piebald ball python

Piebald Ball Python: How to Befriend a Python!

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Always been fascinated by snakes and wanted one as a pet but unsure where to begin with? Look no further, the piebald ball python is a perfect fit for novice snake lovers, who want them as pets. Why are they named as ball pythons?

The answer to this is pretty simple, they curl up into a ball-like form when they feel threatened and hence the name, pied ball python or piebald ball python.

They make amazing companions for novice snake owners as they have simple care requirements. They do not need to be fed as often, they are reluctant to bite, docile and tolerant in nature. 

The ‘piebald’ part of their name refers to the large white patches (lack of pigmentation) on their body, over the brown, striped or spotted skin. 

The piebald pythons that show a combination of the piebald trait along with the co-dominant black pastel trait are also known as panda pied ball python or panda python snakes due to white non-pigmented patches on their skin over the black coloration, resembling the Panda. Also known as the Super Black Pastel Piebald, the panda pied pythons are one of the most stunning varieties.

Pied ball pythons grow from three to six feet in length and are one of the most popular pet snakes around the world.

Breed Overview:

Scientific name Python regius
Common names pied ball python, panda pied ball python, piebald python, piebald snake, pied snake, panda python snake
Origin and habitat Africa
Temperament  Docile, calm, tolerant
Piebald snake size 3 to 5 feet
Pied snake lifespan 25 to 30 years (Highest recorded age: 47 years)
Diet  Small or medium-sized rodents like rats and mice
Best suited for All levels of snake enthusiasts
Enclosure size and type 60 gallons and more, glass
Temperature requirement 70 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit 
Humidity  50 to 60%
Tank substrates Soil, wood shavings and sand
Heating and lighting Heating pads and UVB heat lamp

Origin and Habitat

piebald ball python

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Pied snakes are natural inhabitants of the tropical and subtropical African regions which stretch from the western coast of Sierra Leone, all the way to Uganda covering all of the west coasts.

They are found in Mali, Sudan, Uganda, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria, Chad and Cameron along with other regions of the west coast. These pythons are comparatively more vulnerable in the wild as they can be easily spotted by predators due to their colouration.

They enjoy living in dry forests and grasslands. They spend a lot of their time underground. They usually hide in burrows made by other animals. They are nocturnal. The night times are suitable for them to hunt as it’s cooler and they are less visible to the predators.

Breeding

Piebald, meaning the un-pigmented patches is a recessive trait, which makes these snakes harder to breed. Recessive traits must be present in both parents to express themselves in the offspring. 

The extent of piebald expression depends on more complex genetics and you will find some snakes with excessive piebald features and some barely falling into the category.

Appearance

piebald ball python

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The piebald python snake has a mystifying appearance with large, cloud-like arches covering almost its entire body. Their head usually shows the underlying brown colouration.

The piebald pattern, as I previously said, is based on complex genetics, which makes its extent unpredictable even if you look at both the parents. This beautiful and mystic morph was first recorded in the 1960s.

The pied ball python expresses various morphs which have names like the ahi pastel pied, pinto pied, Mojave pied sulfur, and so on.

The pied snake shows sexual dimorphism, meaning that males and females can be differentiated. Females are usually longer than the male piebald pythons and the hatchlings or baby pythons are up to 12 inches in length. These are robust snakes with short tails.

They will grow into an average size irrespective of their skin pattern aka the morph as the morph of any snake in no way affects their other features.

Behavior and Temperament

piebald ball python

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The BALL python is known for a reason. Balling up or curling up is a natural form of self defense shown by these snakes. Whenever threatened, they curl up into a tightly coiled ball, reducing their vulnerability. This position also enables them to be in a position wherein they can readily strike at their enemy.

Pied snakes take long to reach sexual maturity, they are ready to mate when they are around 2.5 years old. They are docile and easy to handle. Juveniles are a bit skittish and tricky to handle but calm down eventually.

Pied ball python snakes are most active during the dusk and dawn, this is when they prefer being handled. Avoid disturbing them or any animal when they are resting or eating.

Do not handle them 12 hours prior as well as post meals. Handling should also be avoided when they are shedding or have just been introduced into their new enclosure as they may need 2 to 3 days to adapt to it.

Handling snakes during above mentioned occasions can cause stress in them, which may lead to accidents.

These are timid creatures and do not like sudden changes in their surroundings. If you get a new pet or have strangers over to your house, you python may hide itself. They do not like noise and prefer calm settlements. They start curling up whenever they are stressed and if you notice this behavior make sure you remove the cause of stress and comfort them.

Glass surfing, long hiding times as well as striking are other clear signs of stress. Ball pythons almost never bite but even if they do, do not worry! They are NON VENOMOUS.

Care

piebald ball python

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1. Housing

Pied ball pythons require at least 60 gallons of large enclosure for a single snake. Their new enclosure can be made of glass and long enough so that your snake can stretch out completely if it needs to.

Provide them with freshwater access 24/7, and replace it daily. Pythons love to bask in the water so make sure the water area is large enough to hold a curled up python. Some people provide a big soaking dish and a separate, small drinking bowl. You can add a fountain or some source of moving water as studies show, animals drink more when there’s a moving water source.

