Ball pythons make amazing pets since they are easy to maintain, relatively small and have docile temperaments. They are also available in beautiful color variations making them attractive. However, in order to ensure that your ball python enjoys an amazing life, you need to provide it with the proper care. This only means that you need to provide the best ball python enclosure or habitat among other things.
And we are here to help you do exactly this. We will explain the most essential things that you need to consider when choosing and preparing your snake’s home sweet home.
Ball Python Natural Habitat: What Is It Like?
Ball pythons are native to a place stretching from central Africa to the West African coast. Most imported ball python hail from the countries of Togo, Benin, and Ghana.
Ball pythons inhabit open forests, savannas, scrublands, and grasslands. However, they can also live in disturbed areas around farms or human habitations. Also, they don’t usually inhabit rainforests as well as other dense forests, in that matter, nor do they prefer living in deserts and the more extremely dry places.
Ball pythons also love spending time hiding in rodent burrows that provide them with moderate temperatures and shelter.
Choosing The Best Ball Python Enclosure: Important Things To Consider
Types of Enclosure
Over the years, ball python breeders and keepers have experimented with a broad range of various enclosures. And here are the most suitable choices being used today in the ball python trade.
In general, glass enclosures are the most recommended since it offers excellent visibility for viewing. Not only that, as a material, glass is actually easy to clean and highly durable.
Also, glass doesn’t insulate well which means that the temperature will remain relatively consistent with the ambient room temperature. And this could either be negative or positive, depending on where you live.
Glass tanks come in various sizes and are quite easy to find. They also allow for a customizable backdrop that will give your ball python peace of mind.
Glass tanks, however, represent various disadvantages.
For starters, glass tanks, durable as they may be, they are also relatively heavy. And this makes it difficult to move around, particularly if you choose the bigger ones.
In addition, most glass tanks have imperfect tank toppers. Ball pythons are surprisingly strong for their size and notorious climbers, s it is usual to hear ball pythons managing to push lids off the top of their cage and breaking free.
Plastic containers have become more surprisingly common as the best ball python enclosure over the past years. This is because plastic is generally lighter than glass and makes it easier to transport. They usually feature front-opening doors and are designed to accommodate heating devices. Not only that, but they also make it quite easy to keep humidity and warmth inside. They are easy to clean, cheap and takes up minimal space.
The problem is that plastics are not as widely available as the more traditional glass aquarium. In addition, their translucency reduces visibility. You might also need to drill air holes and make the enclosure escape-proof.
Wooden enclosures are superior than other kinds of materials since they are designed with snakes in mind. The wooden surrounding of the enclosure means that keeping humidity and warmth is far easier and simpler. This should keep your electricity bill down. Not only that, it provides a dark and cozy place, making your ball python to feel more comfortable.
Moreover, wooden enclosures are quite easy to modify. This means that installing or attaching heaters of all forms is rather easy and efficient. Another advantage of a wooden enclosure is that solid back and wall provides extra privacy for your slithering pet. Ball pythons are quite shy and sensitive animal and they can benefit from areas where they escape your attention and feel safe.
In case you experience some issues with your wooden enclosure, it might be because of its quality. Thus, you will need to choose meticulously— choose robust and well-made wooden vivarium. It might cost you extra, but you also get what you actually pay for. Also, wood tends to produce bad smell over time if not cleaned properly.
HOMEMADE OR CUSTOMIZED CAGES
Customized or homemade cages are such a practical choice. Doing so can help reduce your cost and allow you to build an enclosure of the perfect dimension for your snake and for your home. Of course, you will need some DIY skills and source the parts you will need.
Remember that it is not just the wood you will want to buy and cut to size, but you will also need the ventilation panels, runner and glass doors. AS an alternative to purchasing a pre-made wooden enclosure, homebuilt cages can highly effective habitat if you have the patience and skills to build one in the first place.
