The Ball Python Behavior (Common & Unusual) & Illnesses

Captive-bred ball pythons are generally very healthy, hardy and resilient animals. Learn everything you need to know about the ball python behavior & health in our guide:

pet ball python

The typical health and behavior of a species are important considerations for anyone seeking a pet reptile.

Species that commonly experience serious health issues or problematic behaviors, for example, are poor choices for beginners. Instead, reptile-keeping novices should stick to species that are usually healthy and – if you’ll pardon the anthropomorphism – happy.

Ball pythons clearly fall into the latter category. At least, captive-bred ball pythons do; wild-caught ball pythons are an entirely different matter.

Relatively early in my snake-keeping career, I had the “opportunity” to work with thousands of imported ball pythons (in those days, captive-bred ball pythons weren’t widely available).

Almost every single one was suffering from more than one health problem. Tick infestations, respiratory infections, poor sheds, and infected wounds were common. None of them wanted to eat for at least a month, and some would refuse food for nearly a year. Needless to say, these snakes were very difficult to maintain, and they’d make horrible pets for most first-time owners.

But captive-bred ball pythons are generally very healthy, hardy and resilient animals, and they’re among the more docile snakes available to hobbyists. We’ll talk about the health and behavior of ball pythons in greater detail below, so that you’ll know what to expect from your new pet.

> Further Reading: The Complete Ball Python Care Sheet

Basic Ball Python Behavior and Body Language

You’ll notice your ball pythons performing a few common behaviors over time, including those explained below.

  • Calm ball pythons move about slowly but purposefully.
  • Ball pythons often flick their tongues while moving about to learn about their surroundings.
  • Hungry ball pythons often lay motionlessly, with their head poised and ready to strike. They may also prowl slowly around the habitat seeking prey.
  • When frightened, ball pythons may withdraw their head into an “S-coil,” hiss, flee or roll into a ball.
  • Although it is somewhat rare, ball pythons can bite if they feel threatened or mistake your hand for prey.

Common Ball Python Behaviors: A Deeper Look

We’ll examine a few of the more noteworthy behaviors ball pythons exhibit below.

Shedding

Ball pythons, like all other snakes, shed their skin periodically. This can occur as often as once every three or four weeks, or as rarely as once or twice per year, depending on the size, age, and health of the individual.

Proper sheds should come off in one long piece. But unfortunately, ball pythons who are sick, mite infested or dehydrated often shed in multiple pieces or fail to shed completely. This can cause long-term health problems in some cases, so it is important to take steps to eliminate the problem.

Accordingly, you’ll need to help your snake remove the retained skin and rectify the problem that caused it. You can usually help a ball python free himself of the retained skin by soaking him in a bit of room-temperature water for an hour or two.

Be sure that the water is only deep enough to cover your snake’s back – he shouldn’t have to swim to keep his head above water.

After soaking him, you can likely pull the retained skin off with gentle pressure. Do not force any scales off – especially those located around the eyes or face. If any stubborn spots remain, soak your snake again the next day and try again. If this isn’t effective, contact your vet and seek his or her assistance.

ball python mouth

Biting

Biting is the behavior that often elicits the most attention from new keepers. This is understandable – nobody wants to be bitten by a snake.

However, it is important to note that ball python bites are rarely very painful, nor are they likely to cause much damage. Typically, they’ll cause a few minor breaks in the skin, which will ooze a trickle of blood.

Bites rarely require much more first aid than simple soap and water. However, if the bite displays any signs of infection (redness, swelling, etc.), contact your doctor. It is also important to feel the wound carefully to ensure no teeth were left in your skin.

> Further Reading: Does a Ball Python Bite Hurt (and Why Would Your Pet Bite)?

Handling Your Ball Pythons: Basics, Tips, and Tricks

Below, we’ll discuss the best way to handle your ball python, and then we’ll share a few tips and tricks that’ll likely make it easier and more enjoyable to do so.

Basic Ball Python Handling Procedure

Although you’ll certainly need to adjust to different circumstances and individuals, the best way to handle your ball python is as follows:

  1. Open the habitat and touch your snake gently on the back. This will help you avoid startling him if he’s sleeping (it is essentially impossible to tell if your snake is just sitting still or sleeping, as they lack eyelids).
  2. Place your fingers under his body gently and lift him off the cage floor quickly and decisively. Don’t stare at him for 10 minutes trying to gather your nerve; that’ll only make him nervous. Just pick him up.
  3. Once lifted, let your snake crawl freely around your hands and arms. Be sure to support him but avoid gripping his body tightly – that tends to make snakes feel threatened.
  4. After about 5 to 10 minutes (or you are done examining him, if that was your reason for picking him up in the first place), gently return him to his habitat and close the enclosure.
  5. Wash your hands with soap and warm water.

ball python head

Tips and Tricks

Try to follow the procedure outlined above, but from time to time, you may find the following tips helpful:

  • Learn to recognize your snake’s body language. Typically, ball pythons will communicate discomfort or fear long before they resort to biting. They’ll often do this by tensing their muscles, becoming more rigid, hissing or acting “jumpy.” If you note these signs, return your pet to his enclosure and leave him alone.
  • If you must pick up a defensive ball python, use the “paper towel trick.” By simply covering your snake with a paper towel (or small hand towel, if your snake is large), you’ll find that most snakes calm down significantly. You can then pick up the entire package – snake and towel – and move him as necessary.
  • A snake hook (or an improvised version thereof) can make some snakes feel more comfortable. After lifting the snake with the hook, you may be able to transfer him to your hand without a problem. Otherwise, you can simply use the hook to move him as necessary.
  • Don’t handle your snake too often or for too long. Excessive handling will usually stress your snake out, so keep handling sessions brief. Also, don’t bring your snake to public places, as this is stressful to the snake and often upsetting to those who are not comfortable with snakes. This type of behavior only hurts the hobby.
  • Because they’re nocturnal, ball pythons are generally easier to handle during the day. You’ll often find that your ball python will be more alert at night, and they’ll generally be less tolerant of handling during such times.

Caution: Don’t Handle Your Ball Python After Eating

Note that you should never handle your ball python who’s recently eaten. Doing so may cause him to regurgitate his last meal. This not only creates a thoroughly disgusting mess, but it is also stressful for the snake. It’s also a waste of money, as that rodent will now be useless.

As a general rule, you should wait for at least 24 and preferably 48 hours after feeding your snake to handle him. This assumes that any bulge created by the meal has shrunk. If you can still detect a food bulge, do not handle your snake.

> Further Reading: The Ball Python Diet

ball python substrate

Illness and Disease: Signs of a Sick Ball Python

Some of the most common health problems that afflict ball pythons are explained below. These are certainly not all of the possible diseases and conditions that may threaten your pet, but they deserve the most attention.

Respiratory Infections

Any snake can suffer from a respiratory infection, but snakes that hail from tropical areas – including ball pythons – are often especially susceptible to them. Because snakes cannot cough, they have great difficulty expelling the fluid which can accumulate in their respiratory tract. This means that a simple “chest cold” can quickly prove fatal in snakes.

A few of the most common symptoms of respiratory infections in ball pythons include:

  • Blowing bubbles from the nostrils or mouth
  • Unusual breathing sounds
  • Drooling
  • Labored breathing
  • Food refusal
  • Staying near the heat source more often than usual

If you notice your ball python exhibiting any of these symptoms, contact your vet and schedule an appointment at once. While ball pythons occasionally recover from extremely mild respiratory infections without veterinary treatment, most will require medications to help combat the infection.

Obesity

Obesity can cause health problems for ball pythons, so it is important to keep your snake at the proper body weight. While experienced keepers are often able to accurately assess body condition, it is often difficult for novices to do so. Accordingly, beginners should visit their vet regularly (perhaps once per year) to ensure that their snake is in good health.

Some of the most notable locations in which ball pythons store fat include the rear portion of the head and the sides of the tail base. Additionally, the spine and ribs can provide clues to the snake’s body condition. You should be able to feel your snake’s ribs, but they should not be visible in most cases.

Obesity takes a long time to treat in snakes – they don’t need very many calories in the first place. Accordingly, it is important to avoid the problem entirely.

> Further Reading: The Ball Python Diet

Eye Infections

A lot of new owners worry that their new ball python has an eye infection, but eye infections aren’t terribly common in snakes. I can only remember caring for one snake out of thousands that had a legitimate eye infection – and that was a water snake, not a ball python.

However, ball pythons do frequently experience two other eye-related problems:

  • The eyes of dehydrated ball pythons will often dimple.
  • Shedding difficulties can cause a snake to retain the scale covering its eye.

Unfortunately, it can be very difficult for beginners to distinguish between these two problems. So, the best thing to do is simply visit the veterinarian if you notice anything unusual about your ball python’s eye. Neither of these issues is terribly difficult for your vet to treat – he or she can likely remove a retained scale or help you rehydrate your pet.

Mites

The snake mite is a tiny arthropod that feeds on the blood of snakes. And unfortunately, they are both extremely common and extremely difficult to eradicate – particularly for snake-keeping novices.

Individually, mites don’t represent much of a problem, although they’re probably irritating to the snake. But, when their numbers climb into the dozens, hundreds or thousands, they can cause serious physical stress. Death from mites is rare, but it is possible.

Mites essentially look like a moving speck of black pepper. They’re easy to spot against a white enclosure wall, but they’re very difficult to see on the dark portions of a snake’s body.

The easiest place to see them on your snake will be his ventral side, especially the portion under the chin (check in the crease running down the center of your snake’s lower jaw).

Eradicating mites is complicated because the mature females are constantly leaving your snake, moving into the environment and depositing eggs. So, you’ll often have to utilize special medications that will kill the next generation of mites, or you’ll need to go to great lengths to eliminate the mites on your snake and those living in the environment.

In either case, beginners are wise to immediately seek veterinary assistance when confronted with mites.

> Further Reading: The Ball Python Habitat

Mouth Rot

Mouth rot is a bit of a catch-all term for various infections that manifest in the mouth of a snake. It is pretty disgusting – it can cause your snake’s mouth to bleed, ooze cheesy material, loose teeth or worse. But if caught quickly, you’ll usually be able to stop the problem.

Mouth rot can be caused by a variety of different things, so you’ll need to work with your vet to treat the animal. Just be sure that you do so quickly, as this problem can progress drastically in a short period of time.

ball python terrarium

Take Care!

Ball pythons are usually healthy and easy-going animals. You just have to start with a healthy, captive-bred individual and then provide the proper habitat, diet, and care. Just be observant and look out for the symptoms of illness mentioned above. This way, you’ll be able to act quickly and give your snake the best chance of recovery.

