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Do Ball Pythons Like To Climb?: Myth or Fact?

There are many misconceptions on what breeders should provide for captive ball pythons. These misconceptions always border around the behaviors of ball pythons in captivity. One of such wrong beliefs is that ball pythons do not like to climb.

Personally I have come across tons of these wrong beliefs. And the effect is that your pet snake will suffer for it. You may have blacklisted them among the other species of animals that do not climb.

In the wild, ball pythons are believed to be ambush predators and sedentary in nature. They’re also believed to live all their lives in termite mounds.

Because of these misconceptions, many breeders have deprived their captive ball pythons the opportunity to climb. This also extends to any other thing they do in the wild. Do they like to climb? Is it really necessary for their well-being? Do they climb often in the wild?

Let’s unmask the nexus together. Keep reading to find out if it’s in the nature of ball pythons to climb or not. Also what you’ll learn from this article is how often ball pythons climb both in the wild and in captivity.

Just before we go further, this article is based on thorough research and our several years of experience.

Let’s continue reading

This article has been reviewed by Dr. Gospel. Read more about our knowledge control process here.

The Climbing Ability of Ball Pythons

The Climbing Ability Of Ball Pythons
The Climbing Ability Of Ball Pythons

Ball pythons do climb in their natural habitat and will love to climb in captivity. Several studies carried out on wild-caught ball pythons prove beyond every doubt that they are good climbers.

Starting from their gender to the kinds of food particles found in their stomach. It tells the fact that a greater population of ball pythons live more on trees. This accounts for why they prey on birds. The research further proves that males are arboreal while females are terrestrial.

However, this does not mean that female ball pythons don’t climb at all. While they are still babies or juveniles, they climb as much as their male counterparts. The females tend to be terrestrial when they grow bigger and heavier.

Having said that, it will be cruel of you to keep your pet snake in an open enclosure with just two hides and a water dish. You also deny your snake an environment that simulates the wild if you believe that it doesn’t need branches to climb on. Simply because you feel it’s not necessary for their health.

The branches for climbing serve an important aesthetic function. Aside from that, it helps in stimulating the snake mentally. In the wild, they’re observed to hunt (forage) on trees.

Do Ball Pythons Like To Climb?

Do Ball Pythons Like To Climb?
Do Ball Pythons Like To Climb?

Yes, in the wild ball pythons love to climb. And they will likely climb in captivity if their enclosures have proper branches. The assumption that ball pythons are not climbers are half-truth. This misconception does not take into consideration the totality of their behavior in the wild.

As a breeder, it will be a display of cruelty if you base your care for your pet on this assumption. 

Just before you conclude that your pet ball python doesn’t need climbing accessories, let’s find out- is your pet python a male or female? Is your pet snake still a baby or a juvenile?

In a research conducted by Francis Cosquieri, half of the male ball pythons used for the study over a two-year period were arboreal. He carried out this research using over 100 wild-caught ball pythons.

At the end of the research, he found out that half of the total number of males he used were arboreal because of the kinds of food particles found in them. This study proves that there is a significant difference in habitat use between male and female ball pythons. 

And also there exists a significant difference between smaller and larger sized ball pythons. The male ball pythons were found to climb more often than females. The same thing was found between the smaller size and the larger sized ball pythons.

The females don’t climb trees when they mature or as adults because they are heavy bodied and slow moving. But they like to climb when they are still babies or juveniles.

The smaller sized pythons were found to climb often than the larger sized counterparts. The reason is explanatory. Since they are smaller in size and weigh much lighter, it is easy for them to climb. This is why the heavy adult females are terrestrial.

Can Ball Pythons Climb Glass?

Can Ball Pythons Climb Glass?
Can Ball Pythons Climb Glass?

Yes, ball pythons can climb glass tanks. In fact, if left unmonitored, they can even escape from an open glass tank. Let’s take ball pythons to be your newborn. As he’s growing, he’s developing behaviors to get adapted to the society.

