Ball python humidity and temperature aren’t the most exciting topics when it comes to keeping a pet ball python. That being said, your ball pythons heating and humidity requirements are extremely important to the health of your snake.
Ball pythons come from sub-Saharan Africa. This means that we need to replicate this environment as best we can. This includes heating your ball python enclosure as well as ensuring the right humidity level for your ball python.
Ball python heating
Ball pythons are reptiles and this means that they are cold blooded. This means that they cannot regulate their body temperature themselves, but need an external heat source. This is called thermoregulation.
So, what heat source is best for a ball python? – You have a few options…
What heat source to choose for ball python?
- Heat mat/tape
In general, this is the best option to use. Using a heat mat or heat tape ensures a safe method for heating your ball python enclosure.
Ball pythons do not bask in the sun like other animals, but they do love to slither along the hot sand after the sun has set.
Heat mats allow for much better temperature regulation, as they can be connected to a thermostat. This prevents the temperature from rising or falling to dangerous levels.
Another advantage of heat mats is that you can heat a much more specific part of the enclosure. By heating around 1/3 of the enclosure, you ensure there is a smooth temperature gradient for your snake to enjoy.
Always place your heat mat underneath the enclosure and not in it. The heat will pass through the enclosure and the substrate, and this will further prevent any problems with overheating.
- Heat bulbs/lighting
Heat lamps aren’t ideal. Some people argue that it’s a more natural heat source, but ball pythons don’t really bask. This means they are used to absorbing their heat from the floor, not from above.
A heat lamp can be useful if you live in a very cold country however, as it can help to heat the air in the terrarium better.
If this is the case with you, the lamp should be used supplementary. However, since your ball python is kept inside, this usually isn’t a problem.
You can go with heat bulbs and your ball python can live healthily under heat lamps, but it’s not the ideal setup.
- Heat rocks
Don’t use heat rocks. They are difficult to regulate the temperature on and often result in burns on your pet. Do with one of the above two options.
Ball python temperature
Ball pythons need relatively warm temperatures. Their basking temperature/ground temperature should be around 89-97 degrees Fahrenheit (31.5 – 36.1 degrees Celsius). This helps them to warm up their body.
The air temperature should be around 79 – 83 degrees Fahrenheit (26.1 – 28.3 degrees Celsius). At night, the temperatures can be lowered slightly to help simulate a natural temperature drop.
Always use 2 different thermometers to keep track of the temperature. First, use a digital pointing thermometer which will help you read the ground temperature. This is a tool that every reptile keeper should own.
To measure the air temperature, you can stick a thermometer onto the glass and just read it whenever you check up on your ball python.
Ball python humidity
Ball python humidity isn’t an exact science. Luckily, ball pythons aren’t the most challenging reptiles when it comes to humidity levels. A humidity level of between 50 and 65% works great, but ideally, you’ll want it around 55-60%.
This can usually be achieved by using the right substrate and providing a large water dish. You can play around with the location of your water dish to manipulate the humidity levels.
The closer it is to the heat pad, the more of the water that will evaporate.
A good hygrometer will help you to measure humidity levels in the enclosure.
You can also choose to mist the enclosure every once in a while to keep the humidity at the right levels. A short spike or drop isn’t an issue in this case.
If you do mist the enclosure, try to prevent the water from getting on the bedding. Ball pythons need air humidity and not ground moisture. A wet substrate can lead to things like scale rot which is extremely unpleasant for your animal!
When it comes to shedding, humidity can be temporarily raised to 65 to 75% to aid in the shedding process.
Providing your ball python with a humidity box/hide is also a great way of letting them regulate their humidity.
In the wild, ball pythons will use things like termite mounds in order to find humid air. You can simulate this by creating a humid hide for your snake.
Use sphagnum moss to provide the humidity. This is fine in a single hide and your ball python will be able to leave whenever they feel like it. This prevents the issues that a wet floor causes.
Ball python lighting
Ball pythons don’t need special lighting as the normal light entering the room they are kept in usually works fine.
Some ball python keepers light enclosures to make the difference between day and night more pronounced though, and this is definitely an option. It can also make it much easier to look inside your ball python enclosure, depending on where it’s setup.
Can ball pythons have too much humidity?
Yes. Peaks and dips usually don’t matter too much as these happen naturally in the wild too. The problem is if high levels of humidity happen constantly. This can cause respiratory infections in your snake.
How hot is too hot for a ball python?
Again, dips and spikes usually aren’t a problem, as the temperature in the wild changes a lot too. Temperatures above 39-40 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) are really pushing it and shouldn’t be used as a constant temperature for your ball python.
Do ball pythons need heat lamps?
Ball pythons do not need heat lamps if they have another heat source, like a heat mat. Heat mats are preferred over heat lamps.
Do ball pythons need light at night?
Ball pythons do not need light at night. Obviously, in the wild, these snakes can’t light a candle or turn on the light switch 😉
What temperature is too cold for ball pythons?
Temperatures below 75 degrees Fahrenheit are considered too cold for ball pythons. However, it’s best to stick to the temperature indications in this blog post.
As you can see, there’s quite a lot to talk about when it comes to ball python heating and humidity. At least now you have all the information you need to provide your ball python with the perfect conditions!
Want to learn more about ball python care? Check out our ball python care guide to learn everything you need to know about their care!