If you’re looking into getting into the world of snake ownership, a ball python may just be the perfect choice for you. Frequently being referred to as an exceptionally docile and friendly snake, ball pythons make great pets for first-time snake owners.
They can also grow to be 4 to 6 feet and commonly live to be around 20 to 30 years old. However, there are quite a few questions prospective owners may have about ball pythons, such as how much a ball python actually costs.
How Much Does A Ball Python Cost?
A ball python can cost as little as $25 for a normal type juvenile/adult, but can cost up to and past $200 depending on the morph and individual styling.
There are other costs of ball python ownership that need to be considered, too.
Essential, initial costs are typically around $350, while ongoing costs of ownership are around $150 per year.
So, ball pythons aren’t extremely expensive pets, but they aren’t incredibly cheap pets either.
Below, we’ll cover the costs of ball python ownership more in-depth. This includes the purchase price of the ball python itself, as well as the enclosure and supplies you’ll need to keep them happy and healthy.
|Ball Python||$25 – $200|
|Enclosure||$75 – $300|
|Heat Lamp / Pad||$10 – $30|
|Lighting||$0 – $30|
|Rocks & Decor||$30 – $100|
|Thermometer / Hygrometer||$10 – $20|
|Water Bowl||$5 – $15|
|Food||$100 – $150||$100 – $150|
|Substrate||$50 – $70||$50 – $70|
|Sphagnum Moss||$10 – $20||$10 – $20|
|Parasite / Disease Meds||$0 – $50||$0 – $50|
|Medical Needs||$0 – $50||$0 – $50|
Cost Of The Ball Python Itself
Surprisingly, ball pythons are not very expensive pets to purchase. There are certainly cheaper ball python morphs, but even the most expensive morphs tend to not break the bank too badly. The exact price that you pay for your ball python largely depends on the rarity of the morph.
The average price that you can expect to pay for a normal ball python morph is around $50, but they can be as cheap as $25 on rare occasions. For rarer morphs, expect to pay more than $50. For instance, young albino ball pythons tend to sell between $150 and $200.
Sites like SnakesAtSunset.com currently offer ball pythons of all morphs for as little as $50 and as much as $550, with some very desirable morphs selling for way more than that.
Fortunately, all morphs of ball pythons are fascinating, so there’s a good chance that you’ll find a snake that interests you for a very reasonable price.
Big chain pet stores tend to offer ball pythons around $50 to $60 and make them very accessible. However, the welfare of the animals in these stores is frequently questioned, so it may be in your best interest to go to a dedicated, professional breeder for your snake. Or, better yet, turn to a reptile rescue near you that may have ball pythons to adopt!
While you may have to pay a bit more for your snake, you’ll have the peace of mind that it was raised and cared for properly.
Ball Python Enclosure & Accessories Costs
Ball pythons, or any snake for that matter, can’t simply be thrown into a tank and expected to thrive. They have quite a few environmental needs that need to be met in order for them to remain happy and healthy.
Their enclosure should closely mimic their natural environment that they’ve adapted to over thousands of years. Luckily, most of the items for your ball python’s enclosure only need to be purchased once, costing almost nothing in the long run.
The actual tank that you’ll be keeping your ball python in is very important. Depending on the size of tank that you get, you can expect to pay anywhere from $75 for a 20 gallon tank to up to $300 for a 40 gallon tank.
You’ll also need a properly-sized mesh screen and screen clips. There is quite large price discrepancy between these sizes, so it may be in your best interest to invest in the smaller tank.
As for what size is best for your ball python, there’s quite a bit of debate. An adult ball python needs a minimum of 20 gallons, but it’s generally recommended that they’re given a larger tank.
A 40 gallon tank allows you to comfortably fit an assortment of hides and plants to keep the tank interesting while providing enough space for a fully-grown python. Larger tanks definitely cost more, but they bring a healthy amount of benefits.
Heat Lamp Cost
A ball python is cold blooded, meaning that it can’t produce its own heat. Therefore, it’s important that you’re providing your ball python with enough heat in their tank. This can be achieved with one of two tools.
