Alright snake charmers, today we’re droppin’ knowledge on properly caring for one of the most popular pet snakes – the ball python! These gorgeous, docile snakes make fantastic reptile pets, but they do have some specific care requirements.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to keep a ball python healthy and thriving, from the ideal habitat setup to feeding, handling, and more. For a good look at breeding ball pythons please see The Complete Ball Python Breeding Guide for Beginners. Let’s slither into it!


Hailing from West and Central Africa, ball pythons are a manageable size and have a reputation for being one of the calmest snake species. Their name comes from their tendency to curl up into a tight ball when stressed. Their incredible variety of morphs and colors adds to the appeal!

Habitat Setup

Recreating their tropical, forest floor environment is key. Here’s how:


Provide an adequately ventilated habitat at least 2 feet long for adults. Glass or plastic reptile tanks work well. Include snug hides and climbing branches.

Heat & Lighting

Use under tank heating pads or radiant heat panels to create a 88-92°F hot spot while maintaining ambient temperatures of 78-82°F. No lighting needed.


Maintain 60-70% humidity using a hygrometer. Provide large water bowls, mist regularly, and use cypress mulch or coconut fiber substrate to help hold moisture.

Feeding Ball Pythons

Ball pythons eat prey including rats, mice and sometimes other rodents.


Feed frozen/thawed rodents – typically rats for adults and mice for juveniles. Never live prey.


Offer food about every 1-2 weeks for adults, more often for younger snakes. Size prey appropriately.


Use hemostats or tongs when feeding to avoid bites. Don’t handle for at least 48 hours after eating.

Handling & Temperament

Ball pythons tend to be docile when handled respectfully. Here are some tips:

Handling Best Practices

Go slowly, support the body fully, avoid fast movements, and limit handling after feeding.

Normal Behaviors

Watch for relaxed tongues flicks and loose body posture. Tensing up, hissing, or striking indicates fear.

Health & Hygiene

With good care, ball pythons can live over 20 years. Support their health by:

Regular Maintenance

Spot clean waste frequently. Disinfect and replace substrate every 4-8 weeks.

Signs of Illness

Weight loss, lethargy, wheezing, mucus, and abnormal skin or scales require vet attention.

Finding a Reptile Vet

Schedule an annual exam to monitor for issues. Seek immediate help if problems arise.

Frequently Asked Questions About Ball Python Care

With the proper setup and husbandry, ball pythons are relatively simple snakes to care for, especially for beginners. Their small size and mellow personalities make them very manageable.

Focus on getting the enclosure heated and humidified properly, handling gently and consistently, feeding an appropriate rodent diet, and maintaining cleanliness. Seek help from an exotic vet as needed.

Never feed live rodents - they can injure the snake. Also avoid prey that is too large - offer mice or rats equivalent to the thickest part of the snake's body.

Adults can eat one appropriately sized rodent every 1-2 weeks. Offer food more frequently, even weekly, for fast-growing juveniles

There you have it – everything you need to know to get started caring for a ball python! Let me know if you have any other questions on keeping these incredible snakes. Happy herping!