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Ben Team

Ben Team

Ben is a life-long environmental educator who writes about the natural world. He’s kept and bred a diverse array of reptiles and amphibians over the last three decades, but he’s always been particularly fond of snakes in the genus Morelia and monitor lizards. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his beautiful wife and spoiled-rotten Rottweiler.

153 thoughts on “The Ball Python Behavior (Common & Unusual) & Illnesses”

  1. Ok my ball python was in feed mode you know following the scent quickly out her hide and she went into the S striking pose, and I could barely notice, but her head was vibrating, ever so slightly. It really scared me and she also didn’t eat that night! I need help! Send me an email or something

    1. It’s hard to tell exactly what’s going on here, but it just sounds like your snake was exhibiting normal hunting behaviors. Snakes sometimes get a bit “physically tense” (for lack of a better phrase) right before eating, and you may interpret this as vibrating.

      I wouldn’t worry about it, and I’d just try to feed him/her again on your next scheduled feeding day.

      Let us know how it goes!

      1. Kyle Nennecker

        Hey Ben,

        I just recently purchased my first ball python (have had it for 2 months) and he used to be pretty active at night. However, recently he’s hardly come out of his hide (on the cold side). The ambient temperatures are ~75-80 on the cool side. And 90 on the warm side (with a heat pad underneath set to 92). I’m just concerned he might be sick, as he is also refusing food (I’ve gotten him to eat twice since I’ve had him). Any info would be greatly appreciated!

        1. Hey, Kyle.

          It sounds like your set up and temperatures are just about perfect. Your snake may be suffering from a respiratory infection (or some other ailment), but if you don’t see him exhibiting any symptoms (nasal discharge, etc.), then he may just be entering a shed cycle (which would also explain the food refusal).

          Give him a few days, and if he doesn’t start a shed cycle (or appear blue), then a vet visit would definitely be a good idea.

          Best of luck!

          1. Got my ball python about a month ago, and he is about a year and a half old. I’ve noticed that he keeps trying to get to the top of his enclosure and bumps against the top at nighttime, could that be a sign that he’s stressed, or is that normal behavior? I’ve also noticed a faint squeaky noise when he breathes. Warm temp is between 85° and 90° F, ambient temp is around 75° to 80° F, humidity is between 50% to 65%, could the squeaking be because of an RI? He shed a few days ago so I had raised up the humidity to around 75%, could that extra humidity during shedding be a cause for an RI?

          2. Hi Hannah,

            Ball pythons are nocturnal so being active and climbing around his enclosure at night is completely normal. The squeaking could definitely be a sign of respiratory infection, your temps are great, humidity should be between 50-60%. I wouldn’t recommend raising the humidity to 75% as this can cause respiratory infections and scale rot, instead keep the humidity constant and provide him with both a normal hide and a moist hide box. If the squeaking persists, take him to a vet for treatment.

      2. Hey Ben,
        I’m having problems reading my snakes behavior.I got this male ball python a week ago. I fed him yesterday a perfect size African soft furred rat and I’ve heard those fill them up a lot but today he keeps poking his head out of his hide and following my movement , kind of like displaying hunting or hunger behavior but he’s been doing this since 10am , its 5pm right now. Is he still hungry? Should I feed him another rat ??

        1. Hey, Jen.

          It’s hard to say without seeing your snake first-hand or the size of the rodent you offered, but it does sound like he’s hunting. However, snakes hunt a lot without catching prey. They have to! Rats don’t walk by every day.
          We’d recommend using his body weight and growth to guide your feeding schedule. And this will take time – don’t worry about him starving over the course of a week or two.

          Best of luck!

          1. I’ve had my ball python for 3 years. I got her when she was just over 1 foot long. She is now 39 inches, and a healthy weight. I hold her regularly, both for exercise and to maintain her comfort with humans. She eats when food is offered. She sheds really well. I’ve never had a partial shed with her. But for the past 2 weeks, she’s become really defensive. She’s struck at me multiple times, and refuses to leave her hide. I dont know what’s wrong with her. She doesn’t have mouth rot, an RI, or stuck shed that I can see. I dont want to stress her, but I’m also scared for her. How do I take care of this

          2. Hi Alex,

            This behaviour does sound strange, double check your temperatures and humidity. Is she alone in the vivarium? Have you brought any other animals into the house recently? Sounds like something might be spooking her. Have you noticed any other strange behaviour from her?

      3. So I have a female ball python that just laid a clutch of eggs on the 25th of July and she refused her meals for a couple weeks. She just ate today it’s the 4th of august. Any ways I cleaned her enclosure out 3 or 4 days ago and after she finally took a weaned rat she was in her water dish and started striking up and hissing like something was bothering her but I was no where near her. When I approached her she stood motionless looking straight up and didn’t move until I nudged her water bowl.

        1. Hi Kayson,

          Congratulations on the clutch of eggs, are they viable? I wouldn’t worry about her not eating for a couple of weeks, this is completely normal after laying eggs. The strange situation of her striking and hissing makes me think that something spooked her. Remember that pythons also have heat pits so perhaps she sensed a change in temperature or could still pick up on the heat from your body, even though she couldn’t see you. Monitor her over the coming days and let me know if it happens again, also once she has digested her meal, gently feel along the end of her belly and make sure she has passed all of her eggs.

    2. Kim Poundstone

      So I notice my ball python sometimes breathes a little heavy, he has no signs of struggling to breath, no mouth gaping or bubbles from the nose. I’m curious if it is him getting stressed by myself coming over to monitor him and his temperatures. He is pretty docile, a little skittish at times but he is very active. His temperature is 90 degrees in the hot spot, around 75 degrees on the cool side, he does go to and from both ends. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I’d also like to add he is going through the process of his first shed with me since I got him in May.

      1. Hey, Kim. Unusual breathing is a pretty common issue for snakes that are in a shed cycle. As long as he’s not blowing bubbles or producing any fluid from his nose or mouth, and his breathing returns to normal after he sheds, I wouldn’t worry.
        However, if the breathing issues continue, or you start to see a discharge, go ahead and get to your vet.
        Best of luck!

        1. My ball python “hugs” my hand/fingers very tightly like she is constricting but only with her head/jawline. What is this behavior? I’ve never experienced thos one with my previous ball

          1. Hey, Jenna.

            It’s hard to tell exactly what these crazy serpents are doing sometimes! She may just be trying to get a better grip on your hand, or it may be just a byproduct of the way she’s crawling around.
            True constricting behavior is pretty serious business; it’s not a casual “hug.” So, I wouldn’t worry about it one way or the other.

            Thanks for your question!

        2. Hey man, my ball python is 6 months old normal feeding schedule but for the past two days it has been acting way different
          He’s been twitching and stargazing as well as sort of slamming himself down. Rubbing on the glass
          Tried to feed him and he refused. Any ideas???

          1. Hi James,

            Males can sometimes become more active and climb around the enclosure during mating season as they are looking for a mate, these changes in behaviour can be caused by changes in temperature. Mating season is usually from mid september to mid november. The twitching is usually a sign of irritation but the stargazing can be a sign of something more sinister such as an underlying medical condition affecting the nervous system. If the stargazing has persisted for a few days I would take him to a vet to get him checked over.

    3. I can’t really reply but I’ve heard of head wobble. My spider ball does it too. Plus he turns himself upside down and frequently misses his mouse when he strikes. Maybe someone can help Adam and myself??

      1. Hi Jeff,

        This is definitely a problem with the central nervous system. If your snake is stargazing or behaving strangely like described, it is always best to get it looked at by a vet. There are a number of causes including brain trauma, bacterial or viral infections and Inclusion Body Disease. These symptoms can also be caused by genetic defects from birth.

  2. How will a ball python act if he dont have enough room in his cage to streach and move about. I was given a ball python unexpectedly,and it was something I was definitely going to save. And I have only had her a few days I made her home a small fish tank I had until I get payed and am able to buy her something to fit her needs. It just seems her bahavior is sad, I believe well Ibknow she dont have enough room to stretch and move. So can you tell me any signs I should look for, or is it harming her to be in a small tank. It will only be another 3 or 4 days until I’m able to get her proper housing,I’m just worried and want the best for her so any tips you can give me will be very appreciated. Thank you

    1. Hey there. Snakes certainly need habitats that allow them to stretch out, explore, thermoregulate and obtain exercise, but this is a long-term concern. Don’t worry about habitat size over the short term. In fact, it may actually help the snake feel a bit more secure while he is dealing with all of the changes going on in his life.

      As long as your snake has enough room to lay comfortably and change position as necessary, I wouldn’t worry about habitat size if you’ll be getting him a proper habitat in a few days.

      Also, in case this is your first snake, it is important to understand that many snakes (particularly ball pythons) aren’t especially active. They spend a lot of their lives just sitting there (they probably sleep a lot, but it’s difficult to tell because they have no eyelids).
      It’s easy for beginners to think their snake is sick or sad, but snakes just don’t do very much. Also, your ball python is nocturnal, so he’ll likely be most active at night, when you’re not watching him.

      Best of luck! Keep us updated!

      1. Yeah I have 3 going all pythons on one of them down by the privates it looks like soon tags on both sides of the privates

  3. Lucy is 15 years old, she has not gone into hiding for two days now and has been basking under the lamps. Should I be concerned I have not seen her do this since we have had her. She has been in the family since a baby. We have had her maybe about 4 months now. During that time she seems to be exhibiting happy behavior. This is new what I have described above. She is not balled up either. She is stretched out and has been.

    1. Hi, Diana. So sorry that we missed your comment earlier. I realize that this advice probably won’t help you now, but it may help someone else in the future. Let us know how things went with your snake!

      As for the outstretched body posture, that could mean a variety of things.

      Snakes suffering from respiratory infections often exhibit strange postures (it can help them breathe more easily), but it could also be associated with reproductive events like ovulation. And then sometimes, snakes just lay in a stretched-out position because, well, they just do.

      It’s really impossible to be sure based off the info provided. If your snake is exhibiting any symptoms of illness, I’d head to the vet ASAP. Otherwise, I’d recommend just watching her for a day or two. It doesn’t necessarily sound like a problem, but you’re correct to seek help whenever your snake does anything weird.

      Best of luck!

