Monday, December 27, 2010

A Great Article On The Shedding Cycle Of The Ball Python By Ricky From Ricky's Reptile Enclosures

Ball Python Care - The Shed Cycle

By: Ricky from Ricky’s Reptile Enclosures

The shed cycle of a Ball Python is an amazing and wonderful process. I have been keeping Ball Pythons for more than ten years and am still excited every time I see a perfect shed.

When I was a child I was very interested in animals. Regardless of the type of animal, I tried to mimic the natural environment as best I could for my pets. My hamsters didn’t have wheels, they had burrows. My Fish didn’t have skulls blowing bubbles; they had grass, rocks and a current to swim against. So naturally when I purchased my first Ball Python I tried to mimic the natural habitat as well. So I went to my local pet store and asked as many questions as I could think of about what to get my new snake. Several hundred dollars later I walked out of the store with a huge fishtank, a log, lots of mulch and a couple of heat lamps (Shown above). Eventually I even added another Ball Python because I was told that the snakes would be fine sharing a fishtank this large. Then, shed after shed, both of my snakes had eye caps and skin stuck to their bodies. I did exactly what all the “Answers” sites say to do. I bathed my snakes, I picked off the eye caps with tweezers and damp Q-tips, I even put them in damp towels for twenty minutes at a time so they could get the skin off. My poor snakes!

Shedding is a simple chore for a human, but a lot of work for a snake. Your Ball Python will use a large amount of stored energy to shed its old skin and replace it with fresh new skin. All you, the owner, need to do is provide the correct environment for your Ball Python.

The shed cycle will occur over a seven to ten day period. There are four steps to the process, which we will go over.

The first step you will notice involves two changes. Your Ball Pythons skin will become dull and dark and the belly of the snake will become pinkier than normal. The second step occurs three to five days later when its eyes glaze over. This is the most obvious step and often the one a novice Ball Python owner will see first. Your Ball Python’s eyes will appear a milky white colour. During this time your snake’s vision is very impaired and it will likely be on edge and defensive, so you should avoid any contact with your Ball Python until the shed cycle is complete. Also, during this time avoid feeding your snake. Digesting takes a lot of a Ball Python’s energy and during a shed cycle the snake is already using a lot of its stored energy therefore it will not be able to digest properly. Two to three days after the eyes have gone completely white they will turn clear again, which is the third step. The eyes clear very quickly, with the whole process taking a day to complete. The final step is the best (in my opinion). One to two days after the eyes have cleared; you will walk into your snake room and find two things in your enclosure. First you will find a rolled up wad of snake skin and second, a high gloss Ball Python. If you get to the skin in time you can carefully roll it out and keep it as a memento. A Ball python, zero-two years old will shed an average of five to seven times a year and an adult will shed an average of four to five times a year. Also, females will always shed before laying eggs. Your Ball Python will appear much brighter and more colourful after it has shed its skin.

Now, that is how a Ball Python shed cycle is supposed to go. Depending on the type of enclosure you use, obtaining these results will vary.

Regardless of the type of enclosure you use for your Ball Python, you will need to raise the humidity to 70% during the shed cycle. If you keep your Ball Python in a fishtank you can obtain these results simply by spraying down the substrate in the fishtank about thirty times over the shed cycle. The reason you’ll need to spray so often is because a fishtank has an open top. An open top will allow the warm humid air to escape the fishtank leaving your Ball Python too dry to have a good shed. If you keep your Ball Python in one of our Ball Python enclosures you can obtain the same results with only three or four sprays. The difference between our Ball Python enclosures and a fishtank is that our enclosures have been designed for Ball Pythons, whereas fishtank’s have been designed for fish. Therefore the moral of the story is that no matter how nice your fishtank looks, it is still a fishtank and will never function as well as a Ball Python enclosure.

Please watch the video above for a better understanding about the shed cycle, staring our 11 year old female, Helix, enjoy!

Next time we’ll discuss feeding. We’ll discuss what to feed, how often and also some problems and solutions to common feeding problems. Do you have a question you want answered? Just email us at [email protected] and we’ll make sure to include your answer in our next article.

Ricky Melamed

Ricky’s Reptile Enclosures