(if you would like a printed please message me and i will be happy to either email or post a copy for free!)
The ball python is definitely the most popular pet snake in the world! They make amazing pets for both beginner and experienced reptile keepers, their calm attitudes and easy going personalities make them very easy to care for. Ball pythons come in so many different morphs (morph refers to the different colour and pattern variations of a reptile) and depending on the morph you choose this snake can range from £20-£900+. With proper care a ball python can live up to 30 years so they are a lifelong member of the family.
The enclosure of a ball python can differ, many people will keep their python in a wooden vivarium of appropriate size ( 4 ft x 2 ft x 2 ft.) but many keepers may also keep their python in a rack tub(30ltr)or even a plastic container(30ltr). Glass terrariums can also be used however there screen tops can make it difficult to maintain humidity. For juvenile pythons it is best to use a smaller enclosure as they seem to feel more protected in the small space, if the size of an enclosure is too big your snake can become stressed and refuse food.
With your snakes enclosure you will want to make sure you have a cool side and a warm side. To provide the heat you can either use a heat mat or a heat lamp, either can work but make sure to use a thermostat in order to prevent burns or overheating. If you were to use a heat lamp you must get a lamp/bulb guard, it is very important to get this because your snake is very likely to get as close as it can to the source of heat and by touching the bulb it can and most likely will burn itself. With lighting you dont need to buy a source of light, unless you keep them in a windowless room, as they will be fine with natural lighting. You want the warm side to be around 26c-30c and the cool around 25c-26c.
A ball python doesnt have any special humidity requirements as they come from a fairly dry environment. Ball pythons do need some humidity however so to help maintain good levels you can mist down their enclosure every few days and provide them with a humidity box to help them shed., To make this you can simply purchase a snake hide and fill it will moss whenever your snake is close to shed or get a sandwich box of appropriate size, cut out a hole and fill with moss.
There are a variety of different substrates that you can use with your ball python and many keepers will suggest different substrates, some good substrates to try are Aspen bedding, Orchid bark(a personal favourite) Coconut husk and many more. Some keepers will use newspaper/paper towels as a bedding because it is easier to clean however it doesnt give the snakes enclosure a naturalistic feel or provide enrichment for the snake so the only time i would recommend using these is with hatchlings or when you need to keep an eye on your snakes droppings.
For food rats and mice are the most common choice, as hatchlings a common food choice is rat pups which you should feed to them once or twice a week, as they get bigger you can move onto medium/large rats which they will be able to feed on happily for a long time, as adults you would need to move their feeding to once a week. Ball pythons do have a reputation of going on a hunger strike, when they do this it is usually because something in their environment is wrong, if this ever happens you should look at your setup and change anything that needs it such as upping the temp or changing the humidity. For your ball pythons water you will need to have a water dish that is big enough for them to soak in (they do this to help with their shedding) the water will need to be changed every day however if you forget and leave it a few days it will not harm them.
Cleaning out your snakes enclosure is easy, by doing a spot clean every day you can get rid of any poo, wet substrate and dirt quickly its important to do this to prevent your snake from becoming ill, once a month you will need to do a full clean, this involves removing and throwing out all substrate and replacing it, removing all decor, waterdishes and hides and then cleaning and disinfecting the whole enclosure and all hides.
For decoration your ball python will need two hides, one on each end of the enclosure, they will need some plants(either live safe plants or fake), some rocks, sticks and something that allows them to climb. Its important to give your snake some decor as it not only gives the enclosure a more naturalistic look but it provides them with stimulation and enrichment.
Animals are not just for Christmas and while they make great surprises they should only be purchased after relevant research is done!