Ball pythons are one of the most popular snakes in the pet trade, and for good reason. They’re beautiful, they’ve been bred into dozens of stunning color morphs, and they’re natural coloration is just as pretty as any of those. They’re big- commonly reaching 4-6 feet but sometimes hitting 7 feet, and they’re thickly built.
Plus, they’re docile. These are gentle snakes that don’t mind being handled and almost never display aggression towards their owners. As an added bonus, the overwhelming majority of the ball pythons available in the pet trade are captive-bred, and the species in the wild is widespread and thriving, so there are no concerns about illicit trade in a dying species with this snake (as there are with some other popular exotics).
Ball pythons can live for decades- at least one lived for 62 years in captivity. But they’ll only live that long with proper care, and that starts with the right terrarium. Here are some of the best enclosures for ball pythons.
Best enclosures for ball pythons
- One of the biggest terrariums you can buy
- Front-opening sliding door
- Key-lock security to prevent escapes
- Designed for active reptiles
Carolina Custom Cages is a relative newcomer to the terrarium market, but their products are some of the best you’ll find anywhere. They’re suitable for many different species, but the real selling point of this model is it’s size.
Ball pythons need space. Younger, smaller snakes don’t need as much as mature adults, and you can get by with a smaller enclosure for a while as your snake grows, but eventually you’ll need a tank this size. You might as well buy it now. It has ample room for your python to move around, climb, burrow, hide, bask, and cool off.
Creating a temperature gradient in a tank this size is easy, and it’s also easy to build a stimulating, comforting environment for your python. You’ll have plenty of space to add multiple hides, climbing features, and plants.
- Slightly smaller, but still plenty of space
- Sliding doors
- Key locks
- Well ventilated
With this tank you lose about six inches of depth from the other Carolina Cages model, but the tank is still 48 inches long and 24 inches high. For mature ball pythons we’d still recommend getting the bigger tank if you can, but if you need to save some space your snake will still thrive in this model.
One thing that’s really great about Carolina Cages is the way they ship. The packaging is impeccable and they really go all out to ensure that their cages are protected as much as possible during shipping. When you’re spending this much money on a big glass tank, you want to know that it will arrive at your door in one piece, and Carolina Cages does a great job of that.
Most built-in features
- Raised bottom from for substrate heater
- Front opening door for easy access
- Dual screen mesh tops- can open one half at a time
- Easy to clean
- Window ventilation
- Closable inlets for wires and cabling
REPTIZOO does a great job of making enclosures with lots of built in features, and they’re not just gimmicks. The raised bottom frame makes using a substrate heater much easier. The inlets for wires and cabling make adding equipment to the tank incredibly easy.
Like the top option from Carolina Cages, this tank is huge and has plenty of room for a ball python to live a happy, healthy life. So why rank the Carolina Cage tank higher? Simple: while the added features on the REPTIZOO are useful, not everyone will take advantage of them. So, this tank is the best choice for those who would actually make use of its many features, but that isn’t going to be everybody.
Best for beginners
- Can be set up or taken down in five minutes or less
- Raised bottom frame for substrate heater
- Waterproof bottom
- Front opening doors
REPTIZOO tanks are some of the most thoughtfully designed tanks on the market, and, while most of their tanks are great for beginners, this one is a bit different. It’s designed with ease of set up in mind, and that’s more important than you might think.
Setting up a terrarium can be a real pain, and anyone who’s moved one to a new house can tell you that the process of taking it down, moving it, and setting it up again is no fun. This terrarium is designed to be taken apart, packed flat, and set up again with as few steps as possible. That alone makes it a great choice for anybody, but especially for beginners, who lack experience with terrariums.
It’s a smaller tank, so it isn’t suitable for a fully grown python. However, young pythons will do fine in it and it’s big enough that you won’t have to replace it until they’re just about full grown.
5 things to look for when buying a ball python enclosure
1. Enclosure size
Ball pythons are relatively big snakes, and they’re somewhat active too. They need big terrariums. There’s a myth that ball pythons don’t like big terrariums, because they get intimidated by the size of the space.
