I often get asked questions regarding issues with ball pythons shedding. This is a relatively common problem for new keepers as it relates directly to husbandry.
Shedding problems only occur when your ball python is kept in an enclosure where the humidity is too low. Anything below 60% humidity is too low. I keep mine a bit on the high side around 75% humidity. There are several reasons why humidity levels could be too low:
- Too much ventilation
- No water in the water dish
- Water dish is too small
Often times people that keep their ball pythons on newspaper and substrate like aspen will experience issues with their animals shedding properly. This can easily be combated by misted the animal as well as the enclosure daily when the animal begin a shedding cycle. I have great results keeping my animals on cypress mulch and it holds humidity better than any other substrate there is.
If you keep your ball python in a glass aquarium with a screen top chances are very good that your enclosure is experiences too much ventilation. This can be remedied by places a thin piece of plastic over 3/4s of the tanks screen top and misting the tank regularly. A long term solution is to look into getting maybe a small snake rack that houses the animals in escape proof plastic tubs. These tubs hold humidity extreme well and simulate the animals natural environment much better and the animals seem to thrive in these types of enclosures.
Another obvious problem could be you simply arent keeping the water dish filled with fresh water like it should be. This is actually easy to do with todays face pace live, but you have to look out for these guys because you are their lifeline so keep their water dish nice and full with clean water at all times.
Maybe, the water dish is simply too small. I dont recommend a water dish large enough for the snake to submerge in because theyll defect in them which creates a difficult problem keeping fresh water in the dish. What I do recommend is a nice 4-6 inch crock for adults and some considerably smaller for the younger animals. If youre experiences shedding problems it may be a wise choice to up the size of the dish a little bit to get that humidity up to par.
If your animal has experienced a bad shed, you can soak the animal over night inside of a 10gallon bucket with a secure lid that has about 1/2 inch of warm water inside. I wouldnt put anymore water than that as it could be very dangerous and your animal could drown pretty easy. Also, be sure that the bucket is some place that isnt going to experience any harsh cold temperatures because this could also quickly kill your animal. If after a good soak the animal still have pieces of stuck shed on it, you can try sticking the snake inside a damp pillowcase for a couple hours. The action of the snake crawling around and rubbing the sides of the damp pillowcase works wonders for removing stuck sheds.
Hopefully these little tips can help you better maintain your ball python..