Housing Your Ball Python

As a general rule, it’s good to have the perimeter of the enclosure twice the length of your snake, which is generally no more than 6ft. An enclosure 4ft by 2ft and a foot deep – or with a capacity of around 30 gallons – should provide ample space. You may as well buy a full-sized enclosure from the outset, rather than having to buy different sizes as your python grows. And, remember, ball pythons are strong creatures, and, like all snakes, fantastic escapologists. Your python’s home needs to be secure.

It’s possible to house more than one ball python in an enclosure if you have more than a single snake, but keep a new snake in quarantine for up to six months first, so that it doesn’t pass on any health problems or diseases.

Your ball python’s home will need a water bowl, not just for drinking but so that it can soak itself too. This is especially important when the time comes to shed its skin. The bowl should be sturdy, and not kept so full that it can easily spill, as moist bedding can lead to potential health problems.

On the subject of bedding, your ball python will need some substrate, or a layer across the floor of its cage. Do not use bark, since ingesting it could block your python’s intestine, or even cause mouth rot. But newspaper and vinyl tile could work well, as could astro turf. If you use the latter, clean it when it becomes soiled by soaking it in water and bleach.

Like all snakes, ball pythons value their privacy, and you will need to provide a hiding place of some kind. A hollow log, or plastic or cardboard box with a doorway cut into it could work well. Some owners also stick duct tape all around the bottom outside edge of their snake’s enclosure so the python can hide behind that too.

Since ball pythons are nocturnal, they don’t have any special lighting requirements. But it will no doubt be happier if you maintain nature’s cycles of light and dark. To see your snake during the day, you could use a low-wattage bulb. Ideally, these would be red or blue, and not incandescent.

In terms of heating, your python needs a proper temperature range to stay healthy. The air temperature throughout the enclosure must be kept at between 80-85°F (27-29°C) during the day, with an area for basking maintained at 90°F (32.5°C). At night, the ambient air temperature should not be permitted to drop down below 73-75°F (23-24°C), and then only if a basking area of at least 80°F (27°C) is available. Special heating pads for reptiles are available, which can be kept on the underside of a glass enclosure. Do not use hot rocks, as these may burn your snake. Ceramic heating elements, which radiate heat downwards, are now available on the market too.

Ball pythons are native to fairly dry places, so should survive well with ambient humidity. But if there are problems shedding, or very dry feces, check humidity levels using a hygrometer and aim for 50% humidity. During shedding, your python will need greater humidity: increase enclosure humidity to 60-65%, or mist every day while shedding is ongoing.