The Ball Python is one of the most popular species of snake that is kept as a pet. But what are they like to look after and take care of? Are they friendly towards their owners and what kind of temperament does the average Ball Python have? I’ve done some research and would like to present this information to you here today.
So, are ball pythons friendly? Ball pythons can be considered a friendly species of snake. They are a relatively docile and easy-going species that appear to show affection towards their owners once they become familiar with them. They are not likely to lunge, nor do they possess venom or poison. However, just like any snake, a Ball Python can and will attack if it feels threatened.
For many people, how you view the temperament of a ball python is going to be determined by how you define the word “friendly.”
In order to get a better understanding of what I mean by this, I’ll be covering some of the most important aspects of the topic. So be sure to keep on reading to the end. You’ll be surprised by what you are about to learn!
Ball Pythons Temperament
Ball pythons are known for having a docile and relaxed temperament. They are generally very laid back, easily adjust to new surroundings and are not known to bite.
Of course, they will need some time to become familiar with you and their new enclosure. During this time, they may be more reserved and more reluctant to be held – especially for extended periods of time.
However, after a few weeks of regular contact and a slow and gradual increase in regular handling, most owners find that their ball pythons learn to recognize them and are more keen to socialize.
It is this natural disposition which made them a popular pet to begin with. They are predictable in many ways, requiring little maintenance and being quite straight forward to look after (once you know how to meet their unique needs and requirements).
As your ball python ages, they will also tend to become even more tame and relaxed in your presence. The more you socialize with you snake, especially after years of appropriate care, the better your relationship with your snake will ultimately be.
That being said, there are always exceptions to the rule and not every owner will shares such a pleasant experience.
Like any species of snake or animal for that matter, there are always some that will stray from the norms. As such, there are pythons that are naturally not very friendly.
Just like how some people are a little grumpier than others, some pythons just really don’t like people or being handled.
This is especially true for pythons who were raised without being held much or those that negative experiences with humans.
Are Ball Pythons Aggressive?
While your typical ball python is not going to lunge at you for no reason, it is important you understand that these are natural predators.
This doesn’t mean that these are “bad” reptiles, but they do have their natural instincts which have been formed over thousands of years.
Even with domestication, these are inherent characteristics that are always going to be there.
With this in mind, you can not expect your ball python to get along with your other pets. In fact, you really shouldn’t risk it.
Depending on the animal, and whether or not your python has eaten recently, your snake may even attempt to attack them.
If they are small enough, your snake may even attempt to eat them.
This is pretty obvious when you consider their prey. When you “offer them” time with their natural prey, like a rodent, they become dinner pretty quickly.
However, just because your other pets may be larger, this does not necessarily mean your snake will not attempt to go for them.
There are reports from ball python owners of their pet eating wild pests that managed to get into their snake’s enclosures.
There are even more drastic horror stories of when snakes have escaped and eaten young kittens that were in the wrong place and were the right size for the snake to tackle.
With all this in mind, you’ll be pleased to hear that as a full-grown human, a ball python does not pose an immediate threat to your life.
Not only that, but they are generally well behaved around people – not seeing them as prey like that may another animal.
Although they are not a cuddly type of pet like a dog or cat, they do tend to be rather predictable and kind-natured– so long as they are not stressed or starving.
That being said, ball pythons like any other reptile or pet can act out aggressively towards you or another human.
The most likely reason why a ball python may act out aggressively is if they feel scared or threatened.
This can happen, even unintentionally, if you back them into a corner of their enclosure or approach them too quickly to handle.
If you want to limit the chances of your snake becoming aggressive, it is important to take proper care of them from the get-go.
This means making sure that they are comfortable and well-fed, with an adequate diet and an ideal enclosure.
You’ll also need to ensure they have all the things they need – such as access to fresh water and the right temperature and humidity.
Any time your snake is not comfortable, it may act out aggressively.
This is not necessarily because they ‘want to’ but they are stressed or not feeling comfortable.
With this in mind, it is also a good idea to steer clear of handling them just before, during, or just after they shed.
Shedding is incredibly uncomfortable for them and handling them during this time can cause pain.
Not only this, but shedding disrupts their vision and makes any approach scary and intimidating for them.
If it is taking a long time for them to shed and they seem very stressed, consider offering them a bowl of warm water to soak in or a rough rock to rub themselves up against to speed the proves along.
