Setting up the ideal habitat

Hey everyone, I am fixing to be in the market for an albino ball python. I’m not as acquainted with the gene types, etc. like the rest of you but hoping to get more familiar with them in the future. I have a 55 gallon tank that I am starting to get ready and could use all the pointers I can get. I read that Cypress mulch or Aspen would be the ideal bedding for the tank, is that true? I also have two hygrometers on the way to put on opposite sides to keep an eye on the temps and humidity. Also I purchased abd automatic mister to help with the humidity as well.

Next I’m wanting to see what would be the ideal lighting set up? I seen one end of the tank should be around 75-80 degress for the cooler side and other 85-90 for warmer/basking. What lighting, wattage would you all recommend?

I’ve been looking for good hides and drift wood pieces as well to purchase but looking to see what others are using for their tanks. Thanks in advance! If anyone is a breeder that is selling let me know as well!

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Welcome to the community. You will find a lot of information and many members willing to help and share their experience and expertise.

If you are getting something small (non adult) then the tank might be to big at first. Most ball pythons like smaller spaces. If you run into eating problems, then I would move it to a smaller enclosure. A smaller storage tub will work. You can even devide the 55 into smaller areas. You will need to cover 90% of the top to keep heat and humidity in.

Here is a really good video to watch that covers a basic setup for starters. You can also check out some of their other videos on feeding and other options.

Just to hit on some things you mentioned,
-No special lighting is needed as they are nocturnal.
-Another bedding option is coco husk or chips. They hold moisture better and easy spot cleaning.
-A mister would be over kill. Unless you are planning to leave it be for many days at a time. Just a spray bottle and mist as needed works. 50 to 60% is ideal. Little more when shedding, around 70 works.
-Temp in hot side should be below 90. This will give some space for any fluctuating. Ideal would be around 87, could be lower but no higher then 90. Cool side will automatically be lower, as long as you have the heat source on one end and not centered.

What I listed is what most go by or suggest. You will see conflicting info as some place need more or less do to local temps/humidity.


I would recommend that the heating should be done via thermoregulated under-tank heating. In a glass tank with a mesh top and a heat lamp you will likely have endlessly bad sheds and feeding problems.

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Only thing I would add to this suggestion, Is raising a concern for ambient temps. If the room isn’t heated to 75+ all year long, you’re going to have a lot of temp problems using only under tank heating. Unfortunately those type of heating elements don’t do anything for ambients.

I am going to buck convention here, but with a very large caveat.

If you know what you are doing, you can raise a ball from hatchling to adult in a 55g with little issue

I am going to repeat the important part: IF YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING

I have done this on more than a few occasions. Granted, I have been keeping for decades and throw myself hard into setting things up properly

For a 55g, you will need a media that retains a decent amount of moisture without being constantly soggy or compacted. There are lots of ways you can accomplish this, one that has worked for me has been a media composed of cypress mulch, leaf litter, and long fibre sphagnum

Humidity can be an issue, depending on where you live. The media in the cage can help with this, hence the mix I suggested above. Adding things like live plants helps as well. And, of course, well placed and chosen hides. In/under the humid hides I would go with just sphagnum moss. You do not need to cover 90% of the top, the most I have covered over was 25%. If you are using a mister then you should be fine without any covering. I would not run it constantly, just pulses in the evening after lights out and morning before lights on

Heating will be the trickiest thing to maintain. I strongly recommend going to one of the big box hardware stores and buying a panel of the 2cm foam board and cutting that to sizes that will fit the back and sides. This will help retain a decent amount of heat. You will need to provide some type of extra heat. The easiest way to do this is with an under-tank heat mat that you must have hooked up to a thermostat. If you do not have it hooked to a thermostat it will over heat, the glass will shatter and it will be a major issue. Period. End of discussion. Something I like to do, that is a bit more complicated, is to take the under tank heat pad and put it between two pieces of light diffuser grid and slide the whole under the tank. You can easily position the probe for the thermostat proximal to the mat without being directly on the mat and it also allows an air gap between the tank bottom and the floor/base/stand underneath the tank. The media over the heat pad will need to be shallower so that sufficient heat penetrates to warm the animal but should also prevent the animal from burrowing all the way down to the glass and burning themselves. Black box makes a subterranean hide that would work great for this (and also for the humid hides) because you can bury it down into the media and get the “basking area” closer to the heat source and also capture some of the heat within the hide

