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  1. #1
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    My baby ball python has been striking when I get near the cage at night...

    Hi, I got a baby ball python from a local PetCo on the 4th of this month, and when I was at the store, the manager pulled this snake out, one of 4 that were in the cage, and handed it to me. I was holding it, and it was in it's Ball, and it slowly started to open up, and then suddenly lunged out, but with his mouth closed. Which usually just means he's annoyed, right?

    Well there was a guy there who was really experienced with snakes and he held it and let it bite him even, and then showed me a gentle way of covering the snakes head to, as he put it, "Show it who's boss." I have not done this for a couple reasons. First, he hasn't struck out at me while I've been holding him, so I had no need to. Second, I'd be worried he would strike at me while I was doing it.

    I'm not even worried about getting hurt when bitten, it's just that he strikes out so fast and it always makes me jump and I would be worried about dropping the poor thing. Anyways, there's the history of how he was striking at the store, but not when I was handling him at home.

    As for feeding, we got him on a Monday, and they said they fed them on Thursday's at the store, so I tried feeding him on Friday, so he had been able to settle in to his new home. As a side note, the man at the store who was very experienced with snakes told me that this guy seemed a little skinny and that he needed to eat. So I tried feeding him on Friday, but he didn't eat, sadly. I put him in a brown bag, put the mouse in, put that back in the cage, under the heat lamp, left him there for about an hour, and he never touched it. In fact when I checked back on him he had just climbed out of the bag and was near the water bowl.

    So on Saturday night, and now tonight, Sunday, he'll be curled up at the back of the cage, and I'll come into the room and walk up to look at him and he'll just strike out at the front of the cage, with an open mouth. Since he's been doing this, I'm worried something might be wrong with him.

    What does it mean? Is he just hungry? Is he sick? Is he just a mean snake?

    Please help! I love snakes and I just want to make sure this guy survives and is healthy and has a good life.

  2. #2
    BPnet Veteran starmom's Avatar
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    Re: My baby ball python has been striking when I get near the cage at night...

    Welcome! It would be really helpful if were to share with us the enclosure your snake is in, the temps, humidity, the hides you have..., all that basic stuff!


    ~~McKinsey~~
    "Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed."
    ~The Little Prince; Antoine de Saint Exupery

  3. #3
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    Re: My baby ball python has been striking when I get near the cage at night...

    Quote Originally Posted by starmom View Post
    Welcome! It would be really helpful if were to share with us the enclosure your snake is in, the temps, humidity, the hides you have..., all that basic stuff!
    Oh yes! I'm sorry! I was so busy talking about everything else I didn't even think to say those things.

    It's a 10 gallon tank for now, which I know won't be big enough in the future. It's around 86 degrees on the hot side with a 75 watt lamp and a side of the tank heating pad. The humidity is usually about 35%. That seems low for the ball python so I try and spray in there with a mister at least once a day thoroughly, but that doesn't last long.

    He has one hide on the warm side, which is kind of small for him, I need to get a bigger one....there's a nice fake log in there for him to climb on at night. The water bowl is on the cool side, and it's big enough for him to completely fit in if he's curled up. The substrate is aspen shavings about two inches deep.

  4. #4
    Registered User davevh's Avatar
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    Re: My baby ball python has been striking when I get near the cage at night...

    First of all, what type of caging environment do you have him in?
    Check to make sure his humidity and temps are within range (check out the care sheet on this website)
    Does he have adequate hides on each side of the cage?

    It sounds like he is very stressed, if there have been no hides for him to retreat into since you got him I suggest offering him some and let him (or her) settle into those for a few days.

    If there are adequate hides and she is settling in one area, its possible the temps may be off. Make sure you have a thermometer at both sides of the cage and if possible in the hot spot. An easy way to monitor temps is to use a heat gun.

    Also, if the snake is striking out when you pass the cage, try and cover the glass (but don't shut off the air vents!) to minimize the viewing area of the cage. Keep handling to a minimum.

    Did the pet store mention that the snake was weaned onto frozen/thawed mice? If not then I suggest trying a live feeder, but do so with caution. Don't leave a rodent unsupervised (in fact I never even leave a rodent running in the cage, I always dangle the rodent until the snake strikes)

    Try reducing the stress first using the above (and other hints on this website) info and most importantly, keep a cool and calm head. You have done the right thing by seeking advice and I am sure a flood will come from the good folks on here.

    Good luck,

    Dave
    PS I feel I should mention that you should be careful placing an animal in a bag under a radiant heat source. The temperature can insulate and reach a very high temperature and kill the snake. I am glad you did not seal it so she could not get out!!

  5. #5
    Registered User davevh's Avatar
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    Re: My baby ball python has been striking when I get near the cage at night...

    I suggest a hide that he can fit into on both sides of the cage. The hide should not be so big that he feels like a lone player in a soccer stadium, but should be a size where he can fit snugly where he is able to touch the sides with his body (kinda like a dog in a doghouse).

