Not Yet An Owner Questions

Hey! so I don’t own a ball python yet but I have lots of questions that I would like to get answers on. Ive done lots of research but I’m still fuzzy on a few things specifically the enclosure. So I am going to the reptile expo in Toronto in September and I plan to get a snake when I go. My question is everyone says that the enclosure should be ready before you get a snake but I’m not really sure how I would do that considering I don’t know how big the snake is gonna be. So my question is what size enclosure should I get? should I get it before the expo or should I get it there? TIA


To start off I’d get a sterilite storage bin from target as they make great starter enclosures and go from there. You can put in a mesh insert in the top for overhead heating, or heat from under with a mat/heat tape. You’ll need a thermostat, hides, bedding, a branch or two, some stuff like that. Then as it grows you can size up

Something like this is always great to aim for!

Having an enclosure setup in advance is a really great idea because it allows temperature and humidity to stabilize before adding your new friend, and you aren’t constantly having to make adjustments while they’re settling in


Welcome! It’s generally possible to keep a ball python in the adult enclosure for most of its life. I recommend something at least 36" x 24" for a female, enclosure length + enclosure depth = length of the snake is a good sizing guideline. A PVC enclosure is the best solution for most pet owners, though it is possible to use a glass aquarium as long as it has a secure and solid lid to keep heat and humidity in.

As @chesterhf said, it’s probably a good idea to put a baby in a bin setup to start out. Keep it there until it’s put on a bit of size and taken a few meals, at which point you can move it into the adult enclosure. Most ball pythons sold at expos will be only a few months old, so chances are that the one which catches your eye will be little.

Good luck! Expos are a great place to get a snake, you have hundreds to choose from and you’ll be supporting the breeder directly.


Welcome! I recommend Green Room Pythons on youtube for concise, species specific ball python introductory advice, and you can definitely ask the experts here.

when I got my baby BP, I started him in a little bin setup with temps and humidity arranged that I’d had running for a few weeks before he arrived, to be sure it was all functioning.

My best tip for your enclosure besides the above is Govee smart thermometer/hygrometers, one in the warm spot and one on the cold end, and you can track on your phone how temps or humidity fluctuates and see better what to adjust.


Good advice so far especially about having a smaller enclosure for juveniles and grow them into a larger adult enclosure. There’s a million right ways to keep a ball python so you can find the way that’s right for your snake.

I’d personally recommend front-open style PVC terrariums for a ball python adult display enclosure. They hold humidity and heat best and ball pythons are very fearful of things coming at them from above. Also, if your budget can afford it, I personally think the Herpstats are the best thermostat and worth the money for the accuracy and safety features. Last random thing I’d recommend I actually just started using and I don’t know how I lived this long without it: WiFi connected thermometer/hygrometer that can send you alerts to your phone no matter where you are. I bought the Govee brand and love it so much I bought 5 - for the snake room (with the e-ink screen), incubator, rat freezer, and people-food fridge/freezer. No tripped breaker, lifted thermostat probe, etc. will ever go unnoticed.

As for timing, you’ll be way happier getting everything, setting it up, and keeping it running for a week or two before you get the snake. Even having everything I need already, when I buy a new snake I set up my quarantine box and run it for a week so I know everything’s still working and have time to fix anything. Same goes for the incubator and hatchling racks - 1-2 weeks before I think I need them.

Since you don’t know the size of the snake, one option is to get an adult enclosure set up and running just with paper towel substrate and minimal on decorations. Then get a latching-lid ~12 quart plastic shoebox tub in case you (probably) come home with a smaller snake. You can put the tub inside the big enclosure with 1/4 - 1/3 of the tub over the heat. You might need to adjust some of the thermostat settings, but you can usually get a decent setup-within-a-setup going like this. I’ve had customers do this and be successful.

Best luck to you!


All good advice. You can’t go wrong with any of it.
My suggestion is also a storage bin from Target (Ezy Storage, 33gt will work). These have great locking lids. Just need 1/4 inch holders about an inch apart. drilled along both sides about 1/3 way across, along the top edge and on the same end. Use paper towels for bedding to start out. This way you can see any mites (if there are any). You can get an under tank heat pad from Amazon that has a controller on it. Get a temperature Gun that is for body & surface. This way you can check the temps. While at target, you can get the small plastic bowl for water (and a second to help with humidity) and also a larger one for a hide (just cut an opening on the side if it.) room light is all that is needed.
-Surface temp should be around 86
-Humidity around 50-60%
-Water bowl on non heat side
-Water bowl on heat side with paper towels and fill with water
-Hide some place in the middle. Close to the heated side.
-Pad under tub on one side about 1/4 to 1/3rd of the bottom in contact.

