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Do Ball Pythons Make Great Pets? (Answered!)



Reviewed By: Dr. Joel Robertson

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The ball python is one of the most popular pet snakes in the world. They are often chosen because they are docile, easy to care for, and don’t grow too large. However, there are a few things to consider before deciding if a ball python is the right pet for you.

In this blog post, we will discuss the pros and cons of owning a ball python so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not this snake is the right pet for you!

Key Takeaway

  • Ball Pythons are considered great pets due to their docile nature, manageable size of 3-5 feet, low-maintenance care requirements, and suitability for beginners, although individual comfort around snakes should be taken into account.
  • Ball Pythons are generally not aggressive but can display defensive behaviors when they feel threatened or stressed, with factors such as hunger, a new environment, or insufficient hiding spaces potentially leading to such responses.

Do Ball Pythons Make Great Pets?

Do Ball Pythons Make Great Pets

Yes. Ball Pythons make great pets. They are low-maintenance pets that won’t sink a hole in your account with constant feeding and veterinary bills, they are quiet and they also enjoy handling when not in the mood for sleep or hiding. Ball Pythons make great long-term companions as they can live up to 50 years when raised in a home as pets.

Ball Pythons are mostly sedentary and don’t need constant feeding or cleaning which makes them great pets. They pass waste at least once a week and since they live in a cage, they don’t create a mess in the home.

Their feeding process is uncomplicated and doesn’t need to be supervised since they don’t have to eat live prey. All you need to do is place the food in a container and the ball python will eat it if it’s in the mood. If not, simply remove the food.

Ball Pythons can be kept in a small enclosure, making them ideal for apartment dwellers or those with limited space. For their habitat, all you need is an aquarium that’s 30 gallons in size or larger, outfitted with reptile-friendly substrate and the necessary accessories such as a soaking tub, a drinking bowl, thermometer, light, hiding area, a heating lamp, and a log to climb on or scratch itself on.

On the downside, ball pythons can be shy and may take a while to warm up to their owner. They also need regular handling in order to stay tame. Additionally, as with all snakes, ball pythons can be dangerous if mishandled and should only be handled by experienced snake owners.

Are Ball Pythons Aggressive?

Do Ball Pythons Make Great Pets

No. Ball Pythons aren’t aggressive. When provoked, they run and hide, all coiled up into a ball. But they can strike out or bite if the aggression against them is persistent. At first, they strike out with a defensive bite, which is really a bump with their nose and not a bite. They issue this as a warning sign to get the aggressor to back off.

If this doesn’t work, they strike out in an aggressive strike, where they bite and don’t let go. They also constrict whatever they are biting on. Sometimes a defensive strike can involve biting, although the snake doesn’t latch. It simply bites and pulls out its fangs.

Ball pythons are generally docile snakes, but they can become aggressive if threatened. They may coil tightly and strike out with their sharp teeth.

A ball python’s bite won’t kill you, but it is painful as the reptile’s teeth are 1 centimeter long and are about 150 in number.

If you are handling a ball python, be aware of its mood and watch for signs of aggression. If the snake becomes agitated, put it down immediately. Do not try to handle an aggressive ball python!

There are a few ways to determine whether or not a ball python is aggressive. One way is to look at its body language. Ball pythons that are defensive will coil up and may hiss or strike out if they feel threatened.

Another way to tell if a ball python is aggressive is by their demeanor. Aggressive ball pythons tend to be more active and move around more than docile ones.

Lastly, you can look at the snake’s eyes. An aggressive ball python will have dilated pupils, whereas a docile one will have constricted pupils.

If you’re still unsure whether or not a ball python is being aggressive, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and avoid handling them.

Do Ball Pythons Get Stressed?

Yes. Ball Pythons get stressed. They can for instance get stressed when not happy with their environment (e.g., when you house more than one snake together) and stop eating, which then results in ill-health. Common stress-related illnesses include mouth rot, parasitic infections, and respiratory infections.

A stressed ball python may stop eating, become withdrawn, or start biting. If your ball python is displaying any of these behaviors, it’s important to take action to reduce its stress levels.

Ball Pythons become susceptible to septicemia (bacteria poisoning of the blood) when they suffer from constant stress.

You can tell if your ball python is stressed if it:

  • Has high levels of activity. Ball pythons are rarely ever active. They prefer to curl up in ball most of the time and spend time in their hiding place. If they all of a sudden start slithering all over their tank and its accessories and avoiding their hiding place, this is could indicate they are stressed.
  • Refusing to eat
  • Hissing or other aggressive behavior like striking
  • Rubbing their nose against the tank or its accessories
  • Any other behavior that is out of character for your ball python

There are several things you can do to help reduce your ball python’s stress levels. First, make sure its enclosure is the appropriate size and has hiding spots. Second, avoid handling your ball python too much. Third, keep the temperature and humidity in its enclosure consistent. Fourth, feed your ball python live prey items rather than frozen ones.

