Ball Pythons

Biological Facts

  • Ball Python (also known as Royal python), Python regius
  • Constrictor, non-venomous
  • Natural habitat is savannah, grassland, and sparsely wooded areas.
  • Smallest of the African pythons.
  • May grow 3-4 ft (91-122 cm ) long; rarely exceed 5 ft (152 cm)
  • Stocky build; average adult weight 3-4 lb (1360-1814 gm), but can exceed 7 lb (3175 gm)
  • Life span: average 20-30 years with proper care
  • Origins: Africa

This terrestrial species is known for its defense strategy that involves coiling into a tight ball when threatened, with its head and neck tucked away in the middle. In this state, it can literally be rolled around. Favored retreats include mammal burrows and other underground hiding places, where they also aestivate. In captivity, they are considered good pets, with their relatively small size and placid nature making them easy to handle. Captive bred adults rarely bite unless severely threatened.

  • Young snakes typically eat baby mice and rats (“pinkies”, “fuzzies”, or “hoppers”).
  • Adults will consume adult mice and small rats.  The size of the prey item should approximate the width of the snake at the largest part of its body.
  • Live prey can and will bite and scratch the snake causing severe damage and even death, regardless of the snake’s size.  Never leave a live rodent in the cage with your snake unsupervised or for longer than 5-10 minutes
  • Frozen-thawed mice and rats are safer and less expensive; they can be bought in bulk, and are stored more easily than live ones.  Frozen rodents can be purchased online and at most pet stores.
  • Fresh water daily in a clean bowl.
Preventive Care
  • Complete physical examination every 6-12 months
  • Consult a veterinarian with experience treating reptiles if you have any questions or concerns about your snake’s health.
  • Annual fecal exam for parasites (especially if feeding live prey)
  • Ticks and mites are best treated by an experienced, exotic veterinarian.
Common Medical Disorders
  • Respiratory infection
  • Prey-induced trauma
  • Anorexia
  • Parasites
  • Burns
  • Infection of oral cavity (“mouth rot)
  • Retained shedding


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