Just like how you have tiles, a carpet, or wood flooring in your home, your ball python, too, needs the right bedding for its enclosure. While the flooring in your home cannot typically affect your health, the one you select for your ball python will influence their health. Substrate plays a critical role in the health and wellbeing of your ball python.
One of the most important aspects of pet husbandry for ball python keepers is selecting the right substrate when setting up the pet’s enclosure. When choosing a substrate, factors such as the type, source, and its depth influences your ball python’s health, comfort, and lifespan. This piece provides all the tips to help you choose the right substrate for your pet.
What to look for when purchasing bedding
The right substrate for a ball python depends on several factors. Some substrates work better for ball pythons, while others are not ideal for your pet snake. When choosing the right substrate for the pet, consider the fowling factors:
Humidity and water retention
Choose bedding that retains a higher amount of water. Ball pythons typically originate from the grasslands and forest of West Africa. In their natural habitats, the snakes thrive in environments with relatively high humidity. Ensure you go for a substrate that maintains the ideal humidity of the enclosure during the day and at night.
Some morphs of ball pythons enjoy burrowing and excavating in the substrate. It would help if you considered buying loose substrates that enable the snake to burrow and enjoy life inside the enclosure.
Disease and parasite risks
Some substrates typically increase the risk of disease and parasite risks. Some also encourage the growth of molds and fungi when exposed to highly humid environments. Ensure the substrates you buy are fungal resistant and free from itchy mites that will harm your pet.
Ease of cleaning
An ideal ball python substrate should be easy to clean. The substrate should allow for routine cleaning done once a week. The option you select should be easy to wash with hot soapy water to remove wastes and dried liquids. The substrate should also rinse well and dry quickly.
Ideally, you should consider buying a substrate with a natural look. Such a substrate should allow you to utilize live plants and create an incredible miniature ecosystem for your pet snake. It should give a very natural appearance that appeals to you and is comfortable for your pet.
The right substrates you choose should present low ingestion risks for your ball python. The risk of ingestion is ever-present. However, you can minimize these risks by going for chunky options with a low risk of accidental ingestion.
The best bedding for a ball python
Aspen bedding for ball pythons
Aspen shavings are arguably one of the most recommended bedding materials for ball pythons. Apart from being inexpensive and readily available, aspen substrates are also easy to clean. Besides, the bedding cannot mold when exposed to humid environments inside the enclosure, and thus you won’t have to change it frequently. There are also fewer pest and disease infestation risks with aspen bedding than in other common types of substrates. Aspen shavings make the cage look more attractive when compared to say, newspaper bedding.
Cypress bedding for ball pythons
Cypress bedding is excellent for ball python enclosure as they retain a lot of humidity. The cypress material is naturally moist and thus is useful when your ball python has trouble shedding. This material is also anti-mold and anti-mildew; therefore, you won’t have to worry about your ball python getting sick. Cypress bedding is also loose and thus ideal for ball pythons that love to burrow.
Forest floor bedding for ball pythons
Another excellent option to consider is the zoo med forest floor bedding. The ideal forest floor bedding creates a natural forest appearance inside the snake’s enclosures. It also helps maintain the humidity of the enclosure because the substrate is made of 100% natural cypress mulch.
Coconut bedding for ball pythons
Coconut substrate is another excellent option to consider. The substrate is mold and mildew free. It also helps to maintain ideal humidly levels inside the snake’s enclosure. Coconut substrates are also good at absorbing foul odors inside the pet snake’s tank. It is also very affordable and easy to clean.
Bark bedding for ball pythons
Bark bedding is a super absorbent substrate ideal for ball pythons. The bedding absorbs excess moisture easily and increases the humidity level inside the snake’s enclosure. If your ball python usually experiences challenges shedding, bark bedding may be an ideal substrate to use.
Beech chippings are ideal when looking to control the tank odors. It is also very absorbent and will control minor water spills. For the best results, you should mix the chippings with aspen shavings. It comes with a dense nature that guarantees optimal humidity inside the enclosure.
Substrates you should avoid
Cedar is one of the materials that you should never use with ball pythons. Cedar contains volatile oils known as phenols that cause skin and respiratory damage in ball pythons and other caged animals. Cedar also releases acids that can erode the lining of the pet’s lungs and trachea when fumes are ingested.
Sandy bedding will cause many health and safety issues for the ball python. Sand particles cause eye irritation and can damage the nasal passages and the skin between the scales. Sand may also trigger silicosis, a disease of the lungs that occur due to repeated exposure to silica dust. When the ball python ingests sand, it may cause severe dehydration.
Although potty soils come with a great look and are affordable, you should avoid this bedding for several reasons. Soil is too dusty, and the particles so fine to present the same risks as sand. Soil may also cause gut impaction should your snake ingest them.