It’s recommended that you get a mat, though, as lighting can mess with a snake’s sleep schedule.
Fortunately, you can set up a heat lamp or buy a good heating pad for around $15, and they should last for many years. Purchasing a slightly more costly heating apparatus may be in your best interest in order to ensure that it works effectively and for a long time.
This is an optional accessory that many snake owners won’t actually need. While it’s commonly thought that a snake needs a light on it at all times, this is actually the opposite of the truth.
Snakes have sleep cycles, and a constant light can absolutely throw off this cycle and cause quite a lot of distress in your snake. Therefore, if your snake is near a window that gets good light, additional lighting won’t be necessary.
However, if your snake is in an area that doesn’t get a lot of natural light, you could absolutely opt for lighting to help simulate day and night cycles. You can purchase a UVB bulb for around $20, and while UV light isn’t necessary for ball pythons, it is a good source of light.
Rocks & Decor Cost
Putting rocks, sticks, and plants into your ball python’s tank is how you’ll transform it into a python paradise. These accessories will be placed into your ball python’s tank in addition to their hides, which are discussed further down this page.
When it comes to decorations, you don’t need to buy decor that’s specifically marketed for snakes — you can get creative here!
The three main kinds of decoration for your python’s enclosure are wood, rocks, and plants. Combining these different elements is a great way to keep your python’s enclosure interesting and comfortable for them to hide in.
To fully decorate a ball python’s tank, you shouldn’t expect to spend more than $50 to $100. Some higher-quality decorations will end up costing more money, such as intricate hides and more detailed fake plants. Some owners spend well over $100 creating an extremely lifelike enclosure.
The environmental conditions that your ball python is kept in are very important to monitor. Both the temperature and the humidity of your python’s tank should be at an optimal level, so you’ll need a thermometer and a hygrometer, respectively.
Fortunately, there are products that offer both of these tools in one for very cheap, such as this one. A $10-$20 investment will provide you with absolutely invaluable information for your snake.
The ideal ball python enclosure should be around 55% – 60% humidity, and it should have two different temperature levels. On the warm side, the temperature should be between 87°F and 90°F with the colder side sitting between 77°F and 80°F.
Water Bowl Cost
Unsurprisingly, a ball python needs to drink! Therefore, it’s important that you provide your python with a water bowl that can’t easily be tipped over and is easy to clean. Most owners opt for a natural-looking rock dish for their snake, and they generally don’t spend more than $10.
Make sure that the water that you’re using for your snake is de-chlorinated!
A cheap dish will last for a lifetime if it’s cleaned regularly and taken care of. This is a very small cost of ownership.
Dry Hide Cost
Ball pythons need something called hides to keep them feeling safe and comfortable in their environment. While the plants and rocks in a python’s enclosure can offer places to hide, they’re not nearly as effective as dedicated hides.
It’s generally agreed upon that you should have two dry hides, with one placed on the warm side of the enclosure and the other on the cold side. This provides them with the option to choose where they want to lay out.
A ball python’s dry hide doesn’t need to look a certain way, so this gives you a lot of creative freedom. You can either purchase a standard snake hide, or you can build one yourself with some basic rocks.
Typically, $30 is all it will cost to supply a ball python with an adequate dry hide.
Humid Hide Cost
A humid hide is very similar to a python’s dry hide, with the key difference being that it’s kept humid! This humidity can be comfortable for a python, and it can especially help with shedding.
When you notice your ball python shedding, it’s generally a good idea to provide them access to a nice humid hide.
Like the dry hide, the humid hide can either be purchased or made at home. Safe Tupperware filled with moss does a great job maintaining the humidity inside, and those don’t cost more than $10.
There are, however, some great humid hides that can be found for around $20 to $25.
Ball Python Consumable Costs
Consumable products are the main source of costs that you’ll incur during each year of ball python ownership. Food, substrate, and moss all need to be frequently used and replaced.
While it is tempting to get cheaper variants of these products to help cut costs, it isn’t recommended as your ball python will be exposed to these supplies daily.
