In the wild Ball pythons mainly eat native African rodents, including gerbils and rats. In captivity, most pythons are fed a diet of mice or rats (depending on their size). Pythons should always have access to clean water that is deep enough for the animal to submerge itself in, which aids in shedding. Snakes should be fed in a separate container from their normal enclosure to prevent biting associated with opening the enclosure.
Ball pythons can be kept in aquariums with secure screen top or custom-built enclosures. The enclosure should be long enough that the snake can fully stretch out and easily turn around. The substrate can range from newspaper to reptibark to aspen shavings. A shelter should always be accessible for the snake to hide. Basking branches are also a good addition which aides in the shedding process.
Lighting and Temperature:
Full spectrum bulbs with a 12hr light cycle are ideal for these nocturnal reptiles. Their enclosure should be kept at 80 to 85oF during the day and lowered to 75 to 80oF at night. Heat bulbs are recommended in place of heat rocks. Ball pythons can burn themselves on malfunctioning heat rocks. A thermometer and humidity gauge is recommended for ease of monitoring the environment.
Ball pythons are typically very docile, and can be easily handled. However, coiling up in a ball or moving restlessly between a handler’s hands can be signs of stress. Snakes should have the full length of their body supported while being held, and movements of the handler should be slow as to not frighten the snake.
Ball pythons are fairly healthy and low maintenance reptiles; there are some common illnesses they can suffer from: upper respiratory infections, mouth/tooth abscesses, dysecdysis (difficulty shedding), retained spectacles, and anorexia. We recommend a yearly physical from your veterinarian to ensure the health of your snake.