Buyer’s Guide: Bedding for Ball Pythons

 Ball or Royal Python, Firefly Morph 

I’ve been researching a lot about humidity and bedding and how the two work together to create a beautifully balanced (and moist!) environment for your Ball Python. Snakes are just like us: they love their beds! Or rather, they love their bedding… Snakes have come to be a sort of fascination for me, and I get excited to learn about how they live and how to care for them. 

What bedding is the best for Ball Pythons? Aspen Shavings and Cypress Mulch are some of the most popular choices in Ball Python bedding. They are great at absorbing water for humidity purposes and are easy to clean. Both are available at Amazon.com at an affordable price. 

The substrate you choose for your Ball Python will be one of the most important decisions you make as a pet parent. It is the base layer of your snake’s life. It covers most of the tank and needs to be able to help create a comfortable and healthy living environment.

It’s crucial to understand the “why’s,” “how’s,” and “what kind’s” behind snake bedding. Sometimes your choice can harm more than help; however, you’ve made a terrific first step by reading this post, so I know your Ball Python will be happy in its new home!

Types of Bedding/Substrate

When choosing the best substrate for your Ball Python you should pay attention to what the bedding is made of. Some materials are hazardous for snakes and can cause a very uncomfortable living situation.

It is best to steer clear of any paper-based substrates because they are dry, and you should avoid Cedar based bedding products like it’s the plague! Snakes and Cedar do not mix! I have read many times that it is toxic to snakes and reptiles in general. Other dangerous options include anything with Pine.

No worries, there are plenty of other options that your Ball Python will love!

Popular Choices: 

  • Orchid Bark
  • Cypress Mulch 
  • Coconut Husk
  • Aspen Shavings

I have seen many reviews about Aspen Shavings being easy to spot clean and change regularly. Cypress Mulch seems to be in a constant and direct competition with Aspen shavings. I have seen people rate Cypress mulch higher in the water absorption department and Aspen shavings higher when it comes to cleaning.

Coconut Husks seem to be popular for their soft nature. They are easy for your Ball Python to dig through and also make a good water source for your humidity needs. People have found that some Coconut Husk bricks are quite dusty and can make a mess when being broken up. It would be advisable to break it up outside and then bring the chips back in to fill your tank.

Remember that it isn’t necessary to pick only ONE option of substrate for your Ball Python’s tank. You can easily, and safely, combine to different bedding options to appease your snake. I’ve found a few people who have found that a combination of Aspen and Cypress have fit their needs. Don’t be afraid to mix it up and find what works best for your pet!

Why is Bedding Important?

Humidity, humidity, humidity! The ability of your chosen Ball Python bedding, and any snake bedding, to absorb water is crucial for a happy home. You want to keep your Ball Python hydrated so that it can remain healthy in its warm environment and keep its ability to easily shed its skin when the time comes. 

Your choice in a substrate is not only important for the health of your Python but can also help to improve the look of your home. I know it sounds silly to think about the aesthetic of your snake, it’s already got the cool factor, but there’s nothing like a natural-looking spot filled with aspen shavings or coconut husks compared with tatty newspaper clippings.

Another, more common, reason for good snake bedding is that it is the foundation of your Ball Python’s life. You want it to be as happy with your choice of substrate as you were when you pressed the “Checkout” button on Amazon. This is where your snake will use the restroom, dig, and shed its precious skin. You need it to be comfortable, able to support your snake’s most important hobbies, and easy to clean up. 

Choosing the Right Bedding for You

It’s important to pick a bedding that fits your snake and their habits, but it also comes down to the fact that multiple choices may be perfect for your Ball Python. The next decision can come from three different places:

  1. General appearance of the substrate
  2. How easy it is to clean
  3. How natural it will feel to your snake 

Most natural products like Aspen, Cypress, and Coconut will create a nice setting for your snake to live in. All three look great and are good choices for your Ball Python’s needs.

A simpler choice of bedding that is sometimes used is paper towels and newspaper. People like that it’s relatively cheap and easy to clean, but they don’t look as nice when you walk by the tank and just see bright white paper towel spotted with all kinds of mystery substances. Despite what your local paper towel commercials claim, they aren’t very absorbent in the way that is needed when caring for a Ball Python.

A lot of snake owners want to give their snakes a natural feel within their tanks. In the wild, Ball Pythons are commonly found in African Savannahs and forests. For a natural feel, it’s hard to replicate one exactly, but any natural bedding material will do. Cypress Mulch and some coconut substrates have a great color to it and allow ample space and flexibility for your snake to burrow and creates holes.

With any bedding you choose, it is important to stay vigilant. You want to clean as you go as much as possible to extend the life of your chosen bedding. Different types of bedding have their own time lines, but I’ve seen an average of 30-60 days recommended for replacing your Ball Python’s substrate. 

Where to Buy the Bedding

I always find that Amazon has a good diversity of options for everything, and that includes snake bedding. Looking at reviews and popularity, I have found that people really love the look, feel, and odor absorbing quality of the Reptichip Premium Coconut Substrate for their Ball Pythons. It advertises it’s ability to keep in the humidity and is completely organic.

The Premium Coconut substrate is a bit pricier compared to other brands but lives up to its name in quality. If you are looking for a cheaper yet good quality substrate, I would recommend either Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding or Zoo Med Aspen Snake Bedding depending on the look or feel you are going for.

The Forest Floor Bedding is made of Cypress Mulch and its dark color is very similar to a forest floor. The Aspen Snake Bedding is a lighter color and is said to be easy to clean. Reviews have been high for both products and they come at almost half the price of the Coconut bedding.

Related Questions

Is Pine bedding Safe for Ball Pythons? It is highly recommended that you avoid Pine in your snake’s tank at all costs. Pine and Cedar have both been known to be toxic to snakes and reptiles. It is better to choose something like Aspen or Cypress. 

How Often Should I Change my Ball Python’s Bedding? Many snake owners have found it best to change the bedding every 30-60 days to keep their python healthy and to keep out strong odor from the tank.

Can You Use Paper Bedding for Snakes?  Newspapers and paper towels are good because they make it easy to clean up the tank when it’s dirty. You shouldn’t use paper bedding for snakes that like to create holes and hide under substrate because there is nowhere for them to go. Paper bedding is also bad at keeping in humidity, so it’s not the best choice to help regulate tank temperature and moisture. 

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