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REPTILE / new pets

A Set-Up Guide for Your New Pet Python

Tips for your new snake’s space


Five things to know about your new python

  • Ball Pythons, also called Royal Pythons, can live for 30 years
  • They grow up to 5 feet long
  • They curl into a tight ball when nervous (hence their name)
  • They are docile and naturally curious
  • They’re more active at night

Your python’s place

Adult pythons should live alone in a glass terrarium that’s at least 40 gallons in volume and has a screened lid.

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What to put in your python's habitat

  • Line the bottom of the terrarium with 2 inches of aspen reptile bedding or coconut fiber. Scoop the poop frequently and treat your snake to fresh bedding once a month.
  • Provide a wide, shallow water dish for your snake.
  • Stock the tank with lots of branches for hiding and climbing.
  • Place two hides in the terrarium, one on the warmer side and one on the cooler side. This allows your snake to choose what temperature it would like to hide in.
  • Make sure nothing in your snake’s tank will wobble or topple when your pet slithers over it.
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Heat & lights

  • Your python’s terrarium should have two microclimates. During the day, your python likes the temperature between 85 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit on the warm side of the tank, and between 75F and 80 F on the cool side. At night, the whole tank should be between 70 F and 80 F. A heat bulb or ceramic heat emitter will keep the warm end at the right temperature and a thermometer at each end will help you regulate the habitat overall.
  • The habitat humidity should be between 50% and 60%. Use a hygrometer — a device that measures humidity — to keep track.
  • Pythons need light that mimics day and night. Use a UVA/UVB bulb to mimic daylight for 12 hours a day.
  • At night, switch to a night-specific bulb so you can watch your python with minimum disturbance to your scaly friend.
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What to feed your python

Ball pythons are carnivores and should primarily be fed frozen rodents. Warm and thaw the rodent according to package directions, before offering it to your pet at mealtime. Feed your snake once a week at nighttime, using tongs. Some adult snakes may not eat for several weeks at a time; they may also skip feedings during shedding or due to habitat temperature change. If your pet skips more than two meals, contact your veterinarian or a PetSmart associate for advice.

Ball pythons drink from large shallow dishes and will also soak in their water dish, to maintain hydration. Be sure to empty, clean and refill their water dish every day.

Help keep your python healthy

Try not to handle your python for three or four days to give your new pet a chance to get acclimated to new surroundings. Whether your snake is new or settled-in, be sure to contact a vet with reptile experience if you notice any of these symptoms:

  • More time spent hiding
  • Eating or drinking less; weight loss
  • Shedding problems
  • Discolored skin
  • Swollen joints
  • Discharge from the eyes, nose or mouth
  • Runny droppings for more than two days


Pets purchased at PetSmart are part of our exclusive Vet Assured™ program, designed by PetSmart veterinarians to help improve the health and well-being of our pets. Our vendors meet a high standard in caring for pets and screening them for common illnesses. This program also includes specific standards for in-store pet care.

The PetSmart Promise: If your pet becomes ill during the initial 14-day period, or if you’re not satisfied for any reason, PetSmart will gladly replace the pet or refund the purchase price.