What Can I Do to Improve My Ball Python Enclosure?
Image credit @ Reddit
You must put some toys in your pet ball python’s enclosure if providing it with a beautiful home is one of your top priorities. If you were to need a dog, you wouldn’t have required to purchase pricey ball python toys. Their toys are essential to their survival in their enclosure. They are essentials, to put it briefly. Ball pythons are not social creatures in the wild. They lack the same emotional and fun-loving capacities as mammals.
In the wild, what they do is absolutely for survival. To control their body temperature and food digestion, they bask. To obtain food and other necessities, they climb and stroll around.
Snakes find climbing branches to be fascinating toys. You may shape-shift them to give your snake various ways to move around its tank. Ball pythons also take great pleasure in exploring tunnels, climbing rocks, and hiding in artificial plants.
Toys in their cage, however, are a fantastic way to keep your captive ball python content healthy. You may be wondering, “What can I do to improve my ball python enclosure?” Or what sort of toys do ball pythons require? However, you don’t need to worry because this post will guide you through some fantastic improvements for ball python pets. But first, you must be aware of what to look for when purchasing ball python toys and embellishments.
What to Consider When Buying Ball Python Toys?
What specifically do you want to purchase for your pet ball python before you go shopping? What factors will affect your purchasing decision?
Just a quick reminder: You shouldn’t just buy them toys because you read those enrichment items improve their health while being kept in captivity. Toys must be as close to nature as possible. As a result, the enrichment items you choose for your ball pythons should look “NATURAL”. Purchasing only toys with a natural appearance is the only way to make an enclosure that resembles the wild. It might be green or brown toys, but nothing that will frighten your ball python.
Get toys with various textures and surfaces:
It would be great for your ball python if you give it toys with various textures and surfaces. Climbing branches shouldn’t have surfaces or textures that are similar to hides. This will help the snake relax.
Why Do You Have To Give Your Ball Python Toys?
Toys are an enrichment in the world of reptiles. They are required to keep reptiles active and mentally stimulated. These are equally crucial to their health as physical activity is to humans.
In addition to being boring, an enclosure with only bedding, hides, and a water bowl might lead to obesity. Ball pythons kept in captivity are quickly stressed. Research has also shown that stress is always an underlying cause of illness and aberrant behaviors, whether it plays a major or minor role.
You might also be interested to hear that captive ball pythons feel stressed in an open tank without enrichment toys. Consequently, you must offer them enrichment so that they have a place to live rather than in the wild.
What Can I Do to Improve My Ball Python Enclosure?
There are two types of enrichment for your ball pythons:
- Environmental Enrichments
- Mental Enrichments
Because reptiles are far smarter than we humans usually give them credit for, they require entertainment. Otherwise, they are perpetually bored, which makes them uninteresting as pets because they are passive and dull. Reptiles are less stressed and more interested in their surroundings when they’ve items to interact with within their habitat. Environmental enrichment is the name given to this practice.
It’s crucial to pick enrichment objects (also known as enclosure decor) that complement your pet’s innate tendencies. Please feel free to clutter it up as ball pythons prefer to hide! Here are some more items that are essential to a ball python tank:
- Different Types of Enclosures
- Bedding Types
- Heavy Water Dish
- For Climbing Opportunities – Branches And Logs
- Hide Outs
- Both Live and Fake Plants
- Periodically Re-Arrange/Rotate the Tank Accessories
- Artificial Foraging Balls
- Terrarium Background
Different Types of Enclosures:
Your ball python will require a suitable tank as its first requirement. You have a variety of enclosure options to select from, and each gives advantages and disadvantages that are unique.
The most prevalent types of enclosures are as follows:
Commercially manufactured cages:
For ball python owners, commercially made reptile cages are typically the best choice. Commercial cages frequently include front-opening doors, are composed of lightweight plastic, and can incorporate heating equipment. You might have to get one online because they aren’t as commonly accessible as aquaria.
These are widely available and often reasonably priced. Ball pythons also provide unparalleled visibility, making it simple to observe your snake. Although, aquaria can be challenging to move around because they are fairly fragile. Glass aquariums also do a poor job of retaining heat.
Plastic storage boxes:
Ball pythons can thrive in plastic storage boxes because they’re lightweight and inexpensive. They are also simple to get at hardware stores and big-box retailers. However, because they are frequently translucent, ball pythons don’t offer a decent view of your pet (as opposed to transparent). They must also be altered by being escape-proof and having air holes drilled into them.
For owners who have the ability and want to build their cages, this is a great choice. Yet, caretakers with some experience tend to create them better than beginners.
