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What is the best enclosure for a Ball Python?
The best enclosures for a Ball Python are the ones that are long instead of tall. A good sized tank for an adult Ball Python is a 40-gallon tank. The dimensions of this tank are close to 48″ x 12″ x 16″ for ideal length and general size. A good example of a tank would be the Carolina Custom Cages Terrarium from Amazon.com which is a good length for a Ball Python.
A Ball Python’s enclosure must be good enough to suit its needs. I don’t mean to imply that Ball Pythons are particularly snobby creatures and just any old cage won’t suffice, but the temperature, safety, and ability to shut tight are very important things to consider when making this purchase. The health of your snake depends on your choice.
Importance of an Enclosure
The most important decision you can make after selecting a pet is choosing where your pet is going to spend most of its time. For common pets like dogs and cats, a nice fluffy bed and a litter box will usually do the trick. Snakes are slightly more complex.
Ball Pythons are popular pets and exciting companions. However exciting owning a snake is, where it lives is of prime importance.
The tank that you choose for your Ball Python will be its environment. It will spend the majority of its life inside of the tank, and the tank needs to have all the features necessary to create a good artificial habitat.
For most other pets that have ever been owned, a cage or fence is meant to keep them from escaping and getting hurt or running away. That is unless we’re talking about fish and their “cages,” or tanks, which are really there to keep them alive.
Although not as dramatic as the importance of a fish tank filled with water, a snake’s tank or enclosure is necessary to support their life. The enclosure needs to keep your snake in so it’s not slithering around your house in the middle of the night, but it is also necessary to regulate temperature and humidity.
Your goal, as a Ball Python owner, is to contrive a place that your snake feels at home. Ball Pythons are usually surrounded by trees and dirt. You put in those elements to make it as “natural” as possible.
The same goes with the constant pumping of heat and water into the enclosure to keep the snake moist and tanned. The enclosure is simply a structure which contains the essentials to a snake’s life, but it’s a very important one at that.
Types of Tanks
- Wooden Vivarium
- Plastic RUBs
- Exo Terras
Wooden Vivarium is just a fancy way to say an enclosure for an animal that is made out of wood.
This option isn’t as popular as a full glass tank because of the way it obscures your view of the snake, but people have said good things about them regarding their temperature abilities. When I say “temperature abilities” I mean that the wood has been found to be a good material for keeping in humidity and warmth.
You must always be careful with the kind of wood used in your tank or substrate because cedar and pine can be very toxic for snakes.
Glass tanks are the most popular because they allow you an almost 180 degree view of your snake and its habitat. The glass tanks have been adapted to retain heat and sometimes have front opening doors for easy access to your snake and it’s unmentionables.
Plastic tanks have become popular because they are durable. They are also cheaper and relatively lightweight compared to big glass tanks.
Exo Terras are probably the most popular out of all our choices. They are made specifically for reptiles and some amphibians. They come in a variety of sizes and usually accommodate a wide range of important gadgets.
They have special places for substrate heaters, hygrometers, thermometers, and locks. There is usually a double door entrance to most Exo Terra which is a good way to make your Ball Python feel like a King snake. I will pause for laughter. The doors are convenient, though not necessary, for you when you are ready to clean the tank or take out your snake.
Size of the Tank
Typically snake owners will increase the size of their tanks as their snake grows. There have been many tips and tricks that I have seen regarding what size tank is best for your specific snake. A lot of people say that your cage must be at least as long as your snake is. Break out the yardstick!
A good rule of thumb for Ball Pythons would be to get a certain gallon sized tank during each stage of its life. A baby Ball Python can be kept in a 10-gallon tank until it starts to get too big. You want the snake to have enough room to roam around and stay active, so you don’t want to wait too long to increase your tank size.
When your snake reaches the next stage of growth, “young adulthood” if you will, you will need a 20 gallon or larger tank. Finally, you will probably end up with a 30-40 gallon tank, or larger, for your full grown Ball Python.
Best Tanks by Size
1.) Baby Ball Pythons — Exo Terra All Glass Terrarium
For a small, young Ball Python, the Exo Terra Short All Glass Terrarium from Amazon would be perfect! It is a good price and includes free shipping. Now, the size of this tank is 18 by 18 by 12-inches. This enclosure would not be a good choice for a full-grown Ball Python but is perfect for a small baby.
The downside of choosing a full 40-gallon tank for a baby would be the added stress. Too much open space can be overwhelming. This can sometimes be fixed with multiple hides and small spaces your snake can escape to; however, it is recommended that you “grow” your tanks with your snake.
2.) Young/Adult Ball Python — Exo Terra Glass Terrarium Mayan
There are a few good choices for a Ball Python that is getting big. The first one is the Exo Terra Glass Terrarium Mayan. This enclosure has good reviews from customers pleased with their purchase. This cage is not completely suitable for a grown adult but is great for larger Ball Pythons that are no longer considered babies.
This tank has a deeper base so that you can layer your substrate. This fact may be pleasing to your Ball Python so they are slithering around on a nice natural feeling base instead of the hard bottom of a tank.
The mesh cover is good for airflow and regulating humidity and the terrarium is designed to support heaters for your substrate. Lastly, they have double doors to make it easy to reach your snake and clean its tank.
