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How to Set Up a Ball Python Habitat

You did it! You took the first step in ball python ownership and decided that you actually want one. Now comes the exciting part. Figuring out how to set up a ball python habitat and acquiring the right materials. Navigating the world of reptile care can be confusing, and it can be difficult to parse what exactly your snake needs vs other similar animals. With this guide, you will gain an understanding of what materials you need from the first day, and why ball pythons need the specific setup that’s recommended for them.

Where They Typically Live

Ball pythons originate from central and west Africa and inhabit a variety of ecosystems within those areas. While these snakes may be semi-arboreal, spending time hunting and exploring in trees, they are primarily terrestrial. In fact, they are known to seek out the burrows of other animals for shelter.

Setting up the Right Habitat for Your Ball Python

Whether it’s your first setup or your 10th, you want to ensure that your snake has everything it needs to live a healthy, happy life in its habitat. Fortunately, these pets are relatively low maintenance. Once their enclosure is set up with the proper supplies, simple regular maintenance and cleaning are all you will need to keep things in top shape.

Getting the Right Tank

Baby ball pythons are best setup in a 10 gallon tank but as adults, ball pythons typically reach a size of around 5 feet. For this size snake, we would recommend a 55-gallon terrarium. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways that you can accomplish this. While there are a variety of easy-to-setup commercially available reptile enclosures available, you can also opt for a glass aquarium that can provide you with a better view of your pet. If you are particularly handy, you can even modify a plastic storage bin as an affordable DIY option. No matter what you decide in the end, it would benefit you to think about what you need/want out of your enclosure before setting up a ball python habitat.


Of course, your snake can’t just live in an empty tank. Specialty supplies, such as substrate, enrichment items, and heating elements are all essential to keeping your snake happy and healthy.


When trying to set up a ball python habitat, you are going to have to decide on a material to keep on the bottom to provide insulation and collect waste. Some examples of high-quality, non-toxic bedding include aspen bedding and coconut fiber substrate. Be sure to avoid substrates that may be toxic or that your snake can accidentally ingest. This can include sand and gravel.

Heating Element

Being ectothermic, snakes can not regulate their body heat in the way that mammals can. This causes them to rely on external sources for warmth. Most snake owners opt for a heating lamp that can be easily placed above its enclosure but we use and recommend an under-tank heater. Of course, make sure to use a reptile-specific heating pad that is meant for animal use. Normal human use heating pads will get too hot and can injure your pet or even kill it.

Additionally, be sure to place your heating pad so that it takes up around a quarter of the tank. This is because snakes need a “cool spot” that remains at around 80 degrees.

After installing your heating pad, be sure to use a thermometer to monitor your tank’s temperature. An electrical malfunction that causes your pad to overheat can be dangerous and deadly to your pet.

Additional Accessories

When asking how to set up a ball python habitat, you need to keep in mind its various physiological and psychological needs and acquire accessories that can fulfill them. Here are some of the basics:

A water bowl to provide hydration and a spot to soak.

A couple of reptile hides. While you may want optimal viewing of your pet, forcing your snake to be constantly out in the open will cause a fair amount of stress.

Branches and plants (fake or real). This will allow for additional coverage for your snake and a place for it to perch on.

Final Thoughts on How to Set up a Ball Python habitat

Getting a new pet can be intimidating for anyone. If you’re not familiar with the habitat of reptiles and various snakes, setting one up for a ball python can seem especially difficult. Thankfully, you are not alone. With this guide and the help of an entire online community of reptile experts, you will be on your way to providing the best life possible for your scaly friend.

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2 responses to “How to Set Up a Ball Python Habitat”

  1. Teri Sess says:

    Good stuff!

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