Mr. Phoenix Zimm

Phoenix's namesake rose from the ashes of its predecessor, and he is the fourth Ball Python that Sayre has owned.   Phoenix has a last name from his previous owners.

Phoenix is an amazing Ball Python, having survived the 2003 Ice Storm when many other reptiles were not as lucky.  His previous owner loved him so much that he was held against a human body for those many cold days.  Phoenix was given to Sayre in hopes that he would get more attention, and he is a great addition to the "zoo."

Habitat

Ball Pythons are native to West Africa just north of the equator and live in savannahs and open forests.  Be sure that you purchase a captive bred python and not one who was wild caught.  Wild caught pythons can be picky eaters and harbor several different types of parasites, as well as increase the threat on wild populations.

When in captivity it is important to have the temperature of their enclosure correct: 80-94 degrees during the day and 75-85 degrees during the night.  Ball Pythons do not require UVB lighting, and they need 10-12 hours of darkness.  Using both an under the tank heater and a ceramic heating bulb is the easiest way to create the gradient needed by your snake.  Do not use a hot rock, because they can burn your pet.  In the enclosure, there should be
1. a large water bowl for soaking
2. two dark hide boxes (one on the "cold" side and one on the "warm" side)
3. decorative rock to help with shedding
4. a branch or two for climbing
5. non cedar bedding such as newspaper or reptile astroturf

Adult Ball Pythons reach 3-5 feet in length.  Females are usually larger than males.  They require an enclosure with a perimeter that is two times the length of the adult snake.

Increase the humidity level in the cage to 50% when your snake is about ready to shed.  Be sure to thoroughly clean the encloser and disinfect food and water bowls.

Diet

Pythons should be feed pre-killed mice at night.  Feeding dead mice is safer for reptiles because the prey cannot injure your pet.  Although, some people claim this is not "natural" for reptiles, neither is captivity.  The most humane way to kill your reptile's prey is by placing the mammal in a tank filled with carbon dioxide. Dry ice is the easiest way to obtain carbon dioxide. If necessary you can also purchase frozen adult mice from your pet store, and defrost them in warm water before feeding. Ask your vet how often and how much your snake should be eating; you need to be careful not to overfeed or underfeed your snake.

Life Expectancy

20-30 years in captivity.

Health Concerns

1.  Snakes should shed in one full piece from the tip of their nose to the tip of their tale.  This shed should include the spectacles (eye coverings).  If your snake does not shed completely, you need to bath him in warm water, and adjust the humidity in the cage before his next shed.

2.  Inclusion body disease (IBD) is a virus that affects boas and pythons.  This virus is deadly in pythons and can take over a year before symptoms begin to appear.  Be sure to seek medical attention if your python has a loss of appetite, regurgitates meals, appears to have respiratory infection, contorts into odd body positions, or spends time "stargazing."

References

Kaplan, Melissa.  Ball Pythons. Help Care Collection. 26 April 2009.

Felsman, Ken. Troubleshooting Guide to Ball Pythons.  Kingsnake.com. 2 May 2009.

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