    Also, placing the water dish under the radiant lamp can help raise humidity. If you have a mesh top cage then seriously consider covering at least three quarters of it to retain humidity and maintain a supply of airflow (I cover mine with thin laminated plywood)

  6. #6
    BPnet Veteran starmom's Avatar
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    Re: My baby ball python has been striking when I get near the cage at night...

    Quote Originally Posted by Sprattles View Post
    Oh yes! I'm sorry! I was so busy talking about everything else I didn't even think to say those things.

    It's a 10 gallon tank for now, which I know won't be big enough in the future. It's around 86 degrees on the hot side with a 75 watt lamp and a side of the tank heating pad. The humidity is usually about 35%. That seems low for the ball python so I try and spray in there with a mister at least once a day thoroughly, but that doesn't last long.

    He has one hide on the warm side, which is kind of small for him, I need to get a bigger one....there's a nice fake log in there for him to climb on at night. The water bowl is on the cool side, and it's big enough for him to completely fit in if he's curled up. The substrate is aspen shavings about two inches deep.
    Oh gosh; I'm so glad that you are smart enough to make sure what you have is working and I'm certain you're smart enough to hear suggestions! Yea!!
    So, you need to get the warm side of the tank up to about 90-92 and the cool side about 80. The humidity ought to be about 50-60% with a bump to 70% during shedding. Balls don't really like to soak usually, so if your is soaking it could be mites, stress, trying to find someplace for safety. You will want to get 2 hides, one for the cool side and one for the hot side. Do you have a thermostat running your UTH? You need to. How are you measuring temps? Where are you measuring temps; on top of the substrate or under it?
    If I were to throw out a guess for its unfriendly behavior, I would have to say that the poor guy is totally stressed out and can't wait for you to run out tomorrow to get the things it requires!!!!!
    Edit: You know what? You might want to start off with a better reptile cage or rack system. It would be much easier for you and much healthier for snake...since you'll need to get another cage anyway....
    Last edited by starmom; 02-11-2008 at 01:46 AM. Reason: another thought...


    ~~McKinsey~~
    "Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed."
    ~The Little Prince; Antoine de Saint Exupery

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    Re: My baby ball python has been striking when I get near the cage at night...

    A quick question regarding the humidity and covering the cage....I have a UVB lamp on the top to regulate a day/night cycle....but if I were to cover the cage i'd need to take it off. Is it really needed?

  8. #8
    Broken down old dude dsirkle's Avatar
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    Re: My baby ball python has been striking when I get near the cage at night...

    The light is not necessary at all. The light may even be one of the sources of stress to your snake. Some reptiles require ultra violet light as they bask in the sunlight in their native circumstances and get vitamins from the sunlight but ball pythons remain hidden in the daytime and only come out at night and are never really exposed to sunlight. If you get rid of the light and provide 2 dark hides (not those half log types)one at the warm end and one at the cool end of the tank and leave the snake alone without handling it or bothering it for one week it should start feeding and stop striking at you. If you get a plastic flower pot and cut the bottom 2" off and cut a hole in the center of the bottom you will have a free hide that is as good as any and far better than the half log hides commonly seen in pet stores. The stores use that kind so that the customers can see the animals in the hides but your snake would not feel secure with the exposed ends.
    Do not resuscitate

  9. #9
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    Re: My baby ball python has been striking when I get near the cage at night...

    a 10G is very easy to keep humidity in because of it's size, I started mine in a 29GAL and it was very very tough but he is now in a 20L and it's a lot easier.

    I feel as if I am the senior expert with using a tank since I have had so much issues with it, so I will share some info for you on that aspect.


    1. Try putting saran wrap, Towels and when you do put some heavy stuff on top to really get it to stick.

    2. Misting is OK, but make sure you don't hit the gauges it will screw you all up

    3. If all else fails, Get a piece of fiberglass and throw it on top of the tank, This idea is almost perfect, my tank actually gains humidity and sometimes I get too much, so it really does work.

    For the striking, My baby BP never struck, and is always crawling up my arm so I'm not too sure why, I would reccommend getting some nice tight hides and big water bowl underneath the light [for evaporation]


    Keep us updated and don't give up! It's not that tough so just use common sense and don't have sudden movements when moving stuff in his new environment. Good Luck




  10. #10
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    Re: My baby ball python has been striking when I get near the cage at night...

    Just as a side note, it may be safe to say that this time of year is a BAD time of year to be buying ball pythons from Petco...why? Because Petco buys captive hatched ball pythons which are imported every spring/summer from Africa, and I don't believe that there are any '08s in from Africa yet...

    What does that mean? Some of the "baby" ball pythons sitting in Petco's have been sitting either in a warehouse or a display cage in a retail store for the better part of 6 to 8 months...are they being cared for properly during that time? Probably not...not the best start for a snake...or for a new keeper...
    -Brad

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