Ball python teeth; Oral care, Bites and Treatment

Not just reptile pet owners, most people are frightened of snake teeth. Ball python teeth, however, aren’t something to be afraid of. Since they are non-venomous snakes, their teeth don’t inflict fatal harm. It may come as a surprise, but ball pythons require dental and oral care. Your pet snake is vulnerable to a host of health issues stemming from their mouth.

Do ball pythons have teeth?

Yes, ball pythons have teeth but don’t have fangs. Most non-venomous snakes do not have fangs.

How many teeth do ball pythons have?

An adult ball python has 30 barbed teeth arranged in two rows on the bottom and four rows on the top. As hatchlings, they only have an egg tooth that helps them break out of the shell. This tooth, however, is lost earlier on in their lives.

The number of teeth ball pythons have depends on their age and size. 

Ball python teeth facts

  1. For such long snakes, they have surprisingly small teeth.
  2. A ball python’s teeth are barbed and angle backward. This helps them latch onto prey when they bite and strangle it.
  3. Like all snakes, ball pythons don’t chew their food. This is why it takes ball pythons longer to digest their food; over one or two days. Handling your snake within this period will cause a regurgitation.
  4. Ball pythons do not have fangs. Ball pythons do not have fangs because they are non-venomous.
  5. As a hatchling, a ball python will not have any teeth except an egg tooth. This helps them break out of their egg shells during hatching.

Are ball pythons born with teeth?

A baby ball python doesn’t have teeth but is born with an egg tooth. As baby ball pythons hatch, they use an egg tooth to break out of their leathery eggshell. The egg tooth is usually a small and sharp cutting projection located on a ball python hatchling’s upper lip. 

A little while after hatching, the ball python baby tooth falls off or is reabsorbed.

Ball python teeth care

It may surprise you that ball pythons need dental and oral care. Your pet snake is vulnerable to health issues stemming from the mouth. The most common dental infection is mouth rot. Ulcerative stomatitis or mouth rot or is an infection of your snake’s mouth that results from food and small cuts getting stuck in their teeth. If left untreated, the mouth rot could be fatal. 

Symptoms of mouth rot 

Check your ball pythons mouth for food particles stuck between their teeth and gums and for any cuts in their mouth tissue. Other important signs you should look for include:

  • Lack of interest in food
  • Decrease water intake
  • Thickening saliva
  • Swelling in the gums and oral tissue
  • Swelling of the face and head
  • Yellow pus in your pet’s mouth


Consult a veterinarian immediately if you spot the above signs. He may prescribe antibiotics and teach you how to clean the infected areas of your ball python’s mouth. When treating mouth rot, it is important to keep the following in mind:

  • The infection needs professional treatment.
  •  Human medicine can be dangerous for your ball python, so don’t use them on your pet. A good example is hydrogen peroxide; it destroys the delicate, healthy tissue in your pet snake’s mouth.
  • Accidental choking a pet isn’t unheard of; therefore, it is important to receive training from your vet.

How to prevent the infection

A great way to keep mouth rot away from your pet snake is through yearly checkups and proper care. Other practical tips to avoid such health problems are:

  1. Proper regulation of the environmental humidity and temperature is crucial for the good health of your ball python.
  2. Ensure your snake has a vivarium that is big enough to suit their body size and needs.
  3. Ensure the habitat includes a hide box or shelter where your snake can go to rest.
  4. Feed your ball python nutritious and adequate meals.
  5. Occasionally, examine your ball python for signs of mouth rot. If you do not notice any signs, but there is food or substrate stuck to their teeth, gently pry their mouth open and remove it with a cotton swab.
  6. Be careful during handling; you can easily break or damage your ball python’s jaw or another part of their body.
  7. If you have never opened your ball python’s mouth before, consult your vet on how to go about it.
  8. Remember, the smaller your ball python, the more fragile they are.

My ball python has broken teeth. What should I do?

If your ball python has lost or broken teeth recently, it is nothing to worry about. A ball python may break their teeth when feeding, especially if they hit the prey or miss the prey and hit something else. If you notice a ball python tooth or more are broken, either you can wait for them to naturally fall out and regrow, or you can go to a vet who will remove them.

Ball pythons frequently lose teeth when biting, and they grow back. The only time you should be flustered is when the lost tooth gets stuck on your pet snake’s lip. In such instances, an infection could result, so keep an eye on them. If after that your snake starts having problems eating, take them to a vet. Otherwise, losing teeth is normal and natural for ball pythons.

Do ball pythons bite?

Ball pythons can bite but don’t usually attack humans. Younger ball pythons are more prone to biting, but after a while, they quickly acclimate to domestication and stop biting.

A ball python bite may be severe if you try to pry the snake’s jaws open in order to free your hand.

