Ball Python Facts

Michael Bryan

Michael Bryan

Published: 27 Oct 2021

Modified: 04 Nov 2021

snake, ball python facts

Ball pythons are truly beautiful. They are like living pieces of art with unique color patterns and morphs. Currently, there are about 6,500 morphs, and the numbers are still rising as breeders work non-stop to come up with the rarest morph that the world has yet to see. However, humans have set their threat level against these creatures, as they hunt more of these breed for their skin and meat. Humans also have trafficked ball pythons from their natural habitat to sell in pet shops and zoos in other countries. They may not be endangered as of the moment, but they have become highly abused animals.

Ball pythons have a docile attribute making them suitable pets for exotic pet enthusiasts and since they are non-venomous, even children are allowed to raise one as a pet. After being domesticated, ball pythons are alright with being held by humans every now and then. Wanna know more about ball pythons? Here is our list of facts that you will surely enjoy reading.

  1. They are also called the Royal Pythons.
  2. It is a python species native to West and Central Africa, where it lives in grasslands, shrublands, and open forests.
  3. They are listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List because of their wide distribution.
  4. Hunting for its meat, and the international pet trade, threaten its existence.
  5. This nonvenomous constrictor is the smallest of the African pythons, growing to a maximum length of only 182 cm (72 in).
  1. The name “ball python” refers to its tendency to curl into a ball when stressed or frightened.
  2. In 1802, George Shaw proposed the scientific name, Boa regia, for a pale variegated python from an indistinct place in Africa.
  3. François Marie Daudin proposed the generic name Python in 1803, for non-venomous flecked snakes.
  4. The ball python is black or dark brown with light brown blotches on the back and sides. Its white or cream belly is scattered with black markings.
  5. Their babies are called hatchlings.
  6. They are native to Northern and Central Africa.
  7. A tribe in Nigeria considers them sacred.
  8. They are also non-venomous.
  9. Ball pythons don’t have the same patterns.
  10. They can live up to 45 years in captivity.
  1. A female ball python can lay up to 11 eggs at once.
  2. Ball pythons are the smallest breed of pythons.
  3. Hatchlings have more colorful and vibrant skin patterns.
  4. Females are bigger than males.
  5. They are known for their defense strategy that involves coiling into a tight ball.
Table of Contents

Ball pythons are great pets.

If you’re looking for an exotic pet, a ball python might be your best option since they are non-venomous and you can be able to hold them once a day. They also come with beautiful patterns and a variety of morphs that will keep you enticed for a very long time.

ball python facts, pet snake
Image source: Piqsels

They are not at the top of the food chain.

One surprising example of ball python facts is that ball pythons are actually the smallest pythons, so they don’t really belong on the top of the food chain. They are also a tasty meal for other predators in the wild. They can be hunted by larger snakes, frogs, owls, and other mammals. Hatchlings are very vulnerable to other predators, but the most dangerous are still humans who hunt them for their skin and meat.

Ball pythons shed their skin regularly.

Ball pythons would shed their skin every 5 to 7 weeks on average, and they become moody and more agitated. Don’t worry about it, though, since it’s a part of their natural process. When they shed, it’s best to let the ball python be. Picking it up and holding it is not advisable because they might bite. In addition, they usually won’t eat while they are shedding.

They are popular in zoos.

Ball pythons are real crowd-pleasers in most zoos and wildlife facilities because they are exotic and fun to hold. They also have a longer life expectancy, and even if they are not as intimidating as other large snakes, they can still send chills down a child’s spine.

child holding a ball python
Image source: Richard Hoare (geograph.org.uk)

They have flat heads and can have 100 teeth.

Ball pythons have smooth heads that are square-like. They have flat heads and boxy noses with slightly bulging eyes because of their jaw muscles. Although they are not venomous, these snakes can have over 100 teeth that can surely leave a dent in your arm if you’re not careful enough.

They are good hunters.

