When it comes to our ball python’s enclosure, we are trying to replicate their natural environment but reduce factors that cause sickness in the wild. Two of the key aspects of every environment are the temperature and humidity levels. If these are not kept under careful control, you may cause serious health issues to your python.
Reptiles are cold-blooded, therefore, cannot regulate their own body temperature, and so your python’s body is the same temperature as its surroundings. In order to allow your snake to maintain an optimum temperature, you must create a temperature gradient inside its vivarium, with a cold end and a hot end. Your ball python will then move between each end of its enclosure, depending on whether it feels too cold or too hot.
Our article on creating the perfect habitat for your ball python gives details on how to best set up your snake’s enclosure, along with a range of temperatures and humidity for your enclosure. Due to the significance of these factors, we have gone into far more detail in this article.
What Temperature Is Too High for a Ball Python?
When it comes to temperatures at the warm end of your python’s vivarium, it should be sitting at 90 degrees Fahrenheit, directly under your heat source reaching up to 92 degrees. Any temperature exceeding 92 degrees poses a serious risk to your snake. Never place your snake’s vivarium too close to the window or in direct sunlight as you will not be able to regulate the extra heat generated by the sun’s rays. This may result in overheating your snake’s enclosure and could cause the death of your beloved pet.
What Temperature Is Too Low for Ball Pythons During the Day and at Night?
During the day, the cool end of your python’s vivarium should be in the range of 80-81F. Depending on the temperature of the room you keep your python’s enclosure in, it is sometimes okay to switch off all of the enclosure’s heat sources at night. However, the temperature of the vivarium should not be allowed to drop below 77 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature does drop below this level, you will need to use a heat mat connected to a thermostat and leave it on 24/7. My recommendation is to make sure your vivarium reaches a warm side temperature of 86-87F and a cool side of 76-77F when night comes.
What Is the Best Heating Setup for My Python’s Vivarium?
As you know by now, we need to create a thermal gradient within our python’s vivarium and aim to replicate nature to the best of our ability. We, therefore, not only need to divide the hot and cold end but also day and night. Light sources should only be present during daylight hours, and as in nature, the temperature should drop at night. Heat sources are a potential burn risk for your python, so every effort needs to be taken to minimize this risk. Placing heat sources out of the direct reach of your snake is a must.
Some suitable heat sources for your python’s enclosure are heat lamps, ceramic heaters, heat tape, heat mats/pads, and radiant heat panels. These can be used in conjunction with each other or on their own, depending on the average temperature of the room you keep your snake’s enclosure in and so how much heat you need to provide. If you use heat sources that do not emit any light, then you will need to utilize an additional light source during the day, for example, a low-level UV bulb.
It is preferable to have heat coming from above as it does in nature, if you need to use a heat mat or something similar, it is advisable to place it on the back of your enclosure, not underneath. It is not natural for it to become warmer as you dig down, most snakes actually burrow to escape the heat of the day. Placing a heat mat under the substrate or enclosure also poses the risk of causing burns.
Heat sources should also be connected to a thermostat in order to properly regulate the temperature inside your ball python’s vivarium. We also recommend placing thermometers at both the warm and cool ends of the enclosure so you can manually monitor the temperature gradient.
What Is the Ideal Humidity for a Ball Python?
Ball pythons generally thrive at a relative humidity of between 60% and 70%. Your python enclosure’s humidity can be controlled with a suitable substrate, ventilation, water bowl size, and misting. Humidity can be measured using a hygrometer, and we advise that you check it daily to maintain your snake in good health.
You should also provide a moist hide inside your python enclosure. Fill the hide with sphagnum moss and keep it clean and damp. This hide provides an area of increased humidity to aid your snake during shedding.
Do Ball Pythons Need to Be Misted?
Misting is a good way to increase the humidity of your ball python’s enclosure. However, it is not the only way of maintaining good humidity levels, so it is not always necessary. The average humidity of a household room is between 30% and 50%. Therefore, we do need to utilize methods of increasing the humidity inside the snake’s enclosure.
Keep your python on a suitable substrate such as orchid bark, provide an adequate water bowl and good ventilation but not so much that all of the moisture escapes, and see what level of humidity is present in your vivarium. If this is not reaching around the required level, then misting is advisable but be sure not to mist too much.
How High Is Too High Humidity for Ball Pythons?
In general, you should never let your ball python’s vivarium exceed 70% humidity. Anything over this relative humidity can result in respiratory infections.
In addition, when humidity is too high, the substrate does not dry out properly, which increases the risk of scale rot. It is important to keep a close eye on the humidity level inside your python’s enclosure and adjust it accordingly.
If the humidity inside the enclosure is climbing too high, you may need to change the substrate, reduce the water bowl size or increase the ventilation. If your ball python appears to have scale rot or a respiratory infection, take a look at our article on ball python health for what to do.
Should I Increase the Humidity When My Ball Python Is Shedding?
Sometimes it may be necessary to increase the humidity of your ball python’s enclosure during shedding. If your python is having a bad shed or regularly struggles to shed its skin, then this is one potential solution for aiding with the process. The humidity can be increased up to but not exceeding 80% for a short period of time during the shedding process. It is extremely difficult to maintain high levels of humidity at the same time as providing adequate ventilation in captivity, which leads to an increased level of bacteria and fungi inside the enclosure. This should not be done regularly or for extended periods of time as it poses the risk of causing numerous infections. See our article on ball python shedding for other methods to assist your python with its shedding problems.
We understand that there is a lot of conflicting information on the internet and it can be hard to know what to do when it comes to your snake enclosure’s temperature and humidity. Hopefully, this article answers all of your questions in an easy-to-follow manner. If you have any further questions, we are always here to help, so please don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments below.
The article was written by Sam Davies and updated by Dr. Mohsin Iqbal.