A freelance animal trainer and consultant in Los Angeles, Josh Ruffell works in the movie and television industry in Hollywood. In this capacity, he sometimes serves as a stand-in for actors during challenging scenes involving animals and is an expert in handling venomous and non-venomous snakes. Josh Ruffell developed a passion for working with reptiles early in life, when he acquired his first pet ball python as a teenager.
One of the first steps new ball pythons owners must take is purchasing and preparing the proper housing. For most pet owners, this will involve buying a terrarium. On average, the terrarium should be no less than two-thirds the length of the snake and no larger than one and a half times the length of the snake while it gets acclimated. For most adult ball pythons, which are between three feet and four feet long, this means buying a 30 gallon tank or a speciality reptile enclosure of similar size.
After the enclosure is purchased, new owners must add bedding, heating, and various hides. The bedding for ball pythons can consist of aspen chips, coconut fibers, or papers towels. However, aspen shavings or reptile bark are often preferred. Since ball pythons are generally docile and secretive animals, they need plenty of space to hide. In larger tanks/enclosures, there should be at least two hides at opposite ends of the enclosure.
Meanwhile, heating options control the temperature of the enclosure. A heat lamp is often needed to maintain the ball python’s ideal ambient air temperature of around 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit with a basking site of 88-90 degrees Fahrenheit. A heat pad should potentially be utilized as well. Depending on the location of the tank, a light may be needed to provide the animal with the proper photoperiod. Humidity must also be maintained to ensure the ball python stays comfortable.
Finally, new owners need to add a heavy water dish with fresh water and perhaps a few branches or other decor to provide enrichment for the snake, and the habitat is ready.