Ball Python Tank Requirements [Complete Guide]

The ball python is a python species found in Africa with a docile personality and a captivity lifespan of approximately 10 years. However, many new pet owners and breeders are not knowledgeable about the necessary requirements for ball python cages. In the following details, we will address this topic and related queries.

Ball Python Tank Requirements Ball Python Tank Requirements [Complete Guide]

Ball Python Tank Requirements

A ball python tank is a glass or plastic enclosure that is made to house the animal. The enclosure should be tall enough for the snake to climb, and wide enough for it to stretch out. It should also have a secure lid or top to prevent escape.

The Specifications and size of the tank will depend on the size of the snake, but a 10-gallon tank is suitable for most ball pythons. The tank should have an appropriate substrate for the type of snake you’re keeping such as newspaper or bedding material, and a water dish with fresh water should also be provided.

A ball python tank should be at least 2x3x3 feet in size. The tank should also contain a heat lamp and thermometer.

The ball python tank’s other requirements are a hide box and small branches for climbing.

And now we will remind you of every part of that and its details:

Housing – Enclosure
The most popular and convenient methods of housing Ball Pythons are plastic tubs or professionally built enclosures. Whether you choose one of these or choose to make your own, any enclosure must provide the following necessities:

adequate ventilation
thermal gradient heat
proper humidity levels
sufficient space
freshwater security to prevent escape
For Baby/Juvenile ball pythons up to 2′ a Tub Dimensions – 12″ x 3″ x 2″ (or equivalently sized) enclosure is adequate. For adults, a Tub Dimensions – 16 1/8″ x23 3/4″ x 6″ should provide them with enough room for the duration of their lives.

PLASTIC – The use of plastic storage tubs (usually by Sterilite or Rubber Maid or Iris) has become an increasingly popular option that is cost-effective and very functional. Their lighter weight makes cleaning very easy, and multiple tubs can be stacked in rack systems to hold multiple animals in a relatively small space. Holes for ventilation can be made in plastic using a small drill and can be placed strategically to allow vertical air movement and cross-ventilation.

We recommend Animal Plastics Inc. Snake Rack Systems, ideal for space-efficient reptile housing.

Substrate Bedding
Your choice of substrate should be something readily available and one which lends itself to easy spot cleaning and other cage maintenance chores.

Paper Towels
Packing Paper
You should check your enclosure daily replacing the substrate when necessary.

Pros And Cons Of Suitable Substrates

Newspaper Cheapest options. Easiest to find. Easiest to replace. Least appealing visually.
Aspen shavings are Visually appealing. Readily available. Can be a bit dusty. Harder to clean and replace than newspaper.
Cypress mulch is readily available. Attractive. Helps increase relative humidity, if needed. Harder to clean and replace than newspaper.
The moist nature of cypress requires more frequent cleaning/maintenance.
Sphagnum Moss Natural compounds in moss prevent it from decomposing in humid environments. Helps increase relative humidity, if needed. Harder to clean and replace than newspaper.

Don’t Use Cedar or Pine
Stay away from cedar and pine bedding, They should never be used for snakes. Both of these products can be toxic to snakes and may cause illness or death if they are swallowed during feeding. Aspen or Cyprus mulch are much better choices.

A ball python will prefer a hide that is small and snug-fitting hide so that it feels “hugged” on all sides and even from above. Hides are optional but we recommend one for smaller Baby/Juvenile ball pythons.

Temperature: A heat gradient should be provided. This means that the ambient temperature of the cage should be about 80°F, while a “hot spot” of about 90°F is provided so your cold-blooded Ball Python can regulate its body temperature as needed. At night, the ambient temperature may be allowed to drop to no less than 70°F.

Hot rocks should not be used. They have been known to burn reptiles causing serious injury. An under-tank heater is the best way to heat the enclosure and should be large enough to cover around 1/3 of the floor surface of the enclosure. Basking lights or ceramic heat emitters can also be used. Always monitor your temperatures using a temp gun, or indoor/outdoor thermometer. A thermostat or rheostat is a worthwhile investment because it can regulate temperatures automatically.

There is no evidence that photoperiod is required for these animals, but we suggest keeping them in a room that gets at least a little daylight so that your ball python can establish a day/night cycle. Do not put the enclosure in direct sunlight as this will heat the enclosure very quickly and most likely cook your snake.

60%-70% during a shed cycle

Providing the proper humidity required by your Ball python is important in maintaining good health, eating habits, and non-problematic sheds. Be sure to check out our Ball Python snake shedding page for more tips on preventing improper sheds.

Ball Pythons should have a readily available supply of fresh water at all times. I recommend nontip stainless steel water bowls. They are much easier to keep clean and don’t spill as the plastic crock dishes do!

Snake record keeping

One aspect of keeping snakes that is easy to overlook is record keeping. Record keeping is very important! By keeping proper snake records of when your snake eats and what it weighs you will be able to see how healthy your snake is

For most people, the idea of keeping detailed records about their Ball Python sounds like an absolute waste of time. In fact in all practical terms, over 90% of the time it is just that – a waste of time. However, it is in those few cases when something goes wrong, that the possession of good records can be invaluable. Good records for a Ball Python in circumstances of illness may mean the difference between life and death for the snake.

For example, if having no records end up costing a person a $2,000 Ball Python, then that person may well regret not having had the self-discipline to keep good records.

Often when you take your sick Ball Python to a reptile veterinarian, the first thing they will ask is where are the records. It is often from records (and sometimes records alone) that proper disease diagnoses are made and the Ball Pythons’ lives saved. I cannot emphasize this enough.

