The banana ball python is a medium-sized, gentle-natured snake. According to the Journal of Herpetological Medicine and Surgery, ball pythons are known for their docile demeanor. These pythons are popular pets for beginners and experienced snake owners alike. Before you get a banana ball python, it’s important to learn how to take good care of this snake.
Banana ball pythons are simple to care for in captivity. Give your ball python a warm, humid enclosure with hides to shelter itself under. Feed it a thawed frozen rodent every 1 to 2 weeks. With regular, gentle handling, your python will learn to trust you.
Here we will learn all the basics of taking care of a banana ball python. This includes what enclosure to provide, tips for feeding and handling the snake, and also what to do if your ball python gets sick.
What Is a Banana Ball Python?
Banana ball pythons are a color morph of the ball python, Python regius. According to the Animal Diversity Web, ball pythons are burrowing snakes. In the wild, they are found in the savanna grasslands or open forests of West and Central Africa.
You will find these snakes on or under the ground. They are most active at dawn and dusk, sleeping or basking at the warmest and coolest parts of the day. These snakes move using rectilinear locomotion, pushing against the ground to propel their bodies forward.
These snakes are constrictors, catching their prey with their coils and stopping its heart with a quick, tight grab. When threatened, this snake will curl into a tight ball to protect itself, hence the name “ball python.”
- Adult Female Length: 3 to 5 feet
- Adult Male Length: 2 to 3 feet
- Record Length: 6 feet
- Sexual Dimorphism: Females have larger girth and longer jaws
- Average Lifespan in the Wild: 10 years
- Average Lifespan in Captivity: 20 to 30 years
- Record Age: 50 years
Banana Ball Python Morphs
|Super banana:||Any ‘super’ morph is one where two of the same kind are bred together. They look similar to regular bananas.|
|Banana pinstripe:||The pinstripe gene makes the pattern thinner. The snake’s base color is reduced and other colors enhanced.|
|Banana clown:||The banana clown has less definition between its colors.|
|Scaleless banana:||These snakes are the same color and pattern as regular bananas with no scales.|
|Banana pied:||Pied ball pythons are mostly white with small patches of regular color/pattern. Banana pied ball pythons are white, orange, and purple.|
|Banana yellow belly:||The banana yellow belly has pretty bright colors. It looks almost the same as a regular banana.|
|Banana lemon blast:||Banana lemon blasts bring out the yellow, purple, and orange. The orange runs along the back.|
|Banana enchi:||Banana enchis have a clean pattern. They’re the same color as regular bananas, perhaps a little brighter.|
|Banana pastel:||Mixing a banana and pastel produces a more flat-colored snake with a less base coloration.|
How Much Do Banana Ball Pythons Cost?
When a snake is first imported and bred, a morph is extremely expensive. However, as more snakes are bred and sold, the price starts to come down. The average price paid for a banana ball python is $100 to $150.
Bananas with the most interesting genetic combinations command the most money. A scaleless banana might cost $3,000, a banana lesser clown could fetch $1,300, and a banana leopard about $1,000.
Setting Up a Ball Python’s Enclosure
It’s time to give your snake a comfortable home. A banana ball python will do well in many kinds of enclosures, including plastic reptile cages, melamine racks, and glass reptile terrariums.
If you get your banana ball python as a hatchling, you do not want to intimidate it with too large of an enclosure. As the ball python grows, be sure to increase the size of its enclosure to keep it comfortable.
- Enclosure size for baby ball pythons: 15 to 20 gallons
- Enclosure size for adult ball pythons: 25 to 35 gallons
When purchasing an enclosure, make sure that there are no holes for the snake to escape through. Banana ball pythons are curious animals and will move around their enclosure looking for a way out.
If the enclosure has a screen top, make sure that it is securely fitted and not easy to push aside. A set of clamps can help keep a lid on a terrarium.
A substrate is a substance that you line the bottom of the snake’s enclosure with. Ball pythons appreciate a substrate with enough depth for them to burrow around in.
You need a substrate that holds humidity well without being damp against the snake’s belly. Too much dampness can lead to irritation and scale rot.
Safe substrates for your banana ball python include cypress mulch and orchid bark. Paper products such as newspaper or paper towel will work well, especially for younger ball pythons.
Avoid using potentially harmful substrates such as sand and cedar shavings. In addition to irritating your snake’s skin, they can be harmful to the snake’s lungs when inhaled.
