Yes, you can keep more than one ball python in the same cage together but the better question is “Should I keep more than one ball python in the same cage?” The short answer is “No, you should not keep them together but house them separately”.
They say that once you get one ball python, you start to develop a strong desire to get another one. I think there is some truth to this because I too had that “itch” not too long after I acquired my first ball python many years ago. I guess I didn’t scratch the itch hard enough because now I have a very large collection of ball pythons as you’re probably already aware of but that’s a different story for a different day. I must admit, though, that I kept more than one ball python in the same cage during my early years of keeping ball pythons but I learned early on why they shouldn’t be kept together and so I share this information with you as well so you’ll learn what