Ball Pythons (Royal Python) – The Beginners Guide

Ball Pythons

Do you want to have unique pets you can easily keep at home? You should consider owning a pet snake! If you are an absolute beginner, do not worry! There are snake options that are not too difficult to take care of. 

They can stand as your only pet, or you can use them as an introductory pet to prepare before owning more snake varieties.

One of the best snake pets for newbies is the ball phyton, referred to as the royal python. Do you want to know how this snake got its two names? They call it a ball python because of its ability to roll into a ball shape when it needs to protect its head. Meanwhile, there have been African royalties who wore live pythons as jewellery. These python snakes are also called Royal pythons.

They are relatively easy to take care of. Owning them is even easier than conventional pets like cats and dogs. This is why veteran snake keepers recommend them to people who want to start. If you also want to start owning a ball python, we got you covered. We gathered the information you need to take care of a healthy royal python successfully.


Royal pythons can open their mouth twice as big as their head because of the quadrate bone right at the back of their jaws. They have labial pits, which appear as pores on top of their upper lip. These pits function as heat sensors and can also sense infrared lights. This gives these pythons thermal images of their surroundings, making them great hunters in the dark.

The scientific name of the ball python is python regius, and they are the smallest among any other python species. However, they are considered mid-sized or medium relative to other snakes. Royal python males can grow to about 4 ft and weigh as heavy as lbs. While the females are usually much more prominent at about 5 ft, there are a few cases of some snakes reaching even 6 ft. These females can weigh as heavy as 6 lbs.

Their bodies as stocky. It is covered with primarily black scales. However, these scales have tan and brown scattered asymmetrically across them. Additionally, their bodies are relatively more prominent than their tiny heads, as their diameter can reach more than several inches. There are various types of ball pythons available to grow as pets.

Habitat (where from in the wild, temperatures, conditions, etc.)

These awesome snakes are prevalent among pet traders in North America, Europe, and even the rest of the world. Ball pythons or Royal snakes are endemic to Central and Western Africa. Many of them can be found in sub-Saharan areas, including Benin, Ghana, and Togo. These are the sports that a lot of traders export them. 

These python snakes are borrowers and spend most of their time underground. Many would go to human-occupied areas like plantations and near residential areas. However, they prefer to stay in grasslands, savannahs, and woodlands. Ball python groups have also been found living in flooded habitats and rainforest patches. 

Royal pythons have also been found in Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Senegal, South Sudan, and Uganda. Nowadays, pet traders have successfully transported these ball pythons to a lot of other countries. Finding one will not be too difficult if you decide to have it as a pet. You can contact your nearest pet shop and start taking care of your snake.

What they eat

Ball phytons are sexually dimorphic, but both males and females are great ambush predators. The males are more arboreal than female ball pythons. This dimorphism affects their food choices. While both rely on mammals and birds for sustenance, the males eat birds almost exclusively. On the other hand, the females who hunt on the ground more often eat mammals primarily. 

Their mouths can also open sideways, allowing them to consume prey so much bigger than they are. This means that female ball pythons’ diet is not limited by size. They prefer to eat weekly, but their meals vary according to their opportunities in the wild. Females can eat rodents bigger than their heads, and males can also eat birds bigger than their heads. 

You can easily replicate their eating behavior in captivity by feeding your pet weekly. While in their earliest stages, you can feed royal pythons large crickets. As they grow older, you can proceed to feed them rodents and birds. 

While they are great hunters in the wild, you should consider feeding them pre-killed animals in captivity. This is for their safety. Rodents can fight back with their sharp teeth and harm your pet snake.

How long do they live

Royal pythons are strong predators that can bite but are still not at the very top of their food chains. They are also predated by other animals, with many threats they constantly face in the wild. Raptors and other predatory birds can quickly swoop in to take and eat them. To make things worse for these snakes, even the tiny mammals they prey on can sometimes fight back against them. The whole situation makes it difficult for them to live for too long in the wild. As a result, they can only live for about 15 years or less.

In captivity, however, these snakes are long-term pets. If you take care of them properly, they can be the type of pets you share across multiple generations of your family. On average, royal pythons can live somewhere between 20-30 years. However, there are many cases where ball pythons lived so much longer.

The oldest captive ball python is estimated to be 64 as of writing. Even at the old age of 62 a few years ago, she was still amazingly able to lay eggs. Meanwhile, the oldest ball python with birth records lived until 47 at the Philadelphia Zoo.

Type of enclosure

Similar to other pets, it is beneficial for royal pythons if you try to replicate their habitat in the wild. It will help them grow healthier as pets. 

As you begin to choose or create your pet’s enclosure, you should be sure that the size is appropriate for your ball python. The optimal size for most adults is about 6 feet of space and about 18 inches of height. If you are buying containers, you can search for 40-gallon tanks.

You can also consider placing thermal light for your terrarium. It will help keep the temperature to about 85°F during the daytime, about 93°F when they are basking, and about 80°Fat night.

The optimal humidity for ball pythons should not be lower than 50% but not higher than 60%. This amount of moisture can help the snakes shed so much better. It also helps them avoid developing deadly skin diseases. 

Since males are more arboreal, you should consider including furnishings in your terrarium if your pet is male. It will help remind them of the trees they climb in the wild. For the substrate, cypress mulch and aspen are generally acceptable.


Males sexually mature early at about 18 months, while females follow sexual maturity later at about 31 months. After reaching sexual maturity, both sexes can pretty much keep breeding for the rest of their lives.  

In breeding, you should select healthy females that respond well to feeding. You should also consider their size as larger ones can lay more eggs. It is recommended to wait until they are about 1.5 kgs. This is vital because the eggs rely on the female’s fat reserve. 

On the contrary, the male selection is much easier. They are typically smaller than female ball pythons. Therefore, you will be fine if you find a healthy male weighing at least 0.7 kg.

It is essential to control the enclosure’s temperature while breeding which is usually done as October nears its end. The temperature at night should be 70°F, and it should stay at about 80°F in the daytime.

If the female receives the male, they will begin locking. This is the process where the male inserts his hemipenes into his partner’s cloaca. They will tightly wrap their tails as they lay still. 

Final Thoughts

Every pet presents its challenges and adventure. To have the best experience possible, you must select the best one.

Snakes can seem to be dangerous pets at first glance. After all, they can threaten humans in the wild. However, if you can select one that can suit you, snake keeping can be a very enriching experience.

If you want to begin the journey of snake keeping, the ball phyton is a good start. You only have to feed it and clean its enclosure once a week. If you worry about maintenance, don’t. Maintaining the enclosure is easy. You must prepare yourself as they will live for a very long time.

Whether you’re a newbie to having snakes for pets or a seasoned snake pet owner, royal pythons will make fantastic pets! They will not be difficult as long as you are committed to having them for a long time. Get complete detail on the scaleless ball python here.

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