Ball pythons are equipped with features that can provide them advantages during hunting. Their skin’s camouflage helps them move around unnoticed, and since they are picky eaters, they are willing to stalk their prey for weeks. They also have heat-sensing pits on their mouth that can track prey even during the darkest of nights.

Ball pythons are nocturnal.

As great hunters of the night, ball pythons may not be active during daytime and that is because they are naturally nocturnal animals. It would be best to let the snake sleep during the day. However, a pet ball python adjusts its waking hours when kept in a place where natural light is not accessible. They can stay awake in the morning if you feed them during that time.

Africa exports thousands of ball pythons each year.

It is disheartening that most of these pythons are forcefully taken from the wild to sell as pets in the US, while some of them are placed in zoos or studied for various reasons. Most of the snakes available in the market were born in the wild and may or may not have a chance of survival in captivity.

Ball pythons can suffer from obesity.

Obesity is not the snake’s fault. Instead, the blame should go to their handlers or owners who are irresponsible for the kind of eating style it has. Owners should make sure that their pet snakes avoid overfeeding. Ball pythons need to be fed about every 1 to 2 weeks. As owners, it is important to know more about your snakes to keep them in good health.

obese snake, ball python facts
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

They don’t really rely on their eyesight.

Ball pythons have poor eyesight, so they don’t really rely on it because they have a more powerful sense for tracking and it would never fail them to seek for their prey. They actually use their heat pits to detect infrared radiation from warm bodies up to 1 meter away.

Ball pythons make good companions.

You can straight up buy a ball python for $50 without the enclosure, and since they are docile, these snakes are suitable companions for pet enthusiasts. They also like to be held by humans which make them friendly.

Their bite is not dangerous.

Ball pythons are snakes that hardly bite. If they do bite, then it needs to be hard enough to break the skin. You might probably bleed from multiple spots since they have teeth, but the bite is usually not a powerful one.

What is a fire ball python?

It is a stunning morph that produces interesting color and pattern combinations when bred with other morphs, such as Ghost Ball or Pastell Ball. Their skin is much lighter compared to a regular python. They usually display a golden hue with brown coloring.

The pastel zebra morph is the rarest gene.

Currently, there are over 6,500 morphs that exist, and captive ball pythons come in hundreds of different color patterns. One of the rarest genes is the Pastel zebra morph. This morph was discovered in 2005 but it didn’t have a successful breeding attempt until 2015 by Roussis Reptiles. Some of the most common are Pastel, Albino, Mojave, Banana, Lesser, and Axanthic.

pastel zebra morph
Image source: Pxfuel

Ball pythons are strictly carnivorous.

Pet ball pythons would prefer to feed on mice. That is their usual diet and like their fellow snakes, they are pure carnivores because they don’t have the necessary microbes in their guts to process and break down fibers and sugars from fruits.

Cleopatra used ball pythons as accessories.

Would you believe that Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt wore living ball pythons around her wrists like bracelets? This is the reason why ball python got their other name, royal python. Cleopatra was popular, not only for her beauty, but also for her unrivaled intellect that put men on their knees.

They can survive without food for months.

Ball pythons can live without food during dry seasons when food sources are scarce. Moreover, they are very picky when it comes to their meals. They would even avoid eating for months if they don’t come across the prey that they want to eat. Talk about impressive ball python facts!

Females eat minimally or nothing at all when they are pregnant.

While males won’t eat anything during mating season, pregnant ball pythons eat very little or none at all from the duration when they carry their eggs until hatched. These eggs take so much space inside a pregnant ball python’s body, that it disables her from eating.

They do look like Burmese pythons.

It is very confusing to differentiate Burmese and Ball pythons apart since they have similar striking patterns with either dark brown or golden rosettes, however, ball pythons are smaller than Burmese pythons.

They don’t chew their food.

Despite having an array of sharp teeth, ball pythons don’t chew their food. They have teeth designed to grip their prey in order to keep food pushed toward their mouth. Their teeth, however, do not function like mammals and other animals.

a snake and its prey
Image source: Pxfuel