Ball pythons are wonderful pets, but there is a lot of work required to set up a proper enclosure for them. Burrows, size, humidity and temperature all play a large role in keeping ball pythons happy and healthy, as outlined below.
Ball Python Habitats
Wild ball pythons inhabit grasslands, open forests and savannas within West and Central Africa. They use water to keep cool in the hot weather and stay underground in burrows for most of their lives.
Humidity Inside the Habitat
Ball pythons are designed to live in warm and wet environments, so humid air is important for their habitat. They need to have a humidity level between 50 and 60%. Ball pythons use humidity to shed properly, but too much humidity can cause them to develop skin diseases. Respiratory infections can also occur if the humidity is too high or too low.
Temperature Inside the Habitat
Temperature is extremely important for a ball python’s habitat since they are cold-blooded. There should be two distinct sides in the habitat: a warm side and a cool side. This allows the ball python to regulate its body temperature. The warm side needs to be between 90 and 95° while the cool side should remain between 75 and 80°.
Setting Up a Ball Python Enclosure
- Start with a cage. Common ones include glass, plastic and rack systems. A 4-by-2-by-2-foot enclosure is the minimum size recommended, but it is always best to get the largest size possible.
- Decide on the bedding, or substrate, for the base of the enclosure. Newspaper, aspen shavings, Carefresh bedding and cypress mulch are all acceptable substrates for ball pythons. Water can be added to the bedding to assist with the humidity inside the enclosure.
- Place multiple hide boxes in the enclosure for the ball python to hide inside. This will help the ball python stay relaxed and reduce its stress.
- Make one of the hide boxes wet. This will help prevent dehydration and provide a space to shed.
- Mist the enclosure daily with a water sprayer filled with filtered water to maintain the proper humidity.
- Use a hygrometer to measure the humidity within the habitat.
- Include a water dish for the ball python that will add to the overall humidity.
- Invest in a white light heating lamp, specifically one with a dimmer to control the heat if it becomes too hot.
- Use a temperature gun to track the temperature.
- Include a UVB fixture to simulate the natural day/night cycle of ball pythons.
- Other decorations like plants or branches can be added, although they are not necessary.