Ball pythons are popular pets — for those who have snakes as pets, that is. They are fairly docile, but may bite you for one reason or another. Ball pythons are not venomous and don’t have fangs, so a bite may not be as severe as other snake bites. Always use caution if you’re bitten by a ball python, and seek medical treatment.
Ball pythons are also known as royal pythons. They are originally from West Africa in countries like Ghana and Togo. They are known as ball pythons because they form a ball shape when they are uneasy. They also use their bodies to capture prey by curling around it.
Ball pythons can bite but they don’t usually attack humans. Younger ball pythons may be more prone to biting, but even this is unusual.
Ball pythons have small inward-sloped teeth. A bite may appear as several teeth marks in a curved shape. The bite may become more severe if you have to pry the python’s jaws open to release the bite.
A python may bite for two reasons:
- for defense
- to kill prey
A defensive bite may be a quick bite that the python releases quickly. In the wild, the snake would do this to warn a predator.
When capturing and killing prey, a ball python will hold the bite down and try to constrict the object it’s biting.
Do ball pythons have fangs?
Ball pythons do not have fangs. Instead, they have as many as 100 inward curving teeth. Most nonvenomous snakes do not have fangs.
Does a ball python bite hurt?
You will probably feel the effects of a python bite because it can cause scratches, puncture wounds, bruising, and even possibly deeper internal damage. These bites may be painful during the bite and as your injuries heal.
Ball python bites are rare, but there are some reasons your pet snake may decide to bite:
- when it’s young
- if it’s held improperly or grabbed — you should support its full body when holding it
- if it has been fed in the last few days and is still digesting its meal
- if it’s shedding
- if you have recently held its prey and still have the scent on your hands
A warning sign that a ball python may strike is if its neck and head form the shape of an S. This stance should communicate to you that it wants to be put back in its habitat and left alone.
A ball python will most likely bite you on your extremities, like your hands and arms.
Ball pythons are submissive and should not be a threat to you or other pets, as long as you keep them in an environment that meets their needs. You should not cage these snakes with other pets because they are solitary. Ball pythons require an enclosure (vivarium) that is as long as their bodies and three times as wide. Make sure they cannot escape from this enclosure and that you properly ventilate it.
While ball pythons are nonvenomous, a bite from one may require different forms of treatment. It may not only cause injury but also allow bacteria to enter your body. Call a doctor to check about any snake bite, even if it’s small.
Minor bites from your pet ball snake may only require washing the wound site with warm water and soap. You may want to wrap the bite area with bandages to help it heal and avoid infection.
Bites that are more severe may require medical care immediately, even if it appears minor at first. A severe bite may occur if the pet ball python remained clamped on your skin for more than a few seconds.
You should call a doctor no matter the severity of your snake bite. They may want you to take antibiotics to avoid a bacterial infection from the bite.
Additionally, you should seek immediate medical care if your bite is serious. This may occur if the snake holds the bite for a length of time or if you are experiencing severe pain or discomfort near the wound site.
A doctor may want to scan the site of the bite with an MRI to determine underlying damage caused by the bite. This can give the doctor any indication of deeper wounds.
A doctor may need to remove tissue or foreign objects to help the bite wound heal. There could also be damage to tendons or nerves as a result of the bite that requires surgical repair.
It’s uncommon for pet ball snakes to bite, but it’s possible. Handling your ball snake appropriately will reduce the chance of a bite. If you receive a bite from a ball python, clean the wound with warm soap and water and contact your doctor. Seek emergency medical treatment if the bite is severe.