Sunday, June 5, 2011
Species of the Day: Ball Python
Scientific Name: Python regius
Adult Size: Average 4 to 5 feet in length
Range: Occurs in sub-Saharan central Africa, and can be found from Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Sierra Leone and Liberia on the west coast, east to southern Chad and Uganda.
Habitat: Grasslands and savannahs.
Ball Pythons, also known as Royal Pythons, are native to central and western Africa. They get their name from the defensive behavior of curling into a tight ball with their heads tucked in the middle. Ball Pythons are one of the most popular pet snakes because of their docile temperaments and manageable size. Selective captive breeding has produced over 100 unique color variations and patterns to choose from, making them a beautiful and rewarding animal to keep. Ball pythons do not need much space, but the enclosure needs to be secure and well ventilated to provide the right humidity levels and to prevent escapes. A 20 to 40 gallon aquarium with a locking screen top is ideal. There are many acceptable substrates you can use including aspen shavings, cypress mulch, newspaper or paper towels, or astroturf. The enclosure can be as elaborate or as simple as you like, so long as the snakes needs are met: a proper temperature gradient, 2 hide boxes and a heavy crock full of fresh water. Optimal temperatures for ball pythons should be between 75 to 88 degrees F. The best way to provide heat to your snakes is through an undertank heating pad put under one side of the enclosure to proved a hot side and a cool side for your ball python to regulate its body temperature. There should also be some sort of hide box both on the cool end and the warm end of the tank so that the snake feels secure. Ball pythons can be maintained exclusively on appropriately sized rodents for their entire lives, but will sometimes accept feeder chicks.