Ball Python: King of the Snakes

The ball python is considered sacred in many countries in its West and Central African homeland. This impressive species is also very popular with terrarium keepers. This Python is often referred to as the entry-level type. You can find out what this is all about in this article.

Natural Spread

The ball python (Python regius) is native to parts of West and Central Africa. This ranges from the western Gambia to eastern Sudan. In these regions, the ball python lives not only in the tropical rainforest but also in savannah areas. Nor does it stop at human settlements and agricultural areas. In terms of adaptability to habitats, the ball python can be described as very versatile.

Lifestyle and Diet

The way of life of the ball python is largely unknown. A certain fact is that it is crepuscular and nocturnal. During the day, this non-toxic strangler hides in hiding places such as termite mounds or rodent burrows. What is also known with relative certainty is that younger animals like to climb trees often and often and also prey on food there. Older specimens that are already of a certain size are mainly found on the ground. In English, the ball python is referred to as a “ball python”. This name refers to the characteristic curling up of the snake’s body in case of danger. The head is protected as well as possible.

The ball python feeds almost exclusively on birds and mammals. Younger animals mainly eat young birds, i.e. those that are still sitting in the nest or those that are only just flinging. As a hunter of mammals, the ball python plays an important role in regulating crop pests in Africa.


Little is known about the reproduction of the ball python. The breeding biology is relatively well documented: the female lays 3-14 eggs in the burrows of rodents or turtles. Until they hatch, the adult animal curls up over the clutch to prevent the eggs from losing fluids and to guard the potential offspring from predators. After about 60 days, the young snakes hatch with a length of approx. 40 cm. By the way, adult animals reach a maximum length of 2 meters, so they count among the small “giant snakes”.

Attitude and Care

The first important aspect to consider before purchasing a king python is age. Animals kept in captivity have a life expectancy of up to 40 years and more. This should by no means be taken lightly. As a terrarium owner, you have a great responsibility.

Another relevant aspect is the protection status: According to the Washington Convention on the Protection of Species, the ball python is particularly protected. According to the Federal Nature Conservation Act, it is also regarded as “strictly or particularly protected”. Therefore, you need perfect proof of origin from the breeder or the pet shop in order to meet his obligation to provide evidence. However, there is no obligation to report. Relevant documents apply here:

  • Purchase contract
  • Certificate of delivery
  • Breeding confirmation
  • Import number
  • Registration certificate
  • Registration number

The snake still grows as an adult. In order to enable appropriate housing and care, you, therefore, need a terrarium with the following minimum dimensions:

Length x 1.0, width x 0.5, and height x 0.75 of the total length of the snake

You will also need:

  • suitable lighting;
  • UV lamps;
  • Heating (e.g. heating cables, heating mats, heating foils, infrared heat emitters, etc.);
  • Temperature controller and, if necessary, a spray or irrigation system;
  • suitable substrate (e.g. terrarium soil);
  • Water potions;
  • Climbing opportunities;
  • Hiding place;
  • Plants can visually enhance the terrarium.

The temperature for the Python regius should be around 28 ° C to 30 ° C during the day. Local hot spots can easily reach 35 ° C, provided that these are sufficiently limited. The nocturnal drop in temperature from March to early November is between 25 ° C and 28 ° C. In the winter months (this corresponds to the dry season in some areas of distribution of the ball python) the night temperature should be reduced to 20 ° C to 22 ° C in the months of November to February. The daytime temperatures remain unchanged all year round. The temperature data related to the air temperature. The humidity should be around 65 to 90% in the summer months from March to the end of October. In the simulated dry season it can drop below 40%. Since the ball python is mainly native to tropical regions, I recommend that you enable a year-round day-night rhythm of 12 hours.

For nutrition, I advise you to feed small rodents such as mice. Ball pythons kept in terrariums often only consume live food that they have hunted beforehand. For this purpose, some keepers recommend using a special feed box in which the snake and the prey animal are fed together.
Snakes are sometimes very sensitive to diseases. The main cause of this is poor posture. A specialized veterinarian nearby is worth its weight in gold and an intensive study of the literature before purchase is essential.


The ball python is often considered to be an easy-to-keep type of snake that is also suitable for beginners. It is quite legitimate to claim that this python is easier to keep than other snakes, but this is definitely demanding and requires not only the right technical equipment but also appropriate specialist knowledge – both are indispensable. If you have these prerequisites, you can have a lot of fun with this fascinating snake.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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