Ball Python Habitat Checklist

Most pet snakes require very similar setups for their captive care. This similarity allows you to basically have the same equipment for any of the commonly kept pet snakes. The only variation on the typical pet snake enclosure is the size and range of temperatures. With the right equipment, temperatures can easily be varied to suit several different snake species.

The major costs associated with a pet snake typically come when you have to purchase all of your snake care equipment for the first time. These costs typically range from $100 to $200 for each snake depending on what type of enclosure and equipment you purchase. For a basic snake setup, you will need the following items:

Enclosure with a Secure Cover

Screen covers are not functional in most cases and will need to be covered to preserve humidity in the enclosure. Most snakes can start off in a 10-gallon aquarium or similar sized enclosure; however, the enclosure will need to be upgraded as they grow. For an adult ball python, you should have at least a 40-gallon tank. We recommend Zen Habitat Ball Python Enclosure and Carolina Custom Cages Terrarium.

UVA/UVB Source

There is a lot of controversy about using UVA/UVB bulbs for ball pythons. We don’t recommend using any with your ball python. Because, we’ve been keeping ball pythons in captivity for many years now, and the lack of UVB has never been a problem to our knowledge.

Just imagine, how much sunlight does a ball python snake that spends its days in termite mounds actually gets filtering through the branches of trees and whatnot.

Do we think UVB exposure will hurt your ball python? We have no proof or data that it will, but on the other side, we have no data that says it will be of any benefit either.

Heat Mat

As mentioned above, most snakes do not need heat lamps or other heating elements. A simple reptile heating mat or under-tank heater is all that is needed to give your coldblooded pet the range of temperatures it needs to survive. We recommend Zilla Heat Mats that works really well.

Basking Heat Source

Again, a lot of differences in opinions on basking heat sources in the BP community. But we think getting a basking bulb for your ball python is actually a good idea. However, you can ignore it if you don’t want it for any reason.

Even if the ambient temperature is correct your ball python will need a hot spot to bask. A 100 watts bulb from Exoterra works really well. What I like about this bulb is it makes a perfect hot spot while keeping the rest of the enclosure at a gradient level. This allows your BP to move between warm and cold sides whenever they like.

Temperature Controller

Without a thermostat or other temperature controller, the heating mat will not be controlled and you risk ‘cooking’ your pet snake. When purchasing a temperature controller, some will have knob adjustments and some may have digital readouts. Spending a little extra money on a temperature controller can ease some worry about caring for your pet snake.

The Zoo Med ReptiTemp Digital Reptile Terrarium Thermostat is working great for us.


Even with a thermostat, it is great to be able to measure temperatures in your snake’s enclosure. Do not waste money on dial gauge or color strip thermometers. An infrared thermometer is generally inexpensive and you can measure the temperature anywhere with it. You recommend using something like Zoo Med Repti Temp Digital Infrared Thermometer.


Newspaper is a great free substrate to use for snakes. If you are looking for something else, use an aspen bedding material typically found in pet stores. Stay away from dusty or chemically rich wood mulches like pine and cedar. We recommend using Zoo Med Aspen Snake Bedding.


As said previously, pet snakes can be seclusive. Be sure to provide hides so that your snake can retreat. One hide on the warm side and one on the cold side of the enclosure is preferred. You can purchase half log type hides or make your own out of old butter tubs and other containers. Habba Hut Hideaway is a great option available for a ball python.

Water Bowl

One very important thing to consider about a water bowl is its weight. Snakes are strong and tend to tip over lightweight water bowls. You can use bowls specifically made for reptiles or shop around for heavier dog water bowls. Exo Terra Water Dish works fine for ball pythons.

Edward Jones is Editor-in-Chief at AZ Reptiles. He is a true reptile lover. He has a lot of experience in keeping and breeding most reptile pets.

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