Selecting a suitably-sized ball python cage is a crucial part.
Ball pythons are retiring and shy species, so you would not want them to feel over-exposed. But, it does not mean that you should squash them into a tiny enclosure. Instead, you need to provide a reasonably-sized enclosure with plenty of space to ide.
In general, the best ball python enclosure size should be at least as long as your pet is and a minimum of half its width. Also, know that height is unimportant for ball pythons, since they may risk harming themselves when trying to climb.
Let us take a look at the minimum sizing requirements according to ball python age:
|BALL PYTHON AGE|
TANK DIMENSIONS AND SIZE
10-gallon tank; 10 inches (usually 20 x 11 x 13 inches)
1 – 3-year-old juvenile
15-gallon tank; 10 - 24 inches (usually 24 x 13 x 13 inches)
Over 3 years male
20-gallon tank; 24 – 36 inches (usually 30 x 12 x 12 inches)
Over 3 years female
30 – 40-gallon tank; 36 – 48 inches (usually 36 x 18 x 18 inches or 48 x 13 x 17 inches)
As a rule of thumb, the base perimeter of the tank needs to be at least double the length of your snake. Thus, a tank which are 36 x 8 x 18 inches has a base perimeter of 108 inches and can house a ball python of up to 54 inches.
Snakes Are Master Escape Artists
Having a secure and escape-proof tank is quite important. Snakes will always take an opportunity to explore the world outside of its enclosure. And if you have large holes in your tank, unsecured mesh lid or maybe a sliding door that easily come open if slithered the right way, then you can have a missing slithering creature in the morning.
And I’m telling you, there is no fun in having to do a nervous quick Google search on how to find escaped snakes. Thus, it is important that you choose an escape-proof cage. It is always a good idea to place safety locks on all cage entrances. Ensure that there are no holes large enough for your snake to squeeze into.
Also, never use tapes when securing your tank lid. Most snakes have been injured severely when they accidentally make contact with the sticky side of the tape.
In general, snake tanks usually do not have a solid lid. And although it may seem obvious snake also needs some fresh air. And a secure mesh top is a great solution for snake tanks since they allow good ventilation and make temperature and humidity inside the tank more regulated.
In case you find it hard to keep temperature and humidity consistent, then you can try covering a small part of the mesh top with something that should keep in more moisture. Several good options include plexiglass or a piece of tin foil. Just ensure that you keep at least half of it uncovered to still allow fresh air.
Here are other tips and considerations you need to keep in mind:
- Choose ball python enclosure which opens from the front and on the top. This should allow you to fill in the tank as well as providing easy access for changing tank accessories, handling and petting your ball python and cleaning the cage. You need to know that snakes, especially ball pythons are afraid and can be aggressive of hand swopping in from the top, so front-opening enclosures are the best.
- Check for any potential escape routes in case you’re doing a DIY. There should be enough ventilation but also make sure that the holes are not big enough for your ball python to escape through. In addition, ensure that there are no sharp edges that can harm your snake.
- The best ball python enclosure will have built-in features including a wiring inlet for lighting or a raised bottom for installing a reptile heat pad. These features should make it easier for you when setting up your pet’s habitat.
The Top 10 Best Ball Python Enclosure 2019
#1. Carolina Custom Cages Large Terrarium
A quiet popular and one of the best ball python enclosure available today, this large terrarium from Carolina Custom Cages should be enough to house an adult ball python with ease. It measures 36 x 18 x 18 inches and features a sleek design that would look really great on display.
The terrarium features hinged front-opening doors with key lock securely in place to prevent your snake from escaping. The metal screen top ensures enough air circulation while allowing heat lamps to be installed outside of the cage.
Not only that, the cage also allows modification with holes for wiring. It has a waterproof base that prevents leaking as well as excessive humidity. Not only that, but it is also super easy to assemble for your convenience.
