Bumblebee ball pythons are one of the world’s most popular pet snakes. They are friendly. They are small enough that they are easy to handle.
And they are beautiful.
The yellow and black of a bumblebee python are reminiscent of the yellow and black of a bumblebee, only in an awesome, fear-inducing package.
These eye-catching serpents aren’t especially hard to find, although they are very hard to breed.
Here are some of the most interesting facts about bumblebee ball pythons.
In this article, we will cover important facts about keeping and raising bumblebee ball pythons first and then go over some interesting facts about the breed.
Bumblebee Ball Pythons are Designer Snakes
“Designer” pets are a kind of breed within a breed. You may be familiar with designer dogs, like Labradoodles, which are bred to be both energetic and gentle.
Or you may be familiar with designer cats, such as Bengals, bred to have fur with a metallic sheen that glistens in the sunlight.
Bumblebee ball pythons are bred to have strikingly beautiful yellow, black, white, brown patterns in their skin.
They have one parent with pastel jungle markings and one parent with spider markings.
The parents have to be “heterozygotes” for their skin color, meaning they have to carry one dominant gene and one recessive gene for skin color.
About one out of every four of their offspring will have the bumblebee gene combination.
Then, in turn, about one in four of a bumblebee ball pythons offspring will have bumblebee colors.
Not All Bumblebee Ball Pythons Look Alike
Ball pythons come in at least 7,221 colors and patterns. There is variety even among bumblebee ball pythons.
They can be a yellow snake with black lines and dots or a black snake with yellow lines and dots.
The bumblebee ball python you take home from the pet store or the snake show maybe just be 10 inches (25 cm) long, but adults can grow to be 5 feet (1.25 m) long.
Extremely Friendly Snakes
There are very few snakes that are friendlier than bumblebee ball pythons. However, they have to be handled early and often to get used to human interaction.
Start by taking your snake out of its enclosure for just a few minutes at a time. Pet it and let it slither over you.
There’s no reason this kind of python has to stay in its enclosure all the time. (Be warned that these snakes have a very large bowel movement, so you may want to make sure they do that in their cages for easier cleanup.)
Start with short handling sessions and slowly work your from a few minutes to an hour or two.
If you do this when your Bumblebee Ball Python Morph is a juvenile, there’s no reason that they can’t spend extended periods of time outside their enclosure whenever you want.
The only time not to handle your bumblebee ball python is the first day or two after it has eaten.
During this time, it will be extending its girth to digest its meal, so handling may injure it.
You can Adopt Bumblebee Ball Python (instead of buying one)
Breeders charge up to $1,000 for baby bumblebee ball pythons, but herpetological societies sometimes make them available for free.
You will probably have to join the society and demonstrate that you are ready to take care of your baby bumblebee ball python before you are given one.
If you are not sure that a bumblebee is the kind of ball python you want to adopt, there are sometimes expos where many kinds of ball pythons are displayed and you can talk with knowledgeable people.
Also read: Best Place to Buy Pet Snakes
Common mistake – Buying Bumblebee Ball Python that is Too Large for Cage
Bumblebee ball pythons like to feel in absolute control over their domain. That’s the reason putting them in too large a cage stresses them out.
For an adult bumblebee ball python, an enclosure of 36” x 18” x 12” (90 cm x 45 cm x 30 cm) is ideal. A growing bumblebee ball python’s cage should be smaller.
These snakes do better in a glass reptile terrarium than in a cage with a screen top, to make sure they get enough humidity to keep their skin in good condition.
Don’t put two snakes in the same enclosure. Even when you are trying to breed bumblebee ball pythons, the only way to know if two snakes will get along is trial and error.
Fighting can injure or kill your snake.
Bumblebee Ball Pythons Appreciate Variety in their Surroundings
Bumblebee ball pythons need to be taken out of their cages occasionally.
A snake that is kept in the same drawer-like container for months or years on end will develop behavioral problems.
It may strike at items that are not there. It may slither back and forth around and around its cage. It may escape its enclosure.
Bumblebee ball pythons should at least have variations in temperature and moisture in their cages.
They don’t need “toys,” but they appreciate having animal scents on the food they eat.
