Ball Pythons

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BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Scientific name: Python Regius
Natural Habitat: Ball Pythons are native to the tropical regions of central & western Africa.
Lifespan: Ball Pythons are known to live more than 30 years in captivity if properly cared for.
Size: When they are born, hatchlings measure 10 inches long. As adults, females will reach 3 to 4 feet on average, and males will reach 2 to 3 feet on average. That's right, it's a species where the females are significantly larger than the males. 
• Appearance & Genetics: Ball pythons come in a wide variety of colors and patterning, called "morphs". This is due to varying genetics.
 
 
TANK SETUP
Size: Ball pythons do well in smaller tanks, as it makes them feel more secure and safe. A juvenile python can be kept in a 10-20 gallon tank, while an adult can be housed in a 36" x 12" x 18" terrarium.
Temperatures: Ideal temperatures range for ball pythons include from 87-90ºF on the warm side of the tank and 77-80ºF on the colder side.  It is recommended to have 2 thermometers, 1 on each side of the enclosure, to properly measure and maintain proper temperatures.
Lighting: Ball pythons do not require special lighting as long as proper temperatures are maintained. A 12-hour on, 12-hour off photo-voltaic cycle is recommended. Continuous overhead lighting can stress pythons.
Heat source: Heat pads are ideal for ball pythons, as they provide belly heat to help the snake digest their food and also require less wattage than heat bulbs and coils. It is recommended to use a thermostat with heat pads to help monitor and control their heat output. Heat lamps also work but are less energy efficient, more expensive over time, and can be hard on their eyes, especially if they are albino.
Humidity: 55% - 60% is ideal humidity for ball pythons.
Substrate: Paper towel or newspaper work well for substrate, as they are easily changed and promote good hygiene. Cypress mulch and orchid bark can also be used, but will also retain moisture and increase humidity (this could be good or bad, depending on your situation and climate). Do not use cedar mulch or shavings, as these contain oils which are harmful to ball pythons!  
Hides: You'll want a couple of places for your python to hide out in. Ball pythons are sometimes shy and feel safe while hiding. Rock caves, clay pots, and logs all work well for hiding spots.
Cohabitation (housing more than 1 animal together) is not recommended for ball pythons, as they are a reclusive species and live alone in the wild.
 
 
DIET & FEEDING
A ball python's diet should mostly consist of frozen/thawed or pre-killed appropriately-sized rodents, offered once per week for juveniles and once every two weeks for adults. The rodent you are feeding your snake should be no wider than the widest part of your snake's circumference. Offering live rodents is not recomended, as they can bite and injure the snake. Ball pythons typically do not eat while they are in the shed cycle and sometimes during the colder months of the year. It is recommended to not handle your ball python for at least a day after feeding. This can lead to regurgitation.

SELECTING A PYTHON
When picking out a healthy python, make sure it has a nice rounded body, which indicates it is healthy and has been eating well. It's very important to make sure the snake is mite free before purchasing it. It's eyes should also be clean, fully open, and alert; this indicates no diseases, trouble shedding, or past fights with other animals. It is also suggested to test the temperament of the snake and to make sure the snake tolerates handling before purchasing it, if you plan on handling it. This is especially important if children are handling the snake. If you are looking for a gecko, make sure to browse our list of snake breeders.
HANDLING, TAMING & BEHAVIOR
When handling your gecko, make sure to minimize the distance between your hands and the floor, especially if it is a hard wood or concrete floor or if you have a jumpy gecko. Never close your hand around the gecko! This can cause internal injuries. Always sanitize your hands both before and after handling your python
 
When transporting your gecko while driving, remove the gecko from its tank and place the gecko in a tupperware or critter keeper with holes. Do not transport the gecko inside its regular tank, as the contents can shift during transport and injure your gecko. 
 
COMMON HEALTH ISSUES
Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) occurs when a gecko does not receive enough calcium in its diet. This leads to a softening of its bones, making it easier for the gecko's bones to break. Once severe, the damage will become permanent and the gecko will have trouble walking and shedding. Make sure to gutload & dust your feeders with calcium + vitamin D3 to avoid this!
Stuck shed can cause loss of circulation to toes & eventual loss of toes after a few days. Normally this is caused by not having a moist hide in the gecko's tank to help it shed and can also be exacerbated by other diseases and conditions like metabolic bone disease (MBD) and poor husbandry. This common problem is usually easily fixed with 10-15 minute soak in warm water. If the stuck shed persists, try gently tugging on it when it's wet.
• Tail loss is a defense mechanism for leopard geckos and is somewhat common. If grabbed or if something is dropped on it or if they are feeling threatened in general, a leopard gecko can drop their tail by flexing special connecting tissues that connect it to the rest of their body. Very little blood loss occurs, if any, because the blood vessels leading to the tail are constricted during this process. The tail will wiggle on its own for several minutes. If your gecko drops its tail, it is very important to practice clean hygiene to prevent infection. Paper towel substrate changed daily or every other day is recommended, as well as additional feeding since the gecko no longer can rely on fat deposits stored in its tail for nourishment.
Cryptosporidiosis ("Crypto") is a diarrheal disease caused by the microscopic parasites cryptosporidium. Characterized by black stomach and very foul-smelling stool. Luckily not communicable to humans. Almost always untreatable, but symptoms can be minimized with clean hygiene techniques (i.e. paper towel substrate, changed daily) and rehydration. Most reptile vets will suggest euthanasia to help prevent the disease from potentially spreading to other reptiles and since it is virtually untreatable. 
Pinworms are the Enterobius parasite and are contracted usually by contact with surface covered with their microscopic eggs. Symptoms include discomfort and red, swollen vent. A visit to your local reptile vet is recommended.
Mouth rot (infectious stomatitis) is a symptom of multiple diseases. It can be caused by cricket bites or poor tank hygiene. A visit to your local reptile vet is recommended.
• Leopard geckos are not known to carry Salmonella, as it is usually only found in aquatic animals.
 
BREEDING
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