Ball Python hides

What are the best hides for Ball Pythons?

What are the best hides for Ball Pythons? Today we’re going to look at the best ones by broad type and brand. This will help you choose the most appropriate option for your pets…

What are the best hides for Ball Pythons? Today we’re going to look at the best ones by broad type and brand. This will help you choose the most appropriate option for your pets…

Hides are essential for Ball Pythons. They make them feel safe and help improve everything from feeding to shedding. Overall, the best hides are those which provide a dark, snug place to sleep and rest. In today’s article, we’ll look at the ones that have worked best for my collection.

What kind of hides do ball pythons like?

Ball Pythons are picky about their hides. They like them to be just right and fit a few criteria.

This is because in the wild this species spends daylight hours hidden in a snug rodent burrow (after eating them, of course), hollowed out log, or even termite mound.

Refugia like these are special because they create a microclimate within them. They help a Ball Python avoid drying out in the sun by maintaining a higher humidity level.

At the same time, rodent burrows and termite mounds especially maintain a lower daylight temperature and higher night-time temperature, allowing the snakes to use them for thermoregulation.

Perhaps the coolest thing about rodent burrows is that they are sometimes as much as three feet (1m) deep, with a temperature gradient from top to bottom (more on this in the temperature section of my care sheet).

Obviously, in captivity we can’t exactly reproduce this, but we should provide ideal hiding places that make the snake feel like nice it’s in a nice, secure burrow.

For a hide to be ideal it has to meet the following criteria:

  • It should be snug
  • Feel secure
  • Be smooth on the inside
  • Be dark
  • Have a small entrance
  • Help hold humidity

I know this sounds really specific, but by reading this article you’ll soon realise that hides that fit all of these criteria are incredibly easy to source. Some of them are even cheap!

As usual, I haven’t put affiliate links in – but if you want to buy any of the hides I describe here you can easily find them on Amazon or eBay.

what hides are best for ball pythons?
Pewter Ball Python in a homemade resin cave. Homemade is an option – but buying one is easier!

How big should a ball python hide be?

One aspect that you should pay special attention to is the size of the hide. I don’t mean the size as in diagonal measurement etc. – I mean the size of the hide in proportion to your snake.

A Ball Python hide should always be snug. That means that the inside area of the cave should be only very slightly larger than the area that your snake occupies when curled up.

This species of python is positively thigmotactic – meaning that it gains reassurance from being in contact with solid surfaces.

This behaviour is found in a lot of snakes, with some even cramming themselves into rock fissures in the wild. With Ball Pythons though, it seems to be particularly important, so much so that if they don’t have a snug hiding place many of them will stop eating.

In fact, over the past twenty years most of the “picky” Ball Pythons people have asked me for help with have started feeding when provided with a heavy hide and smaller enclosure.

Do ball pythons need 2 hides?

what are the best hides for ball pythons?
A classic tub setup with two hides

Yes, they do! Providing a hide on the warm end and the cool end of the enclosure is the best way to help your snake thermoregulate. It allows them to be comfortable at all times by choosing the temperature that suits them.

A lot of large breeders only provide their snakes with one hide. But let’s look at that situation a little more closely…

Most of those same breeders are using high-end racks with long tubs, and very reliable thermostats.

They know that their snakes can go to the front of their tub to cool down, but they still feel secure because within the tub it is dark and closed-in by a low ceiling. This isn’t how those of us who only have one or two Ball Pythons keep them, though.

After all, why buy a $1000 or more rack to house a dozen snakes if you have no intention of becoming a breeder?

In your typical plastic tub or terrarium setup, the space inside the enclosure is greater than that in a rack tub, and this means that its vitally important to make your snake feel secure at both ends of the temperature gradient.

Basically, if you have a Ball Python in a tub or terrarium setup and only provide a hide on the warm end, chances are your snake will stay in the hiding place even when it feels too warm.

Add a hide to the cool end, and you’ll notice that it moves between the two, depending on its needs.

The four best Ball Python hides

Instead of giving you the kind of sales pitch your probably used to, I’ve decided here to list the hides by broad type and brand. This way you can buy the brand I name – or choose the same kind of hide from a different brand if you find a better price.

The most important thing is that you understand why I prefer these types of hides compared to all the others. Over the years, I’ve tried all of these and have learnt what my snakes prefer – which is what really counts!

