Are you about to bring home a pet snake? Then we’re glad you’re here to see our reviews of the best substrates and bedding for ball pythons. We know you want the best for your new friend.
Have you considered what type of enclosure you’ll use? Baby ball pythons only need a 10-gallon tank or a space that’s about 20 inches long by a foot wide. But juveniles under 3 feet long do better in a 40-gallon aquarium or about 3 feet by a foot and a half. Finally, adults that grow over 3 feet long thrive if they have at least 4 feet x 2 feet with 2 feet of vertical space, too because they enjoy climbing.
How do you estimate how much bedding you need for these enclosures? For example, a four-quart bag of loose litter is a decent amount for a 20-gallon tank. Or if you had a 55-gallon aquarium, you’d want about 12 quarts. But it’s always wise to buy more than you need because you’ll be removing bedding when you clean and replacing it with fresh litter.
Table of Contents
- What kind of bedding is safe for a ball python?
- Top Substrate & Bedding for Ball Pythons
- Zoo Med Aspen Snake Bedding
- Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding
- Zilla Snake and Lizard Litter
- ReptiChip Premium Coconut Substrate
- Reptile Prime Coconut Fiber Bedding Substrate
- Zoo Med Repti Cage Carpet
- Zilla Reptile Terrarium Bedding Substrate Liner
- Carolina Custom Cages Reptile Carpet
- Hamiledyi Reptile Carpet, Natural Coconut Fiber Carpet for Pet Terrarium Liner
- Marcal 6709-01 Small Steps 100% Premium Recycled Paper Towel Roll
- Tips for decorating your ball python’s enclosure
What kind of bedding is safe for a ball python?
Check with your vet if you have doubts about what substrate is best for your snake. Generally speaking, you have a lot of choices from newspaper and paper towels to cypress mulch, reptile carpet, and aspen shavings. We’ll review the best substrates below.
Never, never, never use cedar. The wooden bark from this tree contains an oil that damages the nervous system of ball pythons. Even though it smells nice, it will slowly kill your snake.
Next, it may be tempting to use sand in your ball python enclosure. But there are serious problems with this choice. First sand or any small particles can jam the heat-sensing pits in her face and effectively blind your python. And second, sand doesn’t retain humidity and it makes a lot of dust.
Top Substrate & Bedding for Ball Pythons
Now let’s review the best bedding for ball pythons to help you find exactly what you need.
Zoo Med Aspen Snake Bedding
Zoo Med’s aspen bedding absorbs almost 200% of its own weight in water. It creates very little dust and it’s simple to spot clean. The fluffy substrate lets your python burrow and it keeps smells to a minimum. You can use this bedding for other reptiles as well as birds and insects.
Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding
Zoo Med’s Forest Floor Bedding is 100% cypress mulch. It stays moist to keep your ball python comfortable especially if she’s shedding. It also works well for other kinds of snakes, lizards, frogs, salamanders, turtles, and tarantulas. A 24-quart bag provides about two changes of bedding for a 55-gallon aquarium.
One point to keep in mind is that feeding your snake on this substrate could result in splinters in her mouth. This is true of almost any bedding made of wood chips.
Zilla Snake and Lizard Litter
Zilla’s Snake and Lizard Litter is made of heat-treated aspen chips. The bedding also works for geckos, skinks, and monitor lizards. One 14-quart bag covers a 20-gallon aquarium.
The size of the chips helps make spot cleanup easier. Plus, they are treated with ground eucalyptus to keep odors under control. This substrate is 100% biodegradable and moisture-absorbent.
ReptiChip’s Coconut Substrate isn’t a mat. It’s loose bedding that comes in a compressed block. Once you break it up and add a little water, it expands to about 72 quarts. This natural substance minimizes odors and retains moisture well. It’s also 100% organic and sustainable.
Reptile Prime Coconut Fiber Bedding Substrate
Reptile Prime’s fiber substrate is loose bedding made from coconut coir. This is refined husk that naturally absorbs moisture and reduces odor. The manufacturer says it resists fungal growth for about a month even when it’s saturated.
Zoo Med Repti Cage Carpet
Zoo Med’s Repti Cage Carpet is now called Eco Carpet, but it’s the same product. It’s made of recycled materials and feels just as soft as felt. Some snake owners like to use it as a liner on the bottom of the cage. It protects the snake from coming in contact with the cold (or hot) glass.
If you choose to use it as a standalone substrate, be sure to purchase more than one. That way you can put a fresh one in the tank while you wash the other and let it dry. If you live in a humid environment or have a climate -controlled room for your reptile, this type of bedding is convenient because it doesn’t retain moisture. It is absorbent, though.
Zilla Reptile Terrarium Bedding Substrate Liner
Zilla’s terrarium liner is treated with a biodegradable enzyme that minimizes odors. It’s soft and absorbent although it doesn’t stay damp for long. Use it as a standalone substrate or as a liner for the bottom of the tank. Either way, it’s straightforward to wash and reuse.
Carolina Custom Cages Reptile Carpet
Carolina Custom Cages sells this reptile carpet that you can secure in place with a system similar to Velcro. Instead of hand-washing with cold water, you can toss it in the washing machine. After the spin cycle, it quickly dries without using the dryer. Just be sure to use a mild, hypoallergenic detergent and rinse well
The carpet is made of recycled plastic and comes in a wide variety of colors including Kelly green, Cashmere tan, sandstone, and even candy pink. It feels like felt, but you won’t have to pick off stuck-on debris after you wash it. It also won’t ball up or shrink.
Hamiledyi Reptile Carpet, Natural Coconut Fiber Carpet for Pet Terrarium Liner
This reptile carpet is made of non-abrasive coconut fiber treated with a biodegradable enzyme. The enzyme diminishes reptile odors. You can hand-wash the mat in cold water and trim it to fit the aquarium if needed. There are two sheets in each package.
Why are we reviewing paper towels in an article about ball python substrate? That’s because this is one of the cheapest types of bedding you can use. But we’re picky about which paper towels are best. That’s why we chose this kind from Marcal.
The towels are white, but not because they were bleached with chlorine. The fact that they are chlorine-free and have no added dyes or fragrances make them safer for your pet. They also produce very little lint.
Users say that these paper towels are strong and absorbent although they are not the softest on the market. On the upside, they’re made from 60% post-consumer recycled content.
Tips for decorating your ball python’s enclosure
Now that you’ve got ideas about enclosures and substrates, let’s talk about how to make your python’s enclosure a comfortable home.
First, give your snake a place to hide. For maximum comfort, make that two places – one on the warm end, and one in the cool part. If you fill one of the hides with moist sphagnum moss, it will make it easier for her to shed.
Ball pythons seem to enjoy places to hide that resemble burrows partially buried in the substrate. They don’t need to be large spaces as the snake will coil up inside to feel secure.
Next, pythons appreciate large water dishes and fresh water. Not only do they drink a lot, but they love to soak especially when they’re about to shed. Install a heavy water dish that your snake can’t knock over.
After that, it’s perfectly fine to decorate the walls of the enclosure. If you’re using a glass aquarium, you’ll help your snake feel safer if the walls aren’t all transparent.
Finally, go the extra mile by giving your python a place to climb. A couple of sturdy branches will give your snake a chance to exercise and help shed skin.
We hope that our reviews helped you find the best bedding and substrate for ball pythons today. Take good care of your snake and she’ll be your companion for up to 20 years. A safe and comfortable home makes for happy pythons and owners.