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What Are the Pros and Cons of Ball Pythons as Pets?

Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen

Many people choose to keep ball pythons as pets for a variety of reasons, including the fact that, unlike some pythons, they do not generally grow very large. Ball pythons typically also have relatively gentle temperaments as adults, which is often important to pet owners. Many people also choose reptiles as pets because reptiles generally do not trigger allergies. On the other hand, ball pythons that are not properly contained can escape inside a home and may be very difficult to locate. They can also develop various health conditions, including mites, and it may be a challenge to maintain proper conditions within their habitat.

While many people have aversions to snakes, some people enjoy raising them. The popularity of ball pythons as pets is primarily due to their size, as they typically do not grow much longer than 3 feet (0.9 m) in length. In addition, they are not particularly active creatures, so they can be kept in relatively small habitats that can easily fit into most homes. Difficulties arise, however, when a ball python grows much larger than expected. If the household is not prepared to deal with or accommodate a very large snake, the owners may be facing the difficult task of finding a new home for the animal.

Ball pythons are popular pets for snake and reptile lovers.
Ball pythons are popular pets for snake and reptile lovers.

Experts also warn that, while ball pythons are generally inactive, they will often escape if given the opportunity. Once a ball python goes missing in a home, finding him can be a challenge, particularly if the home has central heat or air conditioning, as the animal may escape into the ventilation system. While this possible consequence of keeping ball pythons as pets can generally be addressed by ensuring that the snake's habitat has a secure lid, it is possible for a ball python to escape during habitat cleaning or even when it is being handled by its owner.

All pythons are generally easy to maintain and are not venomous.
All pythons are generally easy to maintain and are not venomous.

Ball pythons tend to not eat very much and may do fine being fed as little as once a week and may, in some cases, fast for extended periods of time. While this can be an attractive feature of keeping ball pythons as pets, as an owner does not need to spend a lot of time or money on feeding and pet food, some pythons may refuse to eat to their own detriment. Responsible pet owners then may have to resort to force feeding the python, which can be a challenging and unpleasant experience for both snake and owner.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes ball pythons a good choice for a pet?

Ball pythons are favored as pets due to their docile nature, making them easy to handle. They are relatively small, reaching an average of 3 to 5 feet in length, which is manageable for most owners. Additionally, they have a long lifespan, often living up to 30 years with proper care, offering a long-term companionship.

How much space does a ball python require?

A ball python doesn't require a vast amount of space. A 30 to 40-gallon tank is typically sufficient for an adult. This manageable size makes them suitable for enthusiasts who may not have the room for larger reptiles. It's important to provide a secure habitat with appropriate temperature gradients and hiding spots.

Are ball pythons expensive to care for?

The cost of caring for a ball python is relatively low compared to other pets. After the initial setup of their habitat, ongoing expenses include feeding, which is infrequent due to their slow metabolism, and basic maintenance supplies. However, unexpected veterinary costs can arise, so it's wise to be prepared for potential healthcare needs.

Do ball pythons pose any health risks to humans?

Ball pythons are generally not aggressive and are unlikely to bite, reducing the risk of injury to humans. However, like all reptiles, they can carry Salmonella, so it's crucial to practice good hygiene, such as washing hands after handling. Proper enclosure maintenance also minimizes any health risks.

What is the feeding regimen for a ball python?

Ball pythons typically eat once every one to two weeks, depending on their size and age. They feed on pre-killed or frozen-thawed rodents, which aligns with their natural predatory instincts. It's important to provide appropriately sized prey to prevent obesity or other health issues.

Can ball pythons be handled frequently?

While ball pythons tolerate handling quite well, it's essential to do so respectfully and not excessively. Frequent handling can cause stress for the snake. It's recommended to handle them once or twice a week for short periods, allowing them to become accustomed to human interaction without causing undue stress.

Discussion Comments


People who are considering ball pythons as pets need to think about the best environment for this type of pet. Though ball pythons do not get as large as other types of pythons, they still need plenty of room to move.

The largest aquarium available is the best option for a ball python. People who are not prepared for the cost of this type of housing should consider smaller snakes as pets because ball pythons will not thrive if they are not happy and comfortable.

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    • Ball pythons are popular pets for snake and reptile lovers.
      By: mikemoore88
      Ball pythons are popular pets for snake and reptile lovers.
    • All pythons are generally easy to maintain and are not venomous.
      All pythons are generally easy to maintain and are not venomous.