Some ball pythons will exhibit behaviors that are particular to their owners or their daily routine. If your ball python is always fed on a specific day and on a particular time, it’s just a matter of time. He’ll exhibit some behaviors to tell you that he’s hungry the day you fail to follow the routine.

They’re that smart. To the new pet owner, this behavior may be startling, worrisome, or scary. Nonetheless, there’s nothing harmful to them if they climb their enclosure. Animals can’t talk. Therefore, we can’t probe their minds to know what is going on with them.

Regardless, we can only observe to deduce from their behaviors what they are up to.

Here are experiences of some long time breeders who share their thoughts on what they felt is the reason for this behavior:

Jay, a breeder from the US said, “…my royal does climb the side of her tank and constantly run her nose around the top edge when she’s hungry. She will be out like this looking up and waiting for food.

When I give her a rat, she’ll eat it and go back in her hide. Then a few days after she had eaten, she’ll be out of her hide looking up and waiting for another food. He added, I’ll give her another rat and she’ll eat and remain hidden for another few days until she is hungry again. The cycle continues”.

Another breeder Mossy who was initially worried and scared by this behavior also recounted. She said that her ball python got back into her hide once she was given food. She took the advice given to her by other experienced breeders.

On some other occasions other than being hungry, your snake might just be roaming. The truth is, at night when ball pythons are active, they will sometimes climb to the top of their tank. They will rest their bodies on the side or corner of the enclosure.

Most times they can bring their head out of the tank and stare for a moment and then go back inside. Cases of ball pythons escaping from their enclosures are rare.

Although this totally depends on how high the enclosure is. And also how big the snake is. However, escaping from an enclosure with a lid is impossible.

Do Ball Pythons Climb Often?

Do Ball Pythons Climb Often?
Do Ball Pythons Climb Often?

These species of snakes are not totally predictable. It is easier to tell how often in the wild than in captive breeds. Their behaviors tend to vary with individual snakes.

While it’s common to hear some breeders complain of their pet ball pythons not eating, some others will eat on a regular basis. Let’s take the scenarios of the two breeders quoted above. Their pythons always exhibit behaviors to tell them that they’re hungry.

The snakes make this known to their keepers by trying to climb their way up to the top of the enclosure. In this case, their snakes climb as often as they are hungry. As noted earlier, snakes are very active at night since they are nocturnal animals.

At this time they would simply explore around the enclosure till dawn. Ball pythons in the wild climb often especially when they are not yet heavy-bodied. The males are more arboreal in nature than the females.

Females also climb but when they are still babies or juveniles.  In a nutshell, your captive ball pythons will climb as many times they are happy, hungry, or want to communicate (interact) with their owners.

Wrapping Up ‘Do Ball Pythons Like To Climb?’

Ball Python Climbing Ability Pinterest Pin
Ball Python Climbing Ability Pinterest Pin

Personally I love ball pythons for their calm disposition and variant beautiful colors. If you are new to owning them as pets, be rest assured that you’ve chosen adorable companions. Not only are they easy and cheap to care for, but will awaken a part of you that loves and appreciates nature.

In regards to your ball python climbing too often, not interested in climbing, or even trying to escape; firstly, understand that ball pythons love to climb. Although they are not on top of the list of animals that are climbers.

Climbing is essential for them both in the wild and in captivity. This is because it’s part of their exercise. By climbing, it helps them to stretch their muscles. It also helps to build their cardiovascular systems.

Therefore, go ahead and give your snakes some branches or logs to climb on. And do not freak out if they make an attempt to climb their glass tanks. Just make sure that the enclosure is safe and secure enough to prevent injury and impossible to escape.

However, in the course of your care, you may notice an attempt by your snake to escape. This could mean that there’s something within the enclosure that is causing him discomfort. It could be that the enclosure is too hot, or too cold, or some bugs (ticks and mites) are crawling on him.

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