Whenever you notice feces or urates in the substrate, remove the waste as soon as you can. Also, be sure to completely clean out your banana ball python’s enclosure regularly, around once a month. This includes removing and replacing the substrate. Make sure the enclosure is completely dry before you return the snake to its home.
Banana ball pythons do not like a completely empty space. These snakes are most comfortable when they have something to hide under if they wish. Be sure to provide at least two hides for your banana ball python, one on the warmer side of the enclosure and one on the cooler side.
A hide is anything that a ball python can shelter itself around or under, like a cave or a tunnel. You can purchase a cave or log hide for your snake at your local pet store. If you want, you can make your own hide out of a ceramic flowerpot, plastic container, or cardboard box. Simply cut some holes for your snake to get in and out through.
You do not need to provide branches or rocks for the ball python to climb on. These snakes prefer to stay on the ground.
However, if you want to create a more natural environment for your banana ball python, you can turn their enclosure into a bioactive vivarium. This entails putting living plants in the enclosure. A bioactive vivarium not only looks nice, but it also provides plenty of places for your snake to hide while helping to maintain humidity levels inside the tank.
Warmth And Light
In the wild, banana ball pythons live in warm environments. They will be most comfortable at higher temperatures.
Still, you should give your snake some variety so it can choose the temperature it is most comfortable with. One side of the enclosure should be warmer, and the other should be cooler. Be sure to attach two thermometers to your enclosure – one on the warmer side and one on the cooler side – so that you can keep an eye on the temperature levels.
|Warmer Side of Enclosure:||85 to 91 degrees Fahrenheit|
|Cooler Side of Enclosure:||About 80 degrees Fahrenheit|
|Maximum Healthy Temperature:||93 degrees Fahrenheit|
|Minimum Healthy Temperature:||75 degrees Fahrenheit|
You have many options for tools to use to heat your banana ball python’s enclosure. These include a heating mat under the tank, a ceramic heat emitter, or a basking light over the tank. If you use a rack system for multiple ball python enclosures, you can use heat tape to connect all of the enclosures to the same heat source.
Make sure that the snake cannot touch the heat source. You don’t want your snake to burn itself. If you use a basking light, make sure it has a red light setting for nighttime heating.
It is healthy for ball pythons to experience a natural day/night cycle. This entails about 12 hours in lighting and 12 hours in darkness. You may be able to provide this without any extra lights, just from the natural day-to-day light in your house.
Ball pythons are used to warm, humid environments in the wild. Get a hygrometer and attach it to the side of the tank. This tool will allow you to keep track of the humidity levels in the snake’s enclosure.
|Required humidity level:||60% humidity|
If your snake is having a difficult time shedding, you may need to increase the humidity level. Baby banana ball pythons also are more comfortable in higher humidity environments. Here are some ways to increase the humidity level in your snake’s enclosure:
- Put in a larger water dish
- Mist the enclosure with a spray bottle daily
- Cover at least half of the screen top with a towel
- Place the enclosure in the same room as a humidifier
- Add a waterfall feature or live plants to the enclosure
Keep a water bowl available in the snake’s enclosure at all times. You may not see the snake drink from it often, but water is necessary for the snake’s health. Make sure that the bowl is large enough for the python to soak itself in if it wants to, but not so large that it cannot get itself out again.
You do not need any fancy brand of water for your snake, as long as the water is clean. If you are concerned about the safety of your tap water, you can use bottled water. Do not give distilled water to your ball python.
Provide fresh water for your snake every day. Don’t forget to clean and disinfect the water bowl at least once each week as well. If the snake defecates in the water bowl, clean the bowl immediately.
Banana Ball Python Feeding Tips
These snakes are carnivores. In the wild, a banana ball python will mostly feed on wild rats and mice. This is convenient for you because it means you do not need to teach your snake to eat something different.
When feeding your snake, choose a prey specimen which is the same size as the largest part of the snake’s body. Too large a meal at once can get stuck in the snake’s mouth.
After you feed your snake, wait for 1-2 days before you try to handle it. Snakes take a while to digest their prey, and handling them too soon can make them regurgitate their food.
Live or Frozen Prey?
It may be tempting to give your banana ball python live prey, because that is what these snakes would eat in the wild. However, there are several reasons why frozen prey is a better option for you as a reptile keeper.
Frozen rodents are readily available. Many companies ship frozen rats and mice in bulk. This method of feeding is convenient and cost-effective.
Live prey can hurt your snake. Mice and rats do not want to be eaten and will fight back. In the wild, a snake can slither away from a rodent which is difficult to kill. In captivity, your snake does not have that option. A bite from a mouse or rat can cause a painful infection.
