HomeRoyal Python Care Sheet

Royal Python Care Sheet

Natural History

Royal pythons are a very commonly kept pet snake originally from Africa. In the UK they are usually called royal pythons following the species name Python regius. In America they are more commonly referred to a ball pythons as they tend to curl up into a ball when threatened.

The natural colour and pattern for this species are shades of brown in blotches running the full length of the snake. The head is typically quite small compared to the girth of the snake at its thickest point. Royal pythons have a relatively thin neck which gradually widens out to a bulky body. As they have been bred in captivity for decades now many colour and pattern changes have been selectively bred out of the species. The royal python probably has the most colour and pattern 'morphs' of any snake in captivity.

Royal pythons are widely distributed along many countries along the central band of the African continent but in each country they can typically be found in grasslands, savannas and wooded areas.

Fouta Djallon - central Guinea


Royal pythons come from a warm environment so they struggle with the cold and humidity of the UK. To insulate against both of these factors we recommend keeping the snake in a wooden vivarium. Due to the temperature gradient required we would normally select an enclosure a minimum of 3 x 2 x 2ft with large vents and glass sliding front doors. Larger females of the species will require an enclosure closer to 4 x 2 x 2ft.

All of this ventilation should ensure that heat and humidity is lost from one side of the enclosure to the other while keeping the basking spot itself at a consistent temperature.

Royal Pythons can be a little shy when they are young. We still use the full size enclosure to make sure that the correct temperature gradient is in place but we will provide more decorations to begin with.


Naturally, royal pythons would be experiencing temperatures of around 31℃ (88℉) in the sun. We try to provide this heat over 1/3 of the enclosure while letting the rest of the enclosure cool to 29℃ (85℉) on the opposite side. To achieve this we attach a ceramic heat lamp to the ceiling of the enclosure on one side. This is controlled by a pulse thermostat to make sure that the temperature is kept correct throughout the day. Royal pythons will be able to reach the top of their enclosure without decorations to climb on so the ceramic lamp must be surrounded by a guard. As they do not produce any light, ceramic lamps can be left on day and night. To provide lighting for the enclosure we recommend using an appropriate strength UVB tube that runs 2/3 of the width of the enclosure.At night, all of the lights should go off and the enclosure should be completely dark. This should make sure that the snake has a clear day night cycle.Though the thermostats we sell are very reliable it is always best practice to monitor your temperatures with a thermometer. A small variance on the basking spot is nothing to worry about as long as your cool side is still cool. A simple dial thermometer on each side should be sufficient but digital probe thermometers are much more accurate.

Juvenile Piebald Royal Python
Adult Mojave Royal Python

UVB Lighting

Royal pythons do not require UVB to use the calcium in their diet like other reptiles but it is still a beneficial addition to the enclosure. The snake would naturally be exposed to UV from sunlight in the wild and as we are trying to emulate nature in our enclosures we recommend providing some UVB.

To aid in deciding which intensity UVB is required for each species, UVI readings have been taken in their natural habitat. These readings are compiled over time to get an average exposure reading which sits in one of 4 distinct ranges called Ferguson zones. Zone 1 animals get very little UVB exposure, Ferguson Zone 2 consists of partial baskers, zone 3 are basking reptiles and zone 4 animals bask in UVB intense environments. Royal Pythons are recorded as basking in Ferguson zone 1 (UVI 0-0.7).

In the same way we allow a little variance in the temperature of the basking spot we would not worry too much if the UV exposure is a little too strong at the closest point. As long as there is a gradient present the python will place itself in the perfect position.

UV tubes are currently available in 2 sizes, T8 and T5. The T8 lamps are around 1 inch in diameter, they must be replaced every 6 months or so and they have an effective range of 9-12 inches. T5 lamps are the newer iteration. They are around half an inch in diameter, they must be replaced every 12 months and have an effective range of 18-24 inches.

If the enclosure is 2ft tall as recommended we would advise using a T5 unit and for this species a Zone 1 or 2-5% UVB tube. When mounted around 30cm from the main basking spot these UVB tubes should provide the correct basking zone. The UVB unit should be mounted to the ceiling close to the back wall. This configuration will provide a nice UV gradient from the back of the enclosure towards the front and from the top of the enclosure to the bottom. With the UV and basking lamp set up this way we achieve a temperature gradient along the width of the enclosure and a UV gradient along the depth of the enclosure. This means that whatever the pythons requirements they can find the perfect position within the enclosure.