Ball pythons are carnivorous animals, meaning that they only eat meat. More specifically, ball pythons have been eating rodents for thousands of years, meaning that you need to continue the trend of feeding them rodents! This makes feeding time very simple and, frankly, very cheap.
Starting from a very young age, ball pythons eat mice and rats. Smaller mice ($1) are acceptable for juvenile snakes, but adults need larger mice or rats ($2). Essentially, your snake should never eat a rodent that’s larger in circumference than themselves.
Feeding your young ball python twice a week will only cost $2, and an adult will cost around $4. If you live in a more rural area, you can even catch mice and rats around your property and feed them to your snake!
For such a large animal, food costs are surprisingly low.
Substrate is the material that’s placed at the bottom of your ball python’s enclosure. This substrate works to make for a more comfortable and natural floor, and it also works to absorb waste and make the enclosure much cleaner.
There are a few different kinds of substrate available, and all have their own unique features.
Our post on the best ball python substrate goes in-depth about what to look for and what may be right for you and your snake. You’ll find that there are cheap options, but they aren’t the best thing for your ball python.
No matter what substrate you pick, make sure that you choose one that can hold moisture and keep the humidity of the enclosure up. A quality substrate that’s fully changed once every 2 months will only cost you around $50 to $70 yearly.
You can make your substrate last longer by spot-cleaning your python’s occasional poops.
Sphagnum Moss Cost
This is an excellent moss that you can use in your ball python’s enclosure. This moss works to hold moisture better than other mosses, and it’s also good at not decomposing for a long time. This moss will mostly be used within your ball python’s humid hide, and it should be misted regularly to keep it damp.
Sphagnum moss only needs to be replaced when you notice it start to break down. Because of its infrequent usage, this moss will only make up a very small portion of your ownership costs — about $20 a year or so.
Ball Python Medical Care Cost
Because of the fact that ball pythons are living creatures, they run the risk of experiencing random medical problems. Even if you’re a very caring and attentive owner, some problems are simply unavoidable.
Therefore, it’s important that you stay watchful and observant so that you can deal with problems as soon as they arise. There isn’t a high chance that your python will run into a lot of problems, but the possibility exists.
Parasite/Disease Meds Cost
Parasites, mites, and other diseases in ball pythons aren’t incredibly common, but they do happen. If you’re very careful about what you put into your ball python’s enclosure, there’s a good chance that they won’t have any of these problems.
This doesn’t mean that they’re immune, though. Ball pythons can get mites from a bad batch of bedding, and infections can come from various sources.
Fortunately, it’s not exceedingly difficult to deal with most health issues in ball pythons. You can expect to pay around $100 for a vet visit, and subsequent remedies after the fact can cost between $5 and several hundred.
Random Medical Needs Cost
Once again, ball pythons are susceptible to random problems, as are all living beings. This breakdown of some of the most common snake diseases is required reading for any snake owner.
You should be aware of these common issues, the symptoms that come with them, and the solutions that are available.
Once again, many problems can be fixed with a low-cost remedy, such as scale rot. However, some of the more serious medical conditions can require extensive and expensive care. It’s recommended that you have an emergency fund of about $100 set aside so that you can quickly tackle any problems that arise.
Are Ball Pythons Cheap Pets To Own?
All in all, ball pythons are surprisingly cheap pets to own. The initial cost of ownership of a ball python may be decently high around $600, but that’s just because of the required supplies that every owner needs.
The yearly costs that follow, though, are much lower, averaging only around $150 to $200. Of course, if you decide to invest in higher-quality supplies as is recommended, you can expect to spend a bit more money initially and yearly.
The ongoing costs of ball python ownership change very little throughout their lifetime. The main different between a baby ball python and adult are their size and their food consumption.
Therefore, a baby can live in a smaller thus cheaper tank while eating less food per week. Overall, the main variable that can contribute to either high or low costs of ownership is the health of your ball python.
Healthy ball pythons won’t require any medical spending, while sick pythons can rack up the medical bills.
So, ball pythons may be a bit pricey to initially purchase, but they’re not expensive to own. Regardless, these snakes are so loving and fascinating to watch. Investing in one of these as a companion is a very smart move that very few people even slightly regret.