The Mojave ball python is one of the most common and visually distinct ball python morphs (opens in new tab) due to its unique floating alien head pattern. First bred in 2000, the Mojave Ball Python is a relatively newer morph that is a staple in any ball python breeder’s collection.
In fact, one of the reasons ball python owners are so infatuated with Mojaves is because of their ability to produce such striking morphs when bred amongst other themselves and other morphs.
Known to be great beginner pets, these non-venomous, non-aggressive pythons are easy to acquire, making them a great exotic animal option for all ages and experience levels, as well as those looking to potentially breed or even create stunning morphs down the road!
Regardless of whether you’ve fallen in love with their coloring and pattern and are considering adopting one OR have already brought one home and need some tips, this article will have you feeling like a Mojave Ball Python expert in under 15 minutes!
So, to learn everything you NEED to know about this quintessential morph and its care, just keep reading.
Table of Contents
Mojave Ball Python Species Summary
The Mojave ball python is a basic, single gene morph of the common ball python (Python reguis).
The Mojave morph refers to both a pattern AND color mutation (see next section) that is unique to this specific gene.
A morph is an individual from a certain species that, due to genetic mutation by breeders, displays a unique physical appearance or “phenotype” through color and pattern. In the case of the Mojave ball python, its color variation is a co-dominant mutation.
Some morphs can occur in the wild, not just when bred specially in captivity. However, most morphs you see today are captive bred.
The Mojave Ball Python’s unique genetics mean that not only can it produce more Mojave morphs, but when bred with other color variants, it can create “super” morphs such as the beautiful Blue-Eyed Leucistic Ball Python.
⭐️ Fun Fact: According to researchers and conservationists, the ball python is the most commonly traded live animal exported from Africa, with the United States being the biggest importer. This goes to show how in demand these snakes (and their morphs!) truly are.
Appearance & Colors
The MOST distinctive feature of Mojave ball pythons is in fact the unique appearance of their alien head pattern.
When compared to a traditional ball python, these alien heads appear to be “floating” with a single keyhole or eye in the center. A traditional Ball Python will have alien heads with 2 eyes/keyholes that often times connect to the belly.
It is also not uncommon for these alien heads to be surrounded by a thick and almost Eyptian-like black band, similar to what one might expect to see rimming the bright green or gold eyes of a cat.
When it comes to their flaming, or the lighter coloring you see extending from belly and up the sides, you can expect to see soft creams or yellows with the belly itself being white and pattern-less.
The Mojave is by no means the most visually striking ball python morph available in terms of coloring, but their pattern is striking and distinct enough to make recognizing them fairly easy.
Although understated compared to more flamboyant morphs, their beauty is respectable considering their pure genetics that are not influenced by other morphs. The Mojave Ball Python, simply put, is a true individual.
🤓 Expert Tip: One of the coolest things about a Mojave is that because it is a single gene morph, you can expect it to retain its vibrancy well into adulthood. Some morphs look stunning as babies but fade in intensity as they age. Not the Mojave!
When they hatch, baby Mojave Ball Pythons are approximately 10 to 12 inches in length. On average, straight out of the egg, you can expect your snake to weigh 50-60 grams.
However, this information is by NO means suggesting you consider adopting this young! It is important to ONLY buy a snake that has demonstrated a healthy appetite and has shown success eating. Otherwise, you may end up adopting a sickly pet and having to go through the gut-wrenching experience of losing them from a young age.
As with all ball pythons, Mojave Ball Pythons grow quickly, with most reaching 20-24 inches (or longer!) by 2-3 months of age.
In terms of adult length, Mojave ball pythons will grow on average to be a total length of 3 to 5 feet, depending on gender. However, some large females have been known to reach 6 feet.
As with many species of snakes, ball pythons demonstrate sexual dimorphism, which means you can expect your female Mojave Ball Python to be longer and wider in girth than that of a male.
In terms, of weight, most adults will weigh between 2 to 4 pounds, with females being on the heavier side.
As long as they are properly cared for and regularly fed, Mojave ball pythons can live between 20-30 years on average. However, the oldest living ball python lived to be a whopping 47 years old!
Mojave Ball Python Care Sheet
Enclosure Size & Dimensions
Mojave Ball Pythons are terrestrial snakes that fair best in a grassland-like environment, from which ball pythons naturally hail. Although they like some open space to move, too much open space makes them uncomfortable as they feel exposed.
Thus, they prefer cluttered cages with ample hiding spots that allow them to feel protected and secure.
When it comes to Mojave Ball Python tank size, the general rule of thumb is that tanks should be at least as long as the snake and at least half as wide.