Ball python bedding care tips
You should strive to maintain a high level of cleanliness inside your ball python’s cage to avoid pest infestation and illnesses. Snakes are susceptible to skin and bacterial infections, and their bedding should be kept scrupulously clean. Use the following tips to ensure the ball python’s bedding is clean and well maintained:
Start with cage accessories.
Ensure the natural items like branches and rocks that you introduce inside the enclosure are sterile. The rocks should be cleaned and boiled in water for 30 minutes before you introduce them inside the enclosure.
Branches, too, should be cleaned and heated in the oven for 30 minutes at 200 degrees. When these items are well sterilized, you reduce the risk of the bedding getting infested with mites and other pesky pests.
Clean the tools
Assemble an ideal cleaning kit that is specifically set aside for cleaning the snake’s cage. The cleaning items must be separate from other typical household cleaning supplies. This prevents any risk of cross-contamination. Some of the ideal items to use when cleaning bedding and cages are backup cages, brushes, buckets, paper towels, toothpicks, putty knives, rubber gloves, goggles, and soap. Typically you need a backup cage to relocate your ball python during the cleaning process. When buying cleaning soap or detergents, ensure you go for a product that is free or pine scent or phenol.
The cleaning schedule you adopt will depend on the type of bedding you are using. It is important to research well the cleaning needs of the bedding you choose before you buy one. However, you are expected to do the following routine tasks to maintain clean and hygienic bedding for the snake:
A daily cleaning – a daily cleaning includes removal of spills, shed skin, uneaten food, urates, or feces. You can also clean and disinfect the water dishes daily.
A weekly cleaning– this involves disinfecting the substrate, cage, and decorations. You need to be keen when picking out the right to disinfectant for the pet’s enclosure. The ideal disinfectant should be strong enough to kill disease-causing pathogens yet not cause any harm to your ball pythons. Ball pythons are very sensitive to fumes, so you must move them to a backup cage when you are disinfecting anything.
A monthly change of substrates– the ball python’s bedding should be changed at least once after one or two months.
Ball python enclosure and bedding cleaning checklist
- Once a month, change the cage substrates and disinfect all decorations.
2. Clean, rinse, and disinfect water and food bowls once a week.
3. Loosen any tough spot on the bedding using a commercially snake safer cleaner, putty knife, or toothbrush. Do this whenever you notice the spots.
4. Wash and rinse all cage accessories and decorations once a week and disinfect. Dry the cage accessories thoroughly before you reintroduce them inside the cage
5. Clean and disinfect and equipment. Afterward, wash your hands with hot soapy water.
Review of the best ball python bedding
We understand choosing the best bedding products for your ball python can be a daunting task. The market features a variety of products that can confuse even the most ardent snake keepers. We have reviewed a few top products worth considering and which will make your shopping much easier. Check out our review:
Zoo Med Aspen Snake Bedding For A Ball Python
Zoo Med Aspen is arguably one of the best options available in the market currently. The bedding is herpetoculturist approved and boasts of many features that guarantee your ball python is happy and comfortable. Ideally, the bedding comes with a fluffy feel that allows the pet to nest and burrow just like when he is in the wild. It also comes with high absorbent ability of up to 200 percent of its weight. The bedding can also absorb all the tank odors. Cleaning this bedding is also very easy and convenient as it produces limited amounts of dust. Besides, it is safe and healthy for the ball python has it comes free of added toxic oils and other harmful shavings.
Zilla Snake and Lizard Bedding And Litter Bedding For Ball Pythons
This product boasts of superior absorbing ability in the snake’s enclosure. The bedding is 100 percent biodegradable with no toxic oils or resins. The shavings are sourced from heat-treated aspen chips that contain eucalyptus scent vital for controlling enclosure odors. It also comes with large enough chip sizes that the snake won’t swallow easily besides being easy to clean. The bedding also boasts and a hypoallergic feature that protects your ball python from harmful health conditions. If you purchase this product, you get bedding and a litter that gives a good habitat for your ball python. Most herpetologists also certify this product as an ideal laboratory-grade product.
ReptiChip premium coconut reptile substrate ball python bedding
This bedding will defiantly improve the look of the pet’s enclosure. It is designed to form a compressed block of coconut fiber that ideally expands to 72 quartz. When you add water into the bedding, it automatically expands to take in more water and guarantee the enclosure humidity levels are kept at an all-time optimal. Because it is made of coconut material, this bedding also absorbs foul odors quiet well. Cleaning the bedding is also quite effortless as it can only produce little dust. This premium bedding doesn’t only help in conserving the environment but also guaranteed your pet is comfortable, happy, and safe.
Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding Ball Python Bedding
Your ball python will definitely benefit from this all-natural bedding. It is made from 100 percent cypress mulch and thus safe and comfortable for your ball python. The bedding sustains a lot of moisture to guarantee optimal maintenance of humidity levels in your tank. Besides being cheap, it doesn’t get dirty easily, and all you need to do is change the bedding occasionally. This product is also very easy to clean and maintain inside the enclosure.
