My Ball Python

Ball Python Care BookQuestion: “I have a juvenile ball python that I brought home from a reptile show recently. It spends most of its time hiding during the day. I hardly ever see the snake. Is it normal for ball pythons to hide so much of the time?”

Yes, it’s perfectly normal. These are secretive snakes that spend much of their time in hiding, especially during the day. In their native Africa, these snakes will often occupy burrows that have been created (and abandoned) by other animals.

Ball pythons are mostly nocturnal. This is another reason you don’t see the snake out much during the day. They spend much of the day hiding from predators, and also to avoid the hottest time of the day. Then they come out at dusk and at night to hunt for prey. They also emerge from their hides occasionally to bask in the sun, warming their bodies.

Pet ball pythons in captivity often follow these same patterns. This is the kind of behavior you are seeing. So there’s probably nothing to worry about. It sounds like a normal specimen following its natural tendencies.

Ball Pythons Like to Hide During the Day

I hope you didn’t purchase your ball python under the assumption it would be cruising around its cage during the day. As you seem to have realized, that’s not their normal behavior. You can expect the snake to remain hidden for most of the daylight hours. In fact, hiding is essential to their health and well being.

So make sure you always provide some good hides in the snake’s cage. It can be something you make at home, or something you purchase in a reptile supply store / pet store. As long as the snake can completely hide itself from view, the hiding spot will suffice.

You can still coax your pet snake to eat during the daytime. But the later you offer food, the better the feeding response will be (in most cases, anyway). I used to feed my ball pythons in the late afternoon, and it worked well. They never ate in the morning, so I stopped offering. If you want a really strong feeding response, try feeding the snake after sunset. That can be a lot of fun! That’s when their natural feeding instincts are the strongest. Hint: You might want to use a pair of tongs when offering a ball python food at night.

I also recommend giving your ball python a place to hide on both sides of the cage — the warmer basking side, and the cooler end of the enclosure. You do have a thermal gradient inside the cage, right? By offering a hiding spot on both sides, you’re making sure your snake never has to choose between security and temperature. It should have a hide on both ends of the temperature gradient.

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