How to Care for Ball Pythons!

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hey everyone this is Emily with snake

discovery ball pythons are probably the

most popular pet snake at least in the

United States they compete very closely

with corn snakes but because of

everybody wanting us to do this sort of

video today we're going to be discussing

how to properly set up an enclosure for

a ball python and how to take care of

one let's begin with a proper setup for

a ball python and we'll go into the

other details later there are two main

routes you can take for what to house

your ball python in one of which being a

glass aquarium and the other option

being a plastic tote or tub now there's

a big controversy on which one works

best with each species of snake if you

want to learn the pros and cons of each

side we recommend just watching this

video right here because i'm not going

to go into details with about that today

instead if we had to choose one or the

other for a ball python we would

recommend a plastic tote so that's what

we're gonna set up in today's video you

want the size of your enclosure to be

big enough to allow the ball python to

fully stretch out along two sides of the

tank or bin and this is the bare minimum

requirement for a ball python and

preferably you want the enclosure to be

big enough so that they can stretch out

along just one side and that just gives

them that much more room to roam around

but if it's too big the snake will

actually feel a bit exposed and they may

not want to eat because they feel

vulnerable so you don't want to put a

baby ball python in a huge forty gallon

tank right away you want to wait until

they're big enough to grow into it first

ball pythons grow to around four to

possibly five feet for larger females

males typically stay on the smaller side

so as they grow you're going to of

course have to increase the size of

their enclosure as they outgrow the old

ones the style of the bin is important

as well

this one we're just going to be sliding

right into our snake rack so there is no

lid involved in ours personally but if

you're just setting up a single ball

python enclosure at home you'll want

something more like this where the lid

actually there's a lip on the lid that

goes down the side a little bit and you

also want there to be positive locks

that actually hold the lid down this

style of bin just has a

that kind of snaps on top and a ball

python or any snake for that matter is

just gonna push up the lid in the middle

and escape whereas these locks right

here actually hold the lid in place so

it's something that seems obvious but

it's very important and often overlooked

and of course another obvious thing is

to make sure to drill holes in the side

of the bin we typically do two rows of

ten holes on the side I'm sure you

there's there's some wiggle room there

too but that's just what we found to

work pretty well before you add anything

inside of the tub you want to set up

your heating element first there are

also two options for your heating

elements you can use a heat lamp from

above or a heat mat from below for ball

pythons we highly recommend using a heat

mat from below because ball pythons are

not natural bass kurz so they're gonna

prefer to stay hidden while remaining

warm rather than coming up and basking

under a light so that's why we recommend

heat mats and these mats should be

approximately a third of the size of the

enclosure this one's a little bit small

but you know it'll work just for um

today's video we have heat tape that we

use for this bin anyway so we're not

actually gonna use this mat but again

you want it to be around a third of the

size of the enclosure and put the heat

mat underneath the enclosure definitely

not inside of it and you want it to be

on one end of the enclosure to create a

warm end and then the other end should

be completely unheated to create a

thermal gradient and that way the snake

can move to one side or the next to cool

down or warm up you know thermal

regulate as needed the unfortunate part

about eat mats is that these can and

will overheat they get too hot there's

no dial or anything in the cord to turn

them up or down so if you want to

prevent your snake from getting burned

and of course everybody does make sure

that you use a thermostat along with the

mat so this is something you'll have to

buy separately we use and recommend the

JumpStart brand of thermostat now how

these work is the plug on the heat mat

will plug right into the thermostat and

then this cord plugs right into the wall

and then you can turn the temperature up

or down to the recommended 90 degrees

for ball pythons warm spot set it and

then this will actually heat

the met and control the Matt's

temperature and it'll turn it on and off

as needed to keep it within 2 degrees

above or below 90 now the last court on

this thermoset is very important this

leads to the probe the probe here will

actually measure this is the thermometer

essentially and it measures the

temperature of wherever it's sitting and

so you want to set this where the ball

python will be sitting right above the

heat mat this goes inside of the

enclosure not outside of it because of

course the ball python is inside of the

enclosure the unfortunate thing is these

thermostats come with this little

suction cup that will stick you know

temporarily to the plastic but it

doesn't take much for the ball python to

just push it and then it b it pops right

off and when the probe pops off it reads

a cooler temperature since it's further

away from the heat mat and that makes

the thermostat think that it's cooler in

the enclosure so it turns up the heat

mat and then it can get too hot to

prevent that from happening you need to

just very securely attach this probe to

directly above the heat mat and I don't

even use the suction cups anymore

instead we use silicone sealant and you

want to use the 100% silicone it's safe

for fish it's safe for reptiles this

comes in just the bottle alone and then

you put it into a silicone gun and then

