Ball Python

Basic Information:

Scientific Name: Python regius

Habitat: The ball python lives in western and central  Africa. They can be found in open forests and dry savannas. Usually they reside in areas near open water where they can cool themselves during hot weather. 

Diet: Ball pythons feed primarily on rodents such as rats, gerbils and jerboas, but they will also eat other small mammals and birds.

Size: 4 to 6 feet long

Weight: 4 to 5 pounds

Lifespan: 20 to 30 years, but have been known to live up to 48 years.

Distribution Map:

I.U.C.N. Conservation Status:

What does this mean?

Least Concern – a species determined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (I.U.C.N.) to be pervasive, abundant, and thriving.

Our Ball Python:

Lizzie (Female) – Estimated Date of Birth 1994

About Ball Pythons:

Like all pythons, Ball pythons are non-venomous constrictors. They get their specific name due to “ball” that they curl up in as a defense mechanism. They tend to do this in lieu of biting which is one of the many reasons that this python is a common pet. Similarly, these pythons are known to be revered in various cultures within the countries that they call home such as Nigeria and Ghana. In fact, some cultures relate the Ball Python to the earth and forbid any harm to come to them. In other cultures, they are considered saviors in various local folktales. 

Did You Know?!

  • Ball pythons are ambush predators. They strike with a quick non-venomous bite and then either immobilize their prey by constriction or swallow their prey live.
  • Ball pythons are nocturnal and hunt at night. The ball python has eyes that are adapted to dim light as well as heat sensitive organs in the scales surrounding its mouth. The python identifies its prey by size, scent, color, movement, and temperature.
  • Ball pythons will usually eat the inhabitants of a rodent burrow and then remain in the warm, dark location for 4-5 days during digestion.
  • When threatened, ball pythons are known for the protective mechanism of “balling” where they form a tight ball with their head at the center.
  • Ball pythons are sometimes known as the “royal python.” Cleopatra supposedly wore the snake around her wrist.

The Utica Zoo will be closed at 1:00pm on 6/1 for wine in the wilderness and will reopen with normal hours on 6/2!