  4. I have just recently bought my first ball python she was captive bread by a local breeder and i have red alot and wanted to educate myself to the fullest as this was going to be my first snake it has been a very fun journey learning all the stuff I’ve read and have found snakes in general to be quite fascinating however some of the things ive read in other places and even here dont exactly match the behavior of my snake like at all……for example i know pythons in general are pretty nice in nature for the most part and as u stated before they bite you will know they are uncomfortable…….mine doesn’t seem to get uncomfortable by just about anything young children other pets in the house like a dog she has not snapped drew back into the s form or nothing no matter what she has encountered since ive had her. I also have read that even if they dont bite or scare to easy none like their head touched or messed with and will usually atleast yank their head back quick in fear however mine seems to act like a puppy loves her head rubbed nudges me to do so even and when around my neck nudges my chin rubs her head against me and i read on here it isnt good to handle your snake for too long or too much but seems to me my snake cant wait to get out of her enclosure and to be held or handled……as soon as i out her in her cage she seems tonact just like my bearded dragon i had for years did and seems to want back out enjoys the attention she gets and wants it more than to just lay there in her enclosure…..she doesn’t seem to stress outside or even in public like at all and i was wandering since ive heard so many different things that dont describe my snake like at all could it be a sign that something is wrong with her she seems completely healthy no mites no scale rot mouth rot or respiratory issues at all however if handling her too much can cause any of these health issues should i not handle her even though she acts like everything is more ok that way and seems. To prefer being handled or up my around my neck all the time and keeps acting like she only gets upset if i put her in her enclosure is this any kinda sign something may be not.ok. with her because her behaviour doesnt seem to match all ive read….. even if was for the better….51 q still her behavior doesn’t add up should this be a. reason to be concerned or does this give you any kind of.clue that there is something wrong and what it could be or do i just have a rare case of a very tame mild mannered snake that likes attention?

    1. Hey, Joe.
      First of all, I applaud the amount of time and effort you’re putting into your pet. You seem like you’re really trying to provide your pet with a wonderful life, and you’re being observant about his behavior.

      Ball pythons are often quite docile. But they’re all individuals with slightly different personalities. You may have just ended up with one that is particularly chill.

      As long as the habitat is set up properly, your snake is eating well, and he’s not exhibiting any of the signs we mention above (nostril discharge, etc.), he’s probably fine. But it probably wouldn’t hurt to head to the vet to double check everything anyway.

      I would caution you that snakes don’t always exhibit obvious signs of stress, and it does sound like you may be handling him quite a bit. It’s also important that we don’t misinterpret our pets’ behaviors — I doubt your snake “wants” to be handled, although he may very well tolerate it.

      Point being, I would encourage you to restrict handling sessions to about 10 minutes or so a day, and it’s probably a good idea to give him several “off days” a week, when you leave him completely alone. And obviously, give him at least 24 to 48 hours after feeding to digest before you handle him.

      Thanks for reading, and we wish you the best of luck with your pet!

    2. My snake does the same type pf behavior!
      I try to put her back in her enclosure (which ive made SURE has/stays at the right conditions-temp/humidity/etc.) And she constantly tries to get out… Then once I let her shes calms down and just seems to ‘want’ to hangout.
      Its not a feeding thing cause she’ll do it the first time i handle her after a feeding (24-48hrs+ after) – plus shes got a different way she moves around when shes hungry vs. When she just seems to ‘want’ to hangout. 😝🤷 and its not that she doesnt like her enclosure.. Once she has time to settle in/forget about life on the outs-she is totally normal and content until she wants to hang again. 😜
      Ive done lots of research and notice my ball python seems a little “different” as well… Never balls up. Ever. Always eats-on schedule…

      Maybe we just got lucky with extra friendly snakies? 😛

    3. I just got a male ball python about 4 weeks ago. He is now 10 weeks old and acts exactly like your ball python. He sleeps most of the day and in the evening he’s crawling around looking for a way out. I only take him out when he does this and he is also pretty chill but likes to explore a lot. When I hold him he doesn’t always like to sit still. I try to leave him alone for a few days but it’s hard. He went to the vet at 8 weeks old and he got a clean bill of health. The only problem I have is he ate 2 days after I got him and has refused to eat since then. I talked to the vet about it when we were there and she said to turn up the heat in the tank, he may not be warm enough but it’s been 2 more weeks and still refuses anything I give him. The first time he ate a whole mouse. Since then I’ve tried hopper mice, pinky rats, other brands of mice and nothing. I tried feeding him in a separate enclosure, at night, in the morning, outside in the yard. Still nothing. I called my vet again today and she said my temps and humidity levels are all good. He is acting like normal, doesn’t appear to be sick or anything. I have to wait to bring him in since they are booked but I am at a loss. He hasn’t shown any signs of shedding other than some scales turning grey but that could be dry skin or scales that didn’t fall off with the last shed. I’ve also given him 2 warm 15 minute soaks too. Maybe you guys can share some ideas.

      1. Hi Erin,

        Ball pythons are nocturnal so being active at night is completely normal. The change in environment can sometimes cause the animal to become stressed and it can take some time for them to acclimatise to their new surroundings. I would hold off on the trips to the vet, bathing etc as this is likely stressing him out more. If he is not losing weight then I wouldn’t start to stress just yet. Try feeding him at dusk, if he doesn’t take it straight away then leave it in the enclosure over-night. If your enclosure is too large, this can also cause a snake to stop eating as they are agoraphobic (scared of open spaces). Also make sure you are defrosting your mice in warm (not hot) water.

  5. Hi i have a question have u ever had ur python crawling on your arm abd put their eye and face close to your skin and open their mouth twice? My husband had this happen tonight she did bit him but it was not normal us?

    1. Hi, Patricia. It sounds like your husband’s hands/arms smelled like food. Just make sure you always wash your hands after handling or petting any other critters.
      Thanks for reading!

    2. I just bought my hatchlin ball python yesterday and the pet store said that it was feeding day
      I got him home and his house set up and tried feeding him and he refused it so i left it there over night and he still hasnt ate is this normal for a new snake not to wanna eat

      1. Hey, Cheyanne.

        Stress – such as often occurs when bringing a snake home or transferring him to a new habitat – will often cause snakes to refuse food.
        Just discard the rodent and try again in about a week. Don’t worry: Your snake isn’t going to starve in a few weeks’ time.

        Best of luck!

  6. My boyfriend and I rescued 2 ball pythons who were deathly sick and the vet only gave them 50/50 chance. After a month of injections every day, they are finally back to their healthy selves. I have done a lot of research before, and still am doing a lot. They have been in the same tank for almost 5 years now the guy says and they constantly look for each other, when we have them out they always have to be touching. It’s so weird but cute! We have them in a 75 gallon fish tank because that’s what they came with, a big hide that they can both fit in, we tried putting two in there but they would always end up in the same hide anyways so we figured if we took one out it would give them more room, and a bigger water dish because Noodle likes to swim, along with a big stick they can climb but they don’t seem to really use it. Noodle sometimes rubs her snoot on the glass for a few minutes or on the water dish, she isn’t shedding, she just shed a month ago and there is nothing left stuck on her. Nopie when he goes back in the tank, tries to get out and that has just recently started, he also got done shedding a month/month and a half ago. They are VERY curious and constantly doing something whether it’s climbing behind the hut, pushing the bedding away, or laying in the water dish…they seem content and happy and eat once a week. Some behaviors though lately have me questioning if everything we are doing is OK. The vet says we are doing a great job but I’m afraid some of these signs means they are stressed and I am unsure about what to do about it.

    I guess my main questions are;
    1. Do you think we should separate them even though they do look for each other?
    2. Instead of separating them do you think they just need a bigger tank? They are about 3 1/2 feet long and have plenty of room to sprawl out if they want.
    3. Should we put anything else in the tank with them? I read that two sides of a glass enclosure should be covered so they don’t feel like they are too out there, one side is pushed up against the wall though.

    Also, we are going on vacation at the end of the month and were going to take them to a friends house so he could watch them. He does have python experience, but they aren’t going to be in THEIR enclosure for a week, they are going to be in something different while at this guys house. Do you think it would be best to keep them in THEIR tank or is it OK to send them away for a week?

    They are my kids and I love them so much already, I only want what’s best for them.

    Thanks for your time!

    1. Hey, Madison.

      On behalf of your snakes, I want to thank you for trying so hard to give them a high quality of life. Kudos to you and your boyfriend!
      To answer your questions:

      1) I would recommend separating them. Snakes are not really social animals, and although it may appear that they are trying to “spend time with each other,” it is more likely that they are just finding the same spot cozy. Ball pythons are almost completely solitary (aside from breeding attempts) in the wild. Separate housing just makes it easier to care for them, and it’ll help prevent accidents at feeding time (which can be very dangerous).

      2) I always advocate for large enclosures, but a 75-gallon tank is actually pretty spacious. I’d still recommend separating them though.

      3) Covering some of the glass can help keep their stress level down and make them feel more secure. However, your snakes seem like they’re doing well, eating regularly, and using their hide space when they want to, so I wouldn’t worry about covering the tank.

      4) Yes – if possible, I would keep them in “their” tank. This will help prevent them from becoming stressed.

      You sound like you are doing very well! Just keep up the good work and continue to learn all you can!
      Thanks for reading.

    2. Hi there
      We inherited an 8 year old ball python from a friend. He’s pretty docile and happy and we’re getting to know him better over the last few months.
      He’s a super messy shedder- humidity and temp good and lots of things to rub himself on but he’s always been messy. Makes it really hard to check the shed and ensure his eye caps are off- basically impossible in the last two sheds. Any advice?
      We also think he’s a little underweight (need to weigh him when he’s more docile as he was so active last time!) but he feeds well and seems healthy otherwise- should I be worried?
      I’m also surprisingly a little nervy about handling him- sometimes he sits with his neck in an S-shape a bit tense and I get worried about how to get a hand in the viv to fill up his bath/ check for poop or shed etc. Even though I know he’s never bitten anyone I’m just not as confident as I’d like to be or thought I would be. Once he’s out and I’m handling him I’m fine but I’ve been shy about actually getting him out!

      He spends alot of time hiding and pokes his head out every now and then- that’s ok right? Just their nature?

      Cheers

      1. Hi Clare,

        When it comes to your pythons shedding issues, does he have a moist hide in his enclosure? If not then please add one, some pythons require their humidity to be increased up to around the 75% mark whilst shedding, although make sure this is only for a limited amount of time as keeping this humidity for longer than a couple of days could result in health issues. Try to feed him a little more, perhaps 2 food items at a time rather than one or feed more regularly (one a week max). If he continues to lose weight then get him seen by a vet as there could be an underlying cause. The S shape is likely just reacting to the movement in his enclosure, make sure you always come in at his level and never from above. Ball pythons rarely bite, although if you act nervous, moving your hand quickly in his enclosure this may cause him to strike thinking you are food. You can try by touching the mid section of his body when you enter the enclosure to let him know you’re there. Maybe see if there is a local experience keeper who could show you some handling techniques to increase your confidence. Yes, most snakes like to hide and are scared of open spaces, ball pythons are also nocturnal so he will likely be hiding whilst you are awake, he’s just poking his head out to see what’s going on, nothing to worry about.

