What to Do if Your Ball Python Bites You Ball pythons (Python regius) are known for their calm and docile personality. However, this does not mean they won’t bite if they feel threatened.
They may also bite if your hand smells like food. Here is what to do if your ball python bites you.
If you are bit by a ball python, clean the wound and treat it with antibiotic ointment. If you notice any signs of infection, head to a doctor. Ball python bites are not too bad. They do not hurt much more than a bee sting and they rarely leave deep wounds.
Signs Your Snake Will Bite
Ball pythons rarely bite without a warning. Your snake will display typical defensive behaviors long before it attempts to bite you. Your snake will likely puff up and hiss at you. It will likely curl up into an “S” shape before it tries to strike you.
If you see your snake doing this while you are handling it, point it away from you and return it to its enclosure immediately. If you see your snake doing this when you are trying to reach into the enclosure, don’t!
If you need to spot clean or replace the water, try to wait for your snake to calm down. Your snake is stressed out and wants to be left alone.
If you have handled prey items like rodents recently, you need to wash your hands and use hand sanitizer to remove the scent before you try to handle your snake.
Mistaken feeding strikes are more likely to injure you since your snake will hold on and try to constrict you.
Training your snake before you handle it by tapping it gently with a snake hook or paper towel tube can help it learn when it should expect handling or cleaning time rather than a meal.
Also be sure you don’t surprise your snake. If you touch your snake while it is sleeping, it may lash out.
What to Do if You Are Bitten
- If your ball python does bite you, the first step is to stay calm. Ball pythons aren’t venomous, so a bite isn’t much more dangerous than a cat scratch.
- If it was a defensive bite, your snake likely released you immediately. It may strike again if you don’t leave it alone. Be sure to return the snake to its enclosure and lock it before you attend to any injuries.
- If your snake hung on because it thinks your hand looks like a meal, you need to be careful. Since ball python teeth face backwards, if you pull away you will make any injuries worse.
- If you try to pull your snake off, you could injure or even kill it. Broken teeth and jaws are a real risk for your pet. Stay calm and try to get your snake to release you.
- If it won’t let go, you can pour a bit of cold water on your snake. Most snakes will release you if you do this. Mouthwash can also work.
Return your snake to its enclosure and make sure it is locked. You don’t need to stress about finding an escaped snake while you are dealing with a bite.
How to Treat a Bite
Ball python bites are typically not a danger to humans, but you should still treat them and watch for signs of infection. If your snake delivered a quick bite, you will likely have scratches and possibly bleeding.
Ball pythons have 100 teeth that face inward. They aren’t particularly long, but they can draw blood as adults. If it is a small bite and didnt cause much damage, basic wound care should be enough. Clean and disinfect the wound and apply antibiotic ointment before bandaging it to keep it clean.
If you have a more severe bite or you pulled away, you may need more care than this. Apply pressure to stop the bleeding and clean the wound to see if you might need more treatment. If the bleeding won’t stop or the wounds are deep, you should see a doctor.
While it unlikely that a ball python could do serious damage, you may still need treatment. If the snake has bitten your face, you will likely want more care.
These are harder areas to treat with thinner skin so bites can be more severe. If in doubt, go to a doctor for care. Be sure you mention that you were bitten by a nonvenomous snake so the people treating you know not to worry about venom.
You should watch for signs of infection in any animal bite. If the skin is reddened, sore, or oozing, make sure you seek out medical care.
A sudden fever or the wound feeling hot are bad signs. Severe pain is another warning that your bite may be more serious. If your snake hung on, you will likely also want to seek out medical treatment. The wounds will be deeper and more likely to get infected. Always ask a doctor if you have any health concerns.
Ball pythons rarely bite, but they will of they feel threatened. Most bites aren’t severe, but some areas are more serious than others.
Mistaken feeding bites are also more severe and you may need treatment from a professional. Always head to a doctor if you are worried about any injury.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.
Everything you need to know about caring for Ball Pythons in captivity:
Read our Ball Python Care Sheet (Complete Setup & Guide)