Royal pythons or ball pythons are one of the most popular snake species among reptile enthusiasts. These snakes are docile, non-venomous, and relatively small, making them easy to handle and care for. However, like any other pet, they require proper care and attention to live a long and healthy life.
The first step in caring for a royal python is providing the right housing. A minimum enclosure size for an adult royal python should be around 36 x 18 x 12 inches. A larger enclosure is always better but avoid going too big as it may stress your pet. The enclosure should have a secure lid to prevent escape. A cage with a front-opening door is ideal for easy access and cleaning.
The substrate is the bedding or flooring inside the enclosure. There are many options to choose from, including aspen shavings, coconut fibre, reptile carpet, and paper towels. Avoid using cedar or pine shavings as they contain oils that can harm your snake. Substrate should be spot cleaned daily and changed every few weeks.
Temperature and Lighting
Royal pythons are cold-blooded, which means they rely on external heat sources to regulate their body temperature. You will need to provide a heat source on one side of the enclosure with an ambient temperature of around 78-82°F. A basking spot with a temperature of around 88-92°F should also be provided. You can achieve this with a heat lamp or heat mat. It is also important to provide a cooler side of the enclosure with a temperature of around 75-77°F to allow your snake to regulate its own body temperature.
Lighting is not as important for royal pythons as they are primarily nocturnal. They do benefit from a day and night cycle, though. A simple day and night timer can be used to control lighting.
Water and Humidity
A clean and freshwater bowl should always be available in your python's enclosure. The bowl should be large enough for the snake to soak in, as they require a humidity level of around 50-60%. You can maintain the humidity levels by misting the enclosure daily or providing a humid hide box.
Royal pythons are carnivores and will eat small rodents such as mice and rats. They should be fed approximately once every week or two, depending on their size and activity level. Always feed prey that is appropriately sized for your snake, as offering prey that is too large can cause health problems. Also, make sure to feed pre-killed or frozen-thawed prey instead of live prey to prevent injuries to your snake.
Royal pythons are generally docile and friendly but can become stressed and agitated if handled too frequently. If you do handle your snake, make sure to support their body and avoid sudden movements. Always wash your hands before and after handling your pet to prevent spreading any diseases.
In conclusion, royal pythons are great pets for reptile lovers. They are relatively easy to care for if you provide proper housing, substrate, temperature, humidity, water, and food. Always handle your snake with care and provide regular veterinarian check-ups to ensure a healthy and happy pet.