Help with a new baby ball python...


Dear VPI,

I just purchased a baby ball python from a pet store. Since I don't really know a lot about snakes, I was wondering if someone with some knowledge could help me out. Are there any live plants that I could put in his cage that wont harm him? I have had him less than a week and upon getting him home I discovered some loose scales on the top of his head--are these normal or is it possible they might be infected?

About feeding, depending on the person some say live while others say stunned and some say dead. What is really the best way to feed my snake? I thank you for your time and patience. Good advice is hard to come by. Sincerely, Michelle.


Dear Michelle,

We feed almost all our ball pythons freshly-killed mice that we "hand" to them with a pair of 10" forceps (giant tweezers.) A baby will grab it's mouse off the forceps, squeeze it a bit and then eat it. Many of our ball pythons will eat dead mice that are simply laid in their cage, but some require that they be fed.

We used to keep most ball pythons on aspen bedding about 3" deep. We'd give them a hide box and a water bowl. They are in about 60% humidity. This species is fairly tolerant of a wide range of humidity.

 Now we keep most of our ball pythons on paper substrates--newspaper, kraft paper, and paper towels. They do every bit as well as on the aspen.

The loose scales are probably pieces of the last shed that were stuck on. See how things look after the next shed.

So far as I know, almost any live plants that the snake doesn't destroy will be fine. Certainly ivy and ficus and spathophyllum and those sorts of hardy houseplants work great. Don't overheat your snake with the lights necessary to make your plants happy.

And Michelle, I think you would enjoy our book on ball pythons and I know you will find it very informative and useful. It's offered for sale here on our website in the VPI STORE.

Good luck.   DGB.