Let´s say you buy a new carpet. Why do you buy a new carpet? Most probably because it looks better than the old one and you feel way better in your house with that new carpet.
When it comes to ball pythons, buying stuff for their enclosure is not about feeling better because of the looks. If done right, 90% of the things inside a ball python enclosure have an important purpose – to make sure that your ball python stays alive.
Of course, I am being a little bit dramatic here, but if you don´t set up your ball python tank correctly, your ball python will get sick and it will most probably die if you don´t correct the setup. Even though it shouldn´t be your goal to make sure that your ball python “only” survives. It should be happy in the tank and not stressed at all.
This article will show you how to set up a ball python habitat the right way, which products you should use and how to make sure that your ball python has a stress-free home.
Let´s Start With The Enclosure
Okay, so there are different enclosures you can use for your ball python. Most people get a plastic box for their ball python. Personally, I like glass tanks more, but that´s totally up to you. As long as you make sure that the housing conditions are okay, everything is fine.
Most people think that it is easier to get the right humidity in a plastic box. In my opinion it is very easy to get the right humidity no matter what kind of enclosure you choose. In a glass tank it is easier for you to observe your ball python, on the other hand a plastic box is way cheaper in most cases.
So if you are on a budget, you might start with a plastic box first and get a glass tank later if you want.
You need to make sure that the enclosure has the right length. Most ball pythons do not climb at all, that´s why the enclosure does not have to be very tall. The enclosure should be as long as your ball python. This way the snake is able to stretch, which prevents physical diseases.
I recommend to get this plastic box for an adult ball python. If your ball python is a baby you can go smaller, of course. If you want to get a glass tank, this glass tank is very wide and will be long enough for a long time.
If you decide to get a plastic box, I recommend to drill a couple of small holes into the box as ventilation.
What Kind Of Substrate Do You Need?
There are a lot of opinions when it comes to substrate. A lot of people just take newspaper or kitchen roll as substrate. It is very easy to clean and costs almost nothing. Further most people say that it is cleaner than other substrates.
Well, all I can say is that if you don´t clean the tank properly and frequently, you will always have problems with bacteria no matter if you use newspaper or cypress mulch.
In my opinion, newspaper or kitchen roll is not an appropriate substrate for such an animal. You can use it if for a quarantine tank or if you are a breeder.
You can also use it for a baby ball python for a short time, but other than that, I recommend to create a natural enclosure for your snake. They do not live on newspaper in the wild.
How To Heat Properly?
I am a fan of heat bulbs, because I think it is very easy to get the right temperature with them. However most people use heat mats for their enclosures. That´s absolutely fine. Most probably it will be easier for you to get the temperature right if you get a heat mat with a thermostat than with a heat bulb.
The thermostat makes it very easy to get the temperature right in the glass tank or in the plastic box. So if you want to get a heat mat, make sure that it only covers one third of the bottom of the enclosure.
You have to create different temperature zones in your tank, otherwise your cold-blooded ball python won´t be able to cool down or to warm it´s body up.
If you want to know what temperatures you need to get, or if you want to create a different heat source, read my temperature guide.
Hides In All Forms And Shapes
Ball pythons are known for being a little bit shy at times, even though they are very calm and friendly and you can handle them easily. For example, if you use a glass tank, you should cover the sides and the back of the terrarium.
This way your ball python doesn´t get stressed because it can see potential threats from all sides. Get a cork background and cut it as you need it, it will do the job.
If you have a plastic box, you don´t need backgrounds as you can´t see through the box. Your snake won´t be stressed in it.
Further you should place some hides in the enclosure. Ball pythons love to hide and they love to squeeze their bodies in small rooms. To reach the right humidity, you can also create a humid hide for your snake. Get this hide and put a little bit of moist sphagnum moss in it.
This will create a micro-climate inside the hide. It will make it easier for your snake to shed properly. If you don´t know what humidity ball pythons need or if you need help with getting the right humidity, read my humidity guide here.
You Need A Water Bowl
You must get a water bowl for your ball python. If your ball python is not well hydrated it will have problems with shedding. This can be pretty annoying as you have to help your ball python with shedding then.
Especially getting rid of the old skin on the ball python´s eyes can be a pain.
Don´t mind if you do not see your snake drinking. Most of the times ball pythons drink at night when they feel untroubled. Sometimes you might even see your ball python bath in the water bowl if the bowl is big enough.
If it baths all the time it could be a sign that your housing conditions (most probably humidity) are not okay. That could also be a sign for parasites.
What Else Do You Need?
You do not need more than the things above, but if you want to make your enclosure looks nicer I recommend to get a couple of plastic plants. Some plastic plants look very nice and if the plants are large enough, they even make good hides for your ball python.
Setting up a ball python enclosure is not hard at all. It can be very confusing as so many people have different opinions on this topic.
Makse sure that the housing conditions are okay. I gave you a couple of links to the right articles if you have any problems with humidity or heating. Those articles will help you to get everything on point.
If you have any questions, leave a comment in the comment section below and I will get back to you as soon as possible!