So, for instance, if your adult Mojave is 4 feet long, you should have a tank that is at least 48 inches long by 24 inches wide. You can go bigger than this too, but don’t overdo it as it will stress your pet.
Hatchlings and juveniles under 20 inches long prefer smaller terrariums, such as a 10 gallon tank. This tank size provides ample room without being too open as your pet grows.
However, once your juvenile reaches 20 inches, it’s best to upgrade to a 40 gallon tank.
Snakes that are over 3 feet should REALLY be in 120 gallon tanks that measure 48 inches long by 24 inches wides and 12 (ideally 24) inches deep.
There are MANY options for housing reptiles, ranging from…
- Glass tanks and terrariums
- PVC reptile cages
- Melamine Racks
- Tupperware containers
- And many more
Each housing option naturally has advantages and disadvantages. However, if we were to recommend just one enclosure, it would have to be a PVC reptile cage.
Why? Simply because they hold humidity and retain heat nicely, evenly dispersing it throughout.
When considering a housing option, you’ll want to ask yourself the following questions:
- How well does this material retain heat?
- How well does it retain humidity?
- Will it allow for ample ventilation?
- How difficult will it be to keep clean?
Additionally, it is also important to note that the ONLY time two ball pythons should be together in a terrarium is during breeding!
Because ball pythons are territorial, cohabiting is not recommended, as it leads to an increased risk of fighting, causes stress, and can even result in serious if not fatal injuries.
Mojave Ball Pythons enjoy spending their time on the ground or making burrows in open grasslands. An arboreal snake they are not!
In captivity, ensure that they have enough space to move around and substrate in which they can burrow.
The BEST substrate options for your Mojave ball python’s terrarium include:
- Coconut husk
- Bio active soil mixture
- Coconut fiber,
- Cypress mulch
- Newspaper or paper towels
However, not all substrates are created equal. In fact, you’ll need to weigh specific criteria to determine which option is best for you and your snake…
When picking a substrate consider:
- How easy it is to clean
- How much it costs
- How well it retains moisture (soil and coconut husks are great for this)
- How attractive it looks (if aesthetics are of importance)
- Whether it poses any impaction risk
Do NOT use sand or cedar as a substrate as sand can be easily injected and cedar is poisonous to snakes.
Most importantly, provide adequate accessories including rocks, branches, huts and at least two hides in your Mojave ball pythons enclosure! The more accessories provide places to hide AND climb, ensuring your pet will feel safe, secure, and happy in their enclosure.
Also, to maximize your snake’s comfort and minimize any avoidable stress, try to place its enclosure away from high traffic areas and other pets.
Temperature & Lighting
Mojave ball pythons cannot regulate their body temperature, which is why heating is of utmost importance.
The best way to ensure your Mojave ball python will be happy with its temperature is to create a temperature gradient from one side of the tank to the other.
Cool Side: 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit
Warm Side: 84-89 degrees Fahrenheit
Basking Spot: 90-94 degrees Fahrenheit
Nighttime Temperature: 72-80 degrees Fahrenheit
Your ideal heating setup will be a heat lamp that is mounted overhead in a dome lamp with a ceramic fixture. Try to place it over a branch or rock to give them a basking spot.
If you must place the heat source inside the enclosure, purchase a heat lamp guard to prevent your snake from accidentally rubbing up against the bulb and burning themselves.
Do not use heat rocks, as they are known to cause burns!
Unlike most lizards, a UVB bulb is NOT a requirement for a Mojave Ball Python.
Lastly, try to keep the lights on for 12 hours and off for 12 hours. Since your Mojave Ball Python is nocturnal, this lighting schedule works best.
🤓 Expert Tip: The BEST way to ensure that the temperature stays consistent is to have thermometers on both the cool and hot side, ideally with a third thermometer in the middle.
Mojave ball pythons enjoy humidity levels between 50-60%, with babies and shedding snakes preferring it even higher, at around 75%.
Proper humidity levels must be maintained to ensure your snake remains happy and healthy. As such, carefully monitor humidity levels using a hygrometer.
If you are struggling with maintaining high humidity levels consider making the following changes:
- Spraying bedding with water until it is damp
- Increasing the water dish size
- Covering the top of the enclosure with a damp towel
- Adding a humidifier to the room
- Adding live plants
Your Mojave ball python will require a water dish full of safe tap water or bottled water. Make sure the water dish is large enough for your snake to soak in.
Food & Diet
The Mojave Ball Python is carnivorous and enjoys eating various rodent prey items including rats and mice. Their mobile jaws allow them to easily hunt food items much larger than their heads!
