Can you imagine how it would be to live at the North Pole without any warm clothes, without a warm home? Or how it would be to live in Dubai, but wearing a warm winter jacket all the time? You wouldn´t last long there, that´s for sure.
If you get a ball python (python regius) and don´t get the temperature in your enclosure right, it is pretty much the same. Like you would get sick at the North Pole without warm clothes, your ball python will get sick if you don´t reach the right temperature in the enclosure. Ball pythons are cold blooded, which means that they need their environment to control their body temperature.
So to make sure that your ball python lives happy and healthy in the enclosure you set up for it, you must know what temperature ball pythons need and how you can achieve those temperatures easily. This article will show you exactly that.
The Temperature You Need
You do not only need one certain temperature in the enclosure, you actually need several temperature zones. Don´t worry though, while it sounds a little bit complicated at first, it is pretty easy to achieve that.
The Ball Python Hot Spot
First of all, you need a hot spot. That´s the place where your snake gets on temperature. The hot spot should have around 90 °F to 95°F. The hot spot can be created with a heat lamp like this, or with a heat mat like this. If you get a heat mat, you also need to get a thermostat. You have to create the hot spot the on left side or on the right side of your tank, not in the middle.
If you would create a hot spot in the middle, you would not be able to create different temperature zones in your tank.
The Cool Side
If your snake feels that it needs to cool down a little bit, it will change the location. In this case it would be from the hot spot to the cooler side of the tank. The cool side should have around 80 °F, but it can also be a little bit lower as the temperature from the hot spot to the cool side will vary anyway.
It shouldn´t go below 74 °F though. The temperature in the cool zone will be achieved automatically if you have the right tank size and if your hot spot is on point.
If the temperature in your hot zone is still too low, adjust the temperature of your hot spot without going higher than the recommended hot spot temperature.
If you have a heat mat, you can regulate the temperature with the thermostat. If you use a heat lamp, you could use a bulb with higher wattage, or you could even combine a heat lamp with a heat mat in the cooler zone.
Ball Python Night Temperature
If you use a heat lamp you should switch it off during the night. It is okay if the temperature drops during the night, it even should drop a little bit. However make sure that it doesn´t drop below 68 °F. If your ball python enclosure is not located in your basement, achieving this temperature during the night should not be a problem without the help of a heat mat.
If the room´s temperature drops below that, use the heat mat during the night to get a temperature slightly above 68 °F.
Back Heat vs. Belly Heat
I often hear people saying that ball pythons need belly heat in order to digest their food successfully. That´s because ball pythons in the wild often lie on warmed up stones to get on temperature. However they do not need especially belly heat to be able to digest their food.
They actually just need to be able to get their whole body on temperature to digest their food. If the heat source comes from above or from below does not really matter.
However the problem with heat from above is that you might not be able to get all the temperature zones right in your ball python cage as easy as you would with a heat mat.
Don´t get me wrong, it is possible to make it work with heat lamps and I actually prefer it as I like my enclosure to be as natural as possible, but it is definitely easier for you to get a heat mat with a thermostat.
Why You Should Not Get A Thermometer And What To Get Instead
If you use a heat mat with a thermostat, you should not have any problems with temperature. However I still recommend to measure the temperature from time to time, especially if you are beginner.
Back in the day, people always bought these little plastic thermometers that you can stick anywhere inside the tank.
Those thermometers were not accurate at all and they still aren´t. So I highly recommend to get a temperature gun like this one. You can measure the temperature anywhere in your enclosure within seconds, it is highly accurate and you can easily make sure that you have the right temperature zones in your tank, which would not be possible with one of those old thermometers.
Achieving the right temperature in your ball python tank is not hard at all. What makes it hard is the number of opinions you can find all over the internet. People use even use infrared lights 24/7 and other fancy stuff.
Get a heat mat with a thermostat or a normal incandescent bulb and adjust the wattage if you don´t achieve the right temperature.
What you get depends on your liking. I like heat lamps, but as you have seen, just using a heat mat might be the easiest way to go. And if you only have a heat lamp, don´t use it 24/7. Create normal day and night cycles.
Hope this article helped you! If you need help with setting up the entire ball python enclosure, read my ball python enclosure guide. Have fun with your ball python and if you have any questions, simply leave a comment in the comment section below.