The Ball Python (Python regius) can be found in West and Central Africa, reaching from Uganda to Nigeria and then west to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. They inhabit savannas and deforested areas, and usually prefer locations near water.
The Ball python can measure up to 6 feet (1.8 m) long, but on average they do not exceed 4 feet (1.2 m) in length and about 2 kg in weight, thus making it the smallest of all the African pythons.
Usually females are larger than males. In diameter they will reach around 10 to 15 cm. There are no recognized subspecies.
Being smaller and one of the most inoffensive and less aggressive python snake species known, means it can be easily handled, making it ideal for those who want an exotic pet snake. However its popularity among snake fans resulted in massive captures in the wild this species for its holding in captivity.
The Ball Python head is oval-shaped and narrow, this snake has a narrow neck, a solid body and a relatively short tail.Their skin color is a shade of dark brown in the background with a pattern of round spots of golden yellow color, and a cream or whitish underside.
The color and pattern may also present many genetic variations called morphs among snake lovers, such as Albino, Piebald, Leucistic, Spider and many others, these are obtained through selective breeding, for the exotic pet industry.
In general this species lives about 20 years, however, a male in the Philadelphia Zoo in the US, lived for 47 years in captivity. The Ball Python has mainly nocturnal habits and uses rock crevices, hollow tree trunks or holes in the ground during the day to take refuge, they are also excellent climbers.
All the pythons are non-venomous snakes that use constriction to kill their prey, by holding them with their jaws and coil their body around them, immobilizing and squeezing the prey until it dies from asphyxiation.
This snake species when in a defensive posture, coil themselves, with the head protected in the middle, almost like a ball, from this behavior derives their common name, Ball Python. Their other common name royal python comes from their use by Cleopatra who is believed to wore them as bracelets on her wrists.
Diet / Feeding
The Ball Python feeds mainly on small mammals, like rodents and occasionally on birds.
In this snake species sexual maturity is reached at the age of 2,5 to 3,5 years. The Ball Python is an oviparous species, its breeding season occurs from December to January, and the eggs are laid from February to April.
During the approximately 2 months incubation period, the female won't feed and stays coiled around the eggs, and through contractions of its muscles is able to increase the temperature of the eggs. The clutch is approximately from 5 to 10 eggs, but they only reproduce every 2 or 3 years. At birth the young are between 20 and 30 cm in length.
Conservation / Threats
The species is not globally threatened according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It is included in Appendix II of CITES, and their capture for the illegal trade of exotic species and the hunt for the skin trade are the main threats.
It is one of the most common snake species found in the exotic pet trade. The ball python makes an excellent pet, because they are inexpensive, usually have a good temperament, and their long life span makes them one of the most common pet snakes.
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