Thaw out the rodent before feeding it to your snake. You can do this by leaving it on your counter overnight, or by placing it in a bowl of warm water for a couple hours. Do not microwave a frozen rodent.
How To Feed It?
Younger ball pythons should be fed once a week. As an adult, banana ball pythons only need to be fed around every 10-14 days.
We recommend using tongs to present food rather than your hands. If you use your hands, this may teach your ball python to associate the appearance of your hand with the appearance of food. You don’t want your snake to mistake your fingers for food and preemptively bite you.
You may also choose to feed your snake in a separate container. Use a snake hook to move your snake from one enclosure to the other. This will teach the snake to expect a meal in these surroundings, making it more likely to eat willingly when you want it to. Additionally, this gives you a chance to clean out the snake’s enclosure while it eats.
What If It Won’t Eat?
If your banana ball python is refusing to eat, here are some tips:
- Warm the rodent up with warm water
- Switch between mice and rats
- Try a smaller prey specimen
- Try a different color mouse
- Feed the snake right before bedtime
- Use tongs to wiggle the rodent around near the snake
Banana ball pythons are less likely to eat in the cooler times of the year, such as winter. They also usually do not eat while they are shedding.
If they python seems otherwise healthy, missing a meal now and again should not be a matter of concern. If the python does not eat for an extended period of time, go to a reptile vet for advice.
Banana Ball Python Handling Tips
Juvenile ball pythons are generally shy and timid. As they grow, ball pythons become more curious about their surroundings and engage more with human handlers.
When you first bring your banana ball python home, give it about a week to get used to its new surroundings. Place the snake’s enclosure in a room where humans regularly come through, so your snake can get used to how humans smell and sound.
It is essential that you get your ball python used to human interaction. This requires regular, gentle handling to build trust between you and your snake. Start out by handling your snake once a week.
Once the snake is used to your presence, you can handle it more often. The snake will learn to trust you as its owner and enjoy your company.
How To Avoid Getting Bitten
A nervous banana ball python may try to bite you when you handle it. These snakes are not venomous, and their bite is a superficial wound.
However, any wound can be painful and become infected. Here are some tips to avoid getting bitten by your banana ball python:
- Wear gloves the first few times you handle the python
- Do not handle your snake right after a feeding
- Stay relaxed while holding your ball python
- Do not grab or shake the snake
- Move slowly
- Keep the ball python supported with both hands
How Many Snakes in One Enclosure?
While some people manage to successfully cohabit banana ball pythons in the same enclosure, this is not recommended. Like most snakes, banana ball pythons are not family animals. The only time that these snakes come together in the wild is to mate.
After this, the snakes separate again and do not care for their young after the eggs hatch. Keeping more than one banana ball python in a single enclosure can stress out both snakes. Do not worry about your banana ball python getting lonely. It will be fine alone.
What If My Snake Gets Sick?
With proper care, a banana ball python can live to be anywhere between 20 and 40 years old. Since this snake is a friend for life, you want to take good care of it.
This involves keeping a careful eye out for symptoms of illness. Snakes are vulnerable to various diseases, including respiratory infections. If you notice signs that something is wrong, take your snake to a reptile veterinarian for help.
Signs of Illness
A healthy snake is active and alert. It has clear eyes and healthy skin, and it eats regular meals.
If you notice that your snake is behaving or appearing in an unusual way, this could be a sign of illness. Here are common health problems in banana ball pythons:
- Wheezing or labored breathing
- Difficulty shedding
- Regurgitating its food
- Unusual lethargy
- Refusing to eat
- Bumps or spots on its skin
- A white, cheesy substance in its mouth
If you notice that your ball python is more irritable than usual, or if it is refusing to eat, this may not be a sign of illness. Snakes shed their skin multiple times in their lifetime, more often when they are younger.
When it is time for the ball python to shed, its scales will dullen in color. Its eyes will also take on a milky-blue color. The python may refuse to eat until the shedding is complete. You may also see the banana ball python rubbing its face on the walls and furnishings of its enclosure.
To help your snake shed its skin, raise the humidity level. Ensure that the snake has enough water in its water dish to submerge itself.
If you notice that your python is having trouble completing its shed, or if it is unable to remove its eye caps, do not try to remove them yourself. Instead, go to a reptile veterinarian for help.
Taking good care of your banana ball python includes feeding it well and handling it in a way that makes the snake comfortable. With this guide, you are well equipped to give your snake a long and happy life.