  7. PLEASE HELP!!

    I have a 9 year old ball python (got him at 3 months old), and he has always been the healthiest guy imaginable. The last few months however he has been SUPER active in his tank almost non stop, culminating last night when he BROKE OUT OF HIS TANK (it was locked and secure, although I will admit the lid isn’t in the best shape due to years of wear and tear).

    His substrate is clean, his tank is worm, he always has water, his weight is perfect, what is going on???? please help!!!

    1. Hey, Michelle.
      Sorry it took us so long to respond! I hope you’ll still find this helpful.

      Assuming that your snake is actually healthy, hyperactivity is probably caused by one of three things:

      1. The cage is too hot. Like, dangerously hot. So, double-check your temperatures.
      2. Your snake is a male that’s thinking about lady pythons. There’s not much you can do about this besides let him breed, or just wait until his urge passes.
      3. Your snake is stressed because of some perceived threat. Do you have a cat that likes to sit in front of the enclosure? Do children tap on the enclosure all day long? Make sure you address any potential sources of stress and ensure that he has a secure hiding space.

      Best of luck!

      1. Ok so this post…I too have a male BP (we had him sexed) and his spurs have just shown themselves. He is super friendly and happy, hasn’t gotten the eating thing down yet but been taking him to vet regularly to get fed but the last couple days since noticing the spurs he has been all over the place. Prior to this he would come out between 11pm-1am to crawl around a bit then hide and sleep til between 6-8 am to come out for a bit and go back to sleep and that was the only time we seen him. Past 2 days he’s prowling more than hiding. Could he really just be looking for a mate? We’re getting ready to go into spring and the outside temps are raising. Birds chirping, cats and dogs looking for mates so I naturally thought maybe he is too, but some opinions on this would be most hopeful.

        1. Hey, Leslie.

          If your snake is mature or nearly so (somewhere north of 400 or 500 grams), then he may very well be lookin’ for the ladies! But, unusual activity can also occur before shedding or, in some cases, as the result of excessive enclosure temperatures.

          So, double-check your cage temps. If they look good, I wouldn’t worry.
          Best of luck with your breeding trials!

  8. i have a male Royal ball python and would like to breed it to get an albino or different colors or morphs will it be okay if i breed two royals together, and will i be able to get nice morphs or albinos from the breed ?

    1. Hi there, Michael.
      If you are prepared to care for the resulting offspring, there’s no reason you couldn’t breed ball (royal) pythons. If your male is a normal-looking animal, you’d have to breed him to a snake that has a co-dominant or incomplete dominant trait to produce morphs in the first generation.
      You’d have to engage in a two-generation project to use a normal ball python to produce any recessive trait (such as albinos).
      Best of luck!

    2. My balled python was trying to get its mates attention for at least an hour then out of no where it looked as if he was smiling then he went crazy and hissed puffed itself up a couple times then poo shot out of my snakes bum is this normal I think not but I dont know much

      1. Hey, Robert.

        I honestly don’t know what to say – I’m not sure if you’re serious or not.
        If you are, I’d recommend heading over to your vet.

        Best of luck!

  9. Hello Ben! My significant and I recently just bought a ball python from a local Petsmart, and was wondering if you could ease my worries a bit. As I would think being nocturnal of course the BP would be very active, out and about for the most part, not to mention we did just get him Im sure he’s getting a feel for his new digs. However, my concern is when it comes to his adventures, his full extention to reach the top of his enclosure(he likes to fit himself inbetween the small indention where the screen fits onto the tank- I say he’s testing the strength for a breakout!)he happens to lose his grip and falls over. I worry that he may hurt himself due to witnessing him slip and bump his head on the side of the glass, will he be alright?

    1. Hey, Ronni.

      Sorry it took us so long to respond – I hope we can still provide some help.
      I think I’m familiar with the behavior your describing. He certainly could injure himself like this, but I wouldn’t think it is terribly likely that he would. I’d recommend trying to move any branches or cage furniture out of the way in case he does fall, and I may consider switching to a “fluffier” substrate, but I wouldn’t lose sleep over it.

      Thanks for reading!

  10. Hey, had a question regarding retained eye caps. My python was having shed issues and as I’ve always been told, left her alone. But after many weeks I knew something was wrong and took her in the shower and removed TWO complete sheds. The head was another problem. I found out about a snake specialist and took her in and they said the had fused caps that are now scar tissue. I asked if that was permanent and they said yes but shouldn’t harm her or shorten her life. What I don’t understand is why the next shed wouldn’t just eject them as they grow from the inside out. Can you give me a second opinion on this? Thank you in advance.

    1. Hey, Marcus. Thanks for reading and sharing your question.

      That’s a strange one. I’ve never heard of a snake’s eye caps (spectacles) becoming “fused.” You are correct that you shouldn’t try to remove retained eye caps, but I’d recommend re-examining your husbandry practices if your snake is experiencing chronic shedding problems.

      It’s probably also a good idea to seek out a second opinion from another vet.

      Best of luck!

      1. i got my first ball python 2 weeks ago and she ate the first day she got here i would take her out a bit and put her back in leave her alone a bit you know the usual and for some reason she hasnt pooped i tried making it more humid i gave her a nice warm bath i left her alone a couple days then she ate 4!!! pinky mice (def time to size up) but she still hasnt pooped and shes been hiding in her humid hide a lot more balled up and not move she would stay there for days i checked on her and she hissed at me a lot and looked as if she was gonna bite me in her ”s” pose i put her back in her tank she stayed balled up for a bit tthen she started exploring her page but immediately after goes in the SAME SPOT for hiding i havent really seen her drink water either only 2 times im not sure if everything here is normal or what but please help

        1. Hey, Jan.
          Snakes can occasionally go a while between poops, but given everything you shared, I’d recommend having your vet look her over just to be on the safe side.
          Best of luck!

  11. I have a 7 year old BP that was given to us. We have had him for about 3 months now and the previous owner who had him since he was small I’m assuming said he was feeding a medium size rat every 3 weeks. Well it was time to feed and we got one he refused to eat it he had no interest in all I read that they could be picky eaters based off color of the food so to speak so we tried again with a medium size in a different color he ate when we weren’t home he wouldn’t touch it when we were home so we put it in the cage with him. Fast forward to second feeding pet store was out of medium so we got a small rat no problems he ate it in no time we were told to wait a week then try and feed again we got yet another medium size (pet stores recommended to get back in feeding schedule) and he wouldn’t eat it. My questions are 1. Does color really matter? 2. Can this be a sign that medium size are too big? 3. Is it healthy for a BP to be fed every 3 weeks?

    1. Hey, Court. Thanks for your questions.

      1) “Color” doesn’t really matter, as ball pythons see largely in shades of grey. That said, some ball pythons do prefer rodents that look more like wild rodents. So, it can be helpful to avoid all white “lab rats,” in favor of brown, black or multi-color individuals. But I seriously doubt your snake cares whether the rodent you offer is brown or grey, for example.

      2) It sounds to me like your ball python’s food refusal is more closely related to stress than food size. Most 7-year-old ball pythons should be able to handle a medium rat, although that may be a pretty big meal. I’d recommend moving down to small rats, just to be on the safe side. Some individual snakes do have size preferences.

      3) A 3-week feeding schedule may be adequate, but typically, it is wiser to offer smaller, more frequent meals. The important thing to consider is your snake’s body weight and condition. Speak with your vet about it, if you are unsure whether your snake is getting enough food.

      Best of luck!

  12. I got my baby female ball python about two months ago and she won’t eat, I’ve had to assist feed her a few times because she is getting so skinny her skin is loose and moves to the side and her spine looks weird (I’m unsure if this is due to the weight or not). She has always seemed interested in her food but has only striked at it once since I got her. I don’t know if it is just from stress or from sickness and I’m worried she will starve to death. She is active at night and seems happy when I hold her (I only do this occasionally to get a better look at her) but when she is in her tank and I look at her to check in her she seems scared because she breathes hard. What should I do to get her to eat etc? And if she needs to go to the vet can I go to any ordinary vet or does it have to be a special one since it is a snake? Thanks for the helpful article

    1. Hi there, Hope.

      So sorry to hear about the troubles with your snake (and I apologize for not responding sooner). I would definitely recommend taking her into the vet. There are a variety of health problems, including everything from mites to respiratory infections to parasites, which may cause a snake to refuse food. So, get her in to the vet so you can address any problems she’s experiencing – hopefully, she’ll start eating regularly after she starts feeling better.
      You can go to any vet who’s willing to treat your snake, but you’ll likely have much better luck by going to one that specializes in reptiles. A Google search should turn up some options in your area, but if that doesn’t work, consider calling around to local reptile-oriented pet stores and ask for some recommendations.

      Best of luck!

  13. I just recently got my first ball python, she was pretty underweight when we got her a month and a half ago but has since almost gotten back to a normal weight. She’s only about 1’1/2 so I’m assuming it’s fairly young! She still hasn’t shed yet for us and has been acting scared of food when it’s been feeding time for the last two weeks. She basks above her hide all day and sleeps all night? Her temp is 86 on the heat side and about 75 on the cool side. She’s in coconut fiber substrate if that makes any difference. She still acts scared when I take her out so I try to leave her alone most of the time. Is it normal that she hasn’t shed and she’s been refusing to eat? Also how long should it take until she doesn’t tense up while I hold her? Thank you so much in advance and any tips help since this is my first ball!

    1. Hey, Morgen. Congrats on your first ball python!

      First thing’s first: You’ll want to bump up the temperatures on the warm side of her tank first. Aim for temperatures between 90 and 95 degrees (just make sure the opposite side of the enclosure is cooler). Her “backwards” behavior pattern is a little concerning, but it may just be that she’s a little cool and trying to keep warm.

      I would recommend that you get her to begin eating regularly before handling her. Stress will often cause ball pythons to refuse food, so make sure that you are leaving her alone for the most part until she starts to eat regularly. Don’t worry about her not shedding yet — when the time is right, and her body is ready, she’ll slip out of that skin. Also, note that the shedding process makes snakes a bit nervous, so it is possible that she is already getting ready to do so.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if she began eating regularly and calmed down a bit when handled once she sheds.

      Best of luck!

