Pied ball pythons are a beautiful variant of the regular ball python. They maintain all of the best characteristics of the ball python— easy care, docile temperament, unfussy eaters— while also having stunning colors.
They also lack the health problems that many other morphs have, since their coloring is a result of a naturally occurring recessive trait. Combined with their other characteristics, they make a perfect choice for owners looking for a first morph.
For beginner and advanced keepers alike, you can’t go wrong with a pied ball python.
|Common Name:||Ball Python|
|Scientific Name:||Python regius|
|Adult Size:||3 – 5 Feet|
|Lifespan:||20 – 30 Years|
|Experience Level:||All Levels (Beginner – Experienced)|
|Enclosure Size:||At Least 60 Gallons|
The piebald ball python (most often shortened to pied ball python) is beautiful, docile, and has straightforward care requirements. Originally from Africa, the ball python has since become one of the most popular pet reptiles.
Pied ball pythons typically live upwards of 20 years, grow 3 – 5 feet long, and need an enclosure that’s at least 60 gallons. They’re long-term commitments despite being suitable for owners of all experience levels.
These snakes readily take food, handle very well, and don’t require any specialized enclosure equipment. The trickiest part of keeping pied pythons is making sure the tank is 75 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit and has at least 50% humidity.
Pied ball pythons look like regular ball pythons but with one noticeable difference. They have large white patches interspersing the brown and black colors.
These white patches are actually un-pigmented skin. They’re a result of a recessive trait and aren’t common among pythons in the wild, but are prized in captivity.
As a result, piebald varieties have been specifically bred. There are even secondary morphs, such as banana pied ball pythons and pastel pied ball pythons.
Panda pied ball pythons are another popular morph. The striking black and white color pattern, reminiscent of their namesake, is what specifically sets them apart from other morphs.
Crossing a black pastel (a co-dominant trait) with a pied (a recessive trait, as mentioned earlier) is what makes a panda pied ball python. These morphs are primarily bright white with small black patches.
You may also hear the term ‘het python’ and wonder, “What is a het pied ball python?” These are ball pythons that carry the pied gene but don’t actually display it.
This means that they don’t have any white patches. They appear as a regular ball python.
Price & Availability
Pied ball pythons and various morphs are bred in captivity and readily available. As one of the most popular reptiles, all ball python varieties (except the most exclusive) are easy to find.
The price of your pied ball python will depend on the age, gender, breeder, and any secondary morph traits.
For example, a coral glow pied ball python is going to be more expensive than a regular or het pied ball python.
The physical appearance of a python may also affect its price. Specimens with particularly striking or interesting patterns will cost more than pythons with dull colors or a basic pattern.
Generally, pied ball pythons can range anywhere from $500 to over $1,000. Panda, candy, and cinnamon pied morphs tend to be $2,000 or more.
Behavior & Temperament
As with most ball python varieties, the pied ball python is fairly docile and handles well. Though hatchlings and juveniles can be skittish, they calm down quickly with regular handling sessions.
Ball pythons are most active during the early morning and late evening (dawn and dusk). They may be more receptive to handling during these periods.
Keep in mind, there are certain times you shouldn’t handle your ball python. This includes 12 hours before eating, 12 hours after eating, near sheds, and 3 – 4 days after introduction to a new enclosure.
They may also be skittish if the environment outside of their enclosure changes suddenly. For example, your python may hide more if you get a new dog or have a baby.
Since ball pythons are naturally timid, it’s best to house them in a room that’s calm and has only moderate noise levels. Loud noises or too much activity can make them reluctant to emerge from their hides.
If you notice your ball python curling up into a ball, this is a sign of stress! This is their signature defensive position and is also the behavior for which they’re named.
Other signs of stress include glass surfing, extended hiding, and striking. It’s unlikely your pied ball python will actually bite you and continue latching.
Don’t panic if this does happen. Ball pythons are non-venomous and should release on their own. Whatever you do, don’t try to physically pull your snake off.
Pied ball pythons can live anywhere between 20 – 30 years if properly taken care of. With the correct enclosure, diet, and handling, they are a long-term companion.
As such, only serious owners should buy or adopt pied ball pythons. There are other snakes that don’t live as long for people interested in reptiles but unsure about making such a decade-long commitment.
Pied ball pythons need an enclosure that’s at least 60 gallons. Horizontal space is preferable to vertical space since these snakes only climb occasionally.
You can house pied pythons in terrariums, glass tanks, or a rack system. However, your snake should have enough room to comfortably stretch out (with no curves or kinks in their body).
There are four primary components of any good enclosure: water access, substrate, hides, and enrichment.
Your pied ball python should have 24/7 access to clean, fresh water. This means that you’ll need to refresh or replace the water daily.
Since pythons like to soak, make sure your water is large enough for your snake to curl up in. If desired, you can have two separate dishes: one for drinking and one for soaking.
If desired, you can add a moving water feature, such as a waterfall or fountain. Snakes are more willing to drink moving water versus stagnant water.
There are a variety of substrates you can use in your snake’s enclosure. These include orchid bark, cypress mulch, pulverized coconut husk, and similar substrates.
Never use sand in your enclosure. It poses a risk of impaction and can seriously harm your python.
The substrate should be at least three inches thick.
You’ll need a minimum of three hides in your enclosure. One should be on the “hot” side, one should be o the “cool” side, and one should be a humid hide.
All hides are important, but the humid hide, in particular, is necessary to your snake’s overall health. This hide helps them with the shedding process, which can be otherwise stressful.