you can press the silicone out then you

can stick that probe right on the bottom

of the enclosure where it will stay of

course you'll have to wait a couple

hours for the silicone to dry before you

can move on to the next step but for

today's video since again this bin isn't

being set up like what you're probably

gonna set yours up like at home this is

just getting slid into our snake rack

we're not gonna attach the probe in this

video so I'll just clear that out to

make it a little bit easier to follow

but assume that I have a heat mat and a

thermostat hooked up for the sake of

this video and I'll by the way put links

to all these products in the description

below once you have your heat mat hooked

up then you can add the substrate for

the bottom ball pythons spend most of

their time in hot humid termite

mountains but at night they come out and

they hunt in the more drier climate in

Africa of course since they spend a lot

of time in termite mounds people often

think that these need a tropical setup

like they want permanently humid

surroundings but that's not true they

don't spend all their time in the

humidity they

they need some dryness as well so we

recommend for the bedding or the

substrate for ball pythons to go more of

a drier route instead of a wet route

like tropical soil some people will use

tropical soil or Cypress or some other

humidity retaining bedding but if a ball

python is constantly sitting on wet

bedding they can develop scale rot

issues on their belly because if you

think about it in the termite mounds

it's humid air but it's not actually wet

where they're sitting the substrate we

recommend because of all of this is just

cheap old Aspen fibers you can also use

things like newspaper or paper towels

but as soon as the ball python goes to

the bathroom that'll get soaked up in

the paper products and it'll bump up the

humidity and then the ball pythons also

sitting in its waste more rather than

with Aspen fibers the these actually

soak up kind of like a kitty litter box

almost soak up the the poops and then

you can just spot clean as needed you

don't have to replace everything after

the snake just goes to the bathroom

months since ball pythons aren't a

burrowing species of snake like hog

noses are you don't have to provide them

with very deep bedding just an inch or

so will do just fine this is actually

the perfect amount I wasn't expecting

that now I'm actually going to a change

my mind I'm gonna slide this heat mat

underneath the side of the tank to earth

the bin to remind us that this is going

to be our warm side of the enclosure

after the bedding it's time to add the

decor in the enclosure the first and

foremost you need hides or caves you

want at least one hide on the warm end

and one height on the cool end so that

way the snake can remain hidden whether

it wants to be warm or cool and some

people will use like half logs like this

they don't really count as one of the

two hides because they can't be

completely hidden inside of these you

can add them anyway just for added in

Richmond but you still need the caves as

well if you want you can buy the fancy

Rock or resin style caves at pet stores

are online but honestly mushroom

containers that are cleaned out with a

little door cut into them worked just

fine for young ball pythons so I'm just

going to set this on one side this will

be the warm end cave and again also

we're just pro recycling whatever you

can and it also makes it a little bit

cheaper we'll put our other hide on the

cool end next you can't forget having a

water dish big enough

for the snake to soak in you can buy the

again the fancy reptile dishes or you

can buy dishes for small animals it

doesn't really matter as long as it

holds water and the snake can fit in it

that's all you need one thing to keep in

mind though is getting a dish that is

first off deeper so the water doesn't

just evaporate right away and also you

want one with a heavy base otherwise the

snakes just gonna tip it over I

recommend putting the water dish on the

cool end of the enclosure if you put it

on the warm end it'll just evaporate

right away and increase humidity in the

entire enclosure and this is good of

course for tropical species of snakes

that need an environment with overall

high humidity but again with ball

pythons we recommend more of a dryer

setup so water dish on the coolant to

replicate that termite mound that warm

humid retreat for the snake like they

would just experience in the wild you

can't fit a termite mound of course in

the enclosure so instead just give them

a humidity box this is just a Tupperware

container it'll act as your termite

mound and it's big enough for the snake

to of course curl up in filled about

halfway with damp moss to dampen the

moss you just take this dry moss and we

use spagna moss by the way you can take

this and just dip it in water and set it

back in

you don't want standing water inside of

the humidity box because again if it's

sitting in like standing water that can

cause scale rot issues I've just wet and

three weddings are hydrated the moss in

here put the lid back on the lid should

have a hole that's cut that's of course

big enough for the snake to enter and

exit I would not put the entrance on the

side because then as the snake exits

it's just gonna pull out all the moss

with it

I find it works better to just put the

the entrance to the humidity box on top

and we're going to put this on the warm

end of the enclosure so that it stays

hot and humid inside you can kind of

build up the size of the substrate so

it's easier for the snake to access and

now it might take a couple of weeks

before the snake figures out how to use

this but once they do they seem to use

it like the perfect amount ball pythons

are really good at not overusing their

humidity box you'll usually see them in

here when they're about to shed their

skin and if you use a humidity box you

will never have issues with your snake

shedding I can almost guarantee it we

never have problems with stuck shed ever

