Friday, November 14, 2008

Ball Python Pet Care Guide

Some important details you should know BEFORE buying your Ball Python pet.

Ball Python Habitat
Ball Python Substrate
Ball Python Hides
Selecting your Ball Python!
Ball Python Habitat Temperature
Ball Python Humidity
Ball Python Water Source
Ball Python Feeding
Ball Python Daily Maintenance
Enjoy your Ball Python

Selecting an escape proof cage

Even before buying your Ball Python, you should already have an ESCAPE PROOF CAGE! Either purchase a prebuilt escape proof Ball Python habitat, or get a glass tank with a screen top that LOCKS or any sort of mechanism that will prevent your Ball Python from pushing it off. Ball Pythons are very strong snakes, you CAN'T just put a couple of book on the screen/glass that you have covering the top. Don't learn this the hard way and then end up losing your Ball python. All snakes are great at escaping, if their heads fit, you can be certain the whole body will squeeze right through that tiny hole you forgot to cover.

Ball Python tanks aren't expensive, you will only ever need a maximum of 30 gallons (for those large female Ball Pythons). You could also choose to use tupperware or rubber tubs that are big enough for your Ball Python. Ball Python hatchlings only require a 10-15 gallon tank. General rule when purchasing a Ball Python Habitat for your Ball Python is that the length of your cage should be equal to or at least half the length of your Ball Python.

Bigger habitats tend to stress out Ball Pythons. If you want to save money, you could buy a larger Ball Python habitat and occupy the extra space by putting in some boxes.

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Selecting what substrate to use

There are a few choices, but the most convenient choice is good old newspaper. If you want a more decorative substrate, try to stay away from pine, aspen, cedar or anything that can get stuck in their mouths while they are eating. You could feed your Ball Python outside their cage, but newspaper is still the best substrate when it comes to ease of cleaning and maintenance. Astro turf or carpet is a close second, having two or three sheets cut to fit the bottom of your Ball Python's habitat will make your job easier. You will need to clean your cage every time your Ball Python poops (they poop as much as you feed them, so once or twice a week). Simpler the substrate and decorations in your Ball Python's habitat, the easier it is to maintain.

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Picking a suitable hide

Ball Pythons love hiding. It's what keeps Ball Python's stress free. Be sure to pick a hide that fits snuggly around your Ball Python. Ball Pythons prefer to feel it wrapped around them as opposed to a roomy hide. Whatever hide will do, you can pick one that looks visually appealing to you, just make sure that it isn't see through and it isn't too big for your Ball Python. They enjoy hiding during the daylight hours, since Ball Pythons are nocturnal animals.

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Selecting your Ball Python!

Select a Ball Python hatchling (or adult) that has clear looking and firm scales, stocky round body shape, clean nostrils and eyes. A healthy Ball Python will be flicking it's tongue when handled, as that is one of the ways they detect what is around them. A lot of baby Ball Pythons are instinctively head shy, meaning they will jerk or try to move away when you touch their heads, or if you're lucky, you might get to play with a Ball Python in..Ball form lol. When being handled, the Ball Python should have a firm and gentle grip around your hand or arm. You should notice the tongue flicking around a lot more when not in their cage, an unhealthy Ball Python will seem very sluggish and unresponsive. Keep a look out for an attentive, active Ball Python.

The first thing you should do, after setting up your Ball Python's habitat, is to put your new Ball Python in his cage and leave him alone for at least one week. This is the time for your Ball Python to get acclimated, you have to resist the urge to pick him up and handle him as when you first get your Ball Python he will be very nervous and stressed. It's really tempting to start handling and show off your Ball Python, but you have to resist it for at least a week.

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The background temperature inside your Ball Python's habitat should be maintained at around 80°F, never below 75°F, with a basking spot of 88-90°F ( a tiny bit more or less is okay ). Buy two thermometers, one for the ground area, and one placed at the basking area. You really need a basking area, that's the only way a Ball Python can digest it's food.

