Ask Seth: Beginner Snake Owner

I am interested in getting a python and I was wondering if you can recommend a snake for a first-time snake owner.   What are some of the basics I should know about these snakes?  

Ball Pythons are good starter snakes for novices.  These snakes usually require a tank about 3-4 feet long with a secure lid, a place to hide, and relative humidity of about 60%.  It is important to keep the daytime temperature between 80-86F and night temps between 72-77F.  This can be achieved using Incandescent lighting or UVB Fluorescent lighting, both of which can easily be purchased at your local pet store. Shredded cypress can be used for bedding in the tank and be sure to provide fresh water in a shallow dish.

Ball Pythons should also have some type of wood in the cage to climb on. Feeding will consist of  mice, small rats and even small gerbils when they get older. Beware that young snakes can be somewhat aggressive, but will eventually calm down as they get older. Females can grow to around 4 feet long while the males can reach lengths of 3.5 feet. It is vitally important that you consult with a local veterinarian who deals specifically with exotic pets. Keep in mind not all veterinarians do, so make sure you ask this question when searching for a veterinarian for your pet snake. Snakes can have common problems that if left untreated can be very difficult to treat.  Establishing a relationship with a veterinarian that regularly treats snakes is essential since Ball Pythons can live for  20 -30 years and even up to 40 years with good care.

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