Can I leave my Ball Python alone for a week? You may be able to, but only if certain conditions are met. Let’s find out what they are…
Adult Ball Pythons can generally be left alone for a week without issues, so long as they are in perfect health. As the keeper, it’s your responsibility to consider whether it is safe to do so. You must make sure that your Ball Python will be clean and safe while you’re away. If not, you should consider other options.
How long can Ball Pythons be left alone?
Because they don’t eat particularly often, Ball Pythons can be left alone for as long as it is safe to do so. For an adult Ball Python, this means you can usually leave it alone for 7 – 10 days without problems. Before doing so, you need to make sure you are happy with its heating, toilet habits, and a few other factors. We’ll discuss them all shortly, though.
In this article we’re going to go through everything you need to consider before leaving your snake alone for a while. The aim is for you to be able to make the decision of whether it is safe to leave your Ball Python alone, rather than tell you what you should do.
What do you do with your Ball Python on vacation?
There are a few options regarding what to do with your Ball Python when going on vacation. Unfortunately, each one has drawbacks. I’d love to give you a yes or no/best or worst answer for everything – but sometimes there just isn’t a perfect solution.
1. Leave it with a family member or friend
The first option is to leave your snake with a family member or friend. This can work out well, but it depends on how much experience they have with snakes. If they have snakes themselves, and you really trust them, then great! If not, then it won’t be a good idea.
Personally, I know lots of unexperienced but well-meaning people who would be willing to look after a snake for me. They’d be fine cleaning it and giving it water. The problem is, they wouldn’t be fine if it was hungry and latched onto their arm… It would be all-out panic. These are the kinds of situations you need to take into consideration!
2. Board it
Second, you could board your Ball Python at a pet care facility. These are springing up all over the place these days, and some have very affordable rates. Again, it sounds ideal, but if you take a closer look it may not be. Like I say, you can only leave snakes with experienced snake-keepers, if not, you’re asking for trouble.
Notwithstanding, there are specialised reptile boarding facilities. These tend to vary in quality. If you would like to board your Ball Python, I suggest choosing a place that has A LOT of verified 5-star reviews, and carefully read through their terms and conditions.
Years ago, I boarded two of my snakes with someone who had a few 5-star reviews, only to find out through social media that they had been letting other reptile keepers come over to look at my snakes and handle them. This is how viral diseases and flagellates are spread! Needless to say, I never used them or any other boarding facility again.
Since then, I have heard a litany of horror stories about reptile boarding, from snakes coming home with mites, to clauses in the terms and conditions that allow them to sell your animals if you are late picking them up. Again, be very careful!
3. Leave it at home alone
This sounds awful, doesn’t it? Leaving your Ball Python all alone for a week… Well, given how much they enjoy peace and quiet, I wouldn’t feel too guilty! In fact, not having humans around for a week is probably like a vacation for them.
The problem is that you won’t be there to manage any issues that occur. You need to be certain that nothing could go wrong for the period of time you’ll be away. If you know your snake’s health, habits, and heating equipment so well that you are certain nothing will change, then in all likelihood, it will be fine.
Obviously, I’m not suggesting leaving a large collection alone for more than a couple of days – the higher the number of animals, the higher the chances of someone needing cleaning! But if have just a couple of very predictable, adult Ball Pythons, you probably could leave them home alone without any issues.
Feeding your Ball Python before you leave
Now, a lot of snake keepers come to the same conclusion that I have: with just one or two snakes, it’s easiest to leave them alone for a week when going on vacation. This doesn’t mean you just leave and assume they’ll be fine though – it takes some planning.
The main thing you want to avoid is your snake making a mess while you’re away and being sat in a dirty enclosure for days. This can be detrimental to their health and create a lot of stress for them. Fortunately, most adult Ball Pythons are almost like clockwork when it comes to defecating.
For the most part, adults will defecate roughly every 2 or 3 weeks. Sometimes, however, a large meal will make them go a little early. My advice is to feed your snake a couple days before going on vacation. If it has something lined up to be released soon, it will probably do so before you leave. If not, it probably will not go while you’re away.
Leaving water for your snake
Obviously, most snakes can go a lot longer than a couple of weeks without food. A lot of Ball Pythons have a predisposition to fasting, anyway. Water is another story, though. If you leave your Ball Python home alone, you need to give it fresh water before you go.
With a large enough water bowl, that is to say one that holds at least 500ml (17fl oz), your snake will have enough for at least a week. The only caveat is that the bowl needs to be heavy. The last thing you want is for your pet to tip its bowl over while you’re away and sit there soaking wet.
Lighting and heating while away
If you’ve read any of my care sheets, you’ll know that I repeat myself over and over again with regards to the importance of thermostats.
