My ball python, Sully, is about 3.5 years old. I got him as a rescue: a woman's boyfriend broke up with her and moved out—leaving his baby snake behind. (His loss, my definite gain.)
Sully was my 2nd attempt at owning a ball python. The first one I got at a pet store, and she died from the stress of rehoming within a week. I decided to rescue a snake who had already lived within a family home, to minimize the risk of too much rehoming stress, and Sully could not have adjusted more perfectly.
I'm so in love with ball pythons—they could not be a more perfect pet.
1. They're SO easy.
You can hold them every day, or not for an entire week. If you're the sort of person that would dread daily responsibilities, balls are perfect. They only need to be fed every 7-10 days. You can go on a trip and leave them entirely alone if you have a timed thermostat for their cage and they've been fed and have water.
2. They're incredibly resilient.
You SHOULD, of course, make sure your snakes are fed on time, their cage is kept perfectly humid, and at the perfect temp.
But snakes are built to survive. If you forget to feed them for a week, they won't starve. If their heat dips lower than it should on a cold day, they'll be okay for a bit. I struggled to get my poor snake's humidity to the right point for him for months, and although he had some rough sheds, he made it just fine.
3. They're a natural antidepressant.
Look at those snoots. How can you NOT feel happy? Feeling them curl up against you is just as snuggle-endearing as any pet.
4. They're straight-up perfect therapy pets.
And a snake is unique, so you get to be the cool snake parent. People with PTSD and anxiety have been proven to glean a lot of comfort from a snake.
5. They're SO cuddly.
Ball pythons by nature LOVE to curl around and hold onto anything you put them on. Put them on your lap, they'll crawl around your arm or waist. Put them on your shoulders, they'll wrap all cozy around your neck.
(If your ball gets big this is a choking hazard. Still worth it though.) Even though your ball python doesn't crave touch the way a dog or cat would, we can still get the same benefits of touch from our huggy balls.
And when Sully's getting comfortable, he finds a spot for his head—his favorite spots are to rest his head gently over my heart or in my hand. Considering how cautious balls are about their heads getting touched, this cuddly vulnerability is SO CUTE.
6. They have unique personalities.
Sully is pert, explorative, and opinionated. He's got definite trust issues: when a new person is holding him, he'll stay tucked up in his keeping-me-safe-ball, but if he knows the person, he promptly unwraps and begins exploring till he finds a spot he wants to settle down. He can't STAND his head being touched, to the point of starting to ball up if a hand is even just near his head (this is common to balls). He's really just like a person, with his own preferences, dislikes, and needs.
7. They're always there for you.
When I went through an awful breakup I went home and took Sully out of his cage and held him and said tearfully to him, "You'll never leave me. You'll always be there for me! You're the only male I can count on to always be here!.....because you're in a cage. You have no choice."
Okay maybe that was morbid. But Sully's now been in my life longer than any of my romantic relationships have ever lasted. Your ball will always be there for you—trapped in a cage regardless.
8. They have a royal history.
Dayna and her Lady
African royalty used to wear live ball pythons around their wrists. You too can join a long lineage of snake lovers and live like you're royalty.
9. They're gentle.
Lady being a goof
Sully has never struck at me—not once, and I am a clumsy person and haven't always been the gentlest with him.
My friend Dayna's ball, Lady, did strike when Dayna first got her: but she was young, skittish, and hadn't been handled in her previous home. Once Dayna got her settled and began handling her, she stopped being so afraid.
10. Watching them feed is REALLY cool.
Seeing how a snake unhinges its jaw to eat a mouse that's thicker than its neck is just flat-out awe-inspiring. Makes me feel like I'm my own version of Steve Irwin—and that's never a bad thing.
11. You can feed them frozen.
If you want a snake, but feel squeamish about them eating live mice, get a snake from a breeder or a rescue that has been eating frozen mice. Once your snake starts with live mice, it's really hard to get them to eat frozen—but if you get a snake that's been eating frozen, they'll be that much easier to take care of. Keep their dinner for the next several months—just make sure to warn your housemates before they get a nasty shock as they ruffle through the freezer.
12. Even their trickiest habit is negatable.
Ball pythons CAN be quite picky about their eating patterns, but that's normal, nothing to be worried about if your baby doesn't eat at the 7th day and instead eats on day 14. Hatchlings have a harder time than younglings that have already established a regular eating pattern, and changing a snake's environment (pet store to personal home) can also put them off food.
If you get a rescue snake and feed them in the same way they've already been eating, it'll help minimize the transition into your home.
13. They're not expensive.
Okay so Sully's graduated to small rats now, which are $5 apiece, which is more expensive than my meals—but he only eats every 9 days so, ultimately I can't complain. There's the initial cost of enclosure and setup and lamps: but once you have everything, all you need to do are buy bulbs every couple months, a mouse/rat every 7-10+ days, and occasional bedding.
14. They actually CAN care about you.
People say snakes aren't affectionate, and they're not entirely wrong. Your snake won't be jumping at the front door when you come home from work. It's difficult to tell if they really like you or not. HOWEVER. Within half a year of me owning him, Sully was visibly responding differently to me than he was to my friends. (Granted, this meant EITHER that he hated me more than them OR loved me more than them, but I chose to go with the latter interpretation.)
And now—2.5 years into our relationship—when Sully hears me get home from work, if I haven't held him in a couple days, he'll come out of his hide and poke along the top of the cage till I take him out.
15. And despite what anyone may say-they are NOT the devil's child.
Contrary to my grandma's opinion—snakes are not of the devil. Ball pythons aren't slimy, they aren't mean, they are absolutely gorgeous gentle creatures. Own a ball! Turn the negative prejudicial stereotypes on their head! Be one of us!
I've owned multiple snakes over my lifetime, and ball pythons are by far my favorite. They are incredibly gentle, calm, explorative, and easy to care for. I highly suggest (for rehoming reasons and for ethical reasons) that you get your python from a rescue or maybe a breeder.
Sully is one of the best pets I've ever had. Here's hoping he hits the 20year mark.