Though the royal python will be active in the day time it may desire some time during the day in an area with little to no light. To allow this we advise providing partial and full hiding spots throughout the enclosure.


Royal pythons thrive in a mid to low humidity environment with hard decorations to climb over. When selecting a bedding we try to ensure that the pieces are unlikely to increase the enclosures humidity too much. In store we normally use a coarse beech woodchip or coarse bark woodchip as they are clean, cheap, easy to spot clean and dust free. If you prefer a more natural looking decoration a soil / leaf mix would be perfect. If you plan to keep the snake in a bio-active enclosure a nutrient rich soil and clay mix with some moss for moisture retention would be perfect. These snakes require areas of high humidity when coming up to a shed. Rather than make the entire enclosure humid we recommend providing a fully enclosed cave or tub with an entrance large enough for the snake to get in and out of easily. Within this hide you can add wet moss to keep the humidity high.

Royal pythons love the warmth coming from their ceramic lamp but they also appreciate secondary belly heat which will radiate from warm objects. Natural rocks like slate are perfect for this, so are heavy artificial ornaments. These decorations can be placed under and around the basking area and should warm up nicely. If the lamp is too low there is a chance that natural rocks could get too hot so you are best to check the surface temperature to avoid burns.

As discussed in the lighting section there will be times when the snake does not want any UV and needs a bit of shade. To ensure that the snake can get away from the light whenever necessary we advise spreading full and partial cover throughout the enclosure. Examples of full cover decorations would be caves, flat cork pieces or any other ornament that provides a shady spot to rest. Examples of partial cover would include tall plants, trailing plants.

Diet & Water

Royal pythons are carnivorous and should be fed frozen thawed foods. Though they are opportunists and might eat a variety of small animals in the wild we have found that mice are the best diet for a royal python in captivity. A particularly large Royal Python may move on to rats when fully grown but an all rodent diet is best.

As hatchlings, royal pythons should be fed weekly on defrosted pinky mice, as the snake grows the food size should be increased until the snake is taking large mice or even jumbos. Adult royal pythons should be fed once every two weeks as they can become overweight if fed weekly.

More exotic alternative diets like gerbils, hamsters, multimammate mice or chicks could be used if the royal python won't take anything else but they aren't as nutritious as the mice, it can be difficult to find them in the size required and they aren't always as available.

We always include a medium or large sized water bowl in the snake's enclosure. You might notice the snake use it for bathing, this is usually to cool down or to help loosen its shedding skin. Both the water bowl should be kept on the cool side of the enclosure to prevent it from raising the humidity in the enclosure.


If you keep a male and female together, they may breed. You do not need to do anything to encourage this. As long as they are healthy and the conditions are good, it will happen naturally. You need to consider whether you want this to happen before introducing the pair. What will you do with the babies if you incubate the eggs?

A gravid female should have access to a nesting box to lay her eggs. The box should be large enough that she can fully turn-around inside it. Inside the nesting box we use a soil mix that is kept humid enough to hold its shape but not so wet that it will saturate any eggs. We have found that ProRep spider life is perfect for this.

Once laid, the eggs should be incubated in an incubator at 31℃ (88℉). We incubate our eggs in sealed boxes on a moisture rich substrate (such as Hatchrite) to trap the humidity around the eggs. After approximately 60 days the eggs will start to hatch, the first babies to emerge will encourage the rest of the eggs to hatch.


Royal pythons, as with most pets, require a clean environment to thrive. We recommend a spot clean as often as possible (every day) and a full clean every 4 weeks or so. If you are keeping the snake in a bio-active enclosure you can spot clean and monitor the enclosure. It may still be a good item to change out the bedding a few times per year.When cleaning the enclosure you should remove your animal, all decorations and all of the bedding. Once the enclosure is clear you can spray it all over with a reptile friendly disinfectant. These usually work very quickly and only need to be left for around 30 seconds, instructions can normally be found on the disinfectants packaging. Once the disinfectant has done its work it can be wiped away from the surfaces with a paper towel. In some cases you might want to repeat this process a second time to ensure that the enclosure is thoroughly cleaned.Your decorations can be cleaned in a similar method, simply spray them down with the disinfectant and rinse thoroughly with water before drying them off and putting them back into the enclosure. We recommend this process is done during the day time to make sure that the snake will be going back to a warm vivarium for at least an hour before the basking lamps are turned off for the night.