Ball pythons (Python regius) are wonderful pet snakes. They are shy and stoic animals compared to many other common pets. You may be wondering:
How to tell if your pet ball python is happy and content?
You can tell that a Ball Python is happy when it will be actively exploring its enclosure during the evening and won’t show signs of stress. The happiest ball pythons have secure enclosures and eat regularly.
Snakes do not quite experience complex emotions the way that humans do. Asking whether a snake is happy brings up questions of how much they understand.
They can be content. They will seek out safety.
The best sign that a snake is in a good situation is watching for natural behaviors. A stressed or fearful snake will hide. In ball pythons, they will stay balled up and refuse to eat.
A snake that is eating and exploring is the best way to tell if the snake is content. Watching your snake’s behavior will help tell you if you are providing good care to your pet.
Ball Python Behaviors
Adult ball pythons are curious and docile snakes. Even wild snakes can easily be handled even if they are stressed out by it. They rarely bite and tend to internalize any stress they experience.
Other snakes may hiss or express displeasure while a ball python may stay curled up. This does depend on the individual snake’s personality. Stressed-out ball pythons will stop eating.
They will also stick to a spot where they feel safe. A snake that feels secure and safe in its enclosure will typically use the space. They may climb up any branches or ledges.
They will check out any changes you make. You may not see this since they tend to be active once it starts getting dark.
If you want to see how your snake behaves at night, try using a night-vision camera so you can monitor behavior.
Ball pythons will move around to thermoregulate or seek out the right humidity level. They will also visit the water dish for a drink or to soak.
If you offer enrichment with scents like adding a branch that you picked up outside, your snake will likely spend some time exploring and checking out the new scents.
While ball pythons are not the most active snakes, they don’t spend all their time balled up in one spot if they are content.
Once you meet all the ball python care requirements to keep your snake alive, it is time to consider enrichment.
Enrichment can help keep your snake’s mind and body active. Captive animals are prone to listlessness. A good start is offering chances to hunt for scents.
Hiding some rodent bedding in the enclosure a day before feeding can help let your snake exhibit normal hunting behavior.
Ball pythons in the wild will seek out the scent of prey and pick a spot to ambush their food. You can also vary the times that you feed or offer in different ways if your snake will accept it.
This lets your snake hunt and offers some stimulation. Adding branches and ropes that can support your snake will allow it to exhibit natural climbing behaviors.
Smaller ball pythons spend lots of time in the trees in the wild. Giving your snake a chance to climb is great exercise.
You can make ledges in the enclosure at different heights and use branches to help guide your snake to these spots.
Taking branches from outside can be good enrichment. Snakes like ball pythons rely on their sense of smell to hunt. Offering new scents can help offer mental stimulation.
Make sure you never offer branches from pine or other aromatic woods since the oils can harm your snake. You should also avoid branches that have been exposed to herbicides and pesticides since this can harm your snake.
Ball pythons also enjoy burrows. Offering deeper substrate can encourage burrowing. You can use PVC piping or hollow logs or paper towel tubes partially buried to simulate the burrows that wild ball pythons hide in during the day.
Offering options like this to hide can give your snake a chance to choose how it wishes to spend its time. You can also offer safe chances for exploration outside of the enclosure.
One of the safest is to handle your snake. If your snake will tolerate longer handling sessions, you can take your snake around the house to see new sights and smells.
Be sure you watch your snake’s behavior though, since frequent handling may stress your snake.
Look for calm tongue flicks and exploratory behavior. If your snake balls up, it is time to go back to the safety of the enclosure.
Some people may allow a relaxed snake to sit with them on a bed or couch. If you do this, keep a close eye on the snake and be sure to watch for signs of discomfort like balling up or trying to reach a hiding spot.
Never let a ball python out of your sight since they are escape artists. You should also mind that your snake doesn’t get too cold or dry.
Your snake doesn’t need social time, it just needs exercise and mental stimulation.
A content ball python exhibits natural behaviors. They are curious and don’t show signs of stress like refusing meals.
Offering mental stimulation and the chance to exhibit as many natural behaviors as possible is what makes for a happy snake.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.