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Ball Python


Common Names: Ball Python, Royal Python

Scientific Name: Python regitus

Distribution: West and central Africa

Size: Large females up to 6 feet, average size 4 to 5 feet. Males slightly smaller.

Temperament: Very timid and shy. They often refuse to feed in captivity. Adult imports are only recommended for more experienced keepers.

Hardiness: Very hardy, especially captive born specimens. Large imports are often hard to acclimate. These animals are usually internal parasite loaded, tick covered, extremely stressed, and dehydrated. With stress-related immune system breakdown they're also susceptible to respiratory gastorenteritic and mouth rot disorders. All imports should be treated for internal parasites and dehydration, and de-ticked. As a rule captive bred or imported babies and smaller juveniles are usually no problem when it comes to feeding and acclimation. Avoid runt babies as they often refuse to feed.

Sexing: Can evert the hemipenes in baby males, otherwise should be probe sexed.

"Captive Care"

Food: A varied supply of nutrient fed rodents (mice, rats, gerbils) of all colors and sizes should be offered until a type is accepted. Should be fed at night (caution: if leaving a live rodent in a bag or cage overnight, supply it with some food pellets to prevent injury to the snake as a result of hungry rodent bites.) Patience is the key when acclimating imports. This species can go up to a year without food if in good shape to start with. Force feedings should be done only as a last resort. For best results allow a period of 3 - 5 weeks of undisturbed acclimation before attempting to feed these imports.

Housing: Babies can be housed in a 10 gallon sized terrarium, but will soon require larger accommodations. Sub-adults and adults require a minimum 30 gallon sized or preferably larger custom built enclosure. During initial acclimation use newspaper as a substrate. Once acclimated use either orchid bark, soil/sand mixture, aspen pine shavings, reptile bedding or reptile turf substrate. Sparsely landscape and create a good shelter, and climbing and basking areas with select anchored branches, driftwood, cork bark or hollow logs and rocks. For babies sturdy live potted or artificial plants can be used for decorative purposes. Providing a good hiding shelter is critical for the species.

Water: Provide a large, heavy, shallow pan of freshwater for drinking, soaking, and defecation at all times.

Temperature/Humidity: Day 82 F to 92 F; night 75 F - 80 F. Some humidity is provided by large water pan

Lighting: Full spectrum lighting/U.V. radiation is not needed for maintaining Ball Pythons in captivity. Regular incandescent or fluorescent lighting is sufficient for daytime illumination.

Heating: Under tank reptile heating pads placed under both the water pan, a favored shelter and up to 2/3 of terrarium will provide 24 hour bottom surface and water heat while incandescent light bulbs with reflectors situated over same 2/3 of terrarium will provide the proper daytime heat gradients. Use a thermometer.

Notes: After initial acclimation period try feeding these snakes by placing them singly in a brown paper bag with a couple of air holes punched in for ventilation. Add a suitably sized rodent (for babies, live mice or rat pinkies and fuzzes. For adults pre-kill mice, rats, gerbils or live chicks.) Leave overnight in secure area. Make sure temperatures do not fall below 82 F during this time. If unsuccessful, wait 2 or 3 days and try again. Remember patience is the key to success with this species.


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