No matter what kind of tank you choose, you must make sure that it has adequate space for your ball python. Although the subject of habitat size is hotly debated between keepers, it is widely agreed that adult ball pythons need habitats with about 3 to 6 square feet of space. While young ball pythons only need a small portion of this area.
Because they rarely climb, cage height isn’t particularly significant. Habitats with a height of twelve to eighteen inches are adequate.
You can keep a ball python using a wide range of substrates. You must weigh your alternatives and choose the best substrate for you and your pet because no one substrate is perfect in every situation. The following list includes some of the most popular substrates for use with ball python:
These are reasonably priced and quickly absorb moisture, which will aid in the reduction of enclosure smells. They permit ball pythons to burrow as well. Aspen shavings could be a bit messy, though, and if they get wet, they need to be replaced right away since they will rot.
It aids in preserving a high humidity level, similar to how cypress mulch does. In addition, snakes can burrow there, and it looks wonderful. Orchid bark isn’t frequently used in large cages because it is often quite pricey.
To make the best decision, consider both the advantages and disadvantages of these substrates. If you find that your initial option isn’t working out, you may always alter your mind later.
The simplest, cleanest, and cheapest substrate you can utilize is probably old newspaper. If it gets dirty, it is simple to replace, and if your snake wants to hide, he can even burrow under the newspaper. For new snake owners, the newspaper is typically the best option.
Another excellent option is cypress mulch for caring for ball pythons. This substrate is very cost-effective (however the cost varies by regional location), allows for burrowing, and effectively holds moisture, which could make it simpler to maintain the optimal enclosure humidity. Cypress mulch also has a pleasant smell.
Paper towels are an excellent option for beginners and offer many of the same advantages as newspapers. Paper towels perform quite well in the small settings utilized for hatchlings and young pet snakes, but they might be challenging in adult-sized cages.
Peat Or Sphagnum Moss:
Sphagnum moss is superior to peat moss. It holds onto water better. It is therefore a brilliant option for producing a humid environment. Sphagnum moss offers anti-bacterial and anti-fungal qualities in addition to repelling insects and other creatures that could harm your python. One drawback is that it attracts dust.
It is widely available, inexpensive, and capable of retaining humidity. It absorbs moisture and odors. It cannot be ingested. This Cocosoft substrate, which is prepared from fresh coconut husks, is a wonderful option.
Care Fresh Bedding:
This product is made of paper and comes in a variety of colors. You can choose a color that goes with the theme of your terrarium. It has been heating treated for cleanliness and is mold resistant. Because it’s so small, this substrate is expensive and hard to repair or replace. not typically recommended for snakes.
Considering that each substrate has a different set of benefits, using a mixture may be a good option. You may maximize the advantages of each substrate using this technique.
Mixing cypress mulch, coconut fiber, and sphagnum moss is a fantastic idea. In the end, the output is influenced by the percentage of each substrate. We recommend utilizing 10% sphagnum moss, 45% coconut fiber, and 45% cypress mulch. You don’t need to be concerned with obtaining precise percentages. You may approximate them.
Substrates To Avoid:
You should stay away from items like cedar shavings because the wood has oils that can harm your ball python’s nervous system. Bacteria and odors can be found in sand. It won’t allow for humidity and will cause the terrarium to become dusty. Cleaning reptile carpets is challenging to clean. Additionally, your snakes’ lips have holes along them that they use to detect heat. Substrates with fine textures might become stuck in these pores.
Heavy Water Dish:
When given access to a large water bowl filled with clean water, ball pythons thrive. In addition to drinking a lot, they occasionally like soaking, particularly before shedding. To prevent the snake from accidentally knocking it over and soaking its substrate, select a heavy ceramic bowl or a similar.
For Climbing Opportunities – Branches And Logs:
Install at least one or two sturdy branches or logs that the ball python can slither over. This is a fantastic way to promote exercise, which boosts hunger, fights obesity, and improves muscle tone. It is a prevalent myth that ball pythons are mainly terrestrial and that it would be harmful to provide them with climbing possibilities because of their clumsiness. In reality, ball pythons are excellent climbers! They will come out of their burrows in the wild at night to hunt among the trees.
The aim of the logs in the tank is to serve as a shedding tool for your ball python. The ball python can brush against the log to help shed its skin more quickly.
A hiding spot is essential for any ball python tank setup. The purpose is to simulate a ball python’s natural environment, where they spend the majority of their time hiding. Your pet might feel protected and cool down in hideouts because they give moist, cool spots. If you’d rather make your own, you might make hideouts of clay or plastic flowerpot trays.