Add substrates to their enclosure, which can include tree barks, coconut husk,  or soil. Using sand is not advised as it can lead to impaction. Make the substrate layer 3 to 4 inches thick.

Provide your snake with hides in case it needs solitude or find comfort, being on its own. Three types of hides are recommended, this can include a cool, a hot and a humid hide. Your snake will choose one to hide depending on its mood and need.

If you can provide 3 separate hides, make sure you at least provide them with a humid hide as that is necessary to keep your pied python snake comfortable during the times of shedding. Moisture can be retained in the hide by placing moisture-retaining plants or mosses inside it and making it an enclosed structure.

For enrichment of your pied ball python you can add dry leaf litter, cloning accessories, change the setup of their tank slightly or introduce new hides. This will help keep them stimulated mentally as well as physically. The tank should have constant access to fresh air without allowing your pet an escape route.

2. Temperature, Lighting and Humidity

They thrive best in the temperature range of 75 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Adding heating pads, day/night bulbs, ceramic heat emitters or tank heaters can help achieve the desired range of thermoregulation. Make sure the heater doesn’t come in direct contact with your python as it can lead to the burning of their skin.

Light is important to maintain the circadian rhythm of your snake. Lights come in a wide range of colors wherein white is used for the daytime and other colorscolours for the night. Nighttime can also be without a light depending on the owner.

Humidity must be maintained at 50% daily. Misting the substrate helps maintain the humidity of the enclosure.

Hydrometers and digital thermostats can be used to keep a check on humidity and temperature respectively.

3. Diet

Piebald pythons prefer small to medium rodents as their meal. Most snakes prefer live prey but it may be cruel or disheartening to watch for some. Live rodents also put your snake at the risk of getting injured while trying to defend itself.

We recommend frozen meat. Frozen meat saves the work and is tested for quality, which keeps your snake safe from diseases that a live rodent may be carrying.

Adult piebald ball pythons are fed every 3 weeks but this also depends on your snake’s size. Larger snakes tend to feed more frequently than their smaller counterparts. Although hatchings or juvie’s must be fed weekly as they are in a growing stage.

Make sure you feed your piebald ball python a right-sized rodent, that should not be wider than the widest part of their body as this can become a choking hazard. Their diet can also be supplemented with vitamin D and calcium.

Common Health Concerns

Pied ball pythons fall into a category of healthy reptiles but like any other living being, they too are prone to some illnesses that may arise due to improper handling or bad care and management. Some of the common problems observed are:

1. Tick parasitism: commonly happens when ticks are introduced in the tank due to improper checking of substrates or plants before introducing them in your snake’s enclosure.

2. Mouth rot: can be due to bacterial growth in the tank due to improper hygiene measures. 

3. Anorexia: if the food isn’t fresh or thawed well, your pied snake may avoid consuming it. You can try changing their food occasionally to keep them interested. If they lose weight by continuing their fast, make sure you get them checked by a vet.

4. Respiratory disease: commonly caused due to improper events of humidity or lack of fresh air and hygiene in their enclosure. So make sure you clean the tank regularly. 

Ball python poop, what does it indicate?

The health of an animal is reflected in their ability to digest food. If your ball python’s poop does not show normal color and consistency, you can easily tell they are sick. But for that you need to know what normal looks like.

Normally ball python poop is brown to dark brown excreted with yellowish to white urine in a pasty semi-solid form. They normally poop one weed after they consume food and the amount of poop resembles that of a cat or a small dog.

Also Read: Pet Iguana: Pet with an Intimidating Look

How to Clean the Tank

  1. Remove your pet and all the objects in the tank, including the litter.
  2. Wash the tank as well as other inanimate objects from the tank (like food or water bowl, etc) with detergent or diluted bleach.
  3. Rinse well with water, make sure there is no residue of detergent or bleach in the tank.
  4. Dry it thoroughly.
  5. Add new substrate, fresh drinking water and other clean substances to the tank.
  6. Introduce your snake back in.

Pied Bald Snake Cost

piebald ball python

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The price of a piebald ball python depends on factors such as locality, quality of breeding, the reputation of the breeder, skin pattern, demand, etc. they normally fall between the price range of 450$ to 600$ but the rarer variations like the banana, scaleless or an albino piebald snake may even cost as high as 8000$.

Final Thoughts:

Due to their piebald coat and docile nature, these are some of the most beautiful and sought after snakes around the world. They are easy to maintain and do not have any complex needs. They flourish in warmth, which can easily be provided using heating pads and lamps and feed on mice or rats, one every few days.

They are a great addition to any family, experienced or novice. They are overall healthy and barely undergo any health complications unless they are poorly bred. Hence, they are one of the best options if you are looking for a pet reptile.

Hope we provided you with all the information needed to make an informed decision. We would also request you to consider the commitment of up to 30 years and be sure if you decide to get this snake.

For more information on pet care, breeds, or pet foods, visit PetsNurturing.

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