If you take these steps to reduce your ball python’s stress levels, you’ll likely see an improvement in its behavior says Pet Helpful.

Are Ball Pythons Social Animals?

No. Ball Pythons are not social animals and should not be housed together. They only need company when they want to mate. Ball Pythons can also burrow together when necessary. During other times, they display dominant behavior and get aggressive against each other.

Ball Pythons are actually quite shy and prefer to be left alone.

Dominant behavior may be difficult to distinguish from normal play as it often involves physical contact. But you have to remember that ball pythons aren’t social, therefore contact is not normal. When a snake establishes dominance over another, it may sit over it.

This is its way of establishing control over its territory. When you see this, don’t mistake it for friendly cuddling. The snake being sat on may be in need of rescuing.

Dominance can also happen in hides, where the dominant snake forces out the weaker ones. Since ball pythons like to hide, the weak snake will have to find alternative hiding places and you may notice it trying to dig under the substrate.

Fighting is also a common dominant behavior when you house same-gendered ball pythons together.

Are Ball Pythons Great Pets For Kids?

Yes. Ball Pythons make great pets for kids. However, as with all reptiles, especially snakes, not every kid can and should handle a Ball Python. Because Ball Pythons are constrictors, you shouldn’t let your child handle them without adult supervision.

While ball pythons are strong enough to constrict their prey, they aren’t big enough to encircle grown children or adults. For this reason, they can’t get enough hold to constrict.

But when it comes to younger kids and babies, I’d advise not getting a ball Python. If you do, don’t let it roam around the house unsupervised. They can bite a child resulting in pain, panic (which could worsen the ball python’s attack), and allergic reactions. They can also encircle a child’s neck and suffocate it.

While older children may be able to dislodge a ball python when it coils around them, toddlers cannot.

Disease, especially salmonella is another risk factor to consider when getting a ball python. Unless you can get your kids to practice thorough hygiene practices after handling the snake, and also maintain sterile conditions in the snake’s cage and around your home the risk of salmonella and other infections remains a threat.

Are Ball Pythons Picky Eaters?

Yes. Ball Pythons are picky eaters because of their generally sedentary lifestyle. Ball Pythons eat very little and when they do, they can be picky eaters. Hatchlings can eat up to two rat pups a week and as they grow older, they can eat rats (either freshly killed or thawed). However, some ball pythons refuse to eat thawed rats.

Normally, snakes refuse to eat when they aren’t happy with their surroundings when they are shedding, when sick, or when pregnant. But for ball pythons, food refusal can happen for no apparent reason at all.

Ball Pythons like to eat fruits (watermelon, apples, grapes, pineapple), vegetables(leafy greens such as cale or collard greens), and rodents with appropriate size.

While all ball pythons enjoy a varied diet, some foods are more popular than others. Ball pythons love fruit and vegetables, as well as live prey such as mice and crickets. It is important to provide your ball python with a healthy and balanced diet to ensure they stay healthy and happy.

Any time you notice food refusal, you have to observe your snake. If it remains healthy over the course of its food refusal, you have nothing to worry about. However, if it starts to thin, then there is a problem. Take it to the vet.

Do Ball Pythons Like Being Handled?

Yes. Ball pythons can adapt to being handled by the time they are juveniles or adults. Small ball pythons shy away from being handled and normally spend their time hiding or coiling into a ball. You should hold them more often when they are this young to encourage them to be less shy as they grow.

Some ball pythons love being handled and will coil around your arm or hand, while others may be more hesitant and prefer to stay hidden. It’s important to always respect the wishes of your snake and never force them to do something they’re uncomfortable with.

With time and patience, most snakes will eventually come around and learn to enjoy being handled. Just make sure you take it slow and don’t overhandle them, as this can cause stress.

I personally preferred to get a baby ball python and train it to adapt to me and my environment. It was very satisfying when it finally happened. One moment I was dealing with a baby ball python who wouldn’t come out of hiding, and the next, my pet snake was confidently crawling all over my hands and shoulders.

Do Ball Pythons Hibernate?

No, ball pythons do not hibernate. They are active year-round and do not need to slow down or sleep for extended periods of time like other animals do. Instead, they brumate, which is a period of dormancy that is characterized by reduced activity levels and metabolism.

Brumation usually occurs in the winter months when food is scarce, but it can also happen during times of drought or other environmental stressors.