It is not safe to let your bumblebee ball python kill its own food unsupervised (the mouse may bite back), but giving your snake “real” food makes it less likely to try to escape.
It Will Tell You When it Feels Threatened
A bumblebee ball python will roll its body into S shapes and hiss when it feels threatened.
It may press its mouth against the glass wall of its enclosure.
Bumblebee Ball Python Will Tell You When It has a Viral Infection
Bumblebee ball pythons that are infected with arenaviruses will often display “stargazing” or “wobbling” motion.
These unusual behaviors in sick snakes are often triggered by offering food.
Breeding Bumblebee Ball Pythons Isn’t Easy
In theory, it’s not that hard to breed a bumblebee python.
You just need to persuade a pastel ball python and a spider ball python to stay in the same cage long enough without attacking each other to breed, separate them again, and then hope the female lays enough eggs some of them will be bumblebees.
Unfortunately, ball pythons sometimes lay only one egg at a time and there is only a one in four chance that any one hatchling will be a bumblebee, so this process can take several years.
There is an easier way to breed ball pythons that you hope will include bumblebee ball pythons.
Buy fertilized ball python eggs. You will need to have an incubator set up before the eggs arrive.
You will need to provide just the right amount of moisture to help the young snake’s natch.
Their shells begin to collapse about two weeks before they hatch. And you will need to have the right soil mixture around the eggs.
But if you can hatch a clutch of ball python eggs, you will have a variety of colorful snakes that may include bumblebee ball pythons.
Then you can raise them from a hatchling and make sure they are used to human contact, while keeping them safe from disease.
Finding Baby Bumblebee Ball Pythons for Sale isn’t Easy either
There is a reason it’s hard to find baby bumblebee ball pythons.
That’s because one or both parents has to carry the spider gene, and spider ball pythons are as unpopular as bumblebee ball pythons are beloved.
What’s the problem with spider ball pythons?
The European Union has banned the sale of spider ball pythons, and it has become hard to find them in North America.
Spider ball pythons have a neurological issue. Their heads don’t tilt quite right. Their heads may be shaky.
Other problems of spider ball pythons sometimes include:
- Poor balance. They may fall off anything they try to climb.
- Difficulties feeding. If a spider ball python loses a mouse it is trying to constrict, it may sink its teeth into its own side and try to swallow itself. As it bites itself, it may think its food is fighting back, and bite itself even harder.
- Keeping a spider ball python stress-free to ensure that its wobbling does not cause injuries may require keeping it in a cage with opaque sides, so it cannot see out. But then you cannot see in.
Some spider ball pythons are more affected than others by the wobbling traits.
These traits very seldom show up in bumblebee ball pythons, but breeders don’t want to deal with them to create the bumblebee ball pythons.
Bumblebee Ball Pythons are Long-lived Pets
A bumblebee ball python will live much longer than a dog or a cat.
It is not unusual for a bumblebee ball python to live to be 20 to 30 years old.
One ball python lived 62 years, 59 of them at the St. Louis Zoo.
Don’t get many health problems
If a bumblebee ball python’s cage is kept clean, it is unusual for the snake to get sick.
However, these snakes can have problems with ticks, mites, scale mites, and respiratory conditions.
When you see your snake lethargic of having labored breathing, or having difficulty shedding its skin, or vomiting, it’s time for a trip to the vet.
Most Owners Don’t Know How to Feed Baby Bumblebee Ball Pythons
Baby bumblebee ball pythons eat baby mice. They need to be fed “hoppers,” the smallest mice you can buy for your python at the pet store.
Baby bumblebee ball pythons shouldn’t be fed “fuzzy” or “pinky” mice.
After a baby bumblebee ball python has been fed three or four times, it is then time to feed it adult mice.
Don’t Eat Very Often
You should not feed a young bumblebee ball python more than twice a week, and you only need to feed your adult bumblebee ball python every one to two weeks.
Keep in mind that live rodents can bite snakes. Feed your bumblebee ball python frozen rodents or stick around to make sure your pet eats its meal without incident.
Bumblebee ball pythons won’t eat when they are shedding.
