Temps: Provide a hotspot of 89 degrees, with a gradient down from there so your snake can move around and find that perfect spot. Too hot can be deadly fast, don't go above 92 degrees. Cold will cause problems too, don't go below 75 degrees on the cold end.
Food: Ball pythons eat rodents, rats are preferred because they are easy to get and an adult ball python is cheaper to feed on one medium rat rather than 5 adult mice. But your snake will eat mice. Sometimes they will only eat mice. Feed a baby snake every 5-7 days, feed a juvenile once a week, and a medium sized to adult snake can live happily on one appropriate meal every 2 weeks. An appropriate meal should be about as thick as the thickest part of your snake. The meal can cause a slight bulge but shouldn't look like your snake just ate a football.
***Ball Pythons can be finicky! Probably the most important thing to know about your ball python is they won't eat if they are stressed and sometimes will go on months long hunger strikes. A healthy adult can go 2-3 months without eating, it’s still important to keep an eye on them but don't freak out!
However: It is not good for a hatchling or juvenile to go very long without food!
If your snake won't eat: First make sure the temperatures and housing is correct! Too cold and they won't eat, too hot and they won't eat. If the cage is too big they won't eat. If you are holding the snake, talking to her and making Youtube vids of her, 24/7 for the first week, chances are she won't eat. Make sure temps are good, that there is a safe, secure hiding spot for her to hide in and leave her alone. If the cage is in a high traffic spot in your house try moving her to a calm spot. Try feeding only after dusk, in a dimly lit room.
Ball pythons often prefer LIVE food. If you can't get your snake to eat dead food (no matter frozen/thawed or fresh killed) try live food. If live rats won't work try live mice.
Have patience, and use your judgment. A snake that won't eat but looks healthy is fine. You have some time to work with her. If it’s a hatchling or if the snake looks unhealthy or super skinny you may need to seek help.
Water: Always provide fresh water! Change it every 3-5 days. It won't look like your snake is drinking it but he is. If he poops in it change it. You can use the water bowl to help control humidity. If your cage is too dry a larger surface area bowl can help. Use a bowl that can't flip easily when your snake crawls over it.
Humidity: Your ball python likes 60% humidity. This can be hard to measure even with the humidity gauges sold at pet stores. Those gauges aren’t always accurate. Use your judgment- your cage should not be soaking wet. Too much wet will cause fungus and mold to grow and cause disease in your snake. Too little humidity and you will have problems with shedding.
If you have an open wire top on your cage it will be too dry. Close up 95% of that wire top with something- acrylic, styrofoam, even saran wrap will work. You need air holes, you don’t need a gaping chasm of airflow.
A larger surface area water bowl will add more humidity, a smaller bowl will add less. Adjust accordingly.
Shedding: Hand in hand with humidity is snake shedding. If you have a decent level of humidity a ball python will shed its skin in nearly 1 piece. The shed will look like a rolled up sock. If the shed comes off in strips the cage is too dry- the smaller the strips the dryer it was. If it’s too dry you must find the shed from the head and look for the eye scales. Snakes have a scale over each eye and in a proper shed it comes off with the rest of the scales. If you find the head and there is an open hole where the eye scale should have been, the scale is still stuck to the eye and that is bad. Look online or on Youtube for a video on how to get a stuck eye scale off. Or contact me. Proper humidity will solve shedding problems.
Housing: Floor space matters more to a ball python than height. A baby will be fine in a 6 quart shoebox sized enclosure. An adult will happily live in a vivarium/cage/aquarium with about a 34" x 18" footprint. Despite what the lady selling you the aquarium at that chain petstore will tell you: an adult BP really only needs 5-6 inches of height. Ball pythons don't like too much space!
Provide a place to hide- Ball pythons are shy, they prefer to curl up in a comfy cave, in darkness. You can buy premade hides from petstores but you can easily make one from many things you have around the house- 4"- 5" PVC pipe, 4"-5" PVC pipe joints/elbows, Drain piping, plastic flower pots, even cardboard boxes, except cardboard will need to be replaced often.
Feel free to add potted plants, branches, glow in the dark skulls or whatever else floats your boat but you don't need to. As long as there is a hide you are good to go.
Substrate: You have many choices: newspaper, paper towel, shredded office paper, cardboard, astro turf, coconut husk, aspen chips, paper based animal beddings (with no chemicals, or scents on them). Use what is easy to clean and looks good to you. DO NOT USE CEDAR or PINE!!! Cedar/Pine = bad. They have natural resins in them that are toxic to reptiles.