Ball Python Temperature and Humidity: How to Increase & Maintain

Monitoring and providing ball python humidity needs DOESN’T have to be complicated. Unfortunately, many people overthink the effort it takes to provide perfect ball python conditions.

Ball python closeup
Ball pythons are forgiving animals, and don’t require the high humidity levels that some reptiles do.
Image by Karsten Paulick from Pixabay.

Join us as we look at the ins and outs of humidity for ball pythons and help YOU create a tool kit to create ball python nirvana.

In Short

  • Ball pythons require humidity levels of between 50 and 60%.
  • A good thermometer and hygrometer are essential monitoring devices.
  • The humidity and ambient temperature are closely linked in a ball python enclosure.
  • Many different tools like heat pads, heat tape, or a heat lamp help contribute to the overall humidity.
  • Your ball python enclosure should have a temperature gradient so the snake can adjust its body temperature as it needs to.
  • A lack of humidity or too much humidity can have negative effects on your ball python. While humidity isn’t hard to maintain, it is essential.

The Ideal Ball Python Temperature and Humidity

Although ball pythons come from tropical and subtropical areas, they don’t require the high humidity level and surface temperature that some tropical snakes do.

Ball pythons prefer an enclosure with a relative humidity of 50-60%.

Temperature is slightly more complex.

As with most snakes, ball pythons do best when provided with a temperature gradient so they can control their body temperature.

There are four significant temperatures in enclosures for ball pythons:

  • The nighttime temperatures of the tank
  • The temperature on the cool side of the enclosure
  • The temperature immediately beneath the hot spot
  • The ambient temperature between the cool end and the warm end.

The ideal temperature for the two sides of the temperature gradient, the hotspot, and the evening temperatures, differ significantly. They’re as follows:

  • Hot spot: 88-92°F
  • Cool side: 76-80°F
  • Ambient temperature: 81-83°F
  • Evening temperature: No higher than 75°F

The warm side, hot spot, or hot side uses a heat source like a heating pad or heat tape.

ball python crawling
A reliable, well-designed heating system is essential for maintaining the humidity in your python’s tank.

Heat bulbs and ceramic emitters aren’t ideal for ball pythons, and most people prefer a heat mat or heat tape.

In cold regions, you may also need to set up an adjustable heat source, like a digital heating mat on the cool end of the enclosure so that you can keep it in an acceptable temperature range.

Remember to evenly heat both sides of the tank.

The cold side should have its temperatures, but evenly supplied across that end of the tank, and the warm side should have an even distribution of its relevant temperature.

Keeping even heating on either side of the tank is essential for maintaining humidity.

Fortunately, ball pythons are very forgiving (one of the many reasons why they make great pets), so you have some wiggle room to figure it out.

Heating Your Ball Python’s Enclosure

There are many ways of heating your ball python’s enclosure to keep it in the optimal range. It’s essential to remember that your ball python requires a temperature gradient.

To help you maintain the temperature in your pet’s enclosure, you can use any one of the following heat sources:

  • Heat tape – Heating tape is an option to help increase humidity and maintain temperatures but can also be harder to set up where you want it.

Pro Tip: Never use heat rocks in your ball python’s enclosure. They can result in burns, dehydration, or other types of overheating.

  • Heat mats – heat pads and heating mats are some of the most reliable heat sources for an enclosure. Most are easy to control with a thermostat and provide constant heat.

Pro Tip: Heat mats or pads and heat tape are the most used options for ball pythons, since they don’t bask like other reptiles. Heat bulbs aren’t appropriate.

  • Heating cables – Heating cables are easy to control with a thermostat, but heating pads are safer and easier to install.

Potential Side Effects of Inadequate Conditions for Ball Pythons

If the humidity level in your ball python’s enclosure is too high or too low, it can affect your pet significantly.

Excessive humidity often leads to health disorders. one of the most common being respiratory infections caused by higher-than-usual moisture levels in the snake’s lungs.

Insufficient humidity can cause a range of other problems, most notably bad sheds.

Other results of low humidity in a ball python enclosure include respiratory issues. While excessive humidity may lead to respiratory infections, low humidity causes other breathing issues.

