How to Own a White Ball Python

how to own a white ball pythonLet me just say, first off, that I’ve never actually owned a white ball python. I have seen, and even handled, white ball pythons, but know very little about how to own them. This essay, then, is an exercise in my imagination and my putative expertise regarding subjects I know little about, but which I imagine cannot be too in depth in terms of specific knowledge. And so let us begin.

To own a white ball python is not difficult. First, buy a terrarium large enough to hold a fully grown snake. Ball pythons can grow to be up to five feet long. Though they do not move much, they are animals, and like any animal, require space in which to be comfortable and happy. This is important to consider especially if you are buying your white ball python as a young snake, when he is small. He will grow.

White ball pythons have a recessive gene that makes them white. They are not albinos. Their brethren, which come out of the same litter in the same way a Chinese Crested Powderpuff and a Chinese Crested Hairless do, are gold and black. Neither is necessarily larger than the other.

White Ball Pythons need to drink and eat. It is comical to imagine a snake lapping up water the way a kitten would lap up milk, unless we imagine the forked tongue of the serpent in place of the sandpapery pink tongue of a kitten; thus the image becomes less comical, and more sinister. Fill a bowl made of plastic, which preferably for your snake looks like a rock, with water. Change the water every day or two, out of consideration for your snake.

It is true that ball pythons eat live food. Mice. By feeding them live mice, you are mimicking their living conditions as they are in the wild, which is nice for the snake, who although he may not have a soul per se, is still a living animal, and has some kind of awareness, however remote, that he is being contained and thus, is not free. So to mimic the conditions of what it is like to live in the jungles of Brazil or Borneo or Burma, or wherever ball pythons can be found in the wild, is to appreciate and show love for your snake. Your white ball python will not immediately move for the mouse. Just drop the rodent in the terrarium and leave it overnight. Sometimes it may take longer than twelve hours for your snake to develop an appetite or the will to catch his prey, but eventually he will. Unlike you and me, white ball pythons do not need to eat every day. They digest their food over a period of many days, and since they are often inactive, especially while in captivity, you do not have to feed them but once ever week.

Feel free to take your white ball python out of its terrarium and play with him. But be careful. Snakes bite whenever they feel threatened, and even sometimes when they may resent you for caging them when they really want to be free. Be aware of the temperament of your snake, so that if he is aggressive, moving up and down the sides of his cage, using his tongue to smell, hissing, as his serpentine body slithers along the glass of his terrarium, then yes, your snake is aggressive. Wear jeans when handling your snake, because if he bites your leg while you are wearing jeans, the denim will take the brunt of the bite. When moving your snake, put him in a white cloth sack. This will disorient him and keep him from biting. And in case he does bite, don’t be angry at him. Be careful when dislodging his jaws from your skin. It’s not fair to kill him or hurt him because he hurt you. If your instinct while you read this is to say, sure it is, then you will probably not be a good snake-owner, and to have read this far with the intention of using this essay as an instructional guide and not a piece of half-imaginative, half-expository writing, has been essentially a waste of your time. That is, unless you are well aware that this piece of writing is intended to instruct and entertain, so that if the subject of how to own a white ball python ever arises in conversation, you will at least have something to contribute, even if it’s about how you read an essay by someone who had never owned a white ball python about how to own a white ball python.

Published by Daniel Ryan Adler

Daniel was born in Brooklyn, NY, and has lived in Portland, Oregon. He studied literature and philosophy at NYU and creative writing at Edinburgh University. He is finishing an MFA in Fiction at University of South Carolina.

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