As a new ball python owner, you may be concerned to see your pet soaking in the water bowl. Maybe you're wondering if this is normal behavior or whether there is something to be concerned about. Ball pythons usually don't need to soak and therefore if your pet is soaking regularly in its water bowl, then you may want to check on a few things.
Mites can cause irritation to your pet’s skin and one of the most common reasons your ball python will spend lengthy periods in the water bowl soaking. The good news is that mites are easy to spot on the python’s skin. Blood mites, which are the most common, are small red dots, which can be seen on the skin and in the water bowl. The larvae are black and harder to spot. Stroke your python firmly to see if there are any red and moving dots that are on your hand, wash your hands thoroughly after handling. If your pet is lethargic and spending time in its water bowl with red or black dots on the skin, then there is a good chance your ball python has mites.
Ball pythons are not aquatic snakes and therefore they are not often found soaking in their water bowls. When you see your pet in the water bowl, it's time to check the temperatures inside the enclosure. High temperatures can be dangerous for cold blood reptiles that regulate their body temperatures based on their surroundings. As their body gets too hot due to the surroundings, your python may move into the water bowl to try and cool its body down.
Ensure you maintain optimum temperatures inside the enclosure, as follows:
- Basking area – 88ºF to 92ºF
- Warm side – 80ºF to 85ºF
- Cool side – 75ºF to 80ºF
Low Humidity During Shedding Period
When your ball python is about to shed, it needs more water than normal. In the wild your python would start drinking more often, looking for damp places to reduce the risk of water loss during the shedding process. In captivity, when the humidity levels are too low, your pet may seek out the water dish as a way to help it remain hydrated. You can try adding a humid hide, though some ball pythons will still move to their water dish.
When snakes shed, they require more water than normal. In the wild, snakes that are entering a shed cycle will drink frequently and seek out a damp retreat to retard water loss. In captivity, when provided with no other option, snakes will soak in their water dish to remain well hydrated. If you'll provide a damp hide box, many snakes will opt to go inside rather than soak in a water dish.
Female Getting Ready to Lay Eggs
A female ball python that has been bred and ready to lay her eggs will often wrap herself around the water bowl or lay in the bowl. This is also down to temperature and humidity. Ensure you use a digital hygrometer and thermometer with remote probes to get accurate temperature and humidity levels, making monitoring easier.
While most ball pythons don't mind a soak now and then, it is not common practice to spend large amounts of time in the water, they are not aquatic. If you have eliminated the above reasons and your pet is still drawn to its water bowl, then maybe it's just a python that loves water. As long as there is no sign of mites, the temperature and humidity levels are at optimum and your ball python isn't about to lay eggs, then there is no cause for concern.