#2. Exo Terra Short All-Glass Terrarium
Measuring 18 x 18 x 12 inches, this all-glass terrarium from Exo Terra is one of the best medium-sized ball python enclosure. Ideal for housing amphibians and reptiles, it was designed by expert European herpetologists.
The terrarium features front opening doors for easy feeding and maintenance access. It also has a specially-designed lock that helps prevent escape with doors that can be separately opened. Meanwhile, the full-screen top allows for infrared and UVB penetration and can be removed for easy cleaning and decorating.
The back has 5 closable tube or wire inlets on both sides to install accessories inside the terrarium. Meanwhile, the bottom plate can be raised to mount a substrate heater. Also, the extra high front window allows for thick substrate layers.
#3. REPTI ZOO Glass Terrarium
The Repti Zoo RK0119 Glass Terrarium measures 36 x 18 x 18 inches which are enough to house an adult ball python without a problem. This particular terrarium is supplied flat packed for easy and safe transport.
It is super easy to assemble with the instruction or video supplied. The tank has a raised bottom glass panel that allows the mounting of heat cable or substrate heater. Meanwhile, the top mesh screen offers enough ventilation and can be removed for easy access.
There’s also a side vent that can be positioned as needed and the side glasses and side meshes can be switched. To prevent escapes, a reliable specially-designed lock adds an extra security measure. The tanks also feature rotating fixed structure that can hold 4 lines with the grommet constructed from ABS making is highly durable.
#4. Exo Terra Large-Wide All-Glass Terrarium
Measuring 36 x 18 x 18 inches, this terrarium from Exo Terra offers extra horizontal space for your ball python to slither around with ease. Like the previous Exo Terra Terrarium, this large and wide tank also features dual front opening doors for easy access inside the tank.
These doors are locked with a reliable designed lock that prevents unwanted opening from your pets or kids, ensuring that your pet won’t slither out of its habitat. The stainless steel mesh cover allows good ventilation and can be easily removed for cleaning and decorating.
Also, it has the same waterproof base and raised bottom frame. Lastly, your ball python will surely love the natural-looking rock background that blends nicely with other accessories inside the cage.
#5. REPITERRA Premium Reptile Enclosure
A unique looking terrarium for all kinds of reptile, this one from REPITERRA measure 100 x 50 x 50cm that can house ball pythons, bearded dragons, gerbils mouse and other pets. All elements of the reptile cage are guaranteed to be premium material in the EU.
The cage features 12mm thick OSB boards that are free of formaldehyde so it is safe for your pets. Also, it features 2 ventilation grills on the side. It is fully equipped with wood-framed glass from 4mm 4 panes of glass, 2 of which are securely anchored in the frame.
Beautifully designed, this terrarium blends really well in any living area and adapts to any animal accessories that you place inside. Super easy to install, the cage arrived at your house partly pre-assembled with all the mounting accessories and an instruction to help you.
#6. Exo Terra High All-Glass Terrarium
If you are planning to add realistic branches and other hanging items inside your cage for your ball python to hang around, then you will need enough vertical space. And this high all-glass terrarium variety from Exo Terra is the perfect one to choose from.
Measuring 24 x 18 x 36 inches, you have enough vertical space for your ball python to slither and climb on. Like any other Exo Terra enclosure, this one features reliable locks on their dual-doors that prevents escapes.
It also has the patented front window ventilation and the raised bottom frame that allows the use and installation of substrate heater. The terrarium also offers closable inlets for tubing or wire installation. With a decorative background, your ball python will surely feel at home.
#7. Critter Condo Reptile Cage
With a unique design, this reptile cage from Critter Condo will be the center of attraction in your living room. It is a very spacious cage that comes at a bargain price, making it one of the best ball python enclosure for those with more than one snake to house.
Designed to stack on top of another, this cages us constructed from compressed foam and recycled PVC. It will not degrade with moisture nor separate from its wood expansion. Also, the lightweight material makes it easy to move.
