How to Own a White Ball Python

how to own a white ball pythonLet me just say, first off, that I’ve never actually owned a white ball python. I have seen, and even handled, white ball pythons, but know very little about how to own them. This essay, then, is an exercise in imagination. And so let us begin.

First, buy a terrarium large enough to hold a fully grown snake. Ball pythons can grow to five feet long. Though they don’t move much, they are animals, and like any animal, require space in which to be comfortable and happy. This is important to consider especially if you are buying your white ball python as a young snake, when small.

He will grow.

White ball pythons have a recessive gene that makes them white. They are not albinos. Their brethren, which come out of the same litter in the same way Chinese Crested Powderpuffs and Chinese Crested Hairless do, are gold and black. Neither is necessarily larger than the other.

White Ball Pythons need to drink and eat. It is comical to imagine a snake lapping up water the way a kitten would milk, unless we imagine the forked tongue of the serpent in place of the sandpapery pink tongue of a kitten; the image becomes less comical and more sinister. Fill a plastic bowl, which preferably for your snake looks like a rock, with water. Change the water every day or two.

By feeding them live mice, you are making your snake happy. Although he may not have a soul per se, they are still a living animal, and have some kind of awareness, however remote, that they’re contained and unfree. So to mimic the conditions of what it is like to live in the jungles of Brazil or Borneo or Burma, or wherever ball pythons can be found in the wild, is to appreciate and love for your snake.

Your white ball python will not immediately move for the mouse. Just drop the rodent in the terrarium and leave it overnight. Sometimes it may take longer than twelve hours for your snake to develop an appetite, but he will. Unlike you and me, white ball pythons do not need to eat every day. They digest their food over a period of many days, and since they are often inactive, especially while in captivity, you do not have to feed them but once a week.

Feel free to take your white ball python out of their terrarium to play. But be careful. Snakes bite whenever they feel threatened, and even sometimes when they may resent you for caging them when they really want to be free. Be aware of the temperament of your snake–if they slither up and down the glass sides of their terrarium, use their tongue to smell, hiss, then yes, your snake is aggressive.

Wear jeans when handling your white ball python, to dull a bite if it comes. When moving white ball pythons, put them in a white cloth sack. This causes disorientation and discourages biting. If your white ball python does bite, don’t be angry. Carefully dislodge the teeth from your skin and return the white ball python to their cage.

Remember: white ball pythons are wild.

By Daniel Ryan Adler

Daniel Adler writes fiction and nonfiction and is finishing his MFA at University of South Carolina.

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