One of the ball pythons’ most renowned characteristics is the charming pattern on their back, in stark contrast with their usually white or creamy belly.
However, it’s not uncommon to see a ball python’s belly take on a pink or red shade and it doesn’t always mean the same thing.
If your ball python has a pink underbelly, it’s necessary to understand the cause behind this change.
It’s not always a source of concern, in fact, it may just indicate that your ball python is about to shed, but it might also escalate into some nasty skin problem, so it’s important to track down the core issue.
What does it mean when a ball python has a pink belly?
There is no single culprit behind a pink belly snake, but the most common reason why snakes start to change color is that they’re approaching their shedding time.
If you have a baby snake with a pink belly, they’re probably going to shed soon.
On average, ball pythons shed their skin every 4-6 weeks, but it can take considerably longer for older snakes, that only shed once or twice per year.
It’s up to you to make the math and see if that could be the cause of the pink belly.
If your python has recently shed a brand new skin, you need to look for the cause somewhere else.
Tank problems that may cause a pink belly in your snake.
Given that your slithering pet spends most of its time in the tank, that’s where you should go looking for the source of the problem.
Ball pythons are cold-blooded, so you will need to provide them with the right amount of heat they need.
It’s important that the environment they live in isn’t too hot, because high temperatures could cause burns on their skin.
Your python will regulate its own temperature depending on the heat you provide, so make sure to keep the surface level of the warm side at 87 – 90 F, while the cool side at 77 – 80 F.
This should be a healthy range of temperatures that your snake can adjust to.
Your colorful friend doesn’t need as much humidity as you think.
This kind of snake doesn’t come from tropical forests, so they don’t need too much humidity and actually, a high level of humidity could be the cause of several diseases, among which respiratory diseases.
The humidity level in your tank should be between 55 – 60 F and in any case, never drop below 50 F.
During the shedding period, you can turn it up to 70 F to encourage proper shed but only do so if your pet snake doesn’t manage to completely shed at normal humidity.
One of the main causes behind a pink-bellied snake is the wrong bedding.
Most substrates you can find in animal shops are fine, but some types of bedding are more insidious than others.
If you have very porous bedding, the terrain will retain moisture and boost the humidity level in the tank.
When your python comes directly in contact with such a damp surface, the rubbing will get moisture trapped under the scales causing a Vesicular Dermatitis that will manifest through big pink/red spots on their belly or even blisters.
This disease is not always manageable at home, so you might need to bring your python to the vet.
Under Tank Heaters (UTH) are a great way to keep your snake tank warm without drying the environment too much.
However, you cannot simply just install a UTH under your tank and let it do the work because these heating pads can easily reach very high temperatures that will cause your ball python skin problems, first and foremost really bad burns.
If you have a UTH or you’re thinking of installing one, remember to buy a thermostat to use with it.
It’s important to get to the core of the problem as soon as possible because a snake living in an unhealthy environment won’t probably live long. If your ball python keeps showing a pink belly even after you adjusted its tank environment, a medical examination may be needed.
How to prevent your ball python from getting pink belly again.
The first thing you should do to avoid panic every time your ball python’s belly changes color is to write down each and every shed they had.
This will give a timeline of their shedding period and if you see a pink belly during one of these times you know you just need to wait until the shedding is over.
To avoid the issues mentioned in the previous paragraph, you can count on the help of a few instruments that will help you adjust your tank regulations.
Don’t worry about your wallet, some of them can be found for really cheap prices and they’re long-time investments because you don’t need to change them until, and if, they broke.
What do you need for a safe ball python enclosure?
Here are a few basic tools necessary to start your very own ball python setup:
One is fine, two is better. You should set up one thermometer on the warm side of the tank, the other on the cold side, so you can check the range of temperatures that your python perceives.
As mentioned earlier, a healthy range is 87 – 90 F for the warm side and 77 – 80 F (or even 82) for the cool side.
This instrument will be fundamental to check the humidity level in the enclosure.
An easy way to change the humidity level in your python tank is to change the size of the water bowl.
You should buy a thermostat along with the heating pad. To install the pad it’s fundamental that the tank isn’t on the floor, it should be elevated and there should be airflow under it.
The UTH shouldn’t adhere to the bottom of the tank directly, you should leave a little space in between.
The probe for the UTH should go between the UTH and the tank and the probe for the thermostat should be on the center of the pad.
Many ball python owners prefer a good paper towel or newspaper to any other substrate, as it helps avoid bad skin problems such as inflammation and loss of scales.
Snakes love their hides and it’s important they have more than one to choose from. Having one on the warm side of the tank and one on the cold side would be ideal.
If your python doesn’t have places to hide, they could become stressed and stress in ball pythons can lead to skin rashes and even loss of appetite.
Should you worry if your ball python has a pink belly?
Pink belly in ball pythons mean a lot of different things, some are normal like shredding while others may be a concern like skin inflammations.
Different people and even different experts might tell you different things about how to properly take care of your ball python, but you shouldn’t stop at the first piece of advice.
It’s your responsibility to keep researching in order to make sure you’re providing your pet snake with everything they need. When in doubt, calling your veterinarian will always be the first and safest thing to do.
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