Are Ball Pythons Messy (In Captivity)?

If you are considering a ball python (Python regius) as a pet, you may be wondering what they are like.

For instance, are ball pythons messy?

Ball pythons are not messy compared to other pets. They defecate very infrequently and will typically not make a mess in your home. At most, they may tip over their water dish.

Less Messy

Ball pythons are much less messy than many other pets. This includes rodents and birds since ball pythons will not typically fling food or bedding out of the enclosure.

This is partly due to the difference in enclosures. Ball pythons will typically live in enclosures that do not allow them to push bedding out. You may have some spilled substrate when you open a front-facing door, but this shouldnā€™t be too bad.

If you find bedding building up near the front, you can find an enclosure that allows for more depth, such as those meant for semi-aquatic animals like turtles.

You can also try to keep the substrate shallow near the door and build it up near the back of the enclosure. This would allow your snake to burrow with less risk of losing substrate.Ā 

How often does a Ball Python poop?

ball python excrements

Everything you need to know about caring for Ball Pythons in captivity:
Read our Ball Python Care Sheet (Complete Setup & Guide)

Ball pythons also produce less waste than a mammalian pet. Young ball pythons may produce urates every other day and feces every other week.

This can vary depending on the snake. Adults will defecate even less frequently.

Some may be on a once-a-month schedule, and others will wait until they shed.

This can be as infrequently as every 3 months. This makes it much easier to clean up on a daily level. Just note that the size of the feces will increase with age.

Young snakes digest nearly all of their prey so there just isnā€™t much left to expel. Adults will typically have more waste. Snakes that tend to wait will also produce larger feces when they do let loose.

This can make cleaning a bit rough, but you will learn what your snakeā€™s schedule is over time. Most ball pythons will find a schedule and stick to it.

If you notice your snake suddenly is off of an established elimination schedule, be sure to look into it. If you donā€™t see any urine or urates, your snake may be dehydrated. If you donā€™t see any feces and your snake has a firm belly, it may be constipated. This requires a trip to the vet to make sure it isnā€™t an issue like impaction and to get advice on treatment.Ā 

Other Behavior

spilled water bowl ball python on it making a mess

Most snakes that do cause a mess will do things like rearranging their enclosure. Some ball pythons like pushing around decorations or knock things over when they climb on them.

Some may push their substrate around when they burrow. They may also knock over their water dish if it isnā€™t heavy and make a mess. Some snakes may try to get under it and push it over.

This means you will need to replace all the substrate. You can stop this by getting a heavier dish or securing it to the bottom of the enclosure.

Just be careful with the weight since if the snake wants to crawl under it, it may be harmed.

There are water dishes that incorporate space for a hide, so you can try one of these if your snake seems determined to nap under its water dish. Some snakes will also flood the enclosure by soaking in the water dish. Most ball pythons will prefer a deeper dish that you fill halfway with water.

This gives them room to soak without spilling water. If your snake keeps flooding the enclosure, you may need to offer them less water and refill it more often. Too much humidity is just as bad as too little. Snakes can get infections if they are in moist conditions for too long.Ā 


beautiful snake enclosure

The other source of mess is prey animals. Rodents are messy, so if you feed live prey, you will get to deal with the typical rodent mess.

Even if you get the prey the same day you feed your snake, live prey can still produce a mess as they are killed. Many animals may defecate, which means you may need to clean your snake off.

If you use frozen/thawed prey, you may still get some mess. Poorly thawed feeders can explode. If you use something too hot to thaw the rat, it may partially cook.

This weakens the stomach wall. When the ball python constricts the prey, the weakened stomach skin can burst and you get to clean up a gory mess.

Feeder rodents that have been thawed and refrozen will also have this issue. This could be because the source isnā€™t careful with feeders, or because of a shipping issue.

Before you offer a thawed rodent, check that it isnā€™t very soft. A properly thawed rat will look like it is freshly dead. The best way to thaw a rodent is the same way you thaw meat.

Leave it in the fridge and then use water that feels barely warm to you to get the rat back up to around 100 degrees. This will help ensure the rat isnā€™t cooked on accident. Snakes need raw prey, so this is also healthier for your pet.


Overall, ball pythons are great pets if you want to avoid a huge mess. You will need to clean up, but it is much less often than a mammal or bird.

So long as you keep up on cleaning, it shouldnā€™t take much time on an average day. You will learn over time what your own snake requires.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

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