  14. Hey Ben!
    My boyfriend and I just adopted a 20 year old girl ball python. She is very chill and curious when meeting people. Today I took her out to meet my roommates for 10 minutes and her whole body started to vibrate. It was very strange and was wondering what this behavior could mean, as I googled it and couldn’t find much about it. Although she’s very socialized, it is her first few days living with us and I thought maybe the body vibrating has to do with stress. Pls let me know thanks!!

    1. Hey there, Natalie.

      First of all, it’s really cool that you have a 20-year-old ball python! ‘Ol gal has been kicking around longer than a lot of young keepers have been alive!

      To be honest, I’ve never seen, felt, or heard of a ball python “vibrating.” If you made me take a guess, I’d suggest that you could be feeling vibrations associated with her breathing. If this is what’s happening, you’d probably want to have your vet give her a once over, just to be sure she doesn’t have a respiratory infection.

      But, if she’s healthy, I wouldn’t worry about it. Just chalk it up as one of the weird things our snakes sometimes do!
      Best of luck.

  15. I finally put moss in my ball pythons terrium and it started hissing quietly as I put it down gently I think I may have put too much water on the coconut fiber and miss but it’s just very unhappy I don’t know what to do please help me

    1. Hey, Zaria.

      I wouldn’t worry about it – I bet your snake was just a little irritable and he or she may have just been expressing his grumpiness. As long as he or she is acting healthy, I wouldn’t worry about it.
      Thanks for your questions!

  16. Our ball python just shed and was making a weird puffing like sound from her mouth. Do you know why that happened because I got scared and thought she couldn’t breathe. One more thing, do you recommend that she should breed or not. Thank You!

    1. Hey, Liam.

      Unusual breathing sounds are pretty common before and during the shedding process, but strange sounds that occur after your snake sheds can be more troubling. They may indicate the presence of a respiratory infection.
      Sorry to be so late responding to your question, but I’d recommend that you have your vet check her out if she’s still making strange breathing sounds. Otherwise, if she’s no longer making the sounds and has resumed eating and behaving normally, she’s probably fine.

      If your female snake is healthy and you have the time and resources to take care of the resulting offspring, I say go for it! But, just be aware that caring for a clutch of baby ball pythons is a lot of work, so consider your actions carefully.

      Good luck!

  17. Brittany Obryan

    I just got a ball python a couple days ago. When we take him out hes moving around with my partner but when i get him hes basically motionless. I am a little nervous with him but im fairly comfortable holding him. Does he just not like me?

    1. Hey, Brittany. Congrats on your new snake!

      I wouldn’t worry – it is highly unlikely that your snake distinguishes very much between you and your partner, and even less likely that he “likes” one of you more than the other. We all love snakes, but they aren’t exactly brilliant creatures, nor are they wired for very much social interaction.
      But, if you are nervous, it may be causing you to (subconsciously) hold him in ways that prevent him from feeling comfortable.

      At the end of the day, I wouldn’t worry about it – just try to work on feeling more comfortable when handling him, and he’ll likely relax a bit too.
      Best of luck!

  18. Hello Ben,

    I’ve had my ball python for 7 years now and she’s always been a rather active snake – not excessively so, but I give her a good amount of space to roam(she could stretch out along long side of her tank and has one platform a bit above the ground that she likes to climb on sometimes) and she usually uses it. She also has 4 hides, one of them a humidity hide, that she uses regularly and I am usually not worried about her level of activity. Her temps are ~73°F on the cool side and ~88°F around the hot spot, and her humidity is around 70% with occasional spraying.

    Now, in the last couple weeks I’ve noticed some behavior changes, with her scratching her head on her hides or the walls a lot more than I’ve observed her do it before, and sometimes when she’s resting she’s not actually laying her head down completely and(maybe because of the tension?) shivering/wobbling slightly. I’ve also seen her raise her head towards the ceiling and just stay still for several seconds occasionally. She’s active quite a bit over the afternoon/night, but as I mentioned that’s normal for her. I haven’t made any significant changes to her husbandry in that time except put her on a larger food size – she gets those down without problem and afterwards disappears into her hides for a couple days like she should, and I haven’t seen any signs of mites or heard heavy breathing from her.

    I’m sorry this is such a long post, I just wanted to ask if there’s anything I should be worried about? If I’ve learned one thing in my time as a snake keeper it’s that sometimes they’re just being weird without a reason, so I just wanted a second opinion if any of this sounds concerning, or if I should just not worry too much until I see more alarming signs, and what to look out for.
    Also, I do my best to give my snake the best possible care by my best knowledge, so if there’s any errors in my husbandry you’ve noticed feel free to point them out and I’ll correct them.

    If you’ve read this far I am both impressed and sorry for the text wall, and I’d be delighted to hear your advice. Thank you so much!

    1. Hey, Aly.

      First of all, I think your husbandry regimen and practices are fantastic. I literally smiled when reading your question, as it is obvious you are clearly interested in taking great care of your pet. If I were to make any recommendation, it would be to bump up the hot spot temperature about 2 degrees, but that’s being really nit-picky. Overall, it sounds like you are doing an awesome job, and I love that you’re including so many hides.

      You’re absolutely right that our snakes occasionally do things we don’t understand, which is certainly frustrating, but some of her behaviors are a bit concerning.
      Rubbing her head on objects sounds to me like typical shedding behavior. At the beginning of the process, they’ll often rub their heads on things in the enclosure. But, given that you’ve been caring for her quite well for 7 years, I’m guessing you’d have seen her do so before. Regardless, if she just did it for a short time period, I wouldn’t worry too much.

      However, the “wobbling/shivering” and head elevation may be a bigger deal. They may be indicative of a respiratory infection, so it’d probably be a good idea to take her in for a check up at the vet. That’s probably not great to hear, but you sound like you are taking excellent care of your pet, and she’ll likely have a great chance of recovery with your vet’s help.

      Best of luck and keep up the great work!

      1. Hey! So I just got my ball python two days ago. One one side I have her hide with a heat pad under the glass around 90 degrees, and on the other side I have her water and a heat lamp above the cage, which makes the middle of the cage roughly 75 degrees and over the water a little warmer. She hasn’t come out of her hide yet unless I get in the cage to take her out. Is she just comfortable in the hide? She actually shedded yesterday and it was a full shed.

        1. Hey there, Jerome!

          I wouldn’t worry about your snake if she seems healthy otherwise. Most snakes hide for a significant portion of the time, and ball pythons are certainly no exception.
          Additionally, snakes are more likely to hide before shedding than any other time, so everything sounds normal.

          Thanks for reading!

  19. Hello! My ball python is 8 months old (I got him when he was about 3 weeks old). I’ve never had a snake or reptile before, so I often find myself getting stressed that I’m not taking proper care of him. Is it normal for him to push up against the screen cover like he’s trying to escape? His temperatures never go over 75 on the cool side and around 85 on the warm side. I’ve been researching all over and I keep convincing myself he’s unbearably stressed. Please help!

    1. Hey, Bella!

      Don’t worry – pushing against the screen top is pretty normal. As long as your snake seems healthy otherwise, he has at least one hiding spot, and the habitat temperatures are appropriate (yours sound pretty good, although the basking spot could be slightly warmer), it’s no cause for concern.

      Just be sure to watch for abrasions – if his nose starts to get raw or wounded, you’ll want to make a visit to your vet.

      Thanks for reading!

  20. Just bought my first BP, seems mostly healthy for a 3 month old, maybe a little under fed, but other wise healthy. He ate a mouse for me on the second day I had him, but ever since, he has stayed in his warm hide, and has not come out in 24 hours now. Is this normal? I did check to make sure he ate the mouse, and it was not just rotting in the cage. I have left him alone other wise. His tank temps are 94 and 75 on the cold end.

    1. Hey, Cameron!

      Sorry for the delayed response, but he sounds fine. Snakes will often hide and digest for a day (or two or three…) after eating a large meal.
      It doesn’t sound like anything you need to worry about!

      Thanks for reading!

  21. Hello! Wanted to reach out about my 4 month old BP. I’ve has him for over a month, have gone through the first shed, feedings etc fine. Pretty familiar with his behavior and when hes okay to be handled. one thing I haven’t been able to find any info on is this. When he comes out of the cage and in my hands/arms, he does this thing where he rubs his head and neck on me. Sometimes the skin on his neck/belly will sorta stick to my skin. I guess from rubbing n warmth. Is this bad or good behavior? There’s times hes even fallen asleep in that position. I dont see mites, he may be hungry again since it’s coming up soon(next feeding) Just cant find info on it. Strange because his neck skin will be folded kinda. (Picture a fat person’s extra skin) sorry best way I can describe it. Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks for taking the time to get back to all of us. think it’s cool to have someone care enough to help us newbies lol.

    1. Hey, Rachel.

      It’s hard to say for sure what your wacky ‘lil fella is up to, but I think I’m familiar with the behavior you’re describing. It’s somewhat like what snakes often do immediately before shedding their skin (it’s a way to cut the skin on their lips so they can start to crawl out of it).

      But the thing is, they seem to do it at other times too.
      Ultimately, as long as he’s healthy, doesn’t seem to be troubled by you handling him, and is free of mites, I wouldn’t worry about it. There’s just some things our snakes do that we’ll never understand-lol!

      Best of luck!

  22. Hi, I just got my ball python about three weeks ago and have been noticing a few small things here and there and am wondering if I should be worried or not. I’ve noticed he holds his head up slightly for about a minute or so at least once or twice a day. At first I didn’t think much of it but he yawned today and got a bit worried that he might have a respiratory infection. He has also started to spend most of his time on the warm side of his enclosure. I have checked if he has any mucus and I’ve listened to his breathing and everything seems to check out fine. I have fed him three times but he hasn’t defecated at all.

    1. Hey there, Aesa.

      It’d probably be a good idea to have your vet check your snake out. The yawning and sticking to the warm side of the enclosure may indicate a respiratory infection. Also, while snakes don’t necessarily defecate after every meal, a ball python won’t usually eat three times without eliminating.

      Best of luck!

  23. Hi Ben,

    I have a question about sudden behavioral change.

    My male BP is 9 months old, and he’s always been the most chill and docile snake. I was able to handle him during the day and night without any issues.

    However, over the month and a half he has become quite defensive at night. If walk into the room after 8 or 9 PM, he will just stare at me, coiled and even following me sometimes. He had one problem during this time, he was constipated. I have him a warm bath three days ago and he passed everything right away, and had a meal just last night. But tonight he is still behaving under defense when I’m in the room. I’m not even attempting to handle him (I always give 48 hours for digestion).

