Ball pythons are interesting and exciting reptilian pets that require extreme care when it comes to their unique humidity needs. Some owners find that they struggle to maintain optimum humidity levels in the enclosure. While humidity may seem small, compared to the other careful considerations you make when caring for a ball python, it is a very important part of snake ownership. Humidity determines the happiness and overall health of your python, which is why we have put some useful tips together to help you increase humidity to optimum levels to keep your pet happy and healthy.
Why is humidity important for a ball python?
Ball pythons live in humid and warmer environments. In the wild, the natural moisture in the air helps to keep their skin hydrated and their respiratory tract moist. A reduction in humidity can result in problems, which can be avoided if you maintain optimum humidity levels at all times.
Ideal humidity For Ball Python in captivity
In captivity, you want to keep your humidity levels between 50% and 65%. When it's time to shed, you want to increase the humidity to as close to 65% as possible to assist in the shedding process.
It is important to maintain this narrow band of humidity in your python’s captive environment due to the fact that in the wild, your reptile can choose what level of humidity it wants by simply moving around. This is something it cannot achieve in captivity, which is why you want a hot and cool side. Humidity will be higher on the warm side and lower on the cool side. Ensure that both sides stay within the humidity level requirements.
What Happens When Humidity is Too Low?
When the humidity levels drop below optimum, your ball python stands a high risk of developing respiratory problems that will require veterinary assistance. In addition to this, low humidity levels can result in your pet struggling to shed. Ball pythons shed as they grow, but with a lack of humidity, the risk of incomplete shedding is possible, which may also require a visit to the exotic vet to help remove any unshedded skin.
How To Monitor Humidity Accurately
The most accurate way to monitor the humidity levels in your ball python enclosure is to use a digital hygrometer with a probe, such as the Zoo Med Labs Digital Thermometer Humidity Gauge, which provides an easy to read digital readout that is quick and easy to read. Save time and space with the waterproof probe, which can be used with confidence in a moist humid environment.
The Govee Smart Hygrometer provides smart application control to easily monitor both humidity and temperatures in real-time. Monitor the enclosure from 328ft away. The Swiss-made senor provides accurate and precise data every two seconds with a twenty day on board data storage. The compact, lightweight design makes it space-saving. When your humidity or temperature falls out of optimum range, you receive immediate notification.
Remember in order to maintain optimum humidity levels, you will need two hygrometers, one on the cool side and one on the warm side.
Ways to Increase Humidity
There are a number of easy and simple ways you can boost the humidity in your bath python enclosure in order to achieve optimum levels, these include:
Reducing the ventilation in the enclosure will give humidity levels a boost. You can cover the screen top of the enclosure with tin foil. Cover up to 3/4 of the top of the enclosure, ensuring you allow some airflow. Often you will find that covering fifty to sixty percent of the top of the screen top will be ample to reach optimum humidity levels.
Leaving a water dish on the warm side of the enclosure can help increase humidity levels. If you find this is not achieving optimum results, use a larger water dish to achieve accurate results.
It's important you use moist substrate. Coco husk is the most preferred choice for ball pythons, as it holds moisture and increases humidity levels. The good news is that coco husk can be used numerous times by simple dehydrating the substrate.
Keeping Substrate Moist
When the substrate starts to dry and your humidity drops to 55% to 60%, you remove all your plants, hides, water bowls and pour a cup or two of water onto the substrate. The amount of water is dependent on the size of the enclosure. Mix the water through the substrate thoroughly and spread it out again. You can then replace the plants, water bowl, hides, and other accessories. The substrate allows the moisture to evaporate at a slow rate, due to the deep layers.
Sphagnum moss offers excellent water retention and moisture. Mix sphagnum moss with water, squeeze it out until it is damp. You do not want it to be dripping wet. Mist it straight into the substrate or put it in mesh bags or stockings to make “moss balls.” You can also place it in cups and add more water as needed. Placing the moss on a warm hide can encourage a rise in humidity.
Change The Heating Set Up
If you are currently using a heat bulb or C.H.E (Ceramic Heat Emitter), consider changing to a heating pad. Head bulbs and CHE tends to dry out the air.
The most effective way to keep your humidity levels at optimum requires the regular misting of the enclosure at least once or twice daily. Use room temperature water in a handheld spray bottle. Lightly mist the enclosure, this includes the substrate, walls, plants, and your pet. Droplets evaporate to improve humidity, while your pet will drink water droplets from the furniture and plants.
Of course, it's not always as simple as misting twice daily when you are busy with school or work, which is why a reptile humidifier may be the right solution, such as the REPTI ZOO 4L reptile humidifier. It has a large four-liter capacity with easy filling, offering up to twelve hours working time at the maximum mist, which you won't need for your python. The top-fill makes it quick and easy to fill with adjustment misting and extension tubes to ensure you reach the areas you want to mist in the enclosure. The humidifier uses intermittent timing with set spray frequencies and durations, so you can set it to meet the needs of your pet.
If you currently have your ball python in a homemade wooden or an acrylic enclosure, you may want to consider changing to glass. Glass enclosures are proven to increase humidity levels.