Whether you just brought your ball python home or it has been your pet for many years, chances are that your pet snake will try to escape on occasion.
Snakes tend to be capable of living very quiet lives with very little excitement.
They don’t naturally want to break out of their cages just to go exploring.
When your ball python tries to escape, it is usually because there is something about its cage that is bothering it.
Why Is My Ball Python Trying to Escape?
The first thing you need to understand about ball pythons is that not everything they do that looks like an attempt is really an attempt to escape.
A ball python that reaches up toward the top of its terrarium may just be in need of a good stretch. It could be exercising. It could be exploring its habitat.
But if your snake is hungry, stressed, or feels threatened, it may actually be trying to escape its cage.
In this article, we will go over some harmless behaviors that look like your ball python is trying to get out of its enclosure.
Then we will discuss some of the reasons ball pythons may genuinely try to escape their cages.
Finally, we will go over some of the ways you can keep your ball python happy with its home so it does not want to escape its habitat.
Ball Pythons That Are Stressed Out May Try to Leave Their Tank
It isn’t just hungry ball pythons that may try to escape their tanks. Ball pythons that are confused, threatened, or stressed may try to escape as well.
Although a ball python can spend its entire life in a plastic tub on a rack, you will want to put your ball python in a clear terrarium so you can interact with it and enjoy its beautiful colors.
It is important to give your ball python neither too much nor too little space in its tank.
Hatchlings can become so intimidated when they are placed on their own in adult-sized cages that they refuse to eat.
On the other hand, adult ball pythons that do not have at least 36 inches x 12 inches x 18 inches (90 cm x 30 cm x 45 cm) may feel crowded or cramped, especially if they do not have places to hide.
You also need to make sure that the temperature and humidity in your ball python tank are within suitable ranges, even if your snake doesn’t seem to mind.
Your ball python’s tank should have a temperature gradient of 78 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit (25 to 35 degrees Celsius) and relative humidity of 55 to 60 percent.
Always keep your ball python’s cage clean.
Collect feces promptly, and don’t allow body fluids and condensation to collect under the cage’s substrate layer. Ball pythons prefer clean surroundings.
Finally, avoid placing two ball pythons in the same enclosure, unless you are breeding them.
They will be in constant conflict over the best hides and the best positions along with the heat source.
Hungry Ball Pythons May Become Climbers
Male ball pythons in nature get most of their protein by capturing and eating small birds.
A male python that climbs to the top of its cage during the day may be acting on its hunting instincts because it is hungry.
Female ball pythons in nature get more of their food in the form of rodents they capture at ground level in tall grass.
However, they too have a hunting instinct to climb in search of prey when they are hungry.
Make sure you are feeding your ball python the right size of prey animal on an appropriate schedule.
The whole prey animals or Reptilinks you feed your ball python should be about as wide as your ball python, or maybe a little wider.
Your ball python’s jaws can’t come unhinged because they don’t have hinges, but they can open wide enough to swallow an animal just a little wider than they are.
Chances are that you feed your ball pythons rodents. It’s fine to start with pinky mice (previously killed and frozen, then defrosted and brought up to room temperature gradually).
But as your ball python grows, its prey animals have to get larger, too.
Feed your ball python fuzzy mice, then hopper mice, then young adult mice, and later fully grown mice, always previously killed. (If a previous owner trained your ball python to eat live rodents, however, you may have to continue feeding it live rodents.)
A fully grown ball python may eat more than one fully grown mouse at a time.
Be sure you are giving your ball python the right size of food. Feed your hatchlings every three to four days, and your adult ball pythons every seven to ten days.
Don’t try to change your ball python’s diet unless absolutely necessary; ball pythons may not recognize everything you give them is food, and they may even starve unless they get their regular food animals.
Making sure your ball python gets enough to eat will prevent most escape attempts. But you also have to make sure your ball python is not overwhelmed by stress.
Ball Pythons Are Crepuscular Creatures
One of the things that you will notice about your ball python right away is that it is more active at night than during the day. It prefers darkness to daylight.
Animals that become active around sundown and calm down around sunrise are known as crepuscular.
They are most active at night – when most people and other pets are asleep.
Increased activity in your ball python when you turn down the lights for the night is usually not something to worry about.
Sometimes, ball pythons will try to climb the sides of their terrarium and touch the top.
They may stretch out along each side of their enclosure, using their snouts to probe for any crevices or gaps that they might possibly squeeze through.
Your ball python does not see very well. It cannot necessarily tell the difference between a gap in the protective screen over its enclosure and one of its hiding places at the bottom of its enclosure.
When it is probing the sides and top of its cage, it is just looking for new places to hide when it digests its food and when it sheds its skin.
Of course, if your ball python finds a significant gap in the sides or top of its cage, it may just go through. But this behavior is not a cry for help.
Usually, when a ball python stretches out to the top of its enclosure and finds there is no way forward, it will just fold over itself and return to the bottom of the cage.
Don’t Panic If You Hear a Thump in Your Ball Python’s Cage
Sometimes, a ball python will try to climb up a branch you placed for decoration in its enclosure, and even try to slither across the top of its cage.
There are limits to how long your ball python can fight the power of gravity, and it may fall down to the bottom of its enclosure with a thud.
In nature, it is not unusual for ball pythons to drop down from tree branches to get to their prey. It is highly unlikely that falling less than a foot (30 cm) inside its enclosure will cause it any kind of injury.
The branches of trees in the ball python’s native habitat are much higher than any ball python cage.
Ball pythons climb to explore their cages at night. If your ball python is climbing in its cage during the day, this can have a different meaning.
More Tips for Keeping Your Ball Python from Trying to Escape
Always provide your ball python with at least one hide, preferably two or more.
The kind of space ball pythons like to use for their hiding places is just large enough for them to fit entirely inside.
It should not be large enough for another snake to join them, even if you keep each of your ball pythons in its own enclosure.
Something as simple as a rolled-up newspaper can serve as a hide when nothing else is available.
Clean, used tubs of margarine with holes in the side, turned upside down, will work for hatchlings.
But it is always best to invest in a hollow plastic log or aspen fiber substrate (which forms natural tunnels) to keep your ball python comfortable for the long term.
Ball pythons become restless just before they shed. This is natural behavior, but the restlessness will continue if your snake is unable to complete its shed, and pieces of skin stay attached to its body.
Removing dead skin will calm down your snake. Giving your ball python a permanent hiding place with rough edges inside conserves humidity, so its skin will be softer, and gives it traction for pulling off old skin.
Ball pythons don’t get along well with other pets.
If you have another pet that likes to spend its day watching or attempting to interact with your ball python, separate them to keep your snake from getting stressed out.
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