    This is brand new behavior and I’m not sure what to do about it. Below are some facts about him/ his environment:

    -He eats every 7-10 days, without any issues.
    -He has had three perfect sheds, his last shed was two weeks ago (while he was constipated)
    -He has two rock hides, along with some cage furniture/fake leaves
    -his cool side sits at 76-78, warm side around 88-90, humidity around 60
    -lives in a glass terrarium
    -if he pokes his head out during the day time he’s extremely chill/not coiled in defense towards me.

    I always fed him inside his own tank, but since he was constipated (due to ingesting substrate with a meal) I tried feeding him in a separate bin last night. It took a while for him to eat but he did. Not sure if I should practice this during every feed so that he starts distinguishing the bin for feeding time.. and not just any random night I’m walking by his tank

    It’s really bumming me out that he’s not calm at all times anymore like he was for so long… did being constipated mess up his mood? I have no idea how to help him feel safer at night and not afraid of me.

    For now I’ve covered some sides of his tank so he doesn’t have to see me walk by.

    Again this behavior is only at night.

    Thank you in advance for any advice, I will really appreciate it

    1. Hey, Lo.

      I don’t think the constipation changed his demeanor, but you may want to ensure he’s not becoming dehydrated (often the cause of constipation in snakes).
      That said, your husbandry all sounds great.

      It’s hard to tell from afar, but it sounds to me like he’s hunting, rather than being defensive. That’s normal for ball pythons, and it’s actually a good sign. It means he has a good appetite and isn’t likely to be feeling stressed. All that said, ball pythons are a bit more edgy/jumpy/nervous at night when they’re active. Most nocturnal snakes are the same way.

      It’s probably best to avoid trying to handle him at night, but otherwise, I wouldn’t worry at all. It sounds like you’re doing a great job.
      Keep up the good work!

  24. I just bought my 1st ball python it’s a baby I can’t tell male or female because it’s to small that’s what the pet store said, I go to get it out of its cage and it sticks his head straight up and just stares at me but when I pick it up it doesn’t bite but I’ve held it in my hand and it stands straight up and looks at me is it going to end up biting me or is it normal?

    1. Hey, Heather.
      Sometimes, snakes will extend their head upward to check things out or attempt to climb. I can’t make any guarantees, but it doesn’t sound like he or she is interested in biting you.
      Best of luck!

  25. Question I just got a baby ball python and it will every now and then raise its head and open its mouth is that normal

    1. Hey, Beverly.
      Sorry for our late response, but that could indicate a respiratory infection or mouth problem. It’d be wise to have your vet check the little fella out.
      Best of luck!

  26. New keeper here: I have a 1 year old female who quit eating June 15 (it’s now July 10). I got her when she was 2-4 months old (October 2019) and she has always been a good eater. I weigh her weekly, before she eats to keep track.
    I know it’s common for them to go on a hunger strike, but she went from 1023g (June 15) to 969g (yesterday). I called the vet and she said my snake was healthy, no signs of mites, RTI, but the vet simply doesn’t know why she’s stopped. The vet said as long as she doesn’t lose “a lot of weight” she’ll be fine.
    I asked her what she considers “a lot of weight,” and she said “10%”.
    My question: is there a time frame for this? What I mean obviously if she loses 10% overnight (without pooping), I should be concerned; but
    57g in 3 weeks seems a bit excessive.
    At what point should I take her back in?
    [FYI: Her last shed was late May.
    Last poop was June 28.
    Doesn’t drink from her water dish (prefers her humid warm hide) and was instructed to soak her in lukewarm water 2-3 times/week for hydration- but the vet didn’t see signs of dehydration.
    Temps were 80°/72° until yesterday (now 90°/80°).
    Humidity between 65%-70%.
    More clutter was added and she’s been very active for the last 2 weeks. I’m thinking she’s stressed and I’ve been handling her less lately.
    She’s been in a 40g glass tank since March.
    Last night she moved the back styrofoam piece and just stayed there.]
    At what point should I take her back in?
    I’m sorry about the novel, but wanted to make sure you have the whole picture.

    1. Hey, Tara.

      Sorry for our delayed response, but I’d like to give you a standing ovation for the effort you’re putting into your pet’s well-being. I wish more keepers were like you.
      You’re measuring your temperatures. You’re weighing your animal regularly. It sounds like her habitat is set up well, and you’re working with your vet! Seriously, I hope others read your comment and learn from you.

      I agree with your vet that as long as she’s healthy, you don’t need to panic. It would take a really, really, really long time for your snake to starve (multiple months), so don’t panic.
      Leave her alone as much as you can, stay on top of your husbandry (as you have been doing), keep a good eye on her, and offer food once every three or four days until she starts eating again.
      Snakes – and specifically ball pythons – will drive you crazy at times by fasting. But the vast majority of (healthy) fasting animals eventually start eating again.

      I’d give it a month (again, assuming she doesn’t display any problems). If she’s still not eating, you could go back to the vet. But, I would try not to worry. It sounds like you’re doing fantastic, and I’ll bet she starts eating for you again soon.

      Best of luck!

  27. Matthew Watkins

    I just got my ball python yesterday she’s green and black and is about a foot and a half long but she’s always very active during the day pushing at the top of her cage and is always sliding across the side glass what would this mean. She isn’t Aggressive Aggressiveat all she’ll get defensive but even when she does you can pick her up and she never hisses or bites. Is this normal behavior.

    1. Hey, Matthew.

      It’s tough to know for sure what’s going on from afar, but snakes will often explore the screened lid and lean against the glass. Just double-check your temperatures: Sometimes, snakes will exhibit this kind of “pacing” or “escape” behavior when they’re too hot.

      But if your temps are fine, and he’s not exhibiting any symptoms, I wouldn’t worry.

      Best of luck!

  28. Hey so my ball python was fine he was happy only had him for around 3 week and now he is starting to get jumpy and preferring to be in his cold hide he used to be fine when I picked him up he also ain’t pooping only little white drops I find in his cage nothing else could you help me please

    1. Hey, Rianna.

      It sounds like his enclosure may be too warm. Double-check your temperatures and make any changes necessary. The “white drops” are urates – essentially the snake equivalent of urine. They’re not a problem at all.
      But, if your snake is not pooping (and he is eating), then he may have a medical issue. I’d recommend heading over to the vet just to be on the safe side.

      Best of luck!

  29. Why is my baby ball python head tilting upside down and side to side? We just got him yesterday. He is also laying upside down and biting himself.

    1. Hey, Margaret.

      That does not sound like healthy behavior, but it’s difficult for me to pin down what the issue is. It could be a neurological problem (does your snake have the spider gene?), or it could be something else.
      Just head over to the vet and start trying to narrow down potential problems.

      Best of luck!

  30. Hey I have two ball pythons that rarely go in there water I’m new at this and I want them to be okay and not Dehydrated how do I help them drink or bathe. Like how do I know if they are dehydrated or just fine?

    1. Hey there, Morgynne.

      For the most part, all you’ll have to do is provide a dish full of clean water at all times. Your ball pythons probably won’t soak in their water dish very much, and they won’t drink as often as a dog or cat – they’ll likely just drink all of the water they need in the middle of the night a couple of times a week.
      Just watch for signs of dehydration, such as wrinkled skin, poor sheds, and “indented” eye scales.

      Best of luck!

  31. Hi I have a 14yr old ball python named Creeper that was soaking in a tub on my porch earlier to assist him with shedding (for probably 20mins in a water level that was lower than the biggest part of his stomach) & when I walked back out front he was swimming frantically. Upon picking him up he is acting as if he is drunk (bobbing his head around- no body coordination) and he is also acting very lethargic. Additionally he has water bubbles coming out of his nostrils & Now he is holding his mouth wide open w/saliva dripping. There are No reptile vets in my area & I am really scared I’m gonna lose him if I don’t get him help. Can you tell me what to do to help this? Or what it will cost to bring him to you for an emergency visit?? Thanks in advance, hope you respond back soon. Shawna

    The verbiage above was sent about 2 hours after soaking incident. And now I’ve checked on my snake periodically throughout the day and he was being non receptive to me spraying him/his cage with water to raise moisture level so I decided to get him out.

    He now acts very skiddish/sensitive to any physical touching of his body, crawls much faster than ever before to get away from me & while he was on the ground in the yard I noticed him having muscle/body spasms (portions of his tale area were randomly twitching & rolling). He also had a couple water bubbles come out of his nostrils and overall is acting very uncoordinated like he can’t keep his balance. What should I do??

    1. Hey, Shawna.
      I’m so sorry I didn’t respond sooner, but I’m not sure I could have helped much.

      It sounds to me like one of two things happened:
      1) The water was too hot
      2) Something in the water was toxic or noxious

      In either case, you’ll really just need veterinary help. But, by this time, I’m sure he’s recovered if he was going to.
      I know it can be hard to find a reptile vet in some areas of the country, but in those cases, you may want to try to track down a reptile-oriented vet who will at least provide phone consultations.

      Again, I’m so sorry about your pet, and I hope he recovered.

  32. I just bought my ball python about two weeks ago , and for some reason I think he might be a little frighten of me I’m not sure because he hiss or anything but when I come around he just freeze in one position he won’t move & that makes me nervous to pick him up because I’m not sure if I go to reach for him he might strike at me .

    1. Hey, Tia.
      It sounds like you’re just going through the same thing we all do when we first start keeping snakes: Learning to read your pet’s body language and behavior.
      To the extent possible, try not to be nervous. That’ll help you feel better, and that means you’ll handle the snake in a more relaxed manner, and that will likely help him feel more relaxed too.
      Best of luck!

  33. My Spyder Ball Python (about 1y/o) will often, for lack of a better term, Randomly start flexing when he is either on my wrist or forearm, never anywhere else, and he’s wrapped around it. Is this a bad thing? Am I doing something wrong? I am a first time snake owner and I’ve had my snake for almost a year as well. To be more descriptive it’s much like he’s doin the wave but with his whole body and by himself. Thank you for any help/advice you can give.

    1. Hey there, Aephus.
      It’s hard to tell from afar, but it sounds like he’s just exhibiting the typical issues that are common in spider ball pythons. If he is acting fine in every other way, I wouldn’t worry about it.
      But, as always, if you’re concerned, reach out to your vet.
      Best of luck!

  34. Hey, I got a Spidernet Morph Juvenile Ball Python a couple of days ago, and while she seems comfortable, or at least I think she is, she keeps doing this weird massaging thing at random intervals whenever my mother or I hold her, and occasionally she’ll rub her face against my mother like a cat, and will only stop when she’s being pet. Is this normal?

    1. Hey, Daylin.
      I don’t completely understand what you’re describing, but it sounds like it could just be typical spider ball python “wobble.” That mutation frequently exhibits bizarre movements, but it usually doesn’t cause huge problems.
      If you’re worried about it, I’d recommend contacting the breeder ASAP.
      Best of luck!

