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.
Ball pythons 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.
Steps to Find a Lost Ball Python
Throughout your search, remember to maintain a positive attitude and stay persistent. Ball pythons are resilient creatures and are often found safe and sound after a thorough search.
With patience and determination, you’re likely to be reunited with your slithery friend soon!
1. Stay Calm and Focused
Losing your ball python can be stressful, but it’s essential to remain calm and focused during the search. As a fellow snake enthusiast, I’ve been in this situation a few times myself.
Remember, ball pythons are excellent at hiding, so it might take some time to locate them.
2. Search the Enclosure
Begin your search by carefully examining the snake’s enclosure. It is very much 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.
3. Check the Areas Around the Enclosure
After searching the enclosure, carefully examine the area around the snake’s enclosure. As someone who has found a missing ball python on more than one occasion, I recommend using a flashlight to check dark corners, behind furniture, and inside small crevices.
Common hiding spots
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.
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.
Be systematic and thorough in your search, as ball pythons can be surprisingly good at hiding in plain sight.
Ball pythons are known to seek out small, tight spaces where they feel secure.
Check under furniture, behind appliances, inside cabinets, and even among your pet’s bedding or other soft materials. Remember that one time I found my ball python hiding inside a shoe!
Also, look out for any cracks or holes in the walls and floors of the house.
4. Do a Thorough Sweep of Your House
If your ball python isn’t in the immediate area, start searching other rooms in your home. Ball pythons prefer warm, dark spots, so pay special attention to areas near heating vents or other sources of warmth.
Don’t forget to check closets and storage areas, as these spaces can be particularly appealing to a roaming snake.
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.
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.
Look for signs of your snake’s presence
Keep an eye out for any signs that your ball python has been in a specific area, such as shed skin, feces, or disturbed items. These clues can help you narrow down your search and increase your chances of locating your lost pet.
5. Search at Night
Another option is looking for your python during the night as ball pythons are typically nocturnal i.e. active at night.
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.
6. 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:
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.
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 a 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.
7. Set up snake traps
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).
DIY snake traps
If your ball python remains elusive, consider setting up some DIY snake traps. One simple method involves placing a warm heating pad or heat lamp in a dark, enclosed space, such as a cardboard box, with a small entrance for the snake to enter.
Ball pythons are attracted to warmth, so they may be enticed to enter the trap seeking a comfortable spot.
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.
Commercial snake traps
If you prefer a store-bought solution, there are commercial snake traps available, such as glue traps or funnel traps designed specifically for snakes. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully and check the traps frequently to ensure your ball python is found safely.
8. Enlisting Help
In addition to searching for your lost ball python at home, we recommend enlisting the help of others.
Informing Household Members and Neighbors
Communicate with everyone in your home: Share the news of your lost ball python with everyone living in your home to ensure they’re on the lookout and take necessary precautions.
Talk to your neighbors: Reach out to your neighbors, especially those living close to you, and let them know about your missing pet. Provide them with a clear description and a photo, if possible. Kindly ask them to check their yards, garages, and any other potential hiding spots.
- Explain to your household members and neighbors that ball pythons are non-venomous and generally docile.
- Recommend they avoid handling the snake if found, and instead, contact you immediately.
Using Social Media and Local Online Forums
Post on social media: Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can be incredibly helpful in spreading the word about your lost ball python. Create a post with a clear photo and description of your snake, along with your contact information. Encourage your friends to share the post to reach a wider audience.
Join local online forums: Look for local reptile or pet forums, community groups, and websites dedicated to lost and found pets. Post about your missing ball python, along with any relevant information, to connect with others in your area who may be able to help.
Contacting Local Animal Shelters and Reptile Rescue Organizations
Get in touch with animal shelters: Call your local animal shelters and inform them about your lost ball python. Provide a detailed description and your contact information. Request that they keep an eye out for any reptiles that might be brought in.
Reach out to reptile rescue organizations: Some areas have dedicated reptile rescue organizations that can be invaluable in helping you find your lost snake. Contact these organizations, provide them with the necessary information about your ball python, and ask if they can assist in the search or if they’ve received any reports of a found snake matching your pet’s description.
Remember, the more people who are aware of your missing ball python, the better your chances of finding it.
In this section, we’ll discuss crucial steps you can take to minimize the chances of your ball python escaping.
Proper Enclosure Setup
Setting up a proper enclosure for your ball python is the first line of defense against potential escapes. Here are some key elements to consider:
Secure Locks and Latches: Invest in a high-quality lock or latch for your ball python’s enclosure. This will prevent the snake from pushing the lid open and making a great escape. In my experience, I’ve found that sliding glass doors with a lockable latch work exceptionally well.
Eliminate Escape Routes: Inspect the enclosure for any gaps, holes, or other potential escape routes. Ball pythons are master escape artists and can squeeze through surprisingly small spaces. Make sure to seal any openings or gaps you find to keep your snake safely contained.
Regular Enclosure Checks and Maintenance
Routine checks and maintenance of your ball python’s enclosure are vital in ensuring its security and the well-being of your pet. Here’s what you should do:
- Inspect the enclosure for signs of wear and tear, such as cracks, gaps, or damaged locks, and fix or replace any damaged components immediately.
- Perform regular cleaning and upkeep of the enclosure, which not only promotes good hygiene but also allows you to notice any changes in your snake’s behavior or environment that may indicate potential escape attempts.
Monitor Temperature and Humidity
Proper temperature and humidity levels within your ball python’s enclosure can impact its behavior and desire to escape. To maintain a comfortable environment for your snake, follow these tips:
- Use a thermostat-controlled heat source, such as a heat mat or ceramic heat emitter, to maintain a consistent temperature gradient within the enclosure.
- Monitor humidity levels using a hygrometer and adjust accordingly by misting or using a humid hide, as necessary.
By maintaining optimal temperature and humidity levels, you can reduce your ball python’s stress and decrease the likelihood of it trying to escape in search of a more suitable environment.
As a fellow ball python enthusiast, I understand the stress and concern that comes with losing your beloved pet snake. Remember, staying calm and organized during your search is crucial for the successful recovery of your lost ball python. By following the steps outlined in this article—such as thoroughly searching your home, setting up traps, and maintaining a regular feeding schedule—you’ll increase your chances of finding your slithery friend.
Always ensure that your ball python’s enclosure is secure and that your pet is well-cared for. If you find yourself struggling with the search or need additional advice, don’t hesitate to reach out to expert reptile handlers or fellow ball python owners in your community or online forums. They can provide valuable insights and experiences that could prove beneficial in your search.