What Size Tank For A Ball Python?


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The ball python has quickly become one of the most popular snakes to be kept in captivity. It is a snake that comes in beautiful colors, has a mild temperament, and doesn’t grow too large. If you are looking to buy your first snake, the ball python – also known as the royal python – may be for you. One of the most important things to know before buying any reptile is what size tank your new snake will need at every stage of growth.

ball python coming out of its tank

What Size Tank For A Ball Python? There is a popular myth that ball pythons get nervous in large enclosures, and you should keep them in small spaces for their comfort. This is just a myth. The tank should be based entirely on the age and size of your particular serpent.

Tank For A Ball Python – How To Pick Size

Choosing the tank for your ball python can be intimidating. There is a lot of information out there, and much of it will be contradictory to each other. You may not initially know what information to trust and what is best to ignore.

The best thing to look at is how the size of the tank you are considering will make your snake react to it, as well as the effects the size of the tank could have on your reptile.

Be sure you are factoring in the material the tank is made out of, as well as the best conditions for your snake’s health and growth factors.

Tanks vs. Tub System

There are generally two different systems snake owners have to choose between when it comes to picking out enclosures for their pets. You can go with either system as long as you fully understand the system and how to adapt best if for your ball python.

ball python in glass tank

There are preferences within the ball python fanbase – and with the species’ insane popularity, there is a lot of misinformation that is passed off as fact.

Please do your research and understand the truth behind all the information you are taking in.

Tanks are precisely what they sound like. They are made out of glass, PVC or other similar material, and are generally a rectangle shape. They will have specific dimensions and square footage and will be very basic in their design.

Tubs can be used alone or as part of a tub and rack system. A tub and rack system is often employed by breeders but has become popular in the States to keep ball pythons in even for simple owners.

This system is acceptable if you are following the size specifications for your snake. 

Despite popular belief, ball pythons do not become stressed by large enclosures, nor by enclosures that let in light. As with any snake, the most important thing for ball pythons is going to be humidity and temperature control, as well as providing the proper environment.

The most important thing for choosing the size, whether you go with a tank or a tub, is the size and stage of life of your individual ball python.

Tank – General Dimensions

A tank for your ball python should be picked out according to your snake’s stage of life. As your snake grows, so should your tank. 

Hatchlings up to 300 grams should be put in nothing smaller than a 10-gallon tank; juveniles under 3-feet should have a 40-gallon container; subadults and adults over 3-feet should have plenty of room with 120-gallon terrarium if not larger.

Tubs and Racks – General Dimensions

Though tubs and racks are a popular system for snake owners, please do not choose this method based on the myths online about it being more comforting for your ball python.

Many snake experts recommend this system only for reptile husbandry. If you still want to go with a tub and rack system for your ball python, follow the below guidelines for sizing.

python in a tub
Python in a Tub (not a Ball Python)

Ball Python hatchlings under 300g should go into a tub measuring approximately 20″ x 11″ x 13″.

Juveniles under 3 foot long can be put into a tub that measures around 36” x 18” x 18”.

Subadults or adults over a length of 3’ should go into nothing smaller than dimensions of 48″ x 24″ x 24″.

No matter what kind of space you chose for your snake, there should be approximately 8 square feet of floor area and 2 feet vertical space for climbing. 

Other Options

There are other choices out there for housing your ball python. These choices can range from an entire room in your home to a tortoise table to converted furniture.

The reasoning behind these different choices can be anything from cost to visual preference. No matter what you are considering housing your ball python in, please remember to follow the above dimensions to provide an adequate environment for your ball python and ensure its health and happiness throughout its life.

Keep in mind as well that you will need to be able to keep the python terrarium clean, including a deep clean with a chemical solution once a month. This can be difficult to do with certain types of a ball python display cage. Don’t pick something that looks cool but can’t be kept hygienic.

The Environment In Your Ball Python Enclosure

 killer bee pattern ball python - super pastel spider

The other thing to keep in mind while picking out any kind of tank for a ball python is the environment you are going to need inside of it. Keep it at the right humidity and provide a heated and cooled side, with plenty of hides. 

Ball Pythons are crepuscular, so light outside of what is in the room the tank is in is not necessarily needed. It is good to have a light that will help to simulate a natural day cycle; however, in the end, that is up to each snake owner. It is crucial to have a tank big enough to provide both a heated and cooled side.

Like all reptiles, ball pythons are cold-blooded and therefore need help from their surrounding environment’s heat to regulate their metabolism.

Ball Pythons are native to Africa, and consequently, the temperature they need over the course of a year goes from 68-86°F (20-30°C) sometimes spiking up to 96°F (35°C) or higher.

Modifications to the heat or humidity in their homes can cause some snakes to stop eating or have digestive issues.

Though this heat is needed for optimal metabolism, ball pythons actually like living in underground burrows with cooler, more stable temperatures – hides are essential to this breed’s happiness.

To keep your ball python’s tank is optimal for digestion, using a temperature gradient may help. If you are using a temperature gradient here are guidelines to follow: Basking surface — 95-105°F (35-40°C); Ambient/air — 82-86°F (28-30°C) and Night drop — 72-78°F (22-26°C).

The Right Tank For Both You And Your Ball Python

There are many differing opinions on picking the right tank for a ball python. No hard and fast system is going to be the definitive answer.

The truth is that ball pythons, like all reptiles, are relatively simple creatures to have. They need the right dimensions for their size, the right environment inside, and the right food.

If you provide proper heating and cooling and plenty of hides within an adequately sized enclosure, your ball python should live a happy and healthy long life. Picking the right tank for a ball python is essential – when in an optimized environment and cared for correctly, ball pythons will be easy to handle, mild-mannered, and live up to 30 years.

April

I'm an avid animal lover, former veterinary assistant, and blogger. My undergraduate work included a pre-veterinary curriculum and some graduate work along those lines as well from Cal Poly in Pomona, CA (GO BRONCOS!). These days I blog about all sorts of animal-related topics. Many I have or currently personally own, some I don't but am just interested in. Nothing in this blog should be construed as veterinary advice. I am a 100% advocate that if you think something is wrong with your pet, take it to a vet.

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