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Q: New ball python striking
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I bought a new lemon blast ball python a couple of weeks ago at the reptile show I always go to. My son and I both held her and she seemed good tempered. The only thing they said was that she was shy. I let her settle into her environment for about a week. But, when I got her out she started striking and bit my 12 year old. I called the previous owner to ask what he thought. He said she could be hungry as it was getting close to time to feed her. We put her back and then fed her in a separate enclosure. She ate good and I put her back. We left her alone for 48 hours. I also did research on snappy snakes. So I'm the one that is working with her. I have gotten her out each day and handled her but if anything is in front of her she is striking at it. I've held several different pythons and have never seen one that strikes like her. The other day I was leaning over the screen to check the temp and humidity and she struck right at my face. I'm leaning towards returning her for a different snake if she doesn't improve. My other ball python was very calm and seemed to like being handled. Thoughts?

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Member Comment 2/25/2017 6:11:40 PM

Sonja K. Reptiles

First, I would double check all husbandy aspects. Is the cage too warm, the humidity too high?

My guess, she is likely stressed or scared - perhaps fill her enclosure with more decorations - more places to hide - plastic greenery on the floor of the cage, etc. 

If she came from a breeder, she was likely housed in a 6 quart shoe box - consider that as compared to how you have her set up. It could take her a few weeks to adjust.

Member Comment 2/25/2017 7:41:50 PM

Sonja K. Reptiles

Being in a glass tank, it may help to cover three sides with black paper, and also, if possible, try not to reach straight down on top of her - something coming from above in nature would likely be a bird of prey swooping to eat them up. Such a movement makes a lot of snakes nervous and if she was in a rack, she wouldn't have been used to that. It may help to hook train her, too - basically just touch her with a hook or a rular or something similar and turn off her feed response / condition her that when she gets touched with it, it means you are coming into her cage to provide care or to pick her up.

Author Comment 2/25/2017 8:04:23 PM

I will cover three sides of the cage. My temps are good and humidity is decent. I got her out tonight. She was ok. She hissed at me when I went to get her but she didn't strike. She just keeps trying to get away. I just keep moving her through my hands. Wish she would settle down.
Member Comment 2/26/2017 3:51:19 PM

Sonja K. Reptiles

"Wish she would settle down"... you know, I say that about my 1, 2, and 3 year old daycare children, too. ; )

Member Comment 3/6/2017 5:41:27 PM


Sonja is spot-on. 


two things to add: if you are nervous at all when handling her, she'll respond to the tension in your hands and will be much less likely to settle down. additionally, Sonja knows almost everything :D  

Member Comment 3/11/2017 12:42:06 AM

Serpents of Oz

Ball pythons seem to stress out more, and often take longer to adapt to new surroundings than other species i've kept.  I would give it a month minimum with no handling to give it a chance to adjust. Longer would be better.  

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Member Comment 3/14/2017 4:07:22 PM

I currently have a ball python who is moody as well. I don't know if you're using a tub, what humidity and temps are, but my ball is in a tub, her humidity is 65%, ambient temp of 82 and she's still all sorts lf upset at all times. Until I know a little bit more, I can't really help you with why your ball may be acting this way. Wish I could help more!
Member Comment 4/16/2017 9:46:50 PM


You can "turn off" the aggression by tuning in to their behavioral cues. Try having your handling sessions late in the evening,  as they are nocturnal. And limit them to 10 minutes at first.  Watch the way she holds her .head will let you know when she is stressed. If her neck is in an s she is scared and maybe about to strike. If her muscles are rigid and stiff when you touch her she is stressed. When her tongue is flicking...she is relaxing.  If you need to calm her if she is acting stressed or aggressive...ball her up...between your hands, or against your body, depending on her size. It will take some time for her to trust you, but once she does...it will be so worth it!

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