  35. Hi Ben, I’m hoping you or anyone reading this can help. Our Ball Python has started exhibiting a strange behaviour that I can’t find any information on. We remove him from his viv to manage some basic husbandry, 10 minutes at most because he’s in a bioactive set up, so its just to move things about and remove anything the clean up crew missed. When we replace him sometimes he convulses, as if he’s trying to shake something off. It’s violent though and moves the cork bark and hides if he’s close enough to them. Cold sides 24°C hot 33° under the ceramic heater. Humidity is 65 hot end, 80 cold. Have you come across this behaviour before?

    1. Hey there, Chris.

      That does sound troubling, but I’m not sure what it could be. Your temps and humidity levels sound fine.
      Is he a spider morph? They typically exhibit neurological problems that may be part of what you’re seeing. At any rate, I’d recommend having your vet check him out to be sure. It may also be a good idea to simply things for a while, and keep him in a “sterile” (non-bioactive) habitat to see if the problem disappears.

      Best of luck – keep us updated!

  36. Hey, Ben
    I have got my baby python (2 months old) for 4 weeks, he hasn’t eaten anything for these days, and his last shed is about 3 weeks ago. I haven’t touched him for 2 weeks and always keep the tank dark. He seems to be healthy, without any tick infestations and respiratory infections. I guess he must be too anxious to eat, but the time is so long so I’m afraid that he would stave himself to die. Until today, I can’t see its ribs.
    Only at night, he would be out of the hide and wonder in the tank. I tried to feed him several times when he seems active. But when I perform the ‘zombie dance’ or even cut the mouse, he shows no concentration about the mouse, sometimes like to be scared.
    Today and yesterday I noticed that he put his head out of the hide, and fell in sleep. He had never done that before. When I wake him up (I’m so afraid that he is dead), he shows a flexible and quick response. I don’t know if it is a sign of relaxation, weakness, or appetite. Do you have any suggestions?

    1. Hey there, Wenjia.

      It’s really hard to tell what’s going on with your snake without seeing him, but if he hasn’t eaten in a month, I’d recommend having your vet check him out.
      You may also want to watch some YouTube videos of other keepers feeding their ball python to learn some of the techniques (which can be hard to put into words).

      Best of luck!

  37. Hi again! You were so helpful with my last question a few months ago, I thought I would reach out again.

    I recently took my BP to the vet for a check up. He’s 1 year old this month.

    I brought him to the vet because he’s been absolutely restless in his tank every single night since the temperature change lately- understandable behavior. All of his temperatures are good except his ambient was a bit low last week (our apartment was too cool since the weather is changing, and they didn’t turn the heat on yet).

    The vet said he looked fine but recommended a space heater, which I got.

    Now I have the space heater, my temperatures are completely right, And I cleaned out his tank and every item in it and switched out his substrate.

    But my BP is still restless at night. He climbs up and down his walls all night- (I built a climbing wall for him a few months ago so I’m sure he’s enjoying the adventure, but it’s non stop)

    Ps during the day he sleeps well, occasionally switching from warm hide to ambient hide, but not climbing at all.

    Tonight, I fed him a rat and he ate it within minutes. He digested it for about 1 hour, and now he’s back to roaming around. I’m shocked he’s not trying to digest it longer, he usually relaxes after a meal. I’m afraid he’s going to accidentally cause himself to regurgitate.

    I have absolutely no clue why he’s so restless. Do you have any thoughts, or suggestions that I’m not thinking about? The vet had nothing.

    Thank you so much..

    1. Hey there, “Restless!”
      😊
      As long as your temperatures are OK and he’s eating normally, I wouldn’t worry! Some ball pythons are more active than others, and most will explore at night – including climbing a bit.

      Just make sure to keep his temps correct and you should be fine! Keep up the good work!

  38. My ball python is still very young a couple of months and he just moves very weird! Like he doesn’t have much control of his muscles… he is falling off of stuff because he can’t grip that well. We call him noodle because well he moves like one and is not very good at periscoping and tends to fall when doing so. Any thoughts?

    1. Hey, Ashley.

      That does not sound good. Is your ball python a spider morph by any chance? That mutation is associated with some neurological problems that can cause poor coordination.
      At any rate, we’d recommend getting Noodle to the vet ASAP to see what’s going on.

      Best of luck!

  39. Hey! So I recently got a snake from my boyfriends sister, it was about 3 days ago or 4.. i think. I fed him not too long algo and i was told to wait a week before feeding him again. But the thing is, he’s always hiding and not coming out very often, and it’s starting to worry me, about a couple minutes ago I tried to get him out and holding him on my hands to see if everything’s okay but he seems skittish, almost like he’s scared. I was trying to touch his head but he keep dodging me like he doesn’t like to be touched there. I can’t tell whether he trying to attack me when I try to touch him, pick him up or holding or he’s just scared, I don’t want anything wrong physically happening to him, is there any way you can answer me and tell me what might be wrong with him?

    1. Hey, Kai.

      It’s true that you should wait several days to handle your snake after feeding him (although a week is probably unnecessary – two or three days would be fine). As for his hiding behavior, that’s just what many snakes do! They spend their lives hiding from predators, so that sounds normal.
      As for touching his head, most snakes will not like that. Instead, just hold him in your hands and let him crawl around like he wants to.

      Best of luck!

  40. Hi
    I just got a new lesser ball python today and i have had quite a bit of stress since he keeps climbing to the top or at least trying….is this normal???

    1. Hey, Artin.

      It’s hard to tell what’s going on based on your description, but sometimes ball pythons will climb the sides of their enclosure to explore. If he’s acting healthy in all other ways and the enclosure temperatures are in the correct range, I wouldn’t worry.

      Best of luck!

  41. I handle my ball python more than seems recommended, but I’m not sure if this is a problem or not because my snake seems healthy and calm. She’s a great feeder and shedder. I live in Florida so the weather outside is honestly pretty close to the climate in her enclosure, so I will have her outside with me for like an hour and she seems content. I have a picnic basket I bring outside that she goes in to hide or she will just stay around my shoulders, and she even likes climbing up trees sometimes which I found odd. Sometimes she will even burrow into a blanket in my lap or crawl into my desk drawers while I’m doing work and just stay there. I never force her out of her enclosure to be handled, I just open the lid and she usually comes right out and wraps around my arm, and once she starts to get antsy and squirmy when I’m handling her I put her back. Is this much handling harming her? I’ve always just thought she was very curious but I’m also a new snake owner.

    1. Hey, Marisa.
      Ball pythons are all individuals, and some tolerate handling better than others. For that matter, some keepers are simply better at handling snakes than others!

      So, if your snake is eating well and staying healthy, there’s probably nothing wrong with handling her as you describe. We would caution you to be careful about letting her crawl on the ground or in trees, as there’s a small chance she could contract mites. But, as long as you inspect her regularly, this probably won’t be a huge risk.

      Keep up the good work!

  42. Hi,
    I got my 4yr old ball python in March of this year and he’s been wonderful to take care of, very sweet and eats well, sleeps through the day and roams at night. However, the past two days he’s been acting super weird; he’s coming out during the day, which he never does, and roaming a little. He seems to be smelling the air a lot. Now, we did get new carpeting about five days ago, and I had to move his enclosure to the other room, but I feel like if he was bothered by the move he would have displayed it before now? He doesn’t show any signs of respiratory infection or mites and he’s due to eat this weekend but he doesn’t normally come out during the day even when he’s hungry. Everything in his enclosure is normal although I was planning on doing a deep cleaning soon but now I’m not sure if I should? I’m just worried about him and I cant rest easy until I can figure out what’s wrong.

    1. Hey there, Ryn.
      We think it’s awesome how much you care about your pet and how well you’re watching him! That’s awesome.

      But you have to understand that snakes occasionally do things we don’t understand – that’s OK. As long as he’s acting healthy and eating normally, there’s probably no cause for concern. Sometimes snakes just do different or weird things. In this case, it’s likely the different smells he’s noticing that are causing him to act a little differently.
      I wouldn’t worry about the deep cleaning – go right ahead.

      Best of luck!

  43. Hey! I’m a new ball python momma here and just curious on some of her behavior! I’m still learning but taking in all knowledge possible! I’ve had her 4 days now and have only handled her to adjust her tank twice. Her warm side is around 85 degrees and cool side about 75 with the humidity between 40-50. At night she comes out of her hide and explores her tank and drinks plenty of water. Throughout the day she will occasionally peek her head out and maybe get some water but straight back to her hide. Currently she is laying on top of her hide for about 2 hours now and it’s 1p.m. here. She’s not moving but like she’s sleeping? Is this normal behavior for being in a new environment and especially during the day?

    1. Hey, Ashley.

      It sounds like you’re doing things pretty well, though you may want to bump the heat up a tiny bit on the warm side – shoot for about 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
      As for your pet’s behavior, that sounds completely normal. Your snake may sleep/rest/sit still for very long periods of time, and that’s perfectly fine. And she will probably sleep during the day more than she will at night – ball pythons are crepuscular to nocturnal in the wild. But we applaud you for being such an attentive owner!

      Keep up the great work!

  44. Hey could I ask for some advice I took in a ball python that was poorly kept and have taken it to the vet to be checked out. He’s fine physically but eating is an issue as sometime he will and sometimes he won’t strike. when he don’t strike he starts rubbing his head on the rat (frozen thawed but heated to body temp) he keeps rubbin along. And I have had him checked for mites. Any help much appreciated

    1. Hey there, Leroy.
      The “rubbing” behavior you describe is actually pretty common. That usually means he’s interested in eating – you just have to get him to “pull the trigger.”
      Unfortunately, explaining how to do this is not easy! It takes practice and a bit of finesse. Try watching some more experienced keepers feeding a ball python or look for some YouTube videos. Most importantly, just keep trying and experimenting with the way you present the rodent.
      Best of luck!

  45. I recently got a male ball python (2-3 months according to the breeder) and he’s been pretty chill. The only thing I’m concerned about so far is his tongue behavior. He flicks it out but not all the way. Is this just a sign of curiosity or is there something different I should be worried about?

    1. Hey, Sam.
      It doesn’t sound like an issue, but you should always contact your vet if you’re worried about your pet’s health. But snakes don’t always stick their tongues out all the way – sometimes they only stick it out partially.

      Best of luck!

