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Kingsnake or Ball Python

Discussion in 'Colubrids *General*' started by thongy, Jul 13, 2009.

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  1. thongy

    thongy Member

  2. Orca

    Orca Elite Member

    First off, welcome :)
    And second (this is coming from a ball python owner), go with a king snake if it is going to be your first. Ball pythons are very docile snakes and don't get very big BUT are easily stressed with too much handling, require high humidity, and are notorious for just all of a sudden not eating. Mine is going on about 4 months of refusing food and I know others that have gone over a year. I love mine, but he's a pain in my butt sometimes and, in my opinion, not the best first time snake.

    Whichever species you do go with, make sure you do your research before hand so you know which one is going to be right for you. And please feed the snake pre-killed or frozen / thawed, not live. We just had a thread started about the horrible injuries live mice and rats can inflict on pet snakes.
  3. thongy

    thongy Member

    Haha thanks for the info, yeah I've been doing tons of research about ball pythons and kingsnakes lately and just can't make up my mind. So it's pretty normal if a BP refuses food right? I'll def be buying F/T fuzzies and pinkies soon so much cheaper then live mice, and it'll last a while just enough for my tegu, pacman frog, and either the kingsnake or ball python T.T. Though do Bp's need additional lighting/heat source other then a heat pad, since I read that some need florescent lighting soo I'm not quite sure. Also I'll be using a sterilite 1847 and probably either aspen or sani-chip as substrate for either of them.

    - Thongy
  4. Orca

    Orca Elite Member

    Is it normal for them to refuse food? Yes and no. Yes, it is common and considered normal. But this is if all other factors are ruled out (making sure the snake has no parasites, is at the right temperature & humidity, is still maintaining a healthy body weight, etc).

    They do not require additional lighting like UVB. As far as the heat pad goes, I wouldn't use it for snakes (especially larger constrictors). When they digest food, they do so for days straight and if they manage to squeeze underneath the substrate and are right on top of the glass where the heater is, they can have severe burns. I've not only seen this first hand with a friend's snake, I was also recommended so by my reptile vet. So I just use a basking lamp and bulb.
  5. thongy

    thongy Member

    Gahh, I hate basking lamps, just the other day the stupid zoo med repti basking bulb burnt out on me the screw in part got screwed off...fml. Going to see if I can get a warranty for it haha, though hmmm so even if I put something that's between the sterilite/heat pad, would that do any good? Gahh buh it's such a turn off now, I just checked LLL and the prices are fixed back for $35 for the ball pythons D=. I'm leaning towards the kingsnakes now.
  6. Orca

    Orca Elite Member

    Sorry to burst you bubble. Its just safer for the animal with the lamp and not the heating pad. Any kind of substrate like ReptiBark or EcoEarth could easily be moved away by the snake and the animal would end up right on that section of glass. Newspaper would be the same way. Thinking... MAYBE if you got new reptile carpet that exactly fit the tank, it could work. The stuff right out of the package fits very tightly to the tank usually. And put a heavy hide on top to keep it down. That make sense?
  7. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    I will have to disagree. A properly installed and controlled heat pad is perfectly safe. I have used them for many years on pythons, boas as well as corns and kings. The trick is to use a thermostat or rheostat to control them.
    And forget the fancy pet store bulbs. They do nothing but provide heat and you can do the same thing with a household light bulb!
  8. wildheart

    wildheart Elite Member

    That has happened so many times to me, I can scream! Our normal household globes only goes up to 200w and they do not give off the desired heat. A 200w SA house globe gives the same heat as a 80w basking light, so to me, it is just wasting electricity.;) I changed to spotlights that you buy from hardware stores, but I suppose ours are again different from yours, but they work 100%.

    I cant really recommend anything to you because I do not know you.:D What do you like about these two snakes? What do you expect to get out of your snake?

    A king snake does not require humidity and they feed easily, they do however require heat. I use both heating pads and 'basking' lights. Kings have a nasty habit of pooping when you take them out and it smells horrible. Some of them takes easy to handling and then you get others that wants to be left alone and will strike if you do not listen.

    Good luck in your choice.;)
  9. thongy

    thongy Member

    Haha, I'm already use to that from my tegu, whenever I let him roam around the house...he loves to poop on the carpet. Though, now I know his stance before he poops so, I'm prepared!

    Though I have another question, rite aid has this human heat pad with no automatic shut off, if I hook it up with a dimmer, would that work?
  10. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    The kingsnakes will 'outgrow' the pooping phase - its called musking, and it's defense reflex. Once your snake is accustomed to being handled, you will see and end to that behavior.

    Heat mats can work fine, properly used. Find a site that lets customers write reviews - I have read reviews on a few, and the Cobra Brand heat mats seem to get pretty good reviews all the time, where a few other brands have been inconsistent, and caused smoldering and smoking!

    Be sure to check or regulate whatever you decide to use.