The cage features tempered glass sliding does with vented sides that allow airflow. It also has a keyed door lock with keys and has an external switch for lighting.
#8. Exo Terra Rainforest Habitat Kit
Exo Terra offers an ideal kit set-up for the amateur herpetoculturist. This habitat kit comes with all the essential components that will give your ball python a good start in life. It includes the durable, medium-sized Exo Terra all-glass terrarium that is designed by expert herpetologists.
The terrarium features front opening doors for easy cleaning and feeding. Meanwhile, the full-screen top ventilation allows enough ventilation and allows UVB rays to penetrate the inside. The doors feature a specially-designed lock to prevent escapes.
The terrarium kit also includes all necessary decoration items such as water dish, jungle rope, jungle vines, substrate, and care guide. It also includes a compact top lighting system for your ball python health and wellness.
#9. Deep Blue Professional Standard Glass Aquarium Tank
A standard frag glass aquarium tank, this enclosure from Deep Blue Professional is constructed from the thickest distortion-free glass material. It features universal-sized injection molded frames, diamond polish edges, and industrial strength black seal ensuring that it will last for a lifetime.
Measuring 48 x 18 x 12 inches, this tank has a 45-gallon capacity and is specifically designed to house aquatic pets. However, it does not means that it can’t handle an adult ball python. The tank also features tempered bottom, back, front and non-tempered end panels.
#10. Carolina Custom Cages Tall Extra-Long Deep Terrarium
Another best ball python enclosure from Carolina Custom Cages, this terrarium is designed to be tall, deep and extra-long for additional slithering space. It measures 48 x 24 x 24 inches and is enough to house adult ball pythons and still have enough space for extra tank accessories.
Like the previous Carolina Customer Cages model, this one is super easy to assemble. However, instead of hinged doors, this one has sliding doors for easier access inside and comes with key-lock security to prevent escapes. It also has a waterproof base and allows for extra height of substrates to encourage burrowing behavior.
A Comfy Snake: Creating Your Ball Python’s Habitat
After you have picked the best ball python enclosure, comes the fun part. You will need to customize and decorate the inside of the tank in order to accommodate the needs of a ball python.
There are several factors that you need to consider when creating the best habitat for your snake. These include:
There are various substrates that you can use for your ball python enclosure. However, there is no single substrate solution for all situations. Thus, you will need to compare your options and select the best choice for your pet.
Some of the most common substrates include:
The simplest, most affordable and most hygienic substrate you can use, newspaper is super easy to replace when soiled. Not only that, but your ball python can also crawl under the newspaper to hide. In general, newspaper is the best choice for the amateur snake keeper.
- PAPER TOWELS
Similar to newspaper, paper towels are bets for amateur snake keepers. It may be difficult to use on adult-sized tanks, but it works well in the smaller habitats for juvenile and hatchlings.
- CYPRESS MULCH
It is one of the most favorite substrates for ball pythons. It is highly affordable, retains moisture well and allows burrowing. Plus, it also smells nice!
- ASPEN SHAVINGS
Also affordable, aspen shavings absorb moisture quickly, helping in reducing odors. It also allows your ball python to burrow. The problem is that aspen shavings tend to be messy and should be replaced quickly if wet since they rot easily.
- ORCHID BARK
Somewhat similar to cypress mulch, orchid bark is useful in maintaining high humidity levels. Not only it looks great but it also encourages your snake’s burrowing instincts. The problem is that orchid bark tends to be relatively expensive, so it is not commonly used in larger enclosures.
Never use any substrate with cedar since it has oils that can be deadly for reptiles. Also, avoid using peat shavings, bedding, and sand as a substrate.
Ball pythons love high temperatures. However, you need to provide your snake with thermal gradients. This should allow them to access a range of temperatures whenever they want.
In order to create this thermal gradient, you will need to place all heating devices at one end of the tank. This should create a basking spot that provides the warmest temperature inside. The temperature of a basking spot is ideally about 95°F during the day.