ReptilePrime Coconut Bedding substrate ball python bedding
One disadvantage with standard coconut fiber bedding is the risk of fungal activity. However, the bedding is quite unique. It is made with cutting edge technology that guarantees fungal activity is minimized even when you expose the bedding to humid environments. When you use the bedding, you are guaranteed a fresh-smelling enclosure as the product absorbs bad odors. The bedding is also ideal in breaking down waste products inside the enclosure. It is a 100 percent organic and biodegradable bedding that is available in 24 quartz dry.
Zilla Reptile Terrarium bedding substrate liner for the ball python
If you are looking for a ball python’s bedding that can serve as a substrate and an enclosure liner, this product is the most ideal. Setting up the bedding is quite easy. You can roll out the substrate during set up or cut it depending on the available space. The bedding is also made of a non-abrasive material that protects your pet from any irritations. It also comes in a unique design and setup that prevents any accidental ingestion. The bedding’s liner is also soft and highly absorbent to take in more spills. It also boasts of biodegradable enzymes that are key in reducing bad odors inside the tank. Best of all, this bedding is quiet reusable and washable. All it takes is rinsing with cold tap water after some time of use.
Zoo Med Eco Earth Lose coconut fiber substrate bedding for ball pythons
Zoo Med Eco Earth bedding is made from coconut material, thus ideal for your ball python. The bedding guarantees you get a naturalistic set up inside the snake tank. It also features a tropical-like design that makes your pet feel quite at home. The bedding is also bacteria-free and designed to increase humidity levels inside the enclosure without mold growth. This bedding will occupy up to two times the ball python’s height and thus provide ideal hide places for the animal. It is also ideal bedding for burrowing and natural hibernation cycles of the snake.
Exo terra coco husk ball python bedding
Ball pythons love to burrow themselves in humid places, and this bedding guarantees him just that. The coconut husks ensure the enclosure is sufficiently moistened. This product is available in two options. A 3.6 quartz option and a 7.2 quartz option. If you are housing a baby ball python, choose a 3.6 quartz option. If you are housing an adult ball python, go for a 7.2 quartz option.
Fluker Labs Repta Bark All-Natural Bedding Ball Python Bedding
Fluker Labs Repta is an all-natural bedding that is highly recommended for petting a ball python. Ideally, the snake feels more at home with this kind of substrate due to its all-natural design that replicates the natural habitat. It is inexpensive and comes with a range of package options that fit a number of enclosure sizes. The product is made from orchid bark that is excellent in maintaining humidity levels inside the enclosure. It is also big enough to prevent any accidental ingestion. The bedding also helps absorb the foul odors inside the enclosure. If your snake’s enclosure id big, you can order up to a 24-quart package.
FAQs on Ball Python Bedding
What specific bedding is ideal for ball pythons?
Getting to know the ideal bedding for your ball python is a sign of good husbandry on the keeper’s side. You can buy ideal beddings for the ball pythons from stores or online shops. Some of the Ideal ball python beddings include aspen material and cypress chippings.
How does bedding affect the enclosure temperatures?
Beddings have a direct impact on the humidity of that tank. The right bedding should help sustain the humidity levels of the tank during the day and at night. Correct humidity levels help ball pythons eat and play around.
Are ball python beddings reusable?
Some bedding for ball pythons is washable and thus reusable. However, most bedding is biodegradable. An example of reusable bedding is cage carpets. You can wash such bedding and let it dry for the next use.
Can ball pythons ingest the bedding?
Most bedding is not safe for the ball python to ingest. Accidental ingestion can affect the health of your pet snake. Therefore, it is vital that you closely monitor the behavior of the ball python to make sure he doesn’t ingest the chippings.
Can you use paper bedding for snakes?
Although paper can absorb moisture, it does not help impact the enclosure’s humidity. All the same, paper bedding towels can be a good option if you are working on a tight budget. If you are considering using paper bedding, ensure you go for a product with excellent absorbency levels,
What should I do if my snake eats substrate?
A snake that has swallowed the substrate will act a little odd. You may notice your ball python yawning and rubbing its head while trying to dislodge the chippings. If you practice excellent husbandry, a little bedding, when swallowed, will not cause any issue. But if you believe the bedding will harm your pet in any way, contact your vet as soon immediately.
How much bedding does a ball python need?
Ball pythons love to burrow and enjoy the humid conditions in their enclosure. You should provide a substrate layer of between 2.5 inches and 3 inches.
How often should a ball python’s substrate be changed?
Change the ball python’s substrate completely every one to two months of as often as need be. Ball pythons typically defecate once or twice per week. So ensure you spot clean the substrate as frequently as possible.
Ball pythons are popular home pets ideal for both first-time owners and veteran keepers. These snakes typically grow between 2 to 5 feet and are quite docile and easy to handle. They also don’t have complex care needs. However, for your snake to thrive and enjoy living in your home, you should provide excellent husbandry. Choosing the most suitable bedding for your snake’s enclosure is a critical aspect of husbandry.