Ball Python Temperament | Are Ball Pythons Friendly?

Are ball pythons friendly?

Snakes are adored pets for many. 800,000 homes have a snake as a pet.  According to National Geographic, nearly 3.6 million Ball Pythons have been exported from their home country of Africa. This might not be too surprising seeing as how ball pythons are probably the most popular pet snake. But before you get one you might be wondering whether or not ball pythons are friendly. 

Ball pythons are generally friendly pets that have a calm nature. Ball Pythons are a popular pet because they are more relaxed than other species of snakes. That said, you should not expect a ball python to be friendly the same way that a pet dog might be. 

In this article, you will learn about the Ball Python’s temperament and how they need to be treated if you choose to have one as a pet in your home. 

Ball Python Temperament 

When looking at snakes, you are wondering what type of temperament they have. The last thing you want to do is welcome an angry and unpredictable snake into your home. The temperament of the Ball Python makes it an extremely popular choice for many.

The Ball Python is known to have an extremely docile temperament. This temperament makes them easy to handle. To maintain this docile temperament, the snake must be cared for properly. This means adequate space as well as frequent handling. 

Young snakes do not do well with handling initially, but they become familiar with the handlers and can be extremely calm with time. The docile temperament of the Ball Python helps make it a popular household pet. 

Ball pythons have a friendly temperament. However, it is not going to look the same as it would with a friendly dog. Your ball python will not likely be jumping around its cage eager for your daily attention. But for a reptile, ball pythons have a friendly temperament that is typically easy to handle. 

Are Ball Pythons Aggressive?

Like any animal, the Ball Python can become aggressive, but only when provoked. By nature, the Ball Python is quite calm. However, it is important to note that young snakes tend to exhibit some aggression until they get used to being handled. In addition, a ball python might not be as friendly if it has been mostly neglected in its cage.

This does not mean that it has an aggressive nature, however, but rather it is scared and in defensive mode. 

What Does an Aggressive Ball Python Do?

You may be wondering what an aggressive Ball Python will do. The good news is that Ball Pythons are not venomous, which means a bite will not likely be life-threatening, but it can be painful. If your ball python is acting aggressive, you may notice some hallmark characteristics.

  • Lunging at people
  • Opening mouth and lunging
  • Hissing
  • Biting 

If you notice your Ball Python exhibiting any of these behaviors, you need to use extreme caution when handling and approaching them. 

Do Ball Pythons Like to Be Held?

Ball Pythons are docile snakes, but you need to limit the handling that occurs when you have one as a pet. Just like all animals and people, snakes have distinct personalities. Some snakes like to be held often, while others like to be left alone. You must get a good read on your ball python’s personality so you can avoid unnecessary injury to yourself and your pet. 

That being said, ball pythons typically are great snakes for handling. Not only are most ball pythons friendly, they are also the perfect size for handling. They are neither too small nor are they scary big like many other python species. 

Holding a Ball Python?

You will only know if your Ball Python likes to be held if you try it to see the snake’s reaction. Before you begin holding your snake, you need to keep a few things in mind. 

Be cautious. When you get ready to hold a Ball Python, you need to proceed with caution. Do not be fooled by the small size of a python. If they are not excited about being held, you could potentially get injured.

Do not reach your hand directly into the snake’s cage. A cage is a safe place for your snake, and it can easily feel under attack. Like any animal, if you intrude on their safe space, they will react. Because of this, you must use a proper snake-grabbing hook

Read the body language of the snake. Your snake will provide you with body language that will indicate their mood and willingness to be held. You must understand the snake’s body language and act accordingly. 

Clean your hands. Typically, we think of animals giving germs to us, but when preparing to handle a Ball Python, you need to adjust your thinking. You must wash your hands before you begin handling the snake for two reasons.

  1. A snake may confuse your hand for food if there is any residue or odor.
  2. You have harmful bacteria on your hands that could be harmful to the snake. 

If you attempt to pick up a Ball Python before you wash your hands, you need to be prepared to experience a nibble from the snake, as it may become confused and think it is being offered food. 

Move Slowly. Snakes, like most animals, can be easily startled. Because of this, you must move slowly when preparing to take your snake out of the cage. Any sudden movement can cause your snake to react negatively. 

Use a loose grasp. When holding the Ball Python, you want to make sure you keep a loose grasp on the snake. Firm enough to support the snake yet loose enough for it to feel comfortable moving and not restricted. 

Expect to wrap. When holding a Ball Python, you need to be prepared for the snake to wrap itself around your body. This mimics how the snake would move in the wild and is not an indicator that you are in danger. 

Signs Your Ball Python Does Not Want to Be Held

There will be times that you should not try to hold your Python, even if they typically prefer to be held. Those times will be limited but do warrant your discretion.

  1. Right after the snake has eaten.
  2. If their eyes are a different color than normal. Or other signs that they are about to shed. 
  3. They are lying in a ball in their cage. 

Each of these things could pose a dangerous situation to either you or the snake. If food is not properly digested, it could be deadly, while body changes can indicate the snake is not relaxed and could result in aggression. 

Do Ball Pythons Recognize Their Owners?

You have seen many pets’ reactions when their owner enters the room and wonder if a Ball Python is similar. Unfortunately, you will not find your snake lunging at the side of the cage or trying to escape to crawl into your arms when you walk into the room. This is why I say that ball pythons are friendly but don’t think of it the same way you would a dog or even a cat. 

Snakes do not have a great memory or vision, so they will not be able to see you as you enter the room. However, they do have a keen sense of smell, which allows them to recognize your scent. Scent recognition is most common with the person that handles and feeds them most frequently. 

Are Ball Pythons Friendly Enough for Beginners?

Ball Pythons are an excellent option for first-time snake owners because of their mild temperament and ease of care. As with any first-time pet owner, you must learn all you can about the animal to ensure it is safe and well cared for.

That said, they are my number one pick for best pet python or boa. This is mostly because ball pythons typically have a friendly mild temperament. 

Are Ball Pythons Friendly Enough For Kids? 

If you have children or plan to have children during the time you have a Ball Python as a pet, you must understand how the two will interact with one another. Thankfully, the docile nature of the Ball Python makes it an ideal snake to have around kids.

Of course, it would be best if you exercised caution when children are around the snake, and they should never be unsupervised or put in charge of feeding the snake. While the snake may be gentle most of the time, aggression could rear its ugly head when food is involved. 

Supervision is necessary with a Ball Python. Remember, kids, are going to be kids. This means they may not always use the gentleness or slow movement around the snake that makes it comfortable. Even the calmest tempered snakes can lash out if they feel threatened. Supervising your children around the snake will help prevent any accidental injuries from occurring. 

In addition, you should certainly not let a ball python that has shown signs of aggression around children. But a friendly ball python will likely be fine around children with proper supervision. 

Where Should you Buy a Ball Python?

If you decide to purchase a Ball Python, you must choose a reputable location to make your purchase. You may be able to find a reputable reptile-specific store, but you can also visit a reliable chain pet store as well. 

When you purchase a Ball Python from a reputable location, you ensure the health and breeding of the snake. The individual in charge of caring for the snake will also be able to tell you a bit about the temperament and how it is handled.

If you purchase your ball python at a local pet shop, they should be able to give you details about the breeder and where they purchase their snakes. 

Final Thoughts

Ball Pythons are considered one of the most beginner-friendly snakes you can have as a pet. Although they are labeled as friendly and docile, their personalities are unique, and not all snakes may behave the same. Taking time to provide a safe location and proper care for your Ball Python will help encourage a temperament accepting of holding.

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