Let’s be clear- that idea is absurd. Pythons in the wild live in wide open spaces all the time. If someone tries to tell you that ball pythons don’t like big terrariums, walk away. Ball pythons like space. Fully grown ball pythons can be seven feet long, and while most end up around four to six feet, that’s still a big snake that needs space.
As long as you design the terrarium interior well your snake will love the space. They do get stressed when kept in big glass terrariums with no hiding places and nothing covering the glass on all four sides, but you wouldn’t like that either.
Buy a big tank (fully grown pythons really need one that’s 48 inches by 24 inches, and like about two feet of vertical space for climbing), put a good hide in it, and something they can climb on. Then cover three of the four walls with a background you like to help the python feel secure, and you’re good to go.
You have to be able to access the inside of the terrarium. Ball pythons like substrate they can burrow in, and that means the substrate will also absorb their urine and feces, along with water spilled from their dish when they enter it to soak.
That means you’ll need to replace the substrate fairly often, once a week is best. That requires removing the python, removing all the hides, plants, and the water dish, and dumping out all the substrate, cleaning the glass on the inside of the tank, and putting fresh substrate down. It’s a pretty involved process, and having easy access to the inside of the terrarium is a must.
Front-opening doors make this much easier. When used in tandem with a removable top you gain wide open, easy access to the whole tank, which is why we think front-opening doors are a necessary feature.
The terrarium needs to be cleaned and disinfected regularly. Glass is the best material for a terrarium, period. It’s easy to clean, it’s sanitary, and it loses heat well. That’s important- glass terrariums have fewer problems with mold and mildew because they shed heat and are easier to clean.
Plastic terrariums are entirely unsuitable as permanent reptile habitats. They’re fine for temporary housing, but buy a glass terrarium for your snake’s permanent home.
Since your snake will spend its entire life in this enclosure, you want to be sure you’re giving it the best possible home. Plus, you probably want a terrarium that you can use for years to come, since they’re not exactly cheap.
Look for trusted manufacturers, and especially ones that consult herpetologists on the design. These will be the best terrariums to buy.
Good terrariums aren’t cheap.For something the size of a ball python, you’re unlikely to find a terrarium for less than about $300, and those won’t be big enough for adult snakes, either. The hard reality is that a quality terrarium for a ball python will be expensive. The good news is, if you buy a big terrarium and care for your snake properly, you’ll likely get 30-40 years of use out of it.
Ball python supplies you’ll need for the enclosure
Here’s a quick list of the main items you’ll need to have for a proper ball python setup.
- Substrate – 3-4 inches of substrate at the bottom is necessary. Reptile mats are fine, and this coconut based substrate works well
- Water dish – Ball pythons need to drink, and they also sometimes enjoy soaking in shallow water to cool off. This water dish is big enough that the python can fit in it, and shallow enough for safety.
- Substrate heater – The terrarium needs to be kept on a gradient from 75-85 degrees. A substrate heater is one of the best ways to do that. It allows you to generate heat on one side of the tank only. Note that this doesn’t create a basking spot, which is hotter than what a substrate heater can generate.
- Thermometer – The only way to know if the climate inside the tank is right for your snake is with a thermometer. This one is great
- Plants to climb – Since ball pythons like to climb, you need to provide an environment in which they can do that. Something like this for example can be purchased, but you can also find your own driftwood. Just be sure to properly sanitize it.
- Heat lamp – For optimal health, you should create a basking spot on the warm side of the terrarium with heat up to 92 degrees. For that you need a heat lamp.
- Hide- Your python needs a place to curl up where they can feel safe and hidden, like this.
Ball pythons make great pets and will always be one of my favorite types of snakes. They’re beautiful, big but not too big, and docile. They’re one of the easiest pet snakes to handle, and the captive-bred pythons tolerate handling better than most exotics.
The Carolina Custom Cages Extra Tall Long is the best enclosure you can buy for a ball python. It’s got tons of space, it’s made well, and it’ll last a lifetime.