As the year goes by, interest in wildlife as pets increases especially among the United States and Europe. Ball pythons are just wildlife humans pick incredible interest in to keep at home as pets.
This trend has raised a serious question of concern: “Do you consider this good enough for the well-being of this wildlife to be bound to glass tanks all their lives?”.
It is no secret that wildlife kept in captivity have a longer lifespan if properly cared for than those in the wild. This is because those ball pythons in the wild are predisposed to dangers that shorten their lifespan.
However, this on one end poses a threat to wildlife conservation. According to CITES – an international organization aimed at protecting wildlife threatened by trade, the ball pythons are the most common and widely bred pet snakes. They are also the most traded from the wild to captivity.
Origin of the name Ball Python
These snakes, the ball pythons, belong to the python genius and are also known as “royal pythons” or “snakes that look like donuts”. Their name “ball python” is informed by their ability to curl up their body into a very tight ball when threatened.
Talking about keeping ball pythons as pets, they make great pets because they are meek and are quite easy to handle. Ball pythons are smooth and heavy-bodied snakes.
In the wild, these snakes have deep ebony or chocolate color bases with golden-brown or light-brown patterns spread across the side or top of their body.
In captivity, selective breeding has made it possible to come up with a variety of color morphs numbering over 400. These snakes are quite gentle and docile and curl their bodies into a ball with their head tuck in the middle when they felt threatened.
In the wild, they live in burrows and tree barks and occasionally go foraging for food.
Where Do Ball Pythons Come From?
The United States and Europe are the world’s largest consumers or breeders of ball pythons in captivity. A greater percentage of these animals are from the Western part of Africa.
Ball pythons are predominantly found in the Western Equatorial Africa with Togo, Benin, and Ghana being the largest exporters of this species of snakes. Other regions in Africa that these snakes can be found are Uganda, Mali, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and the Ivory Coast.
Between 2011 and 2015 according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES); a total of 591,742 live snakes which account for about 99.9% of ball pythons were exported from Togo, Benin, and Ghana to the United States, Europe, and other parts of the world.
In the wild, ball pythons inhabit savannas, wooded areas, and dry grasslands and are equally comfortable on trees.
They are also found in coastal areas and closed vegetation in regions that they are native to. Female ball pythons are terrestrial while males and young ball pythons are arboreal.
When Did Ball Pythons Become Pets?
Domesticating an animal is a rigorous process that usually takes many generations spanning hundreds to thousands of years. The ball pythons initially were only found in the wild not in captivity as pets.
The idea of domesticating and making lovely pets out of them started some tens to hundreds of years ago. Although there hasn’t been any accurate account or record of when ball pythons started living with humans as pets, it is believed that they became pets during the middle 1970s and early 1990s.
What Do Ball Pythons Eat In The Wild?
Ball pythons are carnivorous, which means that they prey mainly on animals or meat. In the wild, these snakes feed on birds and small animals such as lizards, rats, and other rodents, amphibians, and other snakes.
What type of mammals ball pythons prey on vary greatly based on its gender and age. Female ball pythons feed on rats, mice, and shrews since they are mostly dwelling on the ground. Male and young ball pythons on the other end that are arboreal in nature prey primarily on small birds.
How Do Ball Pythons Find Food In The Wild?
Ball pythons are nocturnal hunters and by nature, they can locate and hold captive their prey even in total darkness. They are as well by nature sensitive enough to detect the temperature of their prey. Thus in the wild, they hunt for food by sensing or detecting heat in their prey.
And this is usually made possible by the heat-sensitive organs along the edge of their mouth. In the wild, once they capture or locate prey; they quickly throw coils around it to suffocate it to death. Once the prey is immobile, they swallow it whole.
Ball pythons are good species of snakes that are capable of adapting to several habitats. They can survive both on the ground and on trees and even in water.
Although ball pythons still in existence in the wild, these species of snakes are near extinction. This is due to exportation from their native region to be bred in captivity in other countries. Due to this increase in demand and trade, there is a decrease in its abundant supply in the wild especially Benin.
Between 2000 to 2013, Benin in Nigeria was the largest exporter of ball pythons, however, the percentage of export from this country has reduced with Togo currently being the largest exporter of these species.
The majority of ball pythons in the United States are captive bred that were initially wild-caught. These captive-bred ball pythons make healthier pets than wild-caught because they are free from both internal and external parasites.