Hides should be large enough to accommodate your python when curled up.
The humid hide should be enclosed so that you can place moist materials inside. A popular choice is sphagnum moss.
It’s better for the humid hide to be on the warmer half of the enclosure. A moist environment and cool temperatures can lead to respiratory infections.
Enrichment materials engage your snake mentally and physically. They can include new hides, climbing accessories, leaf litter, and more.
Essentially, enrichment materials add a new element to the enclosure. They give your pied ball python something new to explore and interact with.
Temperature & Lighting
Pied ball pythons need a warm enclosure with a temperature gradient between 75 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit. This gradient should be clearly established so that your snake can move between the “hot” and “cool” sides and thermoregulate.
Day and night heat bulbs, ceramic heat emitters, and undertank (UT) heaters are popular heating options. For rack systems, heat tape is preferable.
If you use a UT heater, make sure it’s on the outside of the tank. Add a barrier between the glass over the heater and the substrate if your snake burrows often or you have a thin layer of substrate.
This will also prevent your snake from coming into direct contact with a heated surface. Reptile carpet works well for this.
They should also have access to a basking spot that’s anywhere from 85 – 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Specific basking bulbs work well for this.
Never use heated rocks or similar equipment that allows your snake direct access to a source of heat. These can easily burn or otherwise damage your pied ball python.
In terms of lighting, it’s beneficial for your snake to have an established circadian rhythm (that is, they need a regular day-night cycle).
You can do this using a day heat bulb or a regular light bulb. Full-spectrum light isn’t necessary unless you have live plants in your python’s enclosure.
Bulbs come in a wide variety of colors, including white, purple, blue, and red. Typically, white is reserved for day cycles and the other colors are used for night cycles.
Some owners prefer to have no light at all during the night cycles. This is fine since any light (blue, purple, etc.) is more for the owner’s benefit.
If you choose this route, just make sure that your tank will remain warm enough (75 degrees and above).
Light timers, like Zilla Digital Timer and digital thermostats can help you regulate the light and temperature, respectively. Though technically unnecessary, this equipment helps cut down on manual work for owners with unpredictable or busy schedules.
Pied ball pythons need at least 50% humidity in their enclosure on a daily basis. They’ll need higher humidity during shedding times, which is where the humid hide can help.
Your home’s natural humidity can help establish a baseline humidity level for your tank. From there, you can use other measures to raise it.
The water dish(es) and subsequent evaporation will raise humidity levels. If you mist your substrate, this will also raise levels.
For owners with bioactive or natural enclosures with live plants, humidity levels will be higher.
If you’re still struggling, you can install a misting system or spray down the enclosure at least once per day.
Hydrometers keep track of the humidity levels. You should have at least one in your enclosure to make sure the humidity is high enough at all times.
Pied ball pythons should be primarily fed rodents, such as rats or mice. Like most pythons, they prefer live prey.
However, live prey can be dangerous and may harm your snake during feeding. They may also carry diseases if not purchased from a reputable seller.
Because of this, it’s recommended that you kill prey prior to feeding sessions. You can also purchase frozen prey and thaw it.
In the wild, this snake may only eat once every three weeks or on a monthly basis. But in captivity, your pied ball python will need to eat more frequently.
Adults should be fed every two or three weeks, depending on their size and preference. Larger snakes (4 – 5 feet) may need to eat more.
Hatchlings and juveniles should be fed once per week.
Prey should never be larger than the widest part of your snake. Make sure you purchase and offer appropriately sized rodents.
Remember to supplement your python’s diet with calcium and Vitamin D as required.
Potential Health Issues
Unlike many other morphs, pied ball pythons don’t commonly suffer from genetic health issues. Instead, most problems arise from poor care.
Some of the most common health issues include:
- Mouth Rot
- Respiratory Infections
- Mites and ticks
Regularly cleaning your enclosure and properly caring for your snake are the best ways to prevent health issues.
You should spot clean your tank daily and deep clean it (and all the equipment, hides, etc.) at least once per month.
Prior to purchasing a pied ball python, check with local vets to see if any are qualified to treat reptiles. This is a necessary preparatory measure in the event that your snake becomes sick.
It’s also wise to have a yearly check-up for your snake, just like you would with your dog or parrot.
This way, your vet can alert you to any other potential or current health issues, such as anorexia (or obesity).
Pied ball pythons aren’t finicky breeders. During the appropriate season, males and females will readily breed.
They should be kept separate prior to and after breeding.
Females should be provided with a nesting box, similar to a humid hide. Pied ball pythons typically lay anywhere from 5 – 15 eggs per clutch.
Eggs need to incubate for two months after being laid. You can leave the eggs in the nesting box or remove them and place them in a specific reptile egg incubator.
If you leave the eggs in the box, females will actively brood (i.e., take care of them). They will wrap themselves around the eggs to maintain the necessary heat (86 – 88 degrees).
During this time, they won’t eat. Though it may be stressful, refrain from offering food during this period.
Once the eggs hatch, remove the hatchlings from the enclosure and place them in a separate tank. They won’t take food for the first ten days of life, but after this may accept a rat pup or pinkie mouse.
Pied ball pythons are a great addition to any keeper’s collection, whether you’re new to reptile-keeping or an experienced pro. They are beautiful, easy to care for and have a wonderfully docile temperament.
Besides this, they take food well and aren’t difficult to breed. They also don’t often suffer from health issues, except those inflicted by poor husbandry.
Overall, they are one of the best snakes to keep and an excellent choice for all owners.
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