Ball/Royal python care
Ball Python Information
The Ball Python (Python regius) is a small non venomous snake of the family Boidae, a relatively primitive group of snakes which comprises the boas and pythons. The name is derived from their defense mechanism, when threatened they ball up in to a solid mass usually protecting the head. In the UK the ball python is known as the royal python due to the fact it is thought that cleopatra used to wear them around her wrists, like live jewellery. The rounded golden brown saddles sitting upon a dark background characteristic of this species are said to resemble aliens by some.
This is a small stout snake with adult specimens rarely exceeding 4.5ft in length. Females are generally larger than males, averaging somewhere in the region of 4-4.5ft, with most males struggling to surpass 3.5ft. In exceptional circumstances some females have been known to reach 6ft, however as mentioned this is rare. Ball pythons have a comparatively small head and a stocky appearance, their scales have a shiny look and may display some iridescence shortly after moulting (which is when they generally appear brightest). They have a white or cream coloured stomach, which may include scattered dark makings. As mentioned earlier, the overall body patterning of golden brown to yellow blotches upon the dark background is very characteristic and unique of this species.
Ball pythons as pets
Ball pythons make fantastic, interesting and unusual pets. They are especially suitable snakes for captivity due to their docile temperament (preferring to ball up in defence rather than show aggression), small size and availability. Despite a reputation for feeding problems, if a captive bred specimen is sourced from reputable dealer/shop most of these problems are put to bed. They are a highly attractive snake and if well looked after make good pets. They are however a long term pet as the ball python has life span in captivity around the 25 year mark, with the world record for ball pythons and indeed any captive snake being 48 years.
The ball python is typically found in dry areas, from grasslands to open forests, and sometimes agricultural land (the snake is an important pest control species). An inhabitant of Africa, it ranges from Senegal, Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Benin, Niger and Nigeria through Cameroon, Chad and the Central African Republic to Sudan and Uganda.
The Ball Pythons popularity within the pet trade has led to overexploitation in certain areas where the population may now be at risk. However due to its extensive range and the fact it appears adaptable (it is commonly found in a variety of habitats, including near and within human dwellings) as well as the frequency of stable pool populations elsewhere, the IUCN rate this species as of least concern.
Image source: IUCN
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