Ball Python Deluxe Buying Guide
Prepared by ReptiFiles
A ball python enclosure should be large enough to allow for a proper thermoregulatory gradient and follow the “snake formula”
Enclosure Width ≥ adult snake length
Enclosure Length ≥ ½ adult snake length
Enclosure Height ≥ ½ adult snake length
However, to build an extra enriching landscape, we recommend a 4’x2’x4’ PVC enclosure. The added height allows your snake to engage in natural climbing behavior!
Ball pythons are healthiest and happiest when they are housed on a loose soil substrate, at least 2-4” deep. Although ball pythons don’t naturally burrow, a deeper substrate is better for maintaining humidity. We recommend at least 60 quarts (6 bags) of either Josh's Frogs Coco Select along with a layer of leaf litter on the surface for moisture retention and enrichment.
Heat, Light, & Humidity
A ball python enclosure should have several overhead heat sources, an appropriate UVB lamp, and tools to monitor and control these elements. For deluxe habitats, we also recommend automated misting.
You'll need a cluster of at least 2 heat bulbs to create an appropriate basking area. 75 watt halogen flood bulbs are the ideal source of IR-A and IR-B radiation needed for healthy thermoregulation, best paired with a reflective dome fixture to project the heat evenly and naturally.
4-foot tall enclosures should have “backup” heating to maintain ambient temps, especially if your house gets particularly cold at night. We recommend two 60 watt ceramic heat emitters in a reflective dome and a small heat mat to place underneath the warm hide if needed.
*Heat mats MUST be regulated by a thermostat and covered with 1” of substrate to avoid direct contact while still being able to permeate heat.
Your ball python should have a T5 HO linear fluorescent UVB bulb in a reflective fixture, roughly half the length of the enclosure. Choose your appropriate UVB strength based on 1) the distance between the lamp and your dedicated basking area, and 2) whether the lamp is above a mesh screen top or mounted inside the enclosure (no mesh obstruction).
- 6% UVB: 11-16” above basking surface (14-16” if mounted inside)
- 12% UVB: 17-19” above basking surface (20-22” if mounted inside)
Be sure to check our more detailed basking distance chart to determine which bulb you'll need and the optimal height of your basking surface, where the UVI should be at its strongest (2.0-3.0)
An automatic misting system is the easiest way to guarantee consistent, appropriate moisture levels in your enclosure. Adding a fogger to your setup will also help maintain ambient humidity, especially in drier climates, but the fogger should only be used at night.
Monitoring & Regulation
- 2 Gauges: Place each thermometer/hygrometer on opposite sides of the enclosure to monitor the necessary warm-to-cool temperature gradient.
- Outlet timer: All reptiles should have a healthy circadian schedule: heat and UVB turned on during the day, then everything turned off at night to allow for total darkness and a natural temperature drop (~12hrs/day). A digital timer power strip is most convenient for a consistent light cycle.
- Basking thermostat: A dimming thermostat is the best way to keep your temperatures within an ideal range - just place the probe on your basking surface and set a max temp. The VE-300X2 has a built-in night drop timer that you can program to match your light cycle. (If using night drop, plug thermostat into a ‘continuous power’ outlet on your digital timer strip)
- ON/OFF thermostat for heat mat: Heat mats must always be regulated with an ON/OFF thermostat to avoid burn injuries and fire hazard. Place the probe directly on the substrate above the heat mat and set a safe maximum temperature.
Decor & Enrichment
Ball pythons require a variety of decor items that are vital for security, health, and enrichment. Get creative with your decor, you can never have too much climbing, coverage, or texture!
Ball pythons need at least 2 medium hides: one on the warm side (under the basking bulbs) and one on the cool side. However, it’s better to offer as many hiding spots as possible to help your snake feel secure. You can also install a large hide box upside-down on the ceiling to create a “sky hide!” Fill at least 1 of your cool/center hides with moistened sphagnum moss to facilitate shedding.
Cork, Branches, & Logs
Ball pythons are semi-arboreal, so climbing opportunities are crucial for good exercise and mental stimulation. We recommend at least 3 sturdy branches for your python to climb and 3 large cork flats to provide more hiding security and sensory enrichment.
Artificial plants add more shade for UV and heat regulation, coverage for security, and they enhance the appearance of a naturalistic habitat. We recommend choosing 5-7 plants for your enclosure.
Tools & Feeding
A complete ball python setup also requires:
- Large, heavy bowl for fresh drinking water and soaking
- Soft-tipped, bite-safe feeding tongs
- Calcium and vitamin supplement with low D3 content
Ball Python Setup Examples
6'x2'x3' - Contributed by Zach Tippie