Things I wish I had known before we bought a ball python* from our local pet shop last year:

1. You don't need an expensive glass tank. In fact, that expensive glass tank with mesh top that the pet store will sell you is actually a lot WORSE for keeping snakes than the $20 plastic bin with lid that you can buy at any Wal-Mart.

2. Ball pythons may be gentle and shy, but they are also super finicky about their environment and if you don't have the right temperature, humidity, and shelter conditions it will throw them off eating for weeks, or months, or even until they starve to death. THIS IS NOT NERVE-WRACKING AT ALL. *obsessively checks tank temperature again*

3. Those stick-on dial thermometers are nowhere near accurate, and at best they can only tell you the ambient temperature in the tank anyway. You need at least one thermometer with a probe to monitor the heat at surface level. Ideally two.

4. Heat lamps suck all the humidity out of the tank and are a terrible way of regulating heat. Under-tank heat mats are much better, but you need a thermostat to properly monitor and control the temperature (which the pet store did NOT tell us).

5. Ball pythons DO climb, and indeed quite enjoy it if they're given the chance. Unfortunately glass tanks make it difficult or impossible to set up any kind of safe climbing apparatus that won't topple under their weight. See #1.

6. The boy who bought the ball python is very fond of it, but not nearly as obsessive about python husbandry as his mother, who now lives in perpetual fear of the poor thing freezing, boiling, or starving to death.

* Yes, I know a lot of people don't like snakes and are horrified that anyone would want to own one. So if you're planning to say so in comments, there's no need and I'd really rather you didn't...


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September 2017

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