Ball pythons for kids? Find the information you need.

Ball Pythons as pet snakes For Children

If your first question is "Do they really make good pets?", then we'd have to reply with "YES! Absolutely!" We've been keeping a variety of snake species for almost a decade now and, of all the ones we've had, ball pythons have been the most docile, without exception. There are, quite literally, ball pythons that will eat from your hand.

Let's get a few other things out of the way...

  1. You need to understand that this is a commitment. Ball pythons, like a good wine, will age really well and can easily reach 30 to 40 years in captivity. Buying one for your child, means that your kid will have a pet snake for many years to come.
  2. Be prepared to feed prey animals, in theirwhole form, to your new pet. They will not eat left-over stew or canned foods. This is their natural diet and there is nothing we can do to change this. You will also, more than likely, be feeding frozen/thawed prey items. Remember that they'll need to be stored somewhere and you may need to sacrifice freezer space for this. If you're uncomfortable doing this, then we'd suggest you reconsider the commitment. We're not saying this to dissuade you, but your happiness and the snake's well being are both equally important to us.
  3. Their enclosure needs to be escape-proof! This is not negotiable. Compared to many other first pets, ball pythons are not a cheap option, so think of this as you protecting an investment. An old fish tank with a makeshift lid, may not suffice as a suitable enclosure. Ideally, you'd like something that can retain it's ambient temperature well. Glass is not a good insulator, so a fish tank will constantly lose its heat. With ball pythons needing to stay warm, you can see how that could be a problem. Wood enclosures are best and purpose-built ones, which can easily be locked, are readily available. If you're having difficulties finding something suitable, just let us know and we'll do our best to help you get the right one.

My child has asked for a pet snake. What are the risks?

First of all, this depends solely on the species you purchase. Obviously, you want to stay away from stuff like cobras and anything else venomous! Python Regius, or ball pythons, as they're commonly known, is one of the smaller python species and perfectly safe to keep. They rarely exceed 1.8 metres and, at their heaviest, will seldomly weigh more than 2.5 kilograms. This makes them a very safe option for smaller hands. Ball pythons are also incredibly docile by nature. They can bite, but tend not to. We're not saying that you'll never be bitten, but know this; should you ever suffer the misfortune of being "loved" by your new pet python, the injury is really minimal. We've had paper cuts that have hurt way more than anything ever caused by a ball python bite.

Where can I get an enclosure and everything else needed, to do this properly?

If you're in the Cape Town area, we recommend Panorama Pet Shop. They usually have enclosures in stock and you can get your substrate, a heat pad, a water bowl, a hide or two (we recommend two - one on the warm side, one on the cooler side), decorations and that all-important cage lock. Yes, we strongly advise that the enclosure remains locked when the ball python isn't being handled. Trust us on this...

How regularly do they need to be fed?

Ball pythons can be fed once every seven days. It takes them roughly 4 days to digest a meal, so we wouldn't recommend feeding them more frequently than this. Should the snake refuse food, it may be in or entering the shedding process. In this case, simply wait a few days and then offer a food item again. If you're concerned about your snake's health and wellbeing, we'd recommend you grab a copy of our tracking sheet. This will allow you to document events like feeding, shedding and anything else you may wish to capture.

Are there other benefits to keeping a ball python, over a cat or a dog, for instance?

There are numerous! Unlike your furry and fluffy pet options, they don't leave hair all over the place. Ball pythons will also never make a noise, which means that the neighbours have one less thing to complain about. They also don't require daily exercise and will not chew on or destroy your furniture and your carpets. They only eat once a week. They don't bring fleas or dead birds into your house. Oh, they also don't have ears, so they're unaffected by the sound of fireworks, should that be a problem in your area. Their potential lifespan is also a big drawcard. Ball pythons, when kept in ideal conditions, can reach a glorious age of 40 years. Wikipedia lists the oldest ball python as being 48 years old at the time of its passing. Losing a pet once every 30 to 40 years definitely beats having to go through the pain of repeating it every 12 to 15 years, as you would with a cat or a dog. If you're thinking of acquiring a pet rodent, please consider that they rarely live for more than 3 years.

Are they or can they be domesticated?

No, they are not domesticated animals. Please remember that, even though these animals are bred and hatched in captivity, it doesn’t mean they are domesticated. They are driven by instinct, which can run strong at times. Understand that there is a constant need to feed and procreate. Sometimes, the drive to procreate can overshadow the drive to feed. This behaviour is prevalent in sexually mature males and is something you need to be aware of. Keep in mind too that, as their owners, it is our responsibility to understand that they are still very primitive animals. If you intend on treating your new pet snake like you would a cat or a dog, then you may not be keeping their best interests at heart. You can not allow them to roam around freely and unattendedly, as you would with other pets. They can not be trained and they will not respond when you call for them.

I have other questions that aren't covered here. What can I do?

When you purchase your ball python from us, we include a copy of our Baby Booklet. This booklet covers a variety of topics and is aimed specifically at the first-time ball python owner. Other than this, we are also available to you via Facebook, email and phone too.

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A&M Ball Pythons are ball python breeders in Cape Town, South Africa.
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