I get countless phone calls and emails daily from people who purchased their ball python from a local pet store and want to know what’s wrong with it. I still can’t figure out why they phone or email me with their questions when they didn’t purchase their ball python from me. I absolutely love pet stores and have nothing against them per se but I thought I’d shed some light on how they get their ball pythons and what you can expect from a “pet store” ball python and why it’s best to avoid them.
Next Stop Ghana Africa, All Aboard!
Most ball pythons that you find in your local pet store or pet shop come directly from Ghana or areas that have a ball python population in Africa. Trappers are sent into the bush to hunt, locate and trap ball pythons in order to support their families. They are paid very little and earn an estimated $925 per year that they have to use to support their families with.
Ball pythons in the wild eat a variety of prey items and these prey items carry deadly parasites that are transferred to the ball python. In addition to internal parasites, they also have external parasites in the form of ticks. In fact, the African-Tick is responsible for African-Tick bite, which is actually an organism called Rickettsia africae fever that’s "transferable to humans". Symptoms usually begin within 8 days after the tick bite and may last for 1 to 15 days. Symptoms may include:
· Fever and chills.
· Multiple ulcerlike or crusty skin sores.
· Swelling in the area of the skin sores.
· Generalized swollen glands.
Trappers take the “wild caught” ball pythons to an exporter installation to be exported abroad. Ball pythons are dumped together and their parasites, ticks, germs, etc. are able to pass freely amongst the other ball pythons crated with them. They’re then taken to the airport and off they go! You can see trappers in action on Ball Pythons in the Wild DVD (2hr DVD video).
Coming to America
After many long days crammed together in their crates, they are very dehydrated and are often quite sick and unhealthy. Importers receive their crates of ball pythons at the airport and take them back to their facilities. Pet stores are notified of the ball pythons and are sent their orders of ball pythons, usually on another airplane flight to their designated city.
They get the ball pythons and place them in their tanks with a “for sale” price tag on the cage. Most cages were never cleaned and disinfected and they could have “mites” crawling around in the aquarium tank. Those mites are like ticks in that they feed by sucking blood from the ball python. They multiply fast and are hosts for many diseases, one of which is the dreaded and feared IBD virus (Inclusion Body Disease). There is no cure for this virus and it will definitely kill a ball python. This is one of the most feared viruses because it can easily spread to other snakes and kill them as well.
Since pet stores generally have many animals, the ball pythons (and other animals) don’t get the proper care they require. Their cages often have old shed lying in them, the water bowl is dirty and hosts bacteria, they often have old fecal and urine matter scattered about the dirty substrate. The temperatures and humidity are nowhere near optimal and they don’t consistently feed their ball pythons, of which most are dehydrated and malnourished. They sell you one of these ball pythons and now you’re happy because you own a new pet snake.
Time to Pay the Vet a Visit
This is usually when people search the Internet, Reptile magazine or ask their friends if they know any ball python breeders that can help them with some questions. I’m often the first stop for many of these people even though they didn’t purchase their ball python from me. Please wait a minute, my phone is ringing now… One sec please…. It was someone with a question about the ball python they bought from their local pet store a few days ago. I told them to see my FAQ entry here and to take their ball python to the vet ASAP!
The unsuspected ball python owner now has to take their sick ball python to the vet. The vet visit is often expensive and the medications they prescribe are expensive as well. Some medications need to be administered orally so the ball python becomes stressed while meds are forced into its mouth. Some medications need to be injected, often times eight or more injections are required over the course of two weeks.
Only Buy Ball Pythons from Reputable Breeders
I can’t stress enough the importance of buying ball pythons from reputable breeders. Captive born and bred ball pythons are born here in the USA and don’t have any of the issues outlined above. It’s actually cheaper to buy from a reputable breeder like myself because you’ll save money by purchasing a clean and healthy animal opposed to one with parasites and health problems that will cost you additional money in vet visits and medications. Despite the medications, there is still a risk that a pet store ball python could still die because the parasites have destroyed their internal organs beyond repair. It’s very sad when you become attached to your pet and despite treating the animal it still dies.
