Ball Python Facts: 39 Cool New Facts to Learn About Your Pet!

Ball pythons, Python regius, are popular pets, but there are many interesting things you don’t know about them. Join us as we talk about some fascinating ball python facts.

Ball Python Fun Facts

The ball python has a fascinating history with plenty of unusual factoids.

Here are the ball python fun facts that we managed to uncover:

  • Ball pythons are also known as royal pythons. Scientists believe that they have the name royal python because African chieftains wear living snakes as jewelry.
    Fire Ball Python Snake wrapped around a branch
    It’s easy to see why a tame arboreal python would make a passable substitute for a necklace.
  • The name ball python comes from their habit of rolling themselves into a tight ball when frightened.
  • Some hobbyists still believe that ball pythons are the smallest python species, but that title belongs to the pygmy python which reaches a length of around two feet.
  • Ball pythons have an average lifespan of around 30 years.
  • The oldest recorded ball python lives at the St. Louis Zoo and is more than 62 years old.

Royal Python Habitat Facts

A wild ball python is much different from the pets we keep.

While these animals are listed as least concern, over-exploitation might be driving them to extinction in the wild.

These are the ball python habitat facts that came to light:

  • Ball pythons have a distribution that covers large parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, mainly central Africa.
  • The royal python prefers scattered forest. These snakes like to have the shade of trees, but also want plenty of open space where they can move freely.
  • In their natural habitat in Sub-Saharan Africa, ranchers gather eggs and young ball pythons, then raise them in captivity for export when they reach a certain size.
  • The royal python usually lives near running water which it uses to cool down on hot days.
  • In the wild, it’s not unusual to see ball pythons on tree branches or even swimming.

Pet Ball Python Facts

You probably know more about these snakes as pets than in the wild. 

Young boy admiring beautiful Royal python
Ball pythons make excellent pets and take well to handling.

Let’s see if you knew all these facts about ball pythons as pets.

  • Ball pythons have been in the pet trade since the 1900s and became popular in the 1980s and 1990s.
  • Among the snakes of the world, ball pythons are one of the most exported pet snakes. In Togo, Ghana, and Benin alone, over 3,000,000 ball pythons have been exported since 1982.
  • Ball pythons make good pets and, with socialization from a young age, generally take well to being handled.
  • Ball pythons are heavy-bodied snakes that reach a weight of around five pounds. Nevertheless, they pose no harm to their human keepers.
  • Ball pythons rarely bite, but they may leave teeth embedded in your skin if they do.

Interesting Facts About Ball Pythons

Beyond the goofy facts, there are other interesting facts about ball pythons.

Did you know that:

  • In the wild, ball pythons are an important part of the food chain. They’re an important prey item for carnivorous mammals, larger pythons, and birds of prey.
  • Wild ball pythons rely on their labial pits to help them find prey. The labial pits function as a sort of infrared vision and allow the snake to see the heat produced by other living things.
  • A snake’s sense of smell is highly developed, and ball pythons can smell prey from far away.
  • A wild ball python will eat anything from small mammals and rodents to birds and small snakes. Like most snakes, they’ll happily consume anything they can swallow.
  • Due to its love of water sources, some people believe that the ball python is capable of catching fish.

Facts about Breeding Ball Pythons

Ball python breeders were only too happy to share these facts with us:

  • Male ball pythons mature faster than females.
  • Mall ball pythons reach sexual maturity at 16-18 months old.
  • Female ball pythons reach sexual maturity at 27-31 months old.
  • If you shine a bright light through a ball python egg, you can see the hatchling developing inside it.
    bright light through a ball python egg
    Shining a bright light into the eggs of birds or reptiles is known as candling.
  • An adult ball python lays an average of six eggs in every clutch.
  • An adult ball python may lay as few as one egg in a clutch, or as many as 12.
  • Wild ball pythons breed from mid-September to mid-November. In captivity, ball pythons breed year-round.

Facts about Ball Python Morphs

  • A ball python morph has a specific coloration and appearance and can be reliably produced through breeding patterns.
  • There are over 7,500 different ball python morphs on the market.
  • The first designer ball python morph was an albino produced in 1992.
  • The most expensive ball python morph is the lavender albino, which has gone for $40,000 in the past.
  • The stormtrooper ball python is a unique morph of which only one exists.
  • There are several types of color abnormality in ball pythons. They may be:
    1. Melanistic – having higher percentages of black pigmentation, which leads to a very dark or entirely black snake.
    2. Albinistic – Lacking pigmentation as a whole, which leads to a cream-colored snake.
    3. Leucistic – A partial lack of pigmentation which leads to a yellowish snake or one with much lighter coloration.
    4. Axanthic – Unable to produce red pigments, green pigments, or both. This leads to a snake with a faded appearance.

Facts About Ball Pythons vs. Other Pythons

Like many of the constrictor snakes of the world, ball pythons live varied and diverse lives.

The following sections will compare the ball to some of its impressive relatives to give you the overall view.

Size

  • The largest relative of the ball python is the reticulated python, Malayopython reticulatus, which reaches lengths of over eighteen feet.
  • Pygmy pythons are the smallest relative of the python ball and reach lengths of around two feet.
  • Comparatively, at lengths of five feet, it’s easy to see why a ball is considered a small species of python.

Diet

  • Compared to its relatives, the ball python has a relatively kosher diet. It dines on normal things (for snakes) like small mammals, rodents, and other snakes.
  • A python has a specially adapted head. The lower jaw can dislocate entirely from the rest of the head so the python can swallow larger animals than you’d think.
    python swallowing larger animals
    Pythons have been observed eating everything from small gazelles to crocodiles.
  • Burmese and reticulated pythons, as well as carpet pythons, have been observed eating alligators and crocodiles in the wild.

Fun Fact: One python EXPLODED when it caught a larger crocodile than it could swallow.

Believe it or not, the facts that we’ve shared with you today are only a fraction of the things you could learn about snakes.

Check out our articles about the most dangerous snakes and snake lifespans to learn more about these fascinating creatures.

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