3.) Young/Adult Ball Python — Hagen Exo Terra Snake Starter Kit
A better option for a juvenile Ball Python would be the Hagen Exo Terra Snake Starter Kit. This kit includes some snake bedding, a substrate heater, a thermometer, LED fixture, a water bowl, hide cave, and a 20-gallon tank. It also has a screen made of metal on the top which is important. This would be a great kit for a beginning snake owner and their Ball Python.
The kit, of course, does not contain every item you will need to care for your Python, but it is a good jumping off point. You want to make sure to also have a hygrometer, more hides, and a smattering of other snake care products.
This tank is better than some because it is long rather than tall. Your Ball Python isn’t a tree snake, and won’t spend all its time climbing around. You want to give it plenty of room to move around from one side to another.
4.) Adult Ball Python — Carolina Custom Cages Terrarium
An important aspect of a cage for an adult Ball Python is the length. You don’t want to confine your snake in too tightly, and you don’t want a cage that takes over an entire room! Good thing Ball Pythons aren’t an abnormally large species of snake.
There are always more things that are going to be required for your snake’s habitat and that’s true for this purchase as well. You will obviously need substrate, hides, temperature gauges, heat lamps, etc. for your Ball Python. The set up may seem pricey, but snake care products are durable and can last you a long time if you buy ones that are good quality.
Lighting and Heat
Heat and humidity are probably two of the most important factors of snake care. Snakes cannot regulate their own body temperatures. This means that snakes get their warmth from the sun, obviously, and the heat radiating from the ground.
You don’t usually see snakes basking on a rock as a lizard would, but it is important for them to get enough heat to keep them going.
Humidity is also an essential part of a snake’s life. Humidity almost completely dictates the health of your snake. It’s easy to regulate the temperature and humidity levels of your snake enclosure if you take the proper precautions.
Having one or two thermometers in your cage along with a hygrometer will help you know when the cage is too cold/hot or too humid/not humid enough. This important aspect of snake care is definitely a balancing act.
When too much humidity is present in a snake enclosure, it can cause scale rot and infection. On the flip side, too little humidity can make it difficult for your snake to shed its skin. It’s always important to stay vigilant to keep your snake healthy and happy.
Snakes are Master Escape Artists
Having a secure tank is very important. Snakes will take any opportunity to explore worlds outside of their own. If you provide access to the outside world with an unsecured mesh lid, large enough holes in your tank (if you have some for any reason), or maybe a sliding door that can come open if slithered across the right way, you can have a missing reptile in the morning.
It is no fun having to do a Google search about how to find escaped snakes, and there is no reason to ever have to worry if you shut your tank correctly.
As I mentioned above, people have had instances of their snakes moving against sliding tank doors and opening them enough to wriggle out. It is always a good idea to put safety locks on all cage entrances just in case a snake gets clever or a house guest gets curious.
I wanted to mention the fact that snake tanks don’t have a solid lid. This may seem obvious, but it’s always good to mention that your snake needs air! Secure mesh tops are great for snake tanks because they allow for good ventilation and make it so that humidity and temperature are more regulated.
If you find that it’s hard to keep your humidity and temperature consistent, you can try covering a small part of the mesh with something that will help keep in more moisture. A few good options would be a piece of tin foil or plexiglass. Just make sure to keep at least half of it uncovered to let in the air!
Fish Tanks for Snakes
Pet stores frequently advertise snakes on the side of fish tanks they are selling to try to reach a broad audience. It is popular for new snake owners to reach for the handy fish tank because it’s what is most available to them.
I have read many websites claiming that fish tanks are not a good choice for a Ball Python or snakes in general. The issue with fish tanks is that they aren’t secure. They also lack the ability to keep in much heat which is an important feature for a snake!
There is always a way to work around every suggestion given on the internet, so if you find that you want to utilize a fish tank for your snake keeping needs, then you must take extra precautions.
You want to make sure to have a good lock on your lid or just an extra secure one that isn’t likely to slide off if pushed. You also want to make sure that you have enough hides and substrate to spray in order to keep enough humidity in the air as possible.
We have stumbled into a Do It Yourself (DIY) age and have a desire to make things ourselves to minimize costs. It is always possible with the right amount of dedication and just the right amount of materials but isn’t recommended in cases such as this.
It is always safer to purchase a terrarium which was specifically built to accommodate a Ball Python or similar species of the same size. These cages usually have features that make it easy to add heat pads and thermometers, and they will usually allow for extra room to lay substrate.
For a consumer, you want to get the best price you can for the things you need. As a snake owner, you want to get the best possible products for the best price. As long as you understand what’s important for your snake’s
Little tricks, like using tin foil to keep in humidity, are always useful in lowering cost and keeping your snake happy and healthy.
How big do Ball Python snakes get?
Female Ball Pythons can reach between 3 and 5 feet when fully grown. When they’re babies they are shorter than a foot in length. Male Ball Pythons are smaller and can get to between 2 and 3 feet.
Do Ball Pythons need a heat lamp?
Ball Pythons don’t need a heat lamp as much as something to heat their substrate. Ball Pythons get their heat from the ground in a natural environment and it is best to replicate those environments as much as possible. Heat lamps are better for creatures that tend to bask in the sun, and that does not include Ball Pythons.
Can you put two Ball Pythons in one cage?
You can house Ball Pythons together if you have a big enough tank. It is also important to make sure that neither snake has any diseases or sicknesses before you place them together. There are sometimes behavioral issues when snakes don’t get along, so always be aware if your snakes are eating and be prepared to separate them if the snakes are unhappy.