You need at least two hiding spots, one in the cage’s heated portion and the other in its cooler region. This enables your snake to control its body temperature even while it is hidden. For optimum results, add moistened sphagnum moss to 1 or 2 central-to-cool hides to encourage shedding. Like a burrow, the optimum layout for a hide is low and broad, and it should be partially buried in the substrate.
Both Live and Fake Plants:
You may embellish your ball python’s cage with live or fake greenery, and each has advantages and disadvantages. In contrast, to live plants, which are more delicate and may be crushed to death by a ball python, fake plants can endure being repeatedly “driven over” by a reasonably large snake. But for a bioactive arrangement to have a completely functioning ecosystem, there must be at least a few real plants.
Before adding any fake plants to the cage, make sure they have been cleaned and disinfected and that any real plants are safe for reptiles. Consider putting in a 6500K daylight lamp if you’ve live plants to aid them to grow and thrive.
Branches, fake leaves, and grass are useful for making clutter. A ball python may survive with or without clutter, but it is best to have some. Stress is reduced for the snake by clutter. Additionally, it creates a setting that makes your ball python feel content and secure.
Leaf litter is a fantastic way to give your ball python more sensory stimulation in addition to retaining humidity in the substrate. You can buy leaf litter or gather some from the outside. Just be sure to collect them from a spot that is clean, dry, and uncontaminated by chemicals. Then, boil or bake them for an hour at 200°F/100°C in your oven to kill microorganisms.
Periodically Re-Arrange/Rotate the Tank Accessories:
Relocate the enclosure’s accessories and toys at random from time to time when cleaning the enclosure. Changing the location or adding a new accessory are both options. Your ball python will feel like it is in the wild thanks to this. But if you do this and see that your ball python always gets stressed whenever this occurs, you need to stop.
Additionally, the stress might not be brought on by moving the accessories’ positions. However, you would have to assess your husbandry to rule that out.
Artificial Foraging Balls:
Despite widespread misconceptions to the contrary, Francis Cosquieri’s research on ball pythons shows that they are foragers rather than ambush hunters. If you offer captive ball pythons the chance to hunt, they will do so. Despite having poor vision, they have an excellent sense of smell. By giving the ball a similar rodent odor, you may spark their interest and watch them start looking for it.
Although primarily decorative, this accessory can be quite helpful if you keep your ball python in a glass terrarium. Three of the four sides of the terrarium should be covered by a backdrop to provide your snake with more security.
Even though they might not be as intellectual as, say, a dog, ball pythons still exhibit the basic habit of curiosity when exposed to novel stimuli. Positive exploratory actions that stimulate their interest include periscoping and tongue flicking. Ball pythons can have an interesting reaction when given unexpected experiences like unfamiliar odors and items. When done properly, handling is another new experience for a ball python that could be a type of beneficial enrichment.
How Can I Do to Improve My Ball Python Enclosure?
There are plenty of other ways to enrich the life of your ball python. Your pet snake will never become bored if you put as many of these suggestions into practice.
Establish a Natural Vivaria Instead of a Utilitarian Habitat:
There is a spectrum of enclosure complexity. Owners on the other side of the range like recreating natural habitats and include items like live plants and bioactive vivarium surfaces. Owners on one side of the spectrum often prefer to create plain, no-frills, utilitarian environments for their snakes.
There is no “correct” or “wrong” strategy; nevertheless, the majority of ball python keepers probably lean more toward the utilitarian end of the spectrum. Because simple enclosures are simpler to maintain and provide less opportunity for error, this makes a lot of sense. This might be especially beneficial for newbie keepers who are still picking up the fundamentals.
However, there is no reason experienced keepers couldn’t care for ball pythons in more complex settings. It will take more time and effort, and it will cost a little more money, but it is a viable strategy. If nothing else, the complexity will give your ball python’s brain plenty of stimulating inputs, such as a variety of distinct odors.
Just keep in mind that you’ll need to very closely recreate the ball python’s natural setting. These creatures aren’t native to the rainforest; instead, they come from a range of hot, humid climates. If kept in a continually moist environment in captivity, they’ll probably get sick. Therefore, try to establish a habitat that resembles a forest or grassland, give a suitable heat gradient, and maintain a high but not uncomfortable level of humidity.
Take a stroll in the backyard with your ball python:
Generally speaking, it is not a good idea to often take your ball python from its habitat, and it is not a good idea to bring him into public settings where he can frighten or disturb others. However, there is no reason why you can’t sometimes let your pet out into your backyard to explore. This will offer much of the same stimulation as an elaborate enclosure would.
