Ball Python: The Royal Python Of Africa

Ball Python

Whenever we hear the word Python, an image of a giant venomous reptile emerges in our mind. But the Ball Python can demolish that image as it is nonvenomous and the smallest of the African Pythons. Unlike other pythons, they are relatively calm and domesticated due to their unique appearance and manageable size.

Ball Python is a species native to West and Central Africa, where they live in shrublands, grasslands, and open forests. 

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The Ball Pythons, also known as the Royal Pythons, are fascinating creatures that belong to the Pythonidae family. Their name “Ball Python” refers to their tendency to curl into a ball when threatened, frightened, or stressed. 

Let’s get some more information about this exceptionally characterized Python.

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Ball Python is a stocky snake with a small head and smooth scales.

Ball Python

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Ball Pythons have a distinct appearance that sets them apart from other snake species. They are dark brown, black, or albino, with light brown blotches on the back and sides. These stocky snakes have dark black markings on their white or cream bellies. 

They are considered small to medium-sized snakes.

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On average, Ball Pythons reach a maximum length of 182 cm or 6 feet, with slightly larger females as compared to males. Females typically measure two to four subcaudal scales (enlarged plates), while males have eight to ten subcaudal scales. 

 

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Habitat and Natural Range.

Ball Python

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In the wild, Ball Pythons are native to the grasslands and savannas of West and Central Africa. They are typically found in countries like Ghana, Benin, Mali, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Sudan, Uganda, etc. They are adapted to live in a variety of environments, from forests to open grassy areas. 

Ball Pythons are nocturnal; they are most active during the night.

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Ball Pythons are typically crepuscular and nocturnal; they are more active during dusk, dawn, and nighttime. 

They are known for their specialized defense strategy that involves coiling into a tight ball and keeping their head and neck tucked away in the middle when frightened or threatened.

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Instead of biting, they play their defense mechanism which makes this species easy for humans to handle and has contributed to their popularity as a pet.

Ball Python

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Their nonvenomous nature and defensive behavior instead of biting make them popular as pets. When it comes to keeping a ball python as a pet, creating a suitable habitat is crucial. A glass terrarium or enclosure with a secure lid is recommended. 

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Ball Pythons are also known for aestivation.

They favor mammal burrows and other underground places, where they aestivate for a long. 

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Ball Pythons are carnivorous.

Ball Pythons feed on other animals. In the wild, they primarily prey on small mammals like rats, mice, and birds. As pets, they are commonly fed pre-killed or frozen-thawed rodents, ensuring the safety of both the snake and its owner. It’s essential to feed them appropriately sized prey items that are proportional to their size.

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Ball Python feeding

One interesting fact about Ball Pythons is their method of capturing prey. Rather than striking at their prey, they use a strategy called ‘constriction.’ Once they seize their target, they wrap their bodies around it, squeezing tightly until the prey suffocates. This behavior is instinctive and helps the snake consume its food more efficiently.

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Breeding Habits

Ball Python females lay three to eleven leathery eggs which hatch after 55 to 60 days. Surprisingly their sexual maturity is defined by two factors: age and weight. Young male pythons reach sexual maturity at 11-18 months, while females at 20-36 months. As per weight, males can reproduce when they are 600 g while females at 800 to 1200 g. 

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Ball Python female incubating eggs

Ball Pythons are listed as near threatened on the IUCN Red List due to the high level of exploitation and poaching for the international exotic pet trade. In the areas near the wild, they are also hunted for their skin, and meat, and used in traditional medicine practices.

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With their unique appearance, manageable size, and calm demeanor, they make excellent pets for those interested in the snake world. They are the most popular pet snake and the second most popular pet reptile in the world; Royal Python. By understanding their characteristics, habitat, diet, and care requirements, we can create a fulfilling and enriching environment for these captivating creatures to thrive.

 

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