I'm the only ball python breeder that stands behind his animals and gives an unheard of 30-day health guarantee, the actual egg shell the ball python hatched from and exceptional support while being only a phone call away both day and night. Our captive born and bred ball pythons can be found here on the available page.
Next time you think about purchasing your ball python from a pet store, think again.
In rememberence of Steve Irwin. We'll miss you Steve.
Feb 22, 1962 - Sep 4, 2006
Tiffany: Send us an email at [email protected] or phone us about a particular ball python you're interested in, thank you.
FANKOREA: Try http://www.pro-products.com, they have an effective product called Provent-a-mite that works well with eradicating mites. You can email or phone them to see what they recommend for your situation as they are experts with reptile mites.
I actually work at a Petstore.
Petsmart, to be exact. I can honestly say that the two we have (they're babies. 1 1/2 long) are taken well care of. Captive bred, although I'm not sure that means anything.
I'm actually thinking about buying the one I feed/take out the most, but after reading this now I'm a bit hesitant. I'll call the snake a she. 'She' eats fine, actually dives for the thawed mouse before the other one, and is pretty active. What else should I look for?
Do they enjoy the company of other snakes? In which case I'd concider buying one from you. Gotta suport good breeders. =P
I've talked to one of my co-workers about snakes. She had a burmese (spelling?) python for 25 years-ish and has a 65 gallon tank she'd be willing to give me. Would that be safe? I mean it's clean and all and she said the snake didn't have a disease.
The snake I'm after at work is less than a year old and cute as a button. I don't think I could afford one of your high-quality ballies at this time, but they are beautiful. =]
pra min ele é o cara
eu sempre vou na tv e tem filmes dele
I'll admit however, that our vendors aren't that great, but even if we get a sick animal delivered to us we treat it until it's well again before putting it up for sale.
Also, we clean all of our animal cages at least once a week, including all of our fish tanks.
You've made it sound as though all pet stores are horrible places, which is not the case. I agree there are a lot of bad places out there, but you can usually judge whether or not a store has quality care just by walking in and checking out a few of the habitats.
You heritage is Wonderfull and when you leave our world from that moment you will live for ever in the heart of the world.
Thank you Irwin for your life
If at all possible, go with a good breeder. Some pet stores are better than others, but generally dont provide quality, healthy animals. peace
I'm actually looking to buy a young, healthy, normal ball python, but I'm a bit paranoid about all the things you have mentioned above. It wasn't you, I've found all this information through other sites and it's got me worried about my future baby dying.
However, the site you have me linked too says it's sold out of Normal Ball Pythons. You're site has got be a bit confused and I want to make sure I'm getting a healthy snake.
If you could please e-mail me back with some more information, like when you will have normal young ball pythons to sell, I'd be absolutely ecstatic to hear from you.
see you soon
good luck finding them.
In the pet store trade, there are three classifications for where a snake comes from:
"Wild Caught" is exactly what it says it is - the snake has been captured and collected from the wild.
"Captive Hatched" can mean one of two things - either eggs were taken from a nest in the wild, or a gravid female was collected from the wild. Then the eggs were hatched in captivity.
And then there's "Captive Bred". One might think this means that the snake comes from a line of captive snakes that have been bred in captivity for generations like reputable breeders do. Sadly "Captive Bred" usually means something else when it comes to wholesalers, and therefore to pet stores (although I doubt most pet store employees are aware of this). "Captive Bred" in this case actually means that the snakes were bred on a farm in Africa and then collected and imported to the US.
All three categories might as well just be considered "Wild Caught".
Get your snake from a reputable breeder, not a pet store! Nearly all pet stores, even the "good ones" who do take care of their animal STILL get their ball pythons from big wholesale suppliers.
WC- Wild Caught
LTC- Long Term Captive
RB- Ranch Bred/Farm Raised
CB- Captive Born (ask for clarification from seller)
CBCB or CBB - Captive Bred Captive Born (parents bred here, litter born here and is often shortened to CB)
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