If your humidity isn’t well-balanced, your ball python may also be more susceptible to other diseases, infections, and even parasites.

How to Increase Humidity in Ball Python Tank

There are a few ways that you can incorporate to help increase humidity in a ball pythons tank. We’ll list some of them below:

  1. Ensure that the enclosure is well heated throughout.
    Providing a sufficient temperature gradient throughout the ball python’s enclosure will consistently ensure that latent water turns into humidity.

  2. Use a large shallow water bowl that will maximize atmospheric exchange and increase humidity.
    The water bowl is one of the best tools that snake keepers have. It provides a constant source of water which one can turn into humidity by heating it.

    Top Tip: Use heat sources to turn the room temperature water in your python’s enclosure into vapor and push up the relative humidity of the tank.

  3. Partially cover some of the ventilation holes.
    Suppose your tank has a lot of ventilation, and you live in an area with naturally low humidity. In that case, it may be difficult to maintain a high enough humidity level in the enclosure.

    Covering some (not all!) ventilation will help keep the humidity higher in your python’s home.

    You can safely cover up to 50% of the vents, as long as the tank has at least six to start with.

  4. Use a high-quality absorbent substrate.
    Many new snake owners make the mistake of using a very basic substrate like newspaper or paper towels.

    While these are acceptable substrate choices (and easy to use and clean), they contribute nothing towards the enclosure’s humidity level.

    When placed on a heat source, paper towels dry out within moments, and provide no long-term humidity boost.

    Use a decent absorbent substrate like coco peat or reptile mulch, and you’ll have much better humidity levels.

  5. Mist the enclosure regularly.

    Water droplets on ball python's head
    Misting your ball python’s enclosure regularly helps to maintain appropriate humidity levels.

    If you have a good heating system and absorbent substrate, one of the best ways to increase humidity is to mist the enclosure.

    Have a Mist bottle specifically for the purpose, and give the substrate a solid misting when necessary.

  6. Incorporate a humidifier or fogger.

    If you live in a very dry area or one with extremely low humidity, it might be worthwhile to consider buying a reptile fogger.

    If you decide to go this route, ensure that you buy a fogger with variable output to keep the humidity in that optimum 50 to 60% range.

How to Keep Humidity up in Ball Python Tank

Once you manage to get the humidity level in an acceptable range, you need to maintain it.

You can do a few things to ensure that the level doesn’t drop again, and mostly they qualify as minor maintenance.

Try the following:

  • Keep misting regularly.
  • Fill the water bowl regularly.
  • Check the substrate daily to see if it’s still moist.
  • Ensure that your reptile fogger always has water in the tank.
  • Check the heating devices daily to ensure that they’re in working condition.

Best Tools for Humidifying a Ball Python Enclosure

As with any endeavor, having the right tools will help simplify the process. We’ve listed a couple of our favorite tools for managing humidity in a ball python’s enclosure.

Thermometer and Hygrometer

One of the essential elements you’ll need is a thermometer and hygrometer, three of them.

You should have one on the warm side of the tank, the cool side, and one in the middle to measure the ambient temperature.

We suggest a two-in-one combo device like the ReptiZoo terrarium thermometer hygrometer.

This convenient digital system measures both the temperature and the humidity and easily sticks to the wall of your python’s glass enclosure.

Substrate

Using an absorbent substrate will help increase the humidity in your pet’s terrarium more than you imagine (more about that in our best substrate for ball pythons post).

Overall, the best substrate to use is coco coir for reptiles since it’s extremely absorbent but doesn’t contain any harmful buffering agents.

We suggest using a product like the coco bricks from Josh’s Frogs. This awesome substrate is slightly larger than some coco coir products but equally absorbent.

Heating Pad

Consistent heating is one of the essential elements when it comes to maintaining constant humidity.

A heating pad with a thermostat is one of the easiest ways to accomplish this. We recommend a product that comes with a thermostat like the Tikaton reptile heat pad.

This excellent heating pad is fully adjustable, allowing you to set the ideal temperature for your scaled pets.

It has very little setup work, and you can essentially plug it in and set the temperature.

Mist Bottle

A decent Mist bottle is one of the fundamental elements of maintaining humidity in a ball python terrarium.

