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Inside HSI Youth


Care and feeding

image courtesy www.city.lafayette.in.us


Small ball pythons that are 16-28 inches long will do well in a ten gallon size enclosure of 20x10x12 inch dimensions. An enclosure of less than 20 gallons would be too small for an adult of 30-48 inches, and a long 30 gallon one of 36x12x18 inches is probably best.

You can make sure your snake stays home all at all times by securing the aquarium with a screen lid that can be found at a pet store. Use a fairly heavy weight on top like a large glass ashtray for baby pythons, or something heavier for an adult one. The best option is strapping the lid down. You can also inquire about a 'Lizard Lounge', which is an aquarium with a sliding screen lid. Use a heat mat to provide belly-heat of about 82-85 degrees Fahrenheit on the warm side of the tank. A lamp is also required of about 40-60 watts, to give the snake a warm basking spot, but don't use it if the room temperature is already high.

A hygrometer tells you what the humidity is inside the tank, and this should be between 60 and 80%. Low humidity is often the cause of poor skin shedding, dehydration and even a lack of appetite sometimes. To increase the humidity, you can place water bowls inside the aquarium, which the snake can also drink from and slither through when it wants.

Don't forget to add fresh water regularly, and to provide a hide-box. A hide-box can be anything that feels like a rodent's burrow to a snake. You can use an upturned clay pot that has an access hole at the side. Use newspaper at the bottom of the aquarium which is cheap and easy to replace when it becomes soiled, although you could use mulch made of aspen or pine wood (and never cedar wood). Check also about Astroturf which is readily available from home supply stores.

Lastly, you will need something fairly rough for Monty to rub himself against come shedding time, preferably a plastic plant (which does not smell of plastic, as this could indicate that it is toxic).


Ball pythons like mice and medium-sized rats (depending on their own size, of course), and they only need to be fed every week or two. A young snake should be fed fuzzy mice every 5-7 days, and as the snake gets older, the prey can get larger.

It is a good idea to use pre-killed mice, which you can buy at a pet store, because live ones can injure a snake. You should ideally move the snake and its prey to a separate enclosure for feeding. That way, he'll know that that's the dining room, and will be more read to eat when he's there. Use a snake hook to handle him, or else he might mistake your hand for din-din.

If your python stops eating, don't worry until he starts losing weight or looks ill. Some tricks to get it to eat include dipping the prey in chicken broth, trying different colours of mice, feeding it at night and covering the aquarium with towels after you've put a mouse inside.

Medical care

You will need to find a vet who is familiar with reptiles, so that you can take your python to him or her if it falls ill. If after two shed cycles, the eye caps of your snake are still intact, you might want to visit the vet, who can also take care of your pet's other ailments, if any.

Next: A name for your python

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