Whatever type of heating appliance you use, make sure it’s on an appropriate thermostat. If you also use additional lighting, it should be on a timer, and this timer should be left running while you’re away.
When leaving your Ball Python alone for a week, it’s important to remember that some heating appliances are more reliable than others. Heat mats, radiant heat panels, and deep heat projectors are all less likely to stop working than bulbs or ceramic heat emitters. This is because the latter two have internal filaments that occasionally break, which is why they sometimes need replacing.
All in all, the heating appliance that is least likely to completely stop working is a heat mat.
This one may seem a little odd, but the weather is definitely worth taking into consideration. If you leave your Ball Python alone for a week, the last thing you want is a massive change in temperature or a power outage.
If you live an area with dramatic seasonal changes, try to go on vacation at a time when the weather has a record of being stable. Leaving your snake home alone when a major storm and power cuts are likely would be a bad idea.
If you live in the US and are worried about the possibility of a power cut while away, you may be interested in reading this article by Popular Science.
Health issues rarely occur spontaneously in previously healthy Ball Pythons. Notwithstanding, it’s important to be aware of the type of health issues that your pet could encounter, and how urgent they are.
Some issues, such as constipation, can take weeks to develop. Others, like respiratory infections, can literally kill a snake within a week of showing symptoms. If you’re away, you can’t get your snake treatment. It is in this scenario that leaving your Ball Python with a friend or relative would turn out to be the better option.
Take a look at the table below to get an idea of just how urgent some Ball Python health issues can be. Obviously, any illness should be treated immediately. The table is to show you how long you have to treat one of these conditions before it could become dangerous to your pet.
Table: common health issues and treatment urgency.
|Health Issue||How soon treatment is needed to prevent major illness/death|
|Mouth Rot||1 – 7 days|
|Respiratory Infection||24 – 72 hours|
|Constipation||a few weeks|
|Abscesses and other skin infections||a couple of weeks|
|Early stage Scale Rot||a week|
|Dysecdysis (bad shed)||depends on severity|
|Septicemia||less than 24 hours|
Leaving Baby Ball Pythons alone for a week
What do all those health conditions listed above have in common? Asides from the fact that they are mostly preventable, they all progress much more rapidly in baby Ball Pythons. Hatchlings grow faster, defecate more often, and maintain a higher metabolism than adults. These factors combine to make them more susceptible to illness and makes treatment more urgent.
I recommend that you never leave a Ball Python under 1 year of age home alone. They need more regular feeding, cleaning, and monitoring than adults, making it inappropriate to leave them for more than a day.
Do Snakes like to be left alone?
Should I feel guilty about leaving a snake alone? Not if you know it will be safe, clean, and have plenty of fresh water. Most snakes don’t really like humans. Shy species in particular probably see us as dangerous brutes, that occasionally come and grab them for no apparent reason.
Needless to say, there are snakes that like to come out and explore once or twice a week and do seem to enjoy handling them. They still like peace and quiet, though, as I explained in my article on where to put your snake enclosure.
All in all, though, most snakes don’t like a lot of disturbance. I would say Ball Pythons and most other snakes most definitely do like to be left alone.
Can snakes become attached to their owner? Will they miss us?
In all honesty, most pet snakes recognize their owners, but probably do not get attached to us. They just don’t have the emotional range for that kind of thing. They feel many things, from fear to anxiety, but love, anger, and similar emotions are beyond their level of intelligence.
If you leave your pet snake alone for a few days, chances are it will not miss you, or be at all sad. It will definitely be pleased to see you when it comes to feeding time though!
Can I leave my Ball Python alone for a week? Conclusion…
If you’ve read this article and are happy that you can manage all of the potential issues mentioned, then it’s probably ok to leave your Ball Python alone for a week.
In all honesty, it would be better to leave it with another experienced snake keeper. The problem is that not everyone has such a person in their circle of friends or family.
All things considered, leaving your snake home alone is a tough decision. It can be done successfully, but it is up to you make the decision. My experience has taught me that it is generally ok for one or two snakes.
This advice is to help inform you – not tell you what to do. If you decide to leave any animals home alone, it is your responsibility. Ballpythonbreeder.co.uk does not claim to offer legal or veterinary advice and assumes no responsibility for any issues you may have. As the keeper, you are in charge – and you have to make the decisions!
Also on this topic:
- How often should I clean my Ball Python’s enclosure?
- Ball Python Scale Rot: How to understand and treat it
- Ball Python noises *Includes information on diagnosing Respiratory infections
- How long do Ball Pythons live?
- Can I take my Ball Python outside?
- Do Ball Pythons sleep?
For more on Ball Python health:
Back to the Ball Python health and illness page