    The carpet will buffer the heat from a mat - in one of our BP cages, we put down carpet, and then pieces of slate, and then the hide. The slate only gets pleasantly warm, not burning hot.

    You'll like the kings, they are very active, most eat easily (the vast majority of them are pigs!) and though they can be nippy, many calm down with repetitive handling.
  11. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    I have several human type heating pads in use. They actually have high medium and low settings so they are self regulating. The ones I have are the Kaz brand.
  12. thongy

    thongy Member

    Heres the one I plan on getting - Buy Sunbeam Standard Heating Pad Online at

    Thanks for all the info, I'm planning to go to LLL later this week and check out the KS, and BP's.
  13. wildheart

    wildheart Elite Member

    I do not agree at all.;) My male still does this after 7 years of handling. I suppose it is one of those things where you can not put all under the same umbrella.
  14. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    Good Point Linky - Just all the ones I have ever worked with or owned did calm down after a while.

    Didn't you say you have a nippy one too?

    Our Florida King at work is feisty.
  15. angrykitten

    angrykitten Elite Member

    Well, my Sibilla (ball python) recently peed on me and I was really not expecting it! I thought it was funny but I had to take a shower immediately as, and my husband agreed, I smelled worse than our cats litter!

    About the main question: when I decided to have a snake as a pet, I read quite a bit about the best first-time snakes and ball pythons were in the list, but not on the top of the list...still I was so in love with them and got so obsessed with the idea that there was very little to choose for me.

    The only thing I can say about my personal experience is that I decided to follow everybody's advice NOT to buy from a pet store. I bought my ball python at a reptiles show. I had the opportunity to speak to different breeders, handle several balls and ask about their diet. In the end I chose the only breeder that told me he was feeding F/T (even got frozen mice from him for a very good price) and, so far so good. I had Sibilla for 4 months now and she never skipped a meal (only once I didn't feed her because she was shedding)...of course it is far too soon to sing victory.

    Also, I am not sure if I am mistaken, but I also chose a female because I remember somebody in the forum saying that they are better eaters.

    Last thing: I use a heating pad under the tank with a very thick newspaper substrate with comes up on the sides of the tank too.

    Anyway, sorry to be so long! Welcome and Good luck whatever choice you will make!
  16. thongy

    thongy Member

    Haha, I rather have a long one then a short one ;D. Yeah, I missed my chance to get all the snakes I wanted D=. I went to the reptile super show and didn't even think of getting a snake, since all I was looking for where invertebrates, but instead I came out with a tegu haha. So, theres no more chances for any reptile shows for me till next year unless theres any near San Diego. I'm thinking of getting both now since I can't decide!!
  17. Kendalle

    Kendalle Elite Member

    If I were you I would make sure to get one that is already taking f/t and so you don't have to worry as much about it. Which ever you decide that is all I can input cause I don't own either. My roommate has a ball python but I can't really give advice on it.
  18. wildheart

    wildheart Elite Member

    Blade is calm but he loves scenting me whenever I handle him, I suppose he thinks I smell too much like an iguana!:D

    Storm is the nippy one, she doesnt wee, she just bites.;)
  19. Cid

    Cid Elite Member

    for my undertank heaters, I have a few in use, and with my:

    western hognose...i have an inch and a half of sand above the heater and its almost hot to the touch, with that I'll have to look into setting news paper or a paper towel underneath. btw, she gets ****y when I'm trying to catch her in the tank, but acts like a doll when I'm holding her (I can hold her for hours with little movement)

    adria(ball python): due to lazyness and not thinking straight when I recharged the ecoearth, I folded a square of paper towel in half, and that seems to be working great. its not overly warm, and it absorbs well. I still have to clean the area though with a soft cleaner after she pees (phew what a stink)....same with kaia

    o'niell (bp): I mixed eco earth and douglas fir bark over the uth, and its nice and warm under the cave. no problems there except when he craps/pees I have to keep replacing the area where it happened.

    I have no experience with kingsnakes, but my bps are easy to handle and only sometimes skip meals when their molting. (yes i do feed em live, in a separate spacious container under supervision...I never leave them alone when feeding).

    o'niell likes to be handled the most, and will readily wrap himself around my shoulders and neck and chill...(he's an adult, the others are juvies)
  20. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    My dad was handling my BP once, years ago, and she pooped and peed on him. He was totally grossed out. "I didn't know snakes pooped!" I don't think I have ever laughed so hard.

    Mine used to pee and bite. Between handling and diet adjustment's, he has calmed down mostly, but he is still pretty feisty with me.

    Lately our Florida King at work has been biting a lot, and he was feisty to begin with, so the keepers have asked me to work with him, since I have so much luck and patience with the reptiles. He is fine with me, but he bites a lot of other people. My usual approach is to let him come at his own pace.

    So far the only reptile at work to bite me is the alligator - I am far more afraid of a bite from the parrots and kinkajous!
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