Meanwhile, the opposite end of the habitat needs to provide cooler temperatures. And the ideal cool temperature is about low to mid-70°F. The temperatures between the cool side and the basking spot of the tank will decrease with increasing distance from heat sources.
For heat sources, you can use heat tape, heat lamps, radiant heat panels or heat pads. Other keepers, however, prefer the convenience of heat tape or heat pads. Never use hot rocks with snakes since they tend to heat unevenly over too small spaces and may cause serious burns. Make sure to monitor the temperatures provided by these kinds of heat sources. And always follow the manufacturer’s instructions during installation.
Unless the temperature of the enclosure below 68°F – 70°F at night, then you can just turn off the heat sources. In case you still need supplemental heat during the night, choose heat sources that don’t produce lights.
Ball pythons need a suitable humidity level in order to stay healthy. An enclosure that is too dry makes it difficult for your snake to shed properly and may cause them to become dehydrated. Meanwhile, an excessively humid enclosure can cause your snake to develop fatal skin diseases. Also, improper humidity in either direction can cause respiratory infections.
Ball pythons prefer a relative humidity of 60 – 50 percent. That is a bit damper that the air in homes, so you will need to mist your pet’s enclosure lightly with water every day. Also, you can add water to its substrate or increase the size of its water dish in order to increase humidity.
Furthermore, it is a good idea to offer our ball python a moist hide box. This should help prevent dehydration while giving him a nice place to sleep when entering his shed cycle.
In case the enclosure is too damp, then you will need to reduce the humidity inside. The best way to dry it out is by increasing the amount of ventilation. Also, decrease the size of his water dish.
Although not that essential, lighting can be installed when using only through a 12/12 cycle. This means that it is 12 hours on and 12 hours off. A bright overhead light constantly shining on your snake can be quite stressful, especially for the nocturnal ball python.
The best accessory you will need for a happy ball python is hiding boxes. Providing a few secured hiding place encourage your ball python’s burrowing instincts. You should know by now that ball pythons are highly secretive snakes and appreciate lots of hiding spots and privacy. Clay flowerpots, plastic flowerpot trays, and other commercially available hide boxes make the perfect private hideout for ball pythons.
You can also add real or plastic plants, but they are not necessary. Plastic plants are generally safer and require no maintenance. If you prefer live plants, ensure that they are not toxic or those filled with spines or thorns.
In addition, a water dish is much appreciated. You can use plastic dishes, however ceramic, glass or stainless steel water dishes also work. Lastly, you need to place digital thermometers to monitor the ambient temperature inside the habitat.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How big do ball pythons get?
A: When babies, ball pythons are shorter than a foot long. When fully grown, female ball pythons can reach between 3 – 5 feet while males are generally smaller and only get between 2 and 3 feet.
Q: How long do ball pythons live?
A: Ball pythons have an average lifespan of at least 25 – 30 years. While some specimens can go up to 35 years with proper care.
Q: Is it okay to house 2 ball pythons together?
A: Yes and no.
You can house ball pythons together if you have a big tank. If you choose to do so, then you need to make sure that neither snake must not have any diseases before placing them together.
Most of the time, however, it is better not to house 2 ball pythons together. Snakes are solitary animals and they do not get lonely. They are perfectly happy having their own room. Roommates can make snakes feel threatened and cause behavioral issues which can make them stop eating and get sick.
Not only that, there have been some documented cases of ball python cannibalism.
Q: How often do I need to clean the best ball python enclosure?
A: The tank needs to be deep-cleaned with a bleach solution at least once a month.
As you can see, it is not that difficult to offer your ball python a proper habitat they can call their home. You only need to start with the best ball python enclosure with the right size and the right accessories.
We certainly hope that you have found this article helpful. We would appreciate it if you can share the info with your snake-keeping friends!