Updated: Mar 4, 2021
Royal pythons, also known as ball pythons due to them curling up and placing their head in the middle of the coil when threatened, can be found in grasslands and open forests. Mostly across West and Central Africa. Native to the Sudanese sub-province west of the Nile, in southern Sudan, the Bahrel Ghazal and from Senegal to Sierra Leone in West Africa.
Royals spend most of their time on or under the ground burrowing where they feel safest. The activity is known as crepuscular, most active at dawn and dusk. They will come out and hunt at night also. Often found in open clearings made by farmland. Recent studies have shown that Royal Pythons / Ball Pythons, although it was previously believed that this species was terrestrial it is now believed that they are semi-arboreal (likes to climb).
Physical Appearance On hatching, it maybe 9” in length and eventually grow to 5ft (150cm) as an adult. A heavy-set looking snake with a slim neck and head that often looks like it does not belong on that snake. A normal or classic python (no morph/gene mixture) will have large brown markings with lighter medium-brown spots interspersed between the darker sports. Females are larger than males when fully grown, this is known as sexual dimorphism. However, it is not apparent in neonates. Diet As carnivores, their main diet consists of pinkies small mice as young hatchlings, feeding them every 5-7 days. As the snake grows so will the prey size up to large rats for adults. As for what type of food, you can feed;
The best option is to get your Royal feeding on frozen-thawed food as soon as possible as this means you can buy online and have a varied diet stocked up. As a juvenile snake, it can go around 28 days without eating moving up to several months as an adult. They can be quite finicky eaters and owners should not be put off or worried if their snake misses 1 or 2 feeds. Reproduction Females will generally lay 6-8 eggs; some larger females may lay clutches around 10 eggs. When the eggs are laid the female will coil around for protection and she may roll out any infertile eggs. Incubation normally takes 54-56 days. Are they good pets? In fact, Royal pythons do make good pets, firstly they do not get as big as some of the other snake species. With typical length being 3-5ft, though they may reach 6ft this is rare. They are quite docile and easy to handle with the right start when young. They do not need vivarium’s as large as say a reticulated python. All this makes it easier for people to handle and house their new snake. It is much easier to find room for a 4ft vivarium than an 8ft vivarium in an average house. Also with the large number of breeders around, there are a huge variety of different morphs and colours giving new owners a better choice. Housing in Captivity Royal pythons are not the most active snake, however, they are adept escape artists! We here at Retics & Reptiles like to use a 5ftx2ftx2ft vivarium as this seems a good size for most Royals. We like to ensure there are plenty of hides, branches and other enrichment for the snake. Temperature for your Royal should be 30°C – 32°C with the cool end around 26°C. Here we use reptile radiators and find with the correct thermostat, they maintain an even and consistent temperature across the vivarium. Humidity should be around 55%-60% as ideal, with up to 65% during a shed to help the snake. Both temperature and humidity should be monitored using thermometers and hygrometers ensuring correct levels. As with most snakes provide a dish large enough that your snake can take a bath when it would like to, many snakes do like to soak during their shedding process. As mentioned earlier, mice to medium-sized rats are the main diet in captivity for a Royal python. So please ensure that you are happy and willing to feed these to your snake, even though frozen then thawed, some people get a little squeamish. Some people move their pet snake to a different enclosure when feeding so that when it comes to handling there is less risk of being bitten. If another enclosure is not possible then when handling your snake, ensure not to startle or frighten them. Use a snake hook to touch them, then slowly move your hand in and stroke them, once the snake knows you have no food, pick up your snake and enjoy.