It was just the other day when I found myself in line, ready to pay for my cat food, as I overheard an employee of the store tell a customer, “A fish tank is what you keep your Ball Python in”. If you’re like I once was, you trusted that employee and went home with the fish tank and light bulbs that you were ‘supposed to buy’. From that day forward, I just assumed my snake loved all the open space. I even assumed that I could keep two Ball Pythons in the same enclosure with no reason for concern, which I now know is a terrible mistake. It was only one of many mistakes however.
Today I’d like to start a series of bi-weekly articles about taking care of your Ball Python in a fish tank vs. an enclosure which has specifically been designed for Ball Pythons The first problem that I noticed when my female Ball Python was in her fish tank was her poor shedding. Why wouldn’t my Ball Pythons skin fall off? She’d lost some in the middle, but the rest of her body still has old skin on it. Or perhaps the ever so common, “My snake’s eye caps haven’t fallen off. How do I remove them?” Simple. The problem is that you are keeping your Ball Python in the wrong type of enclosure.
A Ball Python requires a daily relative humidity (RH) of roughly 55%. This number sounds simple. “How hard could that be?” I thought. Well, when I realized 55%RH meant I would have to spray down my enclosure twice a day, 7 days a week, I realized that a fish tank was not made for a Ball Python. Getting to 55%RH was hard, but eventually I found out that during the shed cycle (Which we’ll talk about in 2 weeks) the humidity needs to be even higher, 60%RH-70%RH! I found myself walking up and down the stairs all day spraying it down. The moisture just evaporates out the top of the fishtank so fast when the air is so hot because of the bulb. In the correct reptile enclosure for Ball Pythons, you would only need to spray down your enclosure once every 4 days*. This allows you to spend more time enjoying your pet Ball Python. Your Ball Python will shed all of its skin from the tip of its nose all the way down through its body with 85% less work for you!
Now, if your Ball Python’s eye caps are stuck on, or you have to pull its skin off during a bad shed, it is most likely because your snake is in an enclosure with little to no humidity. Rather than being concerned with removing the eye caps/skin (which stresses the snake out and is unnecessary), you should be more concerned with raising the humidity. My advice is always to keep your Ball Python in a Ball Python Enclosure. You wouldn’t keep your reptile in a bird cage, so why would you keep it in a fish tank?™
In two weeks time, we’ll discuss what to look for during the shed cycle. I’ll explain how to tell when it’s time to start raising the humidity in the Ball Python’s enclosure. As well I’ll touch on why feeding during the shed cycle will most likely conclude with your snake not eating – or even biting you!
*(This may vary depending on the climate and room conditions where you house the enclosure)
Ricky’s Reptile Enclosures