Enclosure: Contrary to popular belief, Ball Pythons (Python Regius) do not like
large spacious enclosures. Ball Pythons prefer smaller secure enclosures. It makes them feel more secure and make for
more consistent feeders. If you are just starting out or you just have a couple of snakes as a hobby, your best bet will be
a glass aquarium. A 10 gallon tank (approximately 20"L x 10"W [50 x 25 cm]). A young adult requires a 20 gallon tank,
and full adult may require a 30 gallon tank (36" x 12"W [91 x 35 cm]). If you use a screen top make sure you cover at least
3/4 of the top with foil tape to maintain humidity. Again screen top can cause nose rub. A secure locking plastic top with
a sliding lid may be better. Hide boxes are very useful and allow the Ball Python to feel safe and secure.
Heat: Do not guess the temperature, invest in the tools to help you maintain proper
temperatures. When using a glass enclosure an under tank adhesive heating pad works well. They generally cover about 1/3
of the bottom. You do not want to buy an oversized heating pad due to the fact that the snake will need a cool spot around
78-80F. Again avoid using hot rocks! The surface temperature with the substrate should be about 88F. This is the surface that
touches the reptile. The heating pad itself should reach approximately 95F. It’s better to use a thermostat or rheostat
to control the temperature. You can use a thermometer or heat gun to measure temperature.
Humidity: Remember humidity does not equal a wet cage. A wet cage can lead to fungus
or respiratory problems. Humidity is preferably around 60%. You should mist the sides of the enclosure several times a week
to keep the humidity up. Do not mist your snake directly; if the snake catches a draft of cold air it could cause a respiratory
infection. If the cage is too dry (lack of humidity), it will hinder you snake when it comes time to shed. Again, screen
tops do not hold humidity well.
Substrate: Do not use cedar, it can be toxic to snakes. This will eventually boil
down to preference. Aspen, news paper, and Cypress mulch can be used. When using a substrate like Aspen or Cypress mulch,
usually 2-4 inches deep is fine. News paper is good and easy to clean. The minus to news paper is the ink, it rubs off on
the snakes. If using news paper you can crumple up a few pages, this will give the Ball Python a place to hide.
Lighting: Ball Pythons are primarily nocturnal (active at night) and no special lighting
is required. In Africa, the Ball Python takes refuge in mammal burrows or other subterranean habitation during the day. They
become active at night in search for rodents such as gerbils and hamsters that are also native to Africa. You can use a full-spectrum
light or low wattage incandescent bulb in the enclosure during the day. Make sure the snake cannot get into direct contact
with the light bulbs as ball pythons are very prone to getting seriously burned.
Water: The water for your snake should be kept clean at all times. It’s best
to check it daily. The bowl itself should be sterilized at least once a week or as needed. The bowl is very important to your
snake due to the fact that they drink from it and occasionally will soak their bodies. Soaking may occur for shedding purposes.
If your snake defecates in it and you are slack on you husbandry practices this can cause health problems. Ball Pythons are
very strong and can tip over a water bowl if it is not heavy. This means your enclosure could get soaked, possibly causing
a respiratory infection. Ceramic bowls work very well. Some snake keepers use plastic bowls, but they can be very light and
easily tipped over.
Accessories: A hide box is very important to your Ball Python. It’s better if
you utilize two. Provide one on each end of your python's enclosure so that it doesn't have to choose between temperature
& security. Clay flowerpots, plastic flowerpots, and commercially available hide boxes all work quite well.
These are some of the guidelines for beginners. I hope you find this information helpful. Happy Herping!
Best of luck,
Living Art Reptiles.
Living Art Reptiles, Philippe de Vosjili, published by Advanced vivarium Systems, Peter Kahl, and NERD