DO NOT EVER USE HEAT ROCKS is the only thing I need to emphasize. Heat sources for your Ball Python habitat should be through heat lamps, pads, and nothing that your Ball Python can directly come in contact with and burn him/herself on.

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You will need a hygrometer for checking humidity. Ball Pythons require at least 50% humidity, raise humidity by adding a bigger water bowl, misting if you have mold resistant substrate such as cypress mulch, or adding a "humid hide" if your Ball Python has problems shedding. If your Ball Python leaves his eye caps on when he sheds, DO NOT attempt to remove them yourself, you may just make matters worse. You should just leave it alone to fall off on it's own. The most you should do is give your Ball Python more warm baths, and keep his habitat at around 60-65% humidity while also providing a humid hide for your Ball Python to use.

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Providing Water

You will need to provide your Ball Python with fresh water everyday. That's the bulk of the work involved in keeping a Ball Python, making sure your Ball Python has fresh water everyday along with replacing the newspaper/substrate if soiled. If the water bowl you provided is big enough, you might see your Ball Python soaking. Your Ball Python is either feeling too hot, or trying to get rid of mites. Be sure to check for mites if you see your Ball Python in his bowl often.

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Feeding your new Ball Python

Once the one week acclimation period is over, you can begin your Ball Python's first feeding session. You can start your Ball Python hatchling with a prekilled (if he eats it) week old fuzzy mouse, if your Ball Python is 12 inches or longer. Smaller Ball Python hatchlings may require a younger fuzzy mouse (5 days or younger). The rule is, never feed your Ball Python something overly bigger or thicker than the thickest part of your Ball Python's Body. If he refuses to eat anything frozen thawed or prekilled, then you have to feed your Ball Python with live mice/rats.

To feed a prekilled/frozen thawed food item, you just drop it infront of the hide where he'll be able to see it. If that does nothing for your Ball Python, get a pair of snake tongs and wave it infront of the entrance of his hide. Hopefully, the mouse/rat will disappear faster than you can blink. It might surprise you to see(or not see) how fast your Ball Python strikes.

If that still doesn't get the attention of your Ball Python, then that means you have to feed him live. Feeding live CAN be dangerous to your Ball Python if left unsupervised. If your Ball Python doesn't take the food item you offered in 15 minutes, remove it cause rats have been known to actually KILL or injure Ball Pythons (yes, rats eat anything).

Baby Ball Pythons need to be fed once a week, adult(1 year+) Ball Pythons can be fed once every two weeks. Never Feed a Ball Python more than once a week.

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Daily maintenance

Always check if your Ball Python has fresh water, his habitat is clean, and the tempratures and humidity are correct. That's it. Every month, make sure to clean and disinfect his cage, dishes, and hides. If you use small substrate like cypress mulch, completely replace the entire substrate.

Don't forget to look for a vet near your area and bring your Ball Python for his/her annual checkup or to determine the sex of your Ball Python. Make sure to save your Ball Python's stool as sample to show to your vet when you visit.

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Enjoy your Ball Python

Please don't scare people with your new Ball Python Pet, they have enough bad rep from the media. Responsible Ball Python owners should always show people that they AREN'T the menacing evil monsters that the media portrays them to be. Ball Pythons are especially good at being "show and tell" kind of pets, as they tolerate handling very well, and are very docile snakes.

Daily handling will make your Ball Python get used to human contact, just remember to keep your Ball Python handling sessions short at first so your Ball Python does not get stressed.

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Click here for a brief overview on Ball Python History

Please make sure you read this Ball Python Pet Care Guide thoroughly before buying your very one Ball Python. No matter what people say, Pet Snakes are fun and fascinating to have.


Anonymous said...

but sometmes it's fun to scare people with using ng ball pyhton :P

Blogger said...

That's not very nice lol

Dave said...

Thx, very excited for my snake to arrive home.

I thnk my ball pythn can not escape, I use temporary only books up on the screen cover.

Will it work?


Blogger said...

Sure it'll work if it's a baby, I would get myself a secure ball python cage as soon as I can though.