since we started using these now back to

that half log I'm

want to still use it it's not going to

count as one of the hides but it will

count for enrichment it's great to add

some enrichment opportunities some

climbing branches for this ball python

yeah they do hide most of the time but

when they're hungry they're active at

night so you may as well give them some

things to explore so you can use fake

branches fake leaves you can use half

logs you can get fake plants not only at

just pet stores but you can actually buy

them a lot cheaper at craft stores you

can even grab branches from outside as

long as they haven't been sprayed with

any pesticides and as long as they're

sterilized by either baking them in the

oven or pouring boiling water on them

once you're done putting some

decorations and you have to take a look

at it and think is this too much for my

ball python because too much is actually

a thing you want them to have you know

enough room to actually slither around

and honestly this half log is probably a

little bit big for this enclosure we'd

recommend the smaller version because

this takes up a lot of her slithering

space so I mean it's debatable but if

this remind closure I'd probably swap

out this big one for a smaller one but

this is the only one we have today so

this is what we're gonna use not only do

these rocks and leaves and structures

make the environment look more natural

and appealing to the eye

but they're actually essential to the

snake itself things to climb on and

explore and smell provide mental

stimulation to the snake throughout the

day and enrichment is very important to

their mental well-being it's important

to make sure that at least some of the

structures have a rough surface so that

when the snake is shedding it can rub

its body up against them to help peel

that old skin off if you use only

plastic hides and plastic humidity boxes

they'll have nothing rough to rub up

against and then the skin can stick but

even something simple as a few rocks in

the tank will suffice of course we don't

want to forget to add water to the water

dish now amphibians

are very sensitive to chlorine in city

water but I've found that with all of

our snakes you can use tap water city

water well water it all works just fine

I don't have to declare innate it for

the snakes the one water to avoid is

distilled water because that removes all

of the natural minerals from the water

itself and some of those minerals are

good and they are essential to the snake

so don't use distilled water once you

have everything set up let it sit for a


with the thermostat on the heat mat on

just let it kind of settle and then a

tool that we recommend every reptile

owner has have I think that would be


recommend you have is a temperature gun

some people use the little circular

thermometers but those don't work

because they stick to the back of the

enclosure like either up high where the

snake isn't going to be and you want the

temperature to be read right where the

snake is actually going to be hiding

with a temperature gun you can just

click it all around the enclosure you

can test the temperature wherever you

want under the hides make sure that warm

spot is around 90 degrees give or take a

couple degrees and you can verify all of

your parameters are correct before you

add the snake once you have ensured that

your temperature is good and everything

is set up then you can do the most

exciting part which is adding your new

fall Python to the enclosure we're going

to just set her and I will set her there

we'll see where she wants to go ball

pythons aren't very quick so you might

take a while for her to get comfy after

you bring your new ball python home

leave it alone for like a week a full

week is enough time for it to settle

down get used to its new surroundings

and then after the week has passed then

you can try feeding it for the first

time baby ball pythons should be fed

once every five to seven days we

definitely recommend feeding frozen

thawed rodents over life since live

rodents do have a decent possibility of

biting the snake back and if you talk to

any veterinarian they will all recommend

that as well once your ball python grows

and gets bigger it's going to take

larger rodents or larger meals so you're

going to reduce the frequency that you

feed your snake - once a week - once

every other week depending on its age by

the way these are often called royal

pythons in Europe because they were

often worn around the necks of royalty

but in the United States we call them

ball pythons because when they're scared

they will typically of course she's

she's too used to people but they curl

up into a ball and protect their face in

the middle

hence ball python although this setup

works great for ball pythons it also

works great for just about any species

of colubrid that is commonly kept as a

pet king snakes corn snakes milk snakes

you can use this type of setup for

hognose snakes bull snakes those some


snakes you have to keep an eye on the

humidity box to make sure they don't

overuse it since some will but I won't

go into details about that here so that

just about covers it so they're very

easy to take care of easy to set up as

long as you you know do it correctly of

course and they're very Hardy amazing

first like beginner pet snakes if you

want to learn more about some of those

other subjects we haven't covered today

like feeding inside their enclosure or

outside of their enclosure or housing

them in the glass tank versus a bin I

will link to those videos at the end of

this one so you can learn more there but

anyway thanks for joining us today and

learning about ball python cage setup

and we'll see you next time

she's trying to prove again really all

right well let's just get this out of

you I am glad you did not do that on me

just now

yeah we're just gonna get this taken

care of first and then she'll be empty

come on get it all out wait till after

we're done shooting then you can put

more if you really want to okay try that