During brumation, ball pythons will often burrow underground or hide in crevices where they can stay warm and safe from predators. They may come out to bask in the sun or eat occasionally, but their overall activity level is much lower than usual.

Ball Pythons display behavior that may be mistaken for hibernation. During certain times of the year, ball pythons go into their hide and just stay there. Even when you don’t alter the conditions in their tank, they will still display this hiding behavior.

If you’re wondering how you can tell if your ball python is brumating, there are a few signs to watch out for. Ball pythons typically reduce their activity level during brumation, so they may be less active than usual and sleep more often.

They may also refuse food and stop shedding their skin. If your ball python is exhibiting any of these symptoms, it’s likely that they’re in the middle of a brumation period.

Although ball pythons don’t hibernate, it’s still important to keep an eye on them during brumation. Make sure they have a warm, safe place to stay and plenty of food and water available. Brumating ball pythons typically don’t need any special care, but it’s always a good idea to consult with a veterinarian if you have any concerns.

Do Ball Pythons Stink?

No. Ball Pythons don’t stink. They have a very mild odor that is often described as earthy or musky. This is due to the fact that they are natural predators and their bodies produce certain oils and chemicals that help them to camouflage themselves in their environment.

Ball Pythons are cleaner than other snakes because they defecate less often than other snakes due to their low metabolism. As a result, you don’t need to clean their habitat all that often.

That said, you should still inspect your ball python’s cage for fecal matter daily and clean it out. If it slithers in its poop, then you will not only have a smelly cage but a smelly snake as well. You can clean your snake in warm clean water (no soap or astringents necessary, and no scrubbing please) any time you notice it’s smelly.

Your ball python’s feces will smell worse if the snake is not well hydrated, has an infection, or digestive complication that can be diagnosed and treated by a vet.

Besides the smell of feces, anxious ball Pythons let out a stinky-smelling fluid from their cloaca. There is no one way of classifying the smell of the secretion as it varies depending on your ball python. It can range anywhere from the smell of rotten veggies or rotten meat, all the way to stinky feces.

You should take your snake’s musking as its way of communicating with you. if it’s new to its environment, it’s probably trying to tell you that it is uncomfortable. If you are handling it, it may not be up to it and probably just wants to relax in its cage.

It could also be reacting to the presence of other pets or noise. The musking will stop when you eliminate the cause.


Q: What are the important factors to consider before getting a ball python?

A: Before getting a ball python as a pet, it’s important to consider factors such as your experience with reptiles, the space you have available for their enclosure, and your commitment to providing proper care and maintenance.

Q: How long do ball pythons live?

A: Ball pythons have a relatively long lifespan in captivity. With proper care, they can live for 20 to 30 years.

Q: How big do ball pythons grow?

A: Ball pythons are a relatively small species of snake. On average, males will reach a length of 3 to 4 feet, while females can grow to be between 4 to 5 feet in length.

Q: What do ball pythons eat?

A: Ball pythons are carnivores and feed primarily on small mammals such as mice and rats. They are known for their ability to restrain and consume prey that is larger than their own head.

Q: Do ball pythons require a specialized diet?

A: Yes, ball pythons require a diet that consists mainly of appropriately sized frozen-thawed or pre-killed rodents. It’s important to ensure that the prey items are of the correct size to avoid any health issues.

Q: How often do ball pythons need to eat?

A: Ball pythons are known for their ability to go for extended periods without eating. As adults, they typically eat every 1 to 2 weeks, while younger snakes may require more frequent feedings.

Q: What type of enclosure is suitable for a ball python?

A: A suitable enclosure for a ball python should be secure, have adequate space for the snake to move around, have a temperature gradient ranging from 75-85°F (24-29°C), and provide hiding spots for the snake to feel secure.

Q: Do ball pythons require any special heating or lighting?

A: Ball pythons require a temperature gradient in their enclosure to properly thermoregulate. This can be achieved using heating pads, heat lamps, or ceramic heat emitters. They do not require any special lighting, but a regular day/night cycle can be beneficial.

Q: How often should I clean my ball python’s enclosure?

A: It’s recommended to spot-clean your ball python’s enclosure regularly to remove any waste. A complete enclosure cleaning should be done every 4-6 weeks to maintain a clean and hygienic environment for your snake.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, Ball Pythons are considered to be excellent pets, especially for beginners, due to their typically docile nature, manageable size, and low-maintenance care requirements.

However, it’s important to remember that they can display defensive behaviors when stressed or threatened, and therefore require an environment that makes them feel safe and secure.

Please take the time and leave a comment below if this article helped you, or you have any additional questions.

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