How much did you know about these fascinating snakes? Test your knowledge on World Snake Day!
Ball pythons are sentient animals who lead complex and interesting lives in their wild habitats. How many of these facts did you know?
1. Fit for a king
Ball pythons are also known as Royal pythons, as it said that ancient African tribal leaders would wear the snakes around their necks like jewellery. That’s quite a big necklace, as adult Ball pythons can be up to 1.5 metres long!
2. What’s in a name
The name Ball python, which is more commonly used in American English, draws from the fact that these snakes tend to curl up in a ball when they are scared or stressed. They are shy animals that are easily spooked.
3. Farmer’s friend
Ball pythons are ambush predators that feed primarily on birds and rodents, and therefore serve as important pest controllers in many rural communities. They are non-venomous, killing their prey via constriction.
4. Homes in the wild
In their natural habitat, Ball pythons typically spend the daytime in holes as they are mostly nocturnal animals. They leave their burrows and holes at night to hunt, climb trees and explore, providing them with stimulation and exercise.
5. Mother knows best
Parental care of eggs is relatively rare among snakes, but female pythons have been observed to tightly coil around their eggs throughout the incubation period. In cool climates, they shiver to generate heat and keep their clutch warm.
Ball pythons suffer in the exotic pet trade
It’s easy to understand why such fascinating animals make popular pets. But even when bred in captivity, Ball pythons are wild animals whose full range of needs can only be met in the wild. Captivity is a lifetime of suffering.
To fulfil the global demand for pet snakes, many Ball pythons are torn from the wild or farmed in squalid conditions: over 3 million of them have been exported from West Africa in the past 45 years. In Western markets, they are captive bred in cruel conditions to create designer ‘morphs’, risking their health.