Ball Pythons 101
Personality: These snakes are generally docile and easy to handle.
Care: Ball pythons are not very active so they don't need huge enclosures -- a 30 gallon tank is appropriate for an adult python -- but the tank must be secured tightly or the snake can escape, according to About.com. These pets require an ambient temperature of around 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and a basking temperature close to 90 F. A large, sturdy dish of water should be kept inside the tank to allow the snake to soak and rehydrate itself. Every five to seven days, a young snake will need to be fed several small mice. An older snake requires larger prey, such as rats, every 10 to 14 days.
Common Health Issues: A ball python can live up to 50 years if its cage is kept at a correct temperature and it is fed properly -- though 20 to 30 years is more common. However, these snakes can suffer from several health problems, including malnutrition (they sometimes simply refuse to eat), burns from bulbs in their enclosures, ticks, mites, worms, abscesses from an injury to the skin, salmanellosis (you can catch this, too, so always wash your hands after handling your snake), respiratory infections, mouth rot and stomach rot, according to Associated Content.
Training Tips: Focus on making ball pythons comfortable with being handled rather than trying to teach them tricks, suggests Pet University. One thing to keep in mind is that these snakes do make note of repetitive behavior and start acting on it. For example, if you always drop food in through a particular opening in their enclosure, they'll begin to strike at the first thing that comes through that opening. You'll want to feed them through one opening (or put them in a separate enclosure for feeding) and reach in to handle them through another, according to About.com.