Ball pythons (Python regius) are very popular pet snakes. If you own one, you may have noticed that your snake isn’t very active during the day when you are awake.
You may notice them start waking up in the evening and being active at night. So you may be wondering why your ball python is only active at night.
As a general rule, ball pythons are more active at night because they are nocturnal or crepuscular. They typically wake right when the light starts going down and may be active throughout the night. During the day, these snakes prefer to hide away similar to how they hide in burrows or termite mounds in the wild.
In the Wild
Ball pythons are native to Western and Central Africa. These snakes live in forests and grasslands and are frequently found around human settlements.
They typically feed on rodents, but males and juveniles are semi-arboreal and will have birds and arboreal mammals in their typical diet.
Ball pythons in the wild spend their days in mammal burrows or termite mounds. This helps protect them from the intense heat of the day.
They will only leave during daylight hours if they need to bask. During the evening, these snakes will emerge and begin looking for a meal.
These snakes are ambush hunters, so they seek out a good spot such as rodent paths and will wait there in hopes of a meal. Snakes that have fed recently are unlikely to emerge at all since it does leave them vulnerable to predators. Ball pythons are slow-moving snakes so they cannot easily flee most predators.
Everything you need to know about caring for Ball Pythons in captivity:
Read our Ball Python Care Sheet (Complete Setup & Guide)
Ball pythons in captivity still obey their wild instincts. Remember, your snake may be a tame pet, but they are still a wild animal. Your snake will spend most of its day in its hide.
You may see it switch to the other side of the tank, or head to a basking spot. It may even take a drink. However, they will stay hidden for the most part and spend the day asleep.
Once evening begins, your snake will wake up and start its day. A healthy snake may explore, and a hungry snake will hunt for food.
If your snake fed recently, it may not come out at all. Different snakes may be active at different times, some may wake up as soon as the sun starts to set and others may wake in the middle of the night.
Since these snakes start to hunt in the evening, this is the best time to offer your snake a meal. Offering food in the day may result in a refusal because your snake would rather sleep.
A normal snake will explore during the evening hours. If you use a red light or a night-vision camera, you will likely see your snake examining the enclosure and exploring.
You will likely see it examine any new decorations or climb around. If the snake is hunting, you will notice it moving faster and ranging around more.
A hungry snake is typically more active since it will be hunting for any signs of prey in the area. You may have heard that ball pythons are not very active, but this isn’t true.
This study noted that ball pythons could be very active when they are in a good enclosure. What isn’t normal is activity during the day.
A ball python that is active during the day can be a cause for concern. A newly acquired snake might be active during the day because it is exploring its new environment.
This should settle down in a few days as the snake becomes comfortable in its new home. However, if it lasts longer, you should look into your enclosure conditions.
If the temperature or humidity is off, you may see your snake roaming around. This is because it is trying to find a comfortable place to rest.
Use a temperature gun to check the temperatures on the surface of the tank and in the hides. Make sure your humidity is up since your snake may be feeling dehydrated. If your snake is too dry, it will likely try to find a more humid place. An insecure snake may also be out during the day.
Your snake may not have sufficient hiding places. This means your snake is looking for a better place to hide. Make sure you have at least 2 hides that will hold the whole animal.
Make sure any empty space is filled since being exposed during the day is stressful for ball pythons. A hungry snake may also be more active during the day.
These snakes typically hunt at night, but they will hunt during the day if they are hungry. Watch to see what your snake is doing when they are active. This can help give you a clue as to what your pet needs. If your snake is hungry often, you may need to go up in prey size or feed more frequently. Different ball pythons can have wildly different metabolisms just like people.
Ball pythons sleep during the day and are most active during the evening and night. These snakes may be active during the day if they need to thermoregulate, explore a new environment, or if they are hungry.
If you see your snake out during the day frequently, be sure to check the conditions of the enclosure and make sure you feed the snake.
If you have any questions or comments, be sure to leave them below.