Look for a product with an adjustable spray size and that takes several ounces.

A bottle with a larger capacity is better because it means you have to fill it less often. Keep it near your pet’s enclosure and mist when necessary.

We suggest a product like the YAMYONE continuous aerosol. Although this product may not be specifically designed for reptiles, it ticks all the boxes.

Fogger

If you live in a particularly dry area or keeping the humidity high enough is a constant struggle, it may be time to consider a humidifier or reptile fogger of some kind.

If you decide to go this route, ensure that it has variable output control and set it quite low.

Despite their tropical origins, ball pythons DON’T require excessive humidity levels. A system that constantly creates intense humidity may make your snake ill.

One of our favorite foggers on the market is the Coospider terrarium humidifier.

This device has a large capacity and a variable output, so you can set it to create exactly the right amount of humidity.

Best Ball Python Substrate for Humidity

There are many excellent ball python substrates on the market, and many of the absorbent ones can help maintain humidity levels.

Some of the best absorbent options include:

  • Topsoil mix
  • Reptile mulch
  • Cypress mulch

In our opinion, coco coir or coco peat is the best moist substrate for your ball python’s enclosure.

It will maintain constant moisture, which your heat pad, heat lamp, or another heat source can turn into part of the enclosure’s humidity.

Humidity Box for Ball Python

Using a humidity box, also known as a humid hide or moisture box, can make a huge difference to your python.

It gives your pet ball python a place to go if it feels that it needs more humidity. The humid hide is a simple box placed inside your python’s enclosure.

You can purchase one as a ready-made product from a supplier, which is easier, but it may be cheaper to make one yourself.

Ball python snake in a skull
While hides are essential to ball pythons, it’s important to have a humid hide, and one in a cooler part of the enclosure.

Making a humidity box is easy. You’ll need:

  • Some sandpaper
  • A craft knife, utility knife, or pair of scissors
  • Absorbent substrates like sphagnum moss or coco peat
  • A plastic tub, large enough for your python to climb into

To make the moisture box:

  1. Wash the plastic tub thoroughly to remove any harmful chemical residues from the manufacturing process. A tub with a removable lid is best for cleaning purposes.
  2. Use the knife or scissors to cut a hole in the lid that’s slightly larger than the widest part of your snake’s head.
  3. Sand down the edges of the hole to ensure there aren’t any sharp ends that could hurt your ball python.
  4. Rinse the tub again to remove any debris and plastic residue.
  5. Place the absorbent substrate in the bottom one-third of the tub.
  6. Using a spray bottle, thoroughly dampen the substrate.
  7. Place the humidity box on the warm side of the enclosure, and mist it daily to keep it damp.
  8. Congratulations! You’ve successfully built a humidity box!

What Should My Ball Python’s Humidity Be?

Ball pythons don’t require the high humidity levels of some tropical species. Excessively high humidity levels can lead to a respiratory infection.

Ball Python morph on black background
The morph of ball python that you have doesn’t affect humidity levels. All ball pythons benefit from 50-60% humidity.

Most ball pythons thrive in an enclosure with humidity levels in the 50-60% range.

Always try to stay in that range, as lower humidity can cause problems with shedding and bodily functions, while high humidity levels make room for infections and diseases.

Ball Python Humidity for Shedding

When it sheds, a ball python requires ideal humidity levels. As mentioned above, the perfect range is 50-60% relative humidity.

Sometimes a certain snake, especially an adult ball python, may have a hard time shedding. In these cases, a higher humidity level of up to 80% is sometimes required.

Unfortunately, if you increase humidity in the ball python’s tank as a whole, it’s likely to cause some nasty side effects.

The best solution is to give your pet snake a humid hide or humidity box.

This simple box goes in your python’s enclosure, and has higher humidity due to the moist substrate inside it.

Thanks to the damp substrate in the box, the humidity is higher within its confines. The box gives your ball pythons a place to go if they need more humidity mid-shed or if the tank’s humidity drops.

Have you enjoyed this article about creating and maintaining humidity? Let us know in the comments, and share your tricks for managing temperature and relative humidity.

You might also want to check out our other ball python articles, like the care sheet, morph guide, and discussion about ball python sizes.as

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