Do Ball Pythons Like To Cuddle?
Interestingly, ball pythons tolerate being held (not when they are shedding) and in doing so, it may appear that they are partaking in what we would describe as cuddling.
But this is not actually the case.
This may sound a little confusing, especially if you have heard of anecdotes, or seen images and videos of ball pythons laying in the arms of their owners.
However, when a ball python does this it is in fact for other reasons.
If you think this ‘cuddling’ is a sign of affection, then you’re not alone.
This is an incredibly over-misinterpreted behavior. Unfortunately, we cannot project our own mammal-like explanations to this habit.
While ball pythons do not typically bite, lunge or act aggressively this does not necessarily mean that they are not willing or able to defend themselves.
It’s important to keep in mind is that pythons do not chew their prey at all. Instead of chewing, they swallow all of their prey whole.
While their mouths “unhinge” and allow them to take on prey much larger than would appear at first glance, they cannot swallow everything safely. That and they do not have enough space in their body to store whatever they feel like.
As snakes don’t know how to use measuring sticks or use utensils, they have to be a little more creative when judging the size of their prey.
How they do this sometimes is by using the strategy of “sizing up.”
By sizing up their prey, they can get a rough estimate on whether or not attempting to eat them will be successful or not.
How do they do this exactly? By measuring their bodies against what they consider potential meals.
This doesn’t mean they will try to eat you, but this evolutionary behavior is not as straightforward as it seems.
So, your ball python is unlikely to cuddle you, it’s sizing you up.
Thankfully, your size will always override this mechanism keeping you safe.
Are Ball Pythons A Good Pet?
In terms of owning a pet reptile, ball pythons are a rather popular choice.
If you are looking for an interesting pet to observe and care for, that will let you handle them from time to time – ball pythons are highly recommended.
Compared to other snakes, they are more easily held and touched and have a temperament that makes looking after them more pleasant and rewarding.
Many other snake species exhibit less predictable behavior and are prone to biting or trying to quickly escape – things that you shouldn’t have to worry about with a more laid-back ball python.
For those of you who are not self-proclaimed reptile lovers, having a snake is a very different experience than taking care of other pets.
There’s a lot to consider and you need to ensure they remain safe and you are fulfilling their unique needs and requirements.
One of the major benefits is that they are relatively low maintenance in terms of how much they need to be fed and entertained in comparisons to animals like a dog or rabbit.
They are also very quiet and will not keep you up at night with crying, spinning wheels, or something like barking/crying.
On the other hand, they do require a semi-extensive set-up with a special heating lamp.
You’ll also be limited in where you can take them, letting them out of their enclosure, and generally managing who will be able to hold them. It’s not ideal for small and young children too.
Lastly, you will need to consider that these snakes live off a diet of dead rodents; mice, and rats.
You will need to be able to source these and be willing to feed them to your snake. If you are squirmish or do not feel you will be able to do this, they may not be the best pet for you.
Snakes simply require a carnivorous diet, they are not a pet you can introduce vegetables to or attempt to change their diet!
What makes a ball python a good pet has nothing to do with the snake itself, but what you are looking for in a pet.
They click well for some people – and not so well with others.
The important thing is to always do your research when looking into a potential pet and make sure that you are prepared to take care of your new friend for years to come.
Snakes are some of the more popular exotic pets – those who do namely opt for a species like a ball python.
We all know that snakes are very different from us; which makes it hard for us to instinctively know how the average one behaves.
It raises a few important questions to potential pet owners. Hopefully, I have been able to address and cover the main ones here today.
Ultimately, if you are looking at a pet snake – the ball python is one of the best species to opt for. They are docile, relatively calm, and are more tolerant to handling than other species.
Can they be considered ‘friendly’ – yes in snake terms? They do not act aggressively unless provoked and they are unlikely to bite.
Ball pythons become familiar with their owner and learn to recognize that you play a supportive role in their life. However, they do not develop affection and feelings for their owners like other potential pets can and would.
All snakes, including ball pythons, do not ‘like’ to be petted in the traditional sense of the word. Instead, being handled and being petted is mainly tolerated by a snake. They are largely indifferent to you doing this so long as you are petting them gently and without a cause of alarm for the snake. However, when ‘petting’ a snake you should do so below the neck.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.