end up causing serious injury or killing your snake accidentally. Even a little rat much smaller than the snake normally eats can kill a ball python if left in the enclosure. I just don’t think it’s worth the risk personally.

Last piece of advice comes back to the first: your snake will live a really long time. Just take that into account that all the life changes and stuff (which will probably be a lot in your 20’s), that the snake’s gotta be a part of that too.

Keep that excitement going, hope you find your perfect pet!

Talking about morphs, I had heard that some have kinks or nuro problems (I don’t know if those terms are correct) . Yes, I heard younger you can bond with more. Thank you so so much.

I have finally purchased my first ball python and he is about 2 almost 3 months old. I have been trying to get him used to handling and the first night of taking him out after a week left alone in his enclosure he did great. Every night after 2 days from feeding day he has been a completely different snake. I dont know if i should even keep trying to handle him because i dont want to stress him out. If you figure anything out on the handling part throw it my way thanks!

Hope that helps

1 Like

I know that many people know this already but I cant express it enough, be careful who you buy from! I cannot tell you how many stories I have of friends and myself getting scammed out of what looks like a “good deal”. And since you are a newcomer to keeping snakes I would say go with a older snake that is established and has size to it like a simple normal or pastel, whatever floats your boat. Hope this helps and welcome to the forum!

1 Like

It’s super important to handle even if they become a little nippy because you dont want a aggressive snake. It wouldnt be enjoyable to you or the snake. My best advice is for you to handle it little by little and work your way up. Also when you pick it up try to scoop it from the bottom up rather than just sticking your hand in and grabbing it from the top and just let it roam around in your hands and dont try restraining it. Hope this helps

1 Like

Thank you, do you know well trusted places? And places that are trusted for younger snakes.

1 Like

There is always a risk from buying a snake from anyone no matter how legit they seem. I would say just do your home work. I personally like websites like outback reptiles and dynasty reptiles. The seller who stole my money for over 6 months was Manny from perfect predators who is a seller on here. He only sent me a animal when I threatened legal action. But aside from the few bad apples on here this hobby is amazing!

Oh yeah, definitely do your research on a seller before you buy from them.
I’ve personally bought snakes from Mayo’s Morphs (they’re local to me but also sell on MorphMarket) and I purchased two adult ball pythons from Mike Brizzee Reptiles.
Most of the others I got from various breeders at local expos.

On that note, I would also recommend you check out any local reptile expos, if you’re able to get to one. It’s a great way to see the animals in person and so you can ask the breeders questions you may have.

2 Likes

That helps a lot actually! Last night while he was roaming his enclosure, I was wondering if he would come out on his own into my hand and sure enough he crawled right into my hand. He didnt even get hissy or puffy or anything. He seemed so curious and calm! But I figired that handling would be best to keep him from becoming aggressive so thank you ror answering my question! Im just still trying to learn his personality and what he prefers and last night was a definite win!

1 Like

Glad to hear its working out!

1 Like

Personal preference here… I only handle my new snakes when it’s time to clean their enclosure, until after the third meal (3 weeks). You want to give them time to acclimate. The last thing you want is a snake that won’t eat because it’s stressed. This was suggested to me when first starting out, it’s worked well for me. Welcome to the hobby!

Oh, I havent read anything about this. I really hope I havent been stressing him at all… I suppose I could try this but he has been taking his meals like a champ and he seems to explore when he is ready to come out. Im so conflicted haha. Thank you so much for your suggestion! I will definitely take it into consideration!

Ball pythons when stressed typically will hide all the time and not eat… if he’s still exploring and eating normally then I don’t think he’s stressed out at all.
I have a male that is a grump and hisses when I go to pick him up, and there’s been a few rare occasions where he actually tagged me. Though once he’s out of his enclosure, he’s completely fine.

1 Like

That is exactly like my little ball python. Honestly that brings me so much relief. i was wondering if i was doing something wrong with his husbandry or maybe he just didnt like me (which I know sounds crazy but I want him to have a long happy life). I guess just like your guy, he likes things to happen on his terms! Thanks for clearing things up, i have been kind of stressing about it.

1 Like

If he’s eating, no harm done, just something I do personally.

Gotcha well i may try that with the next baby. I said i would only get one but they are all just too cute i might get another haha.