  46. Hey Ben, I’ve had my ball for about 10-11 months now. He’s very social, and has always been healthy and I haven’t noticed many problems at all. I’ve been feeding him every 2 weeks instead of every week recently so I can do it on a consistent schedule. The past couple times, though, he’s sniffed all around the mouse for at least 2-3 minutes, before taking it very slowly and politely instead of striking.
    He typically WILL strike when I feed him, so these past few times have been unusual. While I find it kinda cute that he seems to be so polite, I was wondering if you’ve ever experienced this and if it means anything is wrong with him.
    Thanks!

    1. Hey there, Hale.

      Sure – some snakes will learn that they don’t need to strike and wrap a prey item, so they just take it “gently.” That’s no problem at all, and it’s actually a good thing in my view, as it’ll reduce the chances of you suffering a feeding-reflex bite.

      I’ve had many long-term captives who would simply pick up a thawed rodent off the cage floor and swallow it. Makes feeding time easier!

      Keep up the good work!

  47. Hey Ben,
    I have my Ball Python for around 8 months and the temps are good around 90+ on the warm side (undertank heat mat with a thermostat) and she has coco/wood chips substrate. The humidity in my house is pretty high around 40-50% so I dont mist the enclosure (only when she is in shed I raise the humidity by misting the enclosure). No shedding, no eating problems but recently I noticed that she is making a fast like hiss noise when she is slithering around her enclosure. She is climbing and slithering and suddenly that sound appears. She made it like 2 times while she was exploring etc. I heard that they can do that while climbing etc. but I am afraid it could be a sign of RI but everything is right and no mucus around/in mouth, no mouth openings, no stargazing etc. Should I visit the vet or should I observe her a bit more and then decide? Thank you!

    1. Hey, Dusan.

      It doesn’t sound like a problem, based on your description – snakes do make hissing sounds from time to time. However, it is never a bad idea to take your pet to the vet if you’re concerned. Better safe than sorry and all that…
      You may want to simply call your vet first and talk the issue over. This may save you a bit of money if your vet agrees that it is probably not a problem.

      Best of luck!

  48. Hi Ben,
    I just recently got a female ball python about a month ago. She has already eaten twice and has had one complete shed. Normally she just stays in her hide and comes out to get water at night. The only time she comes out to explore during the day is when she is hungry from what I can tell. Recently she started resting her head on objects in her enclosure and staring upwards. I am afraid that it might be stargazing. She doesn’t do it for long periods of time maybe just 10-15 min and I’ve only seen her do it maybe 4-5 times. Nothing else seems to be wrong except for she sometimes breathes quite heavy but I think that might just be from stress. Should I take her to the vet? Or am I just overly anxious?

    1. Hi Ally,

      It is normal for your ball python to not be very active during the day as they are a nocturnal species and most active at dusk and dawn. Stargazing is when the muscles behind the head contract leading the snake to bend over backwards and show its belly. If she is doing this then I would suggest getting her checked over by a vet.

  49. Tonight one of my BP’s tried to eat the other. They have been together about 10 years (in the same tank) and have never had any issues. When I walked by the tank, one had ingested about half of the other. He finally regurgitated him but it was too late, the other was dead. I am wondering what would cause this after growing up together for all these years. They actually just ate about 3 days ago as well. I was shocked when I saw this and would like to find out a reason maybe.

    1. Hi Sherri,

      Whilst cannibalism in ball pythons is rare, it does happen, especially if one is smaller than the other. It is never a good idea to house ball pythons together, they are solitary animals and housing them together actually increases the stress levels in both snakes.

  50. Hi,
    I have had my ball python, Muffin, for 1.5 years. The humidity has been really bad these last few weeks because of unusually cold temps where I live. He is eating well and has no discharge around his mouth or nose, no mouth gaping, but he has been staying on the cold side of his enclosure the majority of the time and the night after I fed him 12-14 hrs after feeding) he was making occasional squeaking noises. I’d never heard that and when monitoring him he no longer made the noise but was puffing air into his lower jaw and releasing it with a puff sound.

    I realized I haven’t been keeping his humidity levels high enough, I have his low temp side at 75-80 degrees now with humidity around 50-60, and his high temp side at 90 with about 30 humidity.

    After 2 days of monitoring no more squeaks, but he is still puffing air into his jaw. Do you think he has an RI?

    1. Hi Caitlin,

      Your humidity and cool end temps are great but try to increase the warm end to 95 degrees. This behaviour could definitely be signs of a respiratory infection or another underlying condition. I would definitely take him to a vet to have him check over.

  51. Hello Ben
    Back in July of 2020 I rescued a 4 year old breeder male ball python. The previous owner said to feed him 1 medium non white rat every other week which he has taken like a champ in the past. He was also given to me in a tub set up that seemed way too small for him. I bought him a new tank and have done tons of research on how to set it up correctly, however ever since I switched him to the tank he won’t eat. I’ve tried multiple times to offer food and he just refuses it.
    Another concern is that he used to be so sweet to handle. My kids even love holding him. Last week though he tried striking at me and then twice tonight he struck his tank trying to bite me. I do have cats that like to watch him so I was wondering if maybe they are stressing him out? And what can I do to help calm him down so he starts eating again and stops trying to bite so I can handle him again.

    1. Hi Jourdann,

      Both of your assumptions are completely correct, this change in behaviour has been caused by the change of enclosure and your cats. Snakes are scared of large open spaces and will often become defensive and refuse to eat when placed in a larger enclosure. Increase the number of hides in the enclosure and keep the cats out of the room where your snake is. Check that your temperatures and humidity are correct. He should calm down once he feels more secure. Also make sure that you are not coming from above when you want to handle him, their biggest predators in the wild are birds and this can cause them to freak out.

  52. Hey Ben,
    My partner and I just recently got an orange dream enchi pastel ball python about a month ago. He’s estimated to be about 3-6 months old (we’re not entirely sure) and he’s been doing all right up until tonight. We tried handling him and it seemed to stress him out, so we left him alone. But since then, he’ll be lying still for about 20 minutes and then out of nowhere will just move incredibly fast, then lay still again. What exactly does this mean? He has the proper temperature (cooler side sitting at about 75 degrees and warmer sitting around 92), has 2 hides and a water dish. Moister is sitting at about 65%.

    1. Hi Andy,

      Your temperatures are good but I would drop your humidity down to between 50% – 60%. This sounds like something has spooked your snake. Have you added any additional pets to your household? Make sure when handling your snake that you never come from above as their main predator in the wild are birds. Monitor him for the next couple of days, if the behaviour persists, take him to see a vet.

  53. I was just wonder my ball python normally will hide after he eats his meal but hes started to explore after he eats that’s about the only time I see him move around his enclosure he could just be weird but I just want to make sure hes ok and it’s not my husbandry

    1. Hi Samuel,

      This sounds like your python is still hungry after the first food item so perhaps try increasing the size of the prey item or see if he will take a second one. Double check your temperatures and humidity but this doesn’t sound like anything to worry about.

  54. I’ve had my ball over a year now, she’s probably about 4 years old now. When I first got her she would eat like a champ every two weeks. Her last fed was October and she’s been refusing ever since. At first I thought it was because of winter and it gets fairly cold where I live. I’ve also moved since her last feed, but her temperature are the same as previous heat pad that’s at 91 on the hot side and 78 on the cool side . She’s not losing weight, her last shed was a bit difficult so I ended up soaking her but that’s also been months. I’m worried

    1. Hi Eva

      It is common for adult snakes to eat less regularly than juveniles, winter can also cause snakes not to eat for a number of months, the changes in air pressure likely affect their habits. The move may have slightly upset her but your temperatures are all good. The fact she isn’t losing weight is a good sign but as she now hasn’t eaten for over 6 months, I would get her checked over by a vet.

  55. How long do you recommend having a ball python out of their enclosure? And what do you recommend is a good way to have a ball python comfortable with being out of their enclosure?

    1. Hi Sophia,

      There is no set rule with this but I would suggest keeping handling sessions under 20 minutes so as not to stress the snake out. Make sure that your python does not get too cold whilst out of its enclosure. Daily handling sessions should keep your python used to being handled, remember not to handle your python for a day or two after being fed.

  56. Ok so I’ve had my ball python for a little over a month and she eats fine and she shed a few days after I got her but every time I go to handle her she strikes at me and seems extremely stressed. I’m at my wits end and don’t know what to do. Her humidity stays between 50-60% and she has hides on both cool and warm side. She’s very active at night so I just don’t understand what I’m doing wrong…

    1. Hi Katie,

      What size is your enclosure, you could try adding some more hides, also double check that your temperatures are correct. When it comes to handling, always come in at the same level as your python, never from above as they are preyed upon by birds in the wild. Do you have any other pets, for example cats or dogs that could be stressing her out? You could try placing something between her head and your hand, then gently touch her midsection so she knows you are there, then you can gently try to pick her up. Once out of her enclosure she will very likely be fine to handle. Another option would be to see if there is a local experienced snake handler that can come and teach you some techniques. Hope this helps.

  57. Hey,

    So I’ve had a ball python for over a year now, always able to pick him up and hold him. He even loved moving his head though my fingers like he wanted me to pet his head. But the last few days he’s been jumpy and staying in a “S” position as a defensive pretty much. Temperature and humidity is fine. I did end up having 2 chinchillas in the same room just on opposite sides of the room recently so I moved my snake into a different room now. Is there anything to him being jumpy and defensive?

    1. Hi Eric,

      The Chinchilla’s could definitely have caused this change in behaviour and now that you have moved his enclosure, this could cause further stress to your python. Have you moved him somewhere that is busier than the previous room and are there any other pets that now have access to the room where he is located? Make sure he has plenty of hides in his enclosure.

  58. Hello I have had my ball python exactly a year when I first got him he was very picky and didn’t eat for 6 weeks but since then he ate normal on a weekly basis fast forward to the last 3 weeks he ate one large mouse around 3 or 4 weeks ago he was eating 1 every 5 days but since his last meal he hasn’t eaten and has been way more active still hides in hides and goes between hot side and cold side I have checked for mites scale rot mouth rot and respiratory illness and have seen nothing. I am in the north east not sure if he is just going on a winter hunger strike or if I should be concerned

    1. Hi Jayson,

      It is fairly common for ball pythons to stop eating during winter months, double check that your temperatures are correct and monitor his weight. If your python is not losing weight, I wouldn’t panic, they can go for several months without food. If your python starts to lose weight or gets to 6 months without eating then I would suggest you consult a vet. After winter, feed your python once a week, every 5 days is a little too often.

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Ben Team
Ben Team
Ben is a life-long environmental educator who writes about the natural world. He’s kept and bred a diverse array of reptiles and amphibians over the last three decades, but he’s always been particularly fond of snakes in the genus Morelia and monitor lizards. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his beautiful wife and spoiled-rotten Rottweiler.