If a ball python sees an opportunity to escape out of its enclosure, chances are that it most probably will. These are smooth, flexible, smart, and crafty creatures when it comes to escaping. They look for dark and quiet spots to hide where they can feel safe and secure, hence the most ideal way to find a lost python is to make an environment that feels inviting.
Here are a number of steps to take when your python goes missing.
Do not panic when you first discover that your python has gone missing as it can survive for a few weeks outside its enclosure. The worst thing that could possibly happen is that it may escape outside your home in which case you need to inform your neighbors.
This is a very important safety measure for owners to take for their pythons as people who aren’t snake friendly might try to harm your pet python-you need to clearly tell them that they are not in danger.
Search the Enclosure
First of all, it could very much be possible that your python hasn’t even escaped and could only be hiding within the enclosure as pythons have very good camouflage.
Check the following:
- Under and behind any logs, branches rocks
- Search under the bedding to see if it has burrowed to itself cover up.
- Hide boxes which help them to hide from the view of humans.
Check the areas around the enclosure
After searching the enclosure, try to look in the same room where its enclosure is placed. Pythons prefer staying close to walls so you need to check behind as well as under all sorts of furniture and tight spots. Check under carpets, bags, piles of clothes, and also be aware of any warm spots as they like to heat themselves up to survive.
Thus, you need to check under or behind appliances like refrigerators, freezers, dryers, and dishwashers.
Try to look on the same floor of the house, where the enclosure is located then the lower floors as it is easier for pythons to travel downwards rather than upwards.
Also, look out for any cracks or holes in the walls and floors of the house.
Do a Thorough Sweep of Your House
In order to find your python, you need to do a thorough sweep of your entire house as pythons usually like to hide in dark and undisturbed places. This means that you will have to look behind and underneath everything.
They do not prefer climbing walls or furniture hence your searches will mostly be on the lower ground. Check behind the enclosure and inside any book cases or shelves. Try to search one room at a time and once you are done, seal the room off by stuffing a cloth or towel under the door so that your snake doesn’t try to hide in that room.
Search at Night
Another option is looking for your python during the night as ball pythons are typically nocturnal i.e. active at night. Therefore, try to look in spots where you cannot reach by using your phone to take a picture of the area or a hand mirror and a flashlight.
Check in these places:
- Look in the gaps of book shelves, even if it seems like your python might not be able to fit.
- In the upholstery of your chairs and couches to see if it has entered any holes or rips.
- Between the gaps of mattresses in beds or in the gaps of the sofa cushions.
- Sides/backs/bottoms of upholstered furniture.
- Underneath the cabinets, stove and dishwasher of your kitchen.
- Inside and underneath the cabinets of bathrooms and the laundry area.
Set a Trap
If any of these steps do not work then you can try to set up traps for your python. These can be either used to lure them out of hiding or to trap them (harmlessly).
Line a bunch of plastic bags across the edges of the room and under furniture and other things the python likes to travel along. At night, when it is completely dark, turn off the TV and lights
And make the place as quiet as possible. With a flashlight in hand, sit and listen for an hour or two for the python to make any movements. As soon as you hear anything, turn your flashlight on but be careful not to run too fast as the vibrations will scare it back into hiding.
Make an inch wide thin layer of flour/cornstarch/baby powder on the floor or across the doorways. If the python has moved through these areas you will see the imprints which can point you in the direction in which it has escaped.
Place a bunch of pennies under doorways of each room and cabinets or on top of furniture to show you the python’s direction when it passes by or to alert you when the pennies fall.
Lower room temperature
Because pythons cannot regulate their own body temperature and need other sources of heat to keep warm-lowering the temperature (about 68°F/20°C) of the room where you suspect your python is hiding or the house as a whole- can help bring it out of hiding.
Luring the Python Out of Hiding
There are a number of ways you can lure your python out of hiding if trapping it doesn’t work. Take a look at the following:
Remove things that seem scary to your python
It is possible that sometimes your pet python might escape hiding from things that could make it feel threatened or in danger. Therefore you need to make an environment that feels safe, like getting rid of any cats/dogs or things that make loud noises.
Put the enclosure in better view
You could also put the enclosure on the floor, with a heating mat underneath so that it gets attracted to the heat. This placement will put the enclosure at the python’s eye level, helping it recognize it as his home.
Hide boxes are a good option as pythons prefer their dark and comfy centers. Place them near the edges of rooms and places where your python is most likely to go. To make things even more exciting, you could also place heating mats on top of them.
This is just a precaution to take to prevent your python from getting dehydrated. Place them throughout your house.
As mentioned earlier, pythons prefer warm areas and external sources of heat to regulate their body temperature. Place heat lamps or heat pads throughout the house to lure in your python.
Leave food out
You could keep a warm rat in a cage or a big soda bottle with a few holes in it to let out the odor for your python. Leave it out where you suspect it was last seen.
Your python could come to eat and then stay. The opening of the bottle should be big enough to let the python slither in but hopefully small enough so that the python is too fat to fit back through and gets stuck.
Read more on Ball python diet.