Reptile record keeping software – Snake husbandry software

Snake Keeper
Keep your snake’s vital information recorded with this bespoke custom-written application for snake owners everywhere. Keep track of your snake’s feeding, weight, and shedding cycles, and review the statistical information whenever and wherever you are. Available at iTunes store.

What To Feed Ball Pythons?

Ball Pythons are primarily rodent eaters. In captivity, the most common diet is either domestic mice or rats. Other rodents may be offered, but keep in mind that Ball Pythons tend to have a favorite prey item and may refuse anything else.

Live: Never leave a live rodent unattended in your snake’s enclosure.

Size: As big around as the Ball Python’s widest point.

How often to Feed: Ball pythons seem to do well on a regular feeding schedule.

How To Care Ball Python?

Always keep in mind Proper care for Ball Pythons should be your first concern. Care sheets are a guideline for keeping healthy and happy Ball Python Snakes. Use Ball Python Care sheets as a guide to help you maintain the proper environment and health of your snake.

Ball Pythons Snakes are a relatively small, thick-bodied species of python featuring a slender neck and well-differentiated head. Common “wild-type” Ball Pythons are highly variable in color and pattern, but all feature some version of tan “blobs” on a chocolate or black background, edged with varying degrees of white, with white bellies that may or may not contain some dark speckling pattern. Thanks to the efforts of breeders and enthusiasts, however, Ball Pythons are becoming increasingly available in a wide range of brilliant colors and patterns called “morphs.”

The Ball Python comes from the forests of central and western Africa and typically makes its homes in abandoned rodent burrows or termite mounds. Their common name “ball” comes from their tendency to curl up into a ball and hide their head within their coils when threatened. This unaggressive defense mechanism, combined with their manageable size of 4 to 5-foot range. They are attractive-looking snakes and if cared for properly have very long lives (Average 25 years or more).

Please do not buy wild caught Ball Pythons as more than 50,000 Ball Pythons are imported into the U.S. every year and have put major strains on the native populations. In addition, most imported snakes tend to have health issues like parasites, etc.

And you can read an article about ball python care in detail, from the link >> ball python care sheet.


What Are The Ball Python Housing Requirements?

Enclosure: You will need a secure enclosure, such as an aquarium with a locking lid. Snakes are great escape artists and will find a way out if there is one. Hatchlings will do well in a 10-gallon aquarium. Adults will need at least a 20-gallon long or a 30-gallon aquarium. It’s always advisable to go bigger if possible. A 40-gallon breeder aquarium is ideal.

Substrate: There are many things you can use for the substrate in your ball python enclosure. The most common are:

Aspen shavings – this bedding looks nice, and is easy to spot clean, but is not good for high humidity as it will mold quickly.
Cypress Mulch – This can be purchased in bags at any garden center. Always sterilize mulch by baking it in the oven at about 300°F for at least 20 minutes. Cypress mulch looks nice and holds humidity very well.
Reptile Bark – Looks nice, holds humidity well, but can get expensive.
Newspaper – Cheap, easy to clean, but not as attractive.
Astroturf/Outdoor Carpet – A little better looking than newspaper. Easy to clean. Just make sure to cut two pieces so that you can just replace the soiled piece with a clean one without having to wait for the soiled piece to get washed and dried.

DO NOT USE Sand, gravel, pine, or cedar shavings (toxic), alfalfa pellets, or corn cob bedding.

Your enclosure can be as elaborate or as simple and inexpensive as you wish. The snake doesn’t care how fancy looking your enclosure is, as long as its needs are met, and there are a few things that are necessary to properly care for your Ball Python.

You will need 2 hide boxes. One should be placed on the warm side of the enclosure and the other on the cool side. Snakes are solitary animals and will be stressed if they do not have a place to feel safe and secure. If you do not provide this, the Ball Python will likely be aggressive because of the constant stress of not feeling safe. The hide box can be a cardboard box with an entry hole cut in the side, or you can purchase a nice cave from a reptile supply retailer. The snake doesn’t care.

The only other piece of furniture you will need is a water dish. That’s it. Many people like to provide a tree branch for climbing. This is not necessary, but it does look nice.

Make sure all cage furnishings are sterilized and cleaned regularly. Change the water daily.

~80F (ambient temps)
~90F (basking temps)
75 or below is unhealthy and may cause repertory conditions.

A reliable thermostat (Johnson Control, Ranco, Herpstat, or Helix) is best for controlling temperatures. We recommend the Vivarium Electronics VE-100 thermostat.

Belly heat is referred to it helps with the digestion of prey. Stay away from back heat. When placing the heat probe on the thermostat attach it to the heat source under the tub or cage.

Humidity: Ball Pythons do not require a constant level of high humidity, but during shedding periods, a daily misting of the cage will help them to shed easier. Some people provide a “humid hide” box with damp sphagnum moss in it.

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Mustafa Tshash

I'm Mustafa Tshash a Pet breeder with years of hands-on experience in this field.
One of my primary goals is to educate pet owners about the correct steps and essential tips for caring for their pets.
I actively engage with pet owners through various channels, including workshops, written publications, and online platforms, to ensure that my message reaches them.
You can contact me at the e-mail:
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  1. Marley said:

    The top says a 10-gallon aquarium will be fine. Mine grew out of that when it was only a few months old. I prefer a 40-gallon breeder size as you mentioned in conclusion.
    You also mentioned they live 10 years in captivity, I thought it was more like 20-30 years.

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