In fact, watching a Mojave ball python eat might be one of the coolest aspects of pet ownership…
Mojave ball pythons are ambush predators, they lay and wait until the perfect time to strike. They retract their head and neck, and quickly strike, so fast that the rodents don’t even know what hit them!
Your Mojave ball python should be fed a mouse once every 7-14 days.
As your snake gets bigger, you can offer them rats as well. The size of the rodent you are feeding your ball python should only be as big as the largest size of the snake’s body.
Although frozen and thawed rodents are usually recommended, you can also feed your Mojave Ball Python live rodents.
If you are feeding them live mice, make sure to supervise the feeding. Not only will you be able to watch their fascinating hunting skills, but you can keep an eye out for injuries caused by scratching and biting from retaliatory mice.
Unfortunately, food rejection is a pretty normal and common occurrence with ball pythons in general. However, if your Mojave Ball Python is not eating, there are measures you can take.
Bear in mind that as long as the overall health and body condition of your snake is not deteriorating, food rejection is normal and should NOT be a cause for immediate panic.
⭐️ Fun Fact: In the wild, ball pythons are a natural pest control, keeping rodent populations in check!
A clean terrarium is vital to the health and happiness of your Mojave Ball Python.
You’ll need to remove feces and as soon as possible and spot clean their enclosure as necessary. Dirty substrate should be replaced right away.
It is recommended to do a full cleaning of the enclosure once a month. This deep clean should involve a complete exchange of the substrate and removal of all accessories which are to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
Potential Health Issues
In general Mojave ball pythons are hardy and healthy snakes, with most common illnesses related to stress and poor husbandry.
Ticks and Mites
Ticks and mites can be spotted on the scales of your snake, in their water bowl and on the substrate. Always purchase Mojave ball pythons from a reputable breeder who can vouch for the health of your pet.
You can treat the mites on your own if caught early enough or pursue veterinary treatment.
Mojave ball pythons shed their skin frequently. The most commonly associated medical problems come from incomplete shedding due to low humidity.
Treatments include increasing humidity to 60% +, assisting your snake shed by soaking it in water, or moistening up a paper towel and allowing your snake to slither over it and remove its skin.
Exhibited as wheezing or trouble breathing, respiratory infections occur when the humidity is too low or the substrate is too dry and dusty.
Treatments include increasing heat and humidity, and antibiotics prescribed by a veterinarian.
Scale rot is exhibited as rashes or blisters on the surface of the ball python’s skin. Unlike other conditions, scale rot is typically due to too high humidity levels!
Reduce the humidity in your snakes enclosure and replace the substrate with a dry paper towel substrate.
Behavior & Temperament
Mojave Ball Pythons are nocturnal and are most active at dawn and at dusk. During the day, they are general inactive, spending the majority of their time hiding.
Rather than fighting off predators, ball pythons prefer to remain undetected. Their main anti-predator defense mechanisms include hiding, camouflaging, escaping and of course, balling.
However, if spotted a ball python does not give up without a fight!
Humans are unfortunately one of the few known predators of the Mojave ball python. As such, it can be expected that an unhabituated snake will take its new owner as a threat and may bite. However, biting is rare.
Due to their larger bodies and slow movements, Mojave Ball Pythons are generally easy to handle for beginners and even kids. Young snakes are generally a little more shy, but as they get older and get used to you and their surroundings they start to open up, engage and explore.
The BEST way to acclimate your snake to you and your scent, is through interactions! Continued handling will allow them to feel comfortable and secure with you.
When picking them up, support their full body weight so that they feel secure.
If your Mojave Ball Python is hiding from you, striking, biting, or showing any other fear response, it is best to leave it alone and wait before attempting to handle it again.
Do not handle your snake for 24-48 hours after feeding, as it will need several hours to digest its food in comfort. Just like humans don’t like to be bothered after a big meal, snakes don’t either!
Do Mojave Ball Pythons Make Good Pets? A Summary.
Perfect for beginner and expert exotic animal owners the Mojave Ball Python is both a joy to raise and care for, and a wonderful genetic tool for creating beautiful morphs.
Due to its unique genetic background, your Mojave ball python will likely need to come from a breeder. Always ensure you are picking a reputable breeder, that can guarantee your new pet is healthy and parasite free.
If possible, set your snake’s enclosure up and perfect temperatures prior to bringing them home. This will help minimize their stress and yours too.
Also, remember, snakes can live long and happy lives, so be prepared to spend many years with your new slither companion.