1. Exo Terra Reptile Caves (or similar)

Prince the Ball Python looking for food
Prince the Pewter Ball Python laying ambush at the entrance to his Exo Terra Reptile cave

The Exo Terra Reptile Caves are my personal favourite, and every one of my snakes has one. I’ve found that these heavy, resin caves help them feel extra safe, and it turn increase their feeding response.

They also have smooth walls on the inside, which helps maintain humidity while the snake is hiding in them, something I feel helps the shedding process (don’t rely on this for maintaining humidity in the enclosure as a whole though).

Obviously, any other brand of resin caves you find will work just as well. I just prefer the Exo Terra ones because they are the most widely available and come in a good range of sizes, including XXL which is big enough for large female Ball Pythons.

Pros:

  • Heavy
  • Attractive, naturalistic look
  • Help maintain humidity

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Rough outer surface is tough to clean if urates dry onto it

2. Plastic hides

best hides for ball pythons
The plastic hide on the right is pretty much as good as the resin cave on the left

Plastic hides are every bit as functional as the resin caves and come in at a lower price. Most of them also have the added bonus of having extremely smooth sides on the inside, which makes cleaning them a breeze.

Realistically speaking, this will make hygiene easier to manage if you have several snakes. Their only real downside is that they are lighter, making it easy for your snake to move them around, and probably makes them ever so slightly less secure.

Pros:

  • Cheap
  • Very hygienic
  • Help maintain humidity

Cons:

  • Not as heavy as the resin cave hides
  • Ugly (only a problem with naturalistic enclosures)

3. Cardboard (temporary) hides

Every once in a while, I’ve used a cereal box with a hole cut in it as a hide. One time, for example, I dropped one of my snakes’ resin hides and it smashed.

Between the time I smashed his cave and ordered a new one online, he was perfectly happy with a cereal box to hide in.

Obviously, this is a short-term solution: as soon as the snake goes to the bathroom the hide needs to be thrown out! When in need of a quick fix, however, you’d be surprised at how much they like this temporary option.

Pros:

  • You can find one in the food cupboard in an emergency
  • Snakes don’t know the difference, and like them just as much as plastic hides

Cons:

  • For temporary use only! A real hide should be purchased ASAP.

4. Exo Terra Snake Cave (or similar)

best hides for ball pythons
The Exo Terra Snake Cave is a lot like their reptile cave, but the top can be taken off to access your pet

There’s a few of these products out there, not just from Exo Terra. Overall, they’re great. In fact, they have every single quality that the Exo Terra Reptile caves have.

Notwithstanding, I have two issues with them. First is that many of them are too small for adult Ball Pythons. Second is the placement of the entrance.

A lot of times my snakes skim along the ground with their nose looking for the entrance to their hideout. A lot of these cave products have an entrance in the top and my snakes would simply miss it completely!

Pros:

  • Similar to the Exo Terra Reptile Caves in most ways
  • Attractive and naturalistic

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Entrance placement not optimum for Ball Pythons
  • Don’t come in large enough sizes

Hides that are often sold, but not that great…

There’s a couple of other main types of hide that regularly get sold to novice BP keepers.

First is cork bark. This product is an excellent hide solution for most snakes, but Ball Pythons are the exception. Though you can make cork bark work for them, I have found that they are almost always happier in a cave-type hide which is enclosed on all sides.

Second is the coconut shell hide. This is just half a coconut shell with a little doorway in it, usually about the right size for a 1- to 3-month-old Ball Python.

The thing is coconut shells often come with an entrance that is too large and let’s light in. They are also less hygienic and less easy to clean than plastic or resin hides. If you have a tiny baby Ball Python that will outgrow its hide quickly, why not just use a little plastic hide instead? It’ll be more hygienic, cheaper or similar price, and need replacing just soon anyway.

The bottom line

Best ball python hides
Sonnet Spider Ball Python feeding. His resin cave no doubt helped his feeding response

Your Ball Python’s hide is its pride and joy! It goes there to shed, sleep, digest its food, or wait in ambush.

Getting the right kind of hide can be the difference between a Ball Python that feels safe and eats great, or a stressed snake that slowly becomes anorexic.

All things considered, I would recommend taking some time to select a good hide when setting up your snake’s enclosure. In general, though, resin or plastic caves are almost always the best option.

Other resources related to Ball Python hides:

Best Ball Python Hides – ThePetEnthusiast

Top 10 Best Ball Python Hides That Your … – MyPetReptiles6 Best Ball Python Hides (Best Hiding Houses)

6 Best Ball Python Hides (Best Hiding Houses)

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