Josh Ruffell is a freelance animal trainer and consultant who has worked with leading animal training companies on a number of films and television shows. In this capacity, his responsibilities include wildlife safety consulting and on occasion, standing in for actors in potentially challenging animal scenes. Particularly interested in reptiles, Josh Ruffell attributes some of this fondness to his first pet snake, a ball python he acquired as a teenager.
Ball pythons generally make good pets because they are relatively small, usually docile, and easy to care for. One aspect of care it is crucial to get right is the housing, which will help keep your ball python safe, healthy, and free of stress.
Juvenile ball pythons do not need a very large enclosure, as smaller enclosures actually help them feel more secure, whereas a larger habitat might overwhelm your snake and cause it stress. For adults, the sweet spot seems to be approximately one and a half times its overall length.
For the substrate, most reptile-friendly substrates you find at your local pet store will work. Provide your ball python with plenty of places to hide, as these shy snakes often prefer the safety and comfort of solitude. While you do not want to clutter the enclosure too much, provide at least one hiding place at each end where the temperatures will differ.
Speaking of temperature, as ectotherms or cold blooded animals, ball pythons need an ample supply of external heat to stay active and healthy. Providing areas of varying temperature within your snake’s enclosure will allow them to self-regulate depending on their current needs. Set your habitat up with a basking site of around 88 to 90 degrees, and a cooler area around 78-80 degrees.