Just be cautious and use common sense when doing so. In your backyard, for instance, you do not want to take your pet snake to any pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers that you’ve just sprayed.
Turn Your Pet’s Habitat into a Multi-Level Enclosure:
This one is a little bit of a project, but it should provide positive outcomes. In reality, a lot of experienced keepers use multi-level housing ideas for their collections.
The fundamental concept is to raise the tank’s bottom a few inches to create a horizontal “floor. To give the snake access, you will have to construct some supports and cut or drill a hole in the floor. Once set up, your ball python can utilize both the “surface” and “subterranean” sections as it likes. Additionally, it practically doubles the tank’s footprint, providing him extra space to wander about and explore.
Remarkable heating options can also be found in a multi-level enclosure. Heating the surface layer and enabling the bottom level to stay cooler than normal, may, for instance, permit you to create a more pronounced temperature gradient.
However, there is a drawback to multi-level enclosures: they are more challenging to clean and maintain. It will also become more difficult to swiftly remove your pet because you often have to commit to taking out the second level to get to your pet.
Take Your Snake for a Swim:
Although ball pythons are not aquatic, they could swim the same as all snakes. So you might want to think about occasionally letting your ball python swim. Swimming is a good exercise and will stimulate the brain in ways that are unusual for your pet snake.
It is crucial to remember that not all snakes (both on an individual and species level) “like” spending time in the water. Use your best judgment; if your snake appears very unimpressed with the water, avoid the swimming lessons. Ball pythons often fall halfway between these two extremes. Our goal is to provide your snake with a novel, yet enjoyable, brain stimulation.
You must consider safety. Ensure your ball python has access to a branch or can reach the wall of the reservoir and be prepared to remove him out of the water if it starts to struggle or tire. Avoid letting your pet snake swim in chlorinated water; instead, use a freshwater stock enclosure or kiddie-wading pool (tap water is fine).
Always let a snake swim in “room temperature” water. The temperature of the water and the surrounding air should be the same (and you must only allow your pet ball python to swim when the ambient temperature is right).
Allow Your Animal an Opportunity to Breed:
It’s important not to treat breeding snakes casually. Snakes may experience stress during breeding attempts and the stimulation of the animals’ internal clocks through cycling. Both snakes may pass away due to complications, but female snakes are unquestionably more prone than male snakes to do so. And if you succeed, you’ll have to take care of around a dozen hungry mouths (in the case of ball pythons).
In all probability, you’ll also need to locate homes for them, which isn’t always an easy job. Therefore, make sure to give breeding significant thought as it involves some risk. All things considered, breeding offers a very distinctive sort of stimulation for your pet snake. The most rewarding stimuli that snakes normally encounter probably are those related to mating and the reproductive process. Therefore, you might choose to let your snake reproduce if you’re willing to accept the risks that come with it and take responsibility for the results of your effort.
Before beginning, make sure to educate yourself about the ball python’s breeding behavior and talk to your veterinarian about the issue.
What can I do to improve my ball python enclosure? The idea of enhancing your ball python’s habitat and quality of life is rather novel to snake owners. Therefore, you should continue cautiously and be prepared to make changes as needed.
Just keep in mind that this is a high-upside, low-risk activity, even if we may later discover that adding value to your snake’s life is a pointless exercise that they will never appreciate. You will “win” if you effectively improve your snake’s quality of life and it can recognize these changes. While providing safe toys is straightforward and quick, providing enrichment activities is more difficult. You must have prior expertise with ball pythons to provide space for both indoor and outdoor activities in a safe manner.
This is to make sure that you aren’t carrying out the right action improperly. Avoid providing your snake with any ball python toys that will hurt or stress it. Keep it simple.
How can I make my ball python enclosure better?
Cognitive enrichment for snakes kept by people may be as easy as giving them different objects to investigate in their enclosures or putting them in a new location to explore. Providing puzzles and mazes for them to navigate is another way to stimulate their minds.
What do ball pythons enjoy in their habitat?
In general, the ball python does best in a warm, humid habitat. The ideal humidity levels within the enclosure may be maintained with the aid of the best substrates for holding moisture. For your ball python, cypress mulch is a good substrate option.
How much time does a ball python need to adjust to a new terrarium?
Visit a reptile vet with your new ball python for a general health checkup and a parasite test. A freshly acquired snake should be left alone in its cage for a week or two to become used to its new home.
Do ball pythons require enrichment?
Although they may have significant aesthetic benefits, they also improve a snake’s quality of life by simulating its natural surroundings and offering mental stimulation. Additionally, feel free to clutter it up as ball pythons prefer to hide!