Your major challenge will be escape. You will need seriously structurally sound and latching tops. Textbooks/bricks/rocks/your full laundry basket/etc., will NOT work to keep a determined ball in their cage

I would get everything set up and begin monitoring it before just throwing the animal in. Buy an infrared temp gun for temperature monitoring, those silly dial things from PetsMart/Co are damn. Once you have everything dialed in and stable then you can add the animal and leave it be for a while to settle in before you try feeding


Not necessarily, plenty of people have this setup and do it quite well, myself included. Haven’t had a bad shed in years and mine are great eaters. Certainly it takes more effort than just tossing them in a bin, but also it’s kind of an art form

Here’s Bagel when he was younger enjoying his vines:

They also aren’t completely nocturnal, but also show a crepuscular activity pattern, being active around dusk and down. If provided with lights, branches, etc you can see basking behavior around these times, which is pretty cool

A friend of mine has one of my hatchlings in a large 55 gallon bioactive with overhead lights and heats regulated by a raspberry pi to mimic natural sunrises and sunsets and it’s really cool to watch Kiwi actually go though a consistent routine of where she can be found in the tank depending on time of day. Up until around 10AM, they said she’s usually up on her ledge under some dappled light

Here is a pretty good basic visual guide of how to setup a tank enclosure that works well

except ignore where it says “dimmer or thermostat” because you have to have a legit thermostat


This is all great info, and while some of it may appear to contradict, that’s because there’s several ways to get the right temps and humidity,
and they vary depending on a lot of factors, like where you live, and how warm your house is.

My house is in the driest part of the USA, where any humidity is hard fought for, and I keep a cold house, for example, so I use coco chips and even some moss for substrate because it can hold humidity up enough without molding.

Whatever you decide to go with,
my biggest adivce is to fiddle with temperatures and humidity BEFORE you ever get the snake in there. Take WEEKS at it if that’s what it requires.

You want a temp “gun”, which can take surface temps, and good digital thermometer hygrometers that’ll tell you temps and humidity, and Thermostats are a must. Don’t use the stick on dial gauges from pet stores, they’re uselessly vague.

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A wonderful little toy I have recently begun to use is these SensorPush tiles:

They are small, inconspicuous and provide easy temp and humidity access from your phone so you do not have to root around in the cage or worry about obstructions keeping you from seeing them.

There is another company named Govee that offers something similar that I have also heard good things about as well.


Loving the idea for the subterranean hide from black box. Ive read it’s best to get both your hides the same but what if I got a subterranean hide for the warmer side with the heating pad and one of their normal medium size hides for the cooler side? Would that be sufficient or should I get two of one or the other? Going to grab a heating pad with thermostat to keep control of the temp on the warmer side. Also going to get something like the foam boards to line the back and sides to retain heat as well, just looking for ways to make it look nice and be more appealing for my new friend.

I found a 30 gallon tank that I had that I am going to use instead of the 55g. I was leaning towards the mixture of leaf litter, cypress mulch, and long fiber moss that was recommended as well. As far as a humidity/temp gauge I’m going with the Govee H5075. I’m returning the automatic mister as well, after a lot of reading I dont think I will need that if the rest is set up right, just the occasional spray from a water bottle.

This is malarkey. You can absolutely have different types of hides

There are companies that offer naturalistic/photorealistic backing that you can out on the back and sides before you put the foam on so it does not look terrible

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