Slitherin' Sisters

Frequently Asked Questions
(a work in progress)

Feeding Questions

Is it safe to feed ball pythons live rodents?
In my personal experience feeding live rodents is pretty safe. Although, I have fed a few medium rats that have bit and drawn blood. Nothing major, but it's a risk that you take. Snakes are very efficient killers. As long as the rodent is well fed and watered it should not chew on your snake when left in the enclosure for a short time. Rodents have a very high metabolism and will eat the closest source of protein, your snake. I would never trust a pet store rodent as being well fed and watered. Also, only leave the rodent unattended for 10-30 minutes max. Many of the big time ball python breeders feed live rodents because the sheer number of snakes they have. These are breeders with $10,000+ snakes, but I have seen them tong feed (hold the rodent with the tongs and wait for the snake to strike). If you are worried you can tong feed to limit the chance of your snake getting bit. 

How large of a prey should I feed my ball python?
The prey item should be about as thick if not a slightly thicker than the thickest part of your snake, if not just a tad thicker. Generally a 100 gram ball python can eat a small mouse. An adult generally eats medium to large rats.

I get this question a lot and I think people don't give snakes enough credit. They can eat pretty large rodents! Here is a picture of a 70 gram ball python taking down a 'fuzzy' rat. For size comparison he has one of those in his belly.

Is power feeding dangerous?
I was just made aware of what power feeding actually is. Power feeding is when you shove another prey item in your snake's mouth as it is swallowing the first prey item. That can definitely be dangerous because your snake is not deciding whether or not it should eat another prey item. A lot of people think power feeding is feeding the snake every 3-4 days. I call that a "heavy feeding schedule" now that I know better, and that is not dangerous as long as you don't get carried away with it. If you start seeing white skin between the snake's scales it's time to cut back. Most BPs will stop eating or take breaks when they are growing too fast or eating too much.
I do not, and will not power feed, that's bad practice, plain and simple. I will, however, feed my snakes every 3-4 days if they are thin or needing to put on weight, especially after laying eggs.

Can I feed more than one prey item at a time?
Yes, but there are rules to this one too. Some BPs are mousers and refuse to switch over to rats, and some people feed only mice. This is not a problem, but feeding only one mouse at a time is not nearly enough for an adult BP. Depending on the size of your snake, you may need to feed 6 more at a time. BPs should eat a prey item that is roughly 10-15% of their body weight. When feeding multiple prey items you need to put one prey item in, wait for your snake to finish eating it, then put the next one in, and repeat.

Is feeding a ball python in shed dangerous?
No. I have no idea where people get this idea from. There is no reason you can't feed a snake when it's in shed. I've heard some pretty far fetched reasons as to why it's dangerous, none of which make sense. Most, if not all, large ball python breeders feed all their snakes on the same day regardless of who is or isn't in shed. Personally, most of my snakes eat whether or not they are in shed. Some of the younger ones like to give me grief, but they are still figuring things out. If they will eat in shed and you want to feed them in shed, feed them.

Health Questions

How do I get rid of mites?
The only product I would use or suggest is PAM- Provent A Mite. It has been researched for 25 years, and proven safe for all reptiles. Reptile Relief has also been said to work fine for BPs and is a bit of a faster relief for the snake since you can spray it on the snake. PAM is great for long term and killing all the eggs and mites in the tank. You can use both if your snake is badly infested. I spray my tubs with PAM every now and again as a preventative. I have also heard of Dawn dish soap baths working well. You can bathe kittens and ducks in it, so it's probably safe for snakes.
You can buy PAM here: PAM Link

Why does my ball python have bad sheds?
I can pretty much guarantee that your humidity is too low. I like to keep my humidity around 70%. You can read through my "ball python care" page for information about humidity. 

How/why do you weigh in grams? 
People weigh in grams because it's much easier to measure the size of the snake. Measuring in inches is pointless because ball pythons are short, heavy bodied snakes. They don't grow very long, but they get quite thick. You can get a small gram scale at Wal-Mart for $15 or so, but it may not read over 400 grams. A 3 year old female ball python should weigh well over 1,000 grams. A 3 year old male should weigh about 800 grams or more. These are not definitive numbers, they are just averages. Some can be much heavier, some lighter because they are tough feeders. 

Can I house two ball pythons together?
In my opinion, no. Ball Pythons are solitary creatures and should not be kept together. BPs are especially sensitive to becoming stressed and the last thing you need to do is add a 'friend' to their enclosure. If money is the issue, I suggest not buying a second BP and maybe getting rid of the first-rodents aren't cheap!!! If space is the issue, put them in tubs. They don't have to be in a rack system, but you will need to get some sort of locks to keep the lids on.