Definitely set it up before you buy anything to put in it. And test temps and humidity.


Yes as above regarding temps and humidity. (the amount of cover depends on the type of set up) But…
Sorry, this advice is probably not what you want to hear.
If you just buy your first snake on impulse regarding size of animal, there is no way to know the size of tank /viv/tub it needs and pre set it up.
Thats unless you set up multiple sizes.


Hello and welcome to the community @angie! You have already gotten a lot of advice so I won’t add too much to it.

Expos are wonderful and I can’t wait for the one coming here next month! However, imho, it’s best if you can possibly hold off on impulse buying. I did that once a long time ago and I ended up with a sick snake that needed vet care because it had an infection. In addition I was told it was eating ft when in fact it was eating live.

Now if you do buy one at the expo, the most important thing you need to do first is establish eating consistency. Otherwise it’s not going to matter what enclosure it’s in. If you buy a baby you need to go with a small basic enclosure at first until it eats consistently for you. Also find out if it is eating ft or live. Same with a juvenile or adult, ft or live?

Best wishes and let us know what you end up with! :grinning:


Hey! I just have a quick question about the quarantine period (I’m sorry if its a dumb question this will be my first reptile) i’m confused about the humidity part and how that will stay up when I bring my snake home

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Quarantine can be in any enclosure setup you like, just separated from other animals that could transmit disease/infection/parasites/etc between each other. So mostly other reptiles or amphibians - I’m not sure about birds… (Since it’s your first reptile you may not need to really quarantine, but just monitor for any signs of problems.)

So keeping humidity will be the same as any setup: getting ventilation to the right amount, water bowl surface size, putting moisture into the substrate, or raising the room humidity are the main ways to regulate humidity.


Quarantine is not a needed step if it is your only reptile. I would just keep the enclosure kind of bare for the first 30 days or so. This way if there are any mites, you can clean it easier.

Humidity all depends on the enclosure.
Glass is hardest. You will need to cover the mesh top 3/4 or more to help keep it up. If front opens or front vents, you will need to cover the vents and make a gasket for the door. Both can be done with just regular tape. Just tape over the holes, the door just put the tape on one door and fold it over so it it larger then the gap. (make it like a flap so the door works and will also seal it when closed).

For all enclosures, coco chips work best for bedding. Just spray it as needed.
Might need a second water dish on the hot side. Fill with bedding and water. This will help to keep the humidity up longer.
Anything other then glass, you can spray more water on part of the hot side.
You are really only looking to get to 50—60%. During shed, 65-75%. And this is just for a few days. So spraying once a day during this time should do the trick.


okay that makes sense thank you. So I’ve seen the paper towel method for the first 30 days and spraying as needed is that okay? I also heard that the humidity was supposed to be higher do you keep your ball pythons at that humidity and have you noticed any problems? sorry for all the questions TIA

Personal opinion based on raising over 100 BPs over the last 7 years is that @d_y_python advice is good. A lot of the older “book guides” can have dubious/outdated advice, and some people copy it on in their guides. I think keeping higher than 60% for long periods doesn’t give any extra benefits outside of shedding, and just increases the risk of mold and infections. I shoot for the lowest dips to be 45% and the highest spikes to be 60% (unless I just dumped some water to help a shed.) Even if I miss the shed they still 99% of the time shed perfectly with just 55% average humidity.


Absolutely agree with @crypticoils-pythons on the humidity question. I am not a breeder or an expert by any means but all of my bps have no trouble shedding mostly perfect sheds while being kept at lower to mid-range humidity levels.

@angie I would not worry too much about the humidity level as long as it is around 50 %. If your snake has a successful unassisted shed then the humidity is good. If the snake has a shed that comes off in pieces then the humidity needs to be bumped up a bit, which could mean just moving the water bowl closer to the hot side.

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Yes, paper towels and spraying is just as good.
You can use paper towels forever if you want there are good and bad, just like everything else.
Good - easy cleanup, cheap, easy access to buy
Bad - have to change more often, harder to keep humidity up, could get in the water and absorb it.
100% agree with @crypticoils-pythons.


thank you for all the helpful advice everyone! I really appreciate it!