Why would a ball python bite?

1. Defense 

When a ball python strikes out defensively, they will quickly bite and release. Naturally, snakes defensively strikeout to warn off a predator. 

2. To kill prey

When capturing prey, a ball python will bite and hold down their prey whilst trying to constrict it. 

Does a ball python bite hurt?

You will undoubtedly feel the effects of a ball python bite because it inflicts scratches, bruising, and puncture wounds but isn’t very painful. Usually, a ball python will take a jab at your extremities, usually the arms and hands.

Ball python bites are rare and may occur when:

  • When improperly held or grabbed
  • When your snake is young
  • If your snake is still digesting a meal
  • If your hands have the scent of prey or food

An evident sign that your ball python is about to strike is when your stake takes up an S-like stance. If you notice your snake taking up this stance, put them back in their enclosure and leave them alone.

How to remove a ball python that has latched on

Typically, a ball python will bite and release quickly. However, some stay latched on to you. If this happens, stay calm. Your reaction affects how your pet snake reacts. Latching on is normal, even natural behavior when constricting prey.

Do not move or jerk your hand away even though it may be your first instinct.

Do not try to pry the snake off your hand, either. Doing so rips their teeth away, leading to health problems. It also worsens the injury inflicted on your hand.

So, how do I unlatch my ball python?

Give them a minute or so to release.

Biting and latching are your pet snake’s reaction to hunger, stress, and anxiety. Giving them a few minutes allows your ball python to establish that you aren’t prey. 

Pour water over the bite area or submerge your hand in water.

Since ball pythons are desert-loving snakes and not seasoned swimmers, putting their head underwater just long enough for them to let go is pretty effective.

Put prey in their face.

Put something biteable but not dangerous like a prey right in their line of vision. Usually, since most snakes bite their owners or handlers due to hunger or overzealousness during feeding time, a rat or mouse will be a good distraction. This will allow them to focus on their prey hence let go of your hand.

If everything fails, pour some alcohol over the bite area your ball python is latching on and on his gums.

Alcohol will startle the snake into releasing your hand. Alcohol isn’t good for snakes because the fumes affect them adversely. So use alcohol sparingly.

How should I handle a ball python bite?

Despite the fact that ball pythons are non-venomous, a bite from one still needs some form of treatment. The bite may not inflict injury but may allow bacteria into your body. Consult a doctor about any snake bite, no matter how minor.

Minor ball python bites require washing the wound with antiseptic soap and some warm water. Wrap the bite area with a bandage to avoid infection and help it heal.

Severe bites need immediate medical attention. Such a bite occurs when the ball bites you and latches on for a few seconds. If the injury is bleeding, apply some pressure to encourage clotting.

How do I avoid getting a ball python bite?

  1. Feed your ball python on a regular schedule and do not handle them before or after mealtime.
  2. Instead of using your hands to put in the prey, use long-handled tongs.
  3. Wash your hands immediately after feeding to wash the scent of the prey off. It will ensure you can safely handle your pet snake without them thinking you are food.
  4. Handle your ball python regularly so that they get used to your scent and being handled. Always be calm because snakes can pick up on emotions. 
  5. During or near shedding, your pet snake is more irritable so avoid handling them.
  6. Avoid handling your snake around large crowds and loud noises.

FAQs about ball python teeth

Can I defang my ball python?

Ball pythons do not have fangs; instead, they have inward curved teeth. Non-venomous snakes typically do not have fangs. 

Do ball python teeth grow back?

Ball pythons often lose their teeth during feeding, and it is normal. Just as fast as they lose their teeth, they grow back. New teeth are always waiting to replace the old teeth that fall out. 

What do ball pythons teeth look like?

Ball python teeth are small and barb-like. They are pretty sharp and face back towards the snake’s body. This helps them hold onto their prey when striking and constricting. 

How often do ball pythons bite?

Captive-bred ball pythons almost hardly ever bite. They are docile and friendly with proper handling. Wild-caught ball pythons can be aggressive and bite. However, individual snakes have individual personalities. Young ball python may seem overeager during feeding time and strike out but transferring then to a different enclosure for feeding does the trick. It is important to differentiate defensive and aggressive behavior in your ball python to help deal with the root cause.

Does a ball python bite hurt?

A ball python bite is more shocking than it is painful. A ball python’s teeth are designed to capture and restrain its prey. It will hurt a little and may leave a bruise, puncture wounds, or a scratch. However, the pain is relatively mild, and you will shake it off easily.

Ball pythons are fascinating pets whose bite is rare and not dangerous. Like all other pets, their dental and oral care is of utmost importance. A regular checkup helps ensure they are in great health and regular and proper handling ensures they are suitably social.

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