Can it be done/has it been done? Yes, but there are no advantages other than saving money at the BP's expense. Plus you could end up with eggs, and they take a lot of time, money, and knowledge, if you want them to survive.

Do ball pythons need light?
No, since they are nocturnal they don't spend much, if any time in the sunlight which means they do not need UV or any kind of light to stay healthy. Some people worry that their day/nighttime schedule will be thrown off if they don't get any light, but that is not something I have ever heard of being a problem. Some tubs don't let any light in, like the solid colored tubs many breeders use. Some of my snakes get a small amount of indirect light and the rest don't really get any light, I don't have any issues.


What are morphs?
This might be a bit difficult....but I'll try! Ball pythons do not have breeds because they are all the same size and shape, they just have different paint jobs. I suppose you could consider dogs of the same breed that can have different colors/patterns as "morphs" of that breed. 

Ball Pythons have three main genetic types, Co-dominant=codom, Dominant=dom, and Recessive. Codoms are a visual morph and have a super form, eg, the pastel's super form is the super pastel. Doms are also a visual morph, but do not have a super form. Both are visual morphs so either they are or they aren't a morph-if it looks like a pastel it's a pastel, if it looks like a normal from a codom breeding it's a normal, a normal cannot carry the codom/dom gene.

Recessives are a bit harder because it takes two copies of the gene to make a recessive. Recessives can be labeled as PH/ possible het (50% het), 66% het, 100% het, and homozygous (a visual pied for example, het stands for heterozygous). To break it down a bit more a 50% het has a 50% chance of being a normal and a 50% chance of being a het.

How do you get a 50%, 66%, 100% het?
50% het are made when you breed a 100% het to a normal, 66% hets are made when you breed two 100% hets, and 100% hets are made when you breed at visual recessive to anything but another visual recessive of the same morph. The cool thing about recessives is that if you breed two of them together, say a PiedxPied breeding, you will get ALL pieds, no hets (normal looking animals) or normals!

How do you get a double het?
One way to do it, is to breed two different recessives together. Say your breeding is AlbinoxPied, the babies will be 100% het albino, and 100% het pied, hence a double het snake! 

Some morph genetics:

Pastel, Mojave, Cinnamon, Yellowbelly, Butter, Lesser, Black Pastel,

Spider, Pinstripe,

Pied, Albino, Ghost, Clown, Axanthic,


Is there a difference between males and females?
There is no difference in temperament based on sex. The only difference there is, is that females get a bit larger. Usually 4-5 feet compared to males who get 3-4 feet. Some females get up to 6 feet in length, but that isn't terribly common. My largest girl is an '05 and is about 4.5 feet long.

Will keeping rats/mice in the same room affect a ball python?
No. I haven't noticed any difference in my snakes by keeping rodents in the same room. My snakes have been sharing their room with the rats for several years. The only thing I have noticed is that new snakes are a bit more on edge because of the smell. They settle down after a few weeks. I still get refusals, so don't think that just because you keep rats in the same room that your BP will never refuse a meal again!

Will my BP become aggressive if I feed him in the enclosure?
No. This is another myth that drives me crazy. BPs are not aggressive to start with, therefore you cannot *teach* them to be aggressive. I feed in the enclosure and keep rats in the same room. Also, moving the BP to eat is just causing unneeded stress, and/or asking to get bit. If you are worried about them ingesting your bedding, lay down some newspaper before you offer food. I only have one female that has shown me any type of 'aggression', but it's because she's hungry and wanting food, there is a difference between an aggressive snake and a hungry snake. Aggressive snakes will bite the heck out of you even out of the tub, if they strike at you a couple times because you opened the tub and they are hungry, then you need to feed them more! They generally know when it's feeding time either by smell or sound. In my case, the smell doesn't mean anything to them since they smell rats/mice all the time. My snakes know it's feeding time once they hear a rat/mouse squeak, when they hear or smell that it's feeding them they are in feeding mode and you do chance getting bit when you open their tub and you aren't ready!

Update, I did purchase one REALLY aggressive female, NASTY mean! She would try to bit the heck out of me every time she saw me. She never got me, but I had some close calls. You will learn their body language and what to do. I ONLY handled her with a snake hook.                                                                             


Can a female Ball Python lay eggs if she has never been with a male?
Yes! It's very weird, but it happens! It's called parthenogenesis. The female essentially makes a copy of herself and lays a fertile clutch. Since the babies only have the mothers genes they will all be females.


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