Your experience with ball pythons.
June 26, 2009 9:24 AM   Subscribe

How is it like to own a ball python? I'm asking for personal experiences only please, as I can always Google for husbandry, etc.
posted by Yasuo to Pets & Animals (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
We have some friends who own a ball python. Near as I can tell, they're pretty low-impact pets. It's gotten out occasionally (and gone missing), but it's turned up safe and sound each time. If you're not skeeved out by the whole live-food thing (and I imagine you're not), I've always understood them to be fairly mellow herps. When I worked in pet stores years ago, our ball pythons were fairly inert creatures (compared, say, to the young retics).
posted by jquinby at 9:36 AM on June 26, 2009

Ball Pythons will eat thawed frozen mice - if they were raised on them. It's difficult to get them to eat the dead mouse though if they are used to live ones. My son has a kingsnake - they are very low impact pet. Feed once a week or so, change out water every day or two, clean enclosure as needed. Not much more to it.
posted by COD at 9:55 AM on June 26, 2009

I'm actually looking for posts to confirm that ball pythons are docile (or not, every pet is different) from personal experiences of handing and interacting with one, as I can always Google everything else from husbandry to feeding, etc. Sorry for the confusion!

Here is a little more info for this post:
I owned a Sinaloan Milk Snake in the past, so I have some prior experiences in handling snakes. I realized I don't like nervous snakes at all after a couple months of owning him before handing him down to my sister. I don't want to repeat this again, thus why I want to hear personal experiences from owners of ball pythons before making a decision to buy one.
posted by Yasuo at 10:21 AM on June 26, 2009

My ball python would always rear up and hiss at this one particular person every time he walked past her tank. She ignored everyone else. A few weeks later that guy ended up breaking in to my house and robbing me blind. My snake was an excellent judge of character.
posted by Addlepated at 10:23 AM on June 26, 2009 [2 favorites]

Sorry - should have previewed. She was totally docile at all other times and would happily let anyone handle her. I was never nervous with her. The only time I left her alone was around when she was shedding her skin.

Also, don't ever feed your ball python a gerbil, because they will get a taste for it and refuse to eat mice again. Then you're stuck raising gerbils, nasty little creatures.
posted by Addlepated at 10:26 AM on June 26, 2009

I've had a ball pythons of various sizes and every single one of them has been docile and wonderful. A herp friend once cautioned me though: always buy from a reputable breeder or pet shop. Buy one off Craigslist or something and you might end up with an abused python that has a very low opinion of humans.
posted by _Mona_ at 12:15 PM on June 26, 2009

We've been babysitting a ball python for a couple of years now (long story) and it's totally docile. It was used to live feed when we got it, but my girlfriend taught it to eat freezer mice and rats fairly easily. She'd thaw the mouse or rat and place it in a paper bag, then place the python in. If the python didn't go for the food, my girlfriend would gently nudge the paper bag directly underneath the food to make it twitch. That is usually all the encouragement the snake needs to chow down.

Regarding docility, I understand that if you feed the snake in a paper bag, or otherwise give the snake a designated feeding space, it's much less likely to strike at moving objects (like hands) when it's in its cage or being held.

Ours is a big lump of scaly docility.
posted by lekvar at 12:33 PM on June 26, 2009

I've had a ball python for several years now, and he is the tamest and most docile snake I've ever known. He currently resides in my mom's third grade classroom as the class pet, and is handled by all the kids. I've also had a Florida King Snake (also very docile), a mean Burmese python (no no no. Do not get one.), and a corn snake. The Florida and corn snakes were also very docile but not quite as big, obviously.

_Mona_ brings up a good point, though. My snake came from a family who had handled him since he was small, and was very used to people. Be careful where you get your snake. Although ball pythons are known to avoid striking when stressed (they curl into a ball, thus the name), any snake can be made mean with the wrong upbringing.
posted by routergirl at 12:34 PM on June 26, 2009

He was not my ball python, but I lived with one for about a year in college. He was very, very mellow. I never saw him hiss at anybody or get weird or anything. He just hung out being gigantic and chill.
posted by jennyb at 12:35 PM on June 26, 2009

Hit submit too quickly - lots of people would hold him, too, including strangers, and while I have no idea if he liked it, he never protested.
posted by jennyb at 12:36 PM on June 26, 2009

I am a snake hater - and that part is important here.

Important because I had an old roomie with snakes, including two Ball Pys and I will admit to the world, but not to my old roommate - that I didn't mind him bringing them out in the house all that much. I never felt in danger around them, just creeped out. Once I laid down on his bed, actually I plunked down like a belly flop and landed on something hard and lumpy and said "what's this lump? Did you not make your bed and just pull the covers up?" He said No, that's Nag you're laying on. Imagine me skyrocketing to the ceiling, but the snake never moved. In my limited experience with my roomie's snakes the Ball Python is pretty laid-back with a very tolerant attitude.

Except for the time I walked into the bathroom when he was giving one of them a bath and that thing shot straight up out of the tub at me and I was just able to get the door closed before I heard a THWACK hit the other side of the door. Honestly though, I can't recall if the bathing snake was a Ball or not, but yeah I don't like snakes at all- yet I never really minded when the Ball Pythons were out and about.
posted by goml at 2:35 PM on June 26, 2009

Nthing above that ball pythons are..erm, the balls.

I had a ball python (Petey) and it was the sweetest creature. Never hissed or struck, ever.

I definitely think that you'll find the confirmation you're looking for, that balls are docile as could be, really chill, happy snakes. Mine was never aggressive, instead curling up into the ball when he felt threatened and just being a good snake all around.

He came from a snake lover, and was handled and socialized really well. So, so important.

Petey Python, may you R.I.P.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 3:13 PM on June 26, 2009

Imported Ball Pythons are notorious for going on hunger strikes for no apparent reason. Be sure the animal you choose is captive bred. Also, they are less likely to endure being constantly handled (especially by children) than more robust snakes like a boa constrictor. Other than that, they are the perfect pet snake. Many interesting morphs (e.g. albino, piebald, etc.) are available from breeders. I highly recommend getting yours from a breeder or a pet store that specializes in herps. Case in point, last time I was at Petsmart I saw live crickets in with a baby Ball Python. Apparently they don't bother to check what the animals actually eat.
posted by Crotalus at 4:47 PM on June 26, 2009

Yeah, my ball python (Copey) was the chillest pet I ever had. You either need to raise it from a young age with good handling and socialization, as Grlnxtdr indicates, or get one from someone who has done so with the BP.

You can read all about the time I smuggled him on a trans-continental flight from my parents house to my college, and how he later escaped his aquarium and got into some mischief, here.
posted by allkindsoftime at 1:01 AM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

My brother had one, (named Monty, ha ha) and like everyone says, he was super mellow and didn't seem to mind having people hold him.
posted by exceptinsects at 8:04 AM on June 27, 2009

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