Ball pythons (Python regius) are amazing creatures and most probably the most common pet snake. The problem with these snakes is that they are praised as beginner snakes and that there are so many available on the market with the most amazing colors ever. A lot of times this persuades interested people to buy this snake sooner that they should.
That´s why a lot of ball pythons do not get as old as they could. The fact that you are reading this article shows that you are doing your research and want to make sure that you are aware of everything when it comes to keeping ball pythons. That´s great!
In this article I am going to show you how old ball pythons get and which mistakes in husbandry you should avoid in order to guarantee a long ball python life.
How Long Do Ball Pythons Live?
So most of the time you will probably hear that ball pythons get around 15 years old in captivity. Some even had a ball python which got around 20 years old. This is definitely a good age, however ball pythons can even get way older than that. The oldest ball python I know of got 47 years and 6 months old.
As you see, this is a very long time. While it is not guaranteed that your ball python will get over 40 years old, it could happen. So if you are looking for a pet that can get really old, a ball python is the snake you are looking for.
Why Most Ball Pythons Only Become 10 To 15 years Old
Now you know that it is definitely possible that your ball pythong gets almost 50 years old, but why do most ball pythons in captivity only get around 10 years old? Here are a couple of reasons for that.
Wrong Tank Setup
The age-old question: should I get a glass terrarium or should I get a plastic box for my ball python? Actually it doesn´t really matter. While I think that it is way more amazing to have a ball python in a glass terrarium, a plastic box can work just as fine. What´s really important is that you reach the right temperature and the right humidity in the enclosure.
That´s the problem here. Especially reaching and keeping the right humidity seems to be a huge problem for most keepers. If you don´t have the right humidity, your ball python will most probably have problems with shedding. You might know that this is a energy-sapping process. Ball pythons can even have a little bit of an attitude during shed. Shedding problems can end pretty badly. Further there might appear other health problems as well.
They Are Picky Eaters
The Ball python is known for being a little bit of a picky eater. Many ball python keeper feed to small mammals which can make feeding even harder. In my opinion it is better to feed bigger mammals, this way your ball python will grow better and you will not be that stressed if your ball python does not want to eat for a longer time.
Being a picky eater is highly related to the next point.
While baby ball pythons can have a little bit of an attitude, most adult ball pythons are pretty calm. That´s another reason why this snake is so popular as a pet snake, by the way.
The problem with that is that many keepers tend to handle the snake a little bit too often, even if the snake should be left alone. For example, handling the snake when it just moved in should definitely be avoided. Same goes for during shed. Most ball pythons just don´t like being touched during shed.
Stress can lead to not eating. That´s why I said that being a picky eater is related to stress. Don´t get me wrong here, stress is definitely not the only reason for being a picky eater, but in can be a reason. If your ball python might be stressed out, try to feed a dead mammal during the night. Bally pythons come out to drink and eat during the night and being alone and "safe" during the night, could lead your python to eat.
As you see, ball pythons can get very, very old and if you want your ball python to get old, the husbandry should be on point. Further you should get to know your snake. I think every snake keeper can tell if the ball python wants to be left alone or not. So you know bets when your ball python might be stressed or not.
If you make sure that your ball python is healthy, in a healthy enclosure and most of the time stress-free, you will have a ball python that gets very old. Further I want to say, that a little bit of stress from time to time, won´t kill your snake. However continuous stress should be avoided.