Need a Heat Gradient in their Enclosure
Bumblebee ball pythons periodically need to warm up or cool off.
They need a temperature gradient across their enclosure, although all the temperatures at which they stay healthy are warm.
In nature, a bumblebee ball python would occasionally bask in the sun on a rock.
The end of its cage with a heat lamp should stay between 88 and 96 degrees Fahrenheit (31 and 35 degrees Celsius).
The cool end of its enclosure should stay at about 76 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius).
Your bumblebee ball python should never be exposed to temperatures below 75 degrees Fahrenheit (23.5 degrees Celsius).
It’s also important to keep the relative humidity between 50 and 60 percent and to mist every day.
Sand and Cedar Shavings are Terrible Substrates for Bumblebee Ball Pythons
Many snake parents use sand or cedar shavings as a substrate for their bumblebee ball python’s enclose.
This is a terrible idea. Putting sand or cedar shavings in the bottom of a bumblebee ball python’s enclosure can dry out its skin.
Peat moss and cypress mulch work much better.
Among the Smallest of all African Pythons
Growing no longer than 5 feet (1.6 m), ball pythons, in general, are the smallest and shortest of all the pythons in tropical Africa.
Because they are relatively small, ball pythons are caught and sold as meat in African bush markets.
This has made ball pythons an endangered species in the wild.
Have Sex by Grabbing their Partner by the Spurs
Bumblebee ball pythons have spurs on either side of their vent, through which they both release waste and have sexual intercourse.
Both males and females have spurs. If the spurs break off, reproduction is still possible.
The male has an inverted penis inside its cloaca (corresponding to the rectum in mammals).
Curl Up Into a Ball When Threatened
All ball pythons coil into a tight ball when they sense a threat. They keep their neck and head in the center of the ball. It’s possible to roll the ball around.
In the wild, a ball python will attempt to hide from a predator by slithering into an underground hiding place.
Sometimes female ball pythons take over the burrows that were made by animals they eat. Male ball pythons prefer to hide in trees.
It Takes a While for Bumblebee Ball Pythons to Reach Sexual Maturity
If you are planning to breed bumblebee ball pythons, you will have to be patient.
Male bumblebee ball pythons will not reach sexual maturity until they are 11 to 18 months old, and females will be capable of laying fertilized eggs until they are 20 to 36 months old.
However, age is not the only factor in whether your bumblebee ball pythons can breed.
In the wild, male ball pythons cannot breed until they weigh at least 21 ounces (600 grams) or more.
However, in enclosures, males that are old enough may start breeding when they weigh just 11 to 15 ounces (300 to 400 grams).
Female bumblebee ball pythons show the opposite pattern.
They might breed in the wild when they weigh just 28 ounces (800 grams), but they usually won’t breed in an enclosure until they weigh 42 ounces (1200 grams) or more.
Most bumblebee ball python breeders won’t put a female into a cage with a male unless it weighs 53 ounces (about 1500 grams) or more.
Bumblebee ball pythons ignore their eggs once they have been laid. They do not give their young any attention.
Male and Female Bumblebee Ball Pythons Naturally Eat Different Diets
In the wild, male ball pythons eat mostly birds and female bumblebee ball pythons eat mostly rodents.
In captivity, both males and females are usually given rodents. In some places, it is illegal to feed snakes live rodents.
Their must food must have been humanely killed and then frozen.
For owners who are squeamish about feeding their bumblebee ball pythons rodents, live or frozen, there are Reptilinks.
These are “sausages” made of a variety of animals and treated with their scents.
In Nigeria and Ghana, Some People Revere Bumblebee Ball Pythons
The Igbo people of southeastern Nigeria consider ball pythons to be a symbol of the earth.
Even Christian Igbos will treat a ball python gently when they see it on the property.
They will let them roll into a ball and then carry them to the forest, away from their homes.
When someone accidentally kills a ball python, many Igbo communities will make it a coffin and say a short funeral.
In northern Ghana, there is taboo about hurting ball pythons. Local folklore includes a story that a ball python once helped them escape their enemies by turning into a lot to help them cross their river.
The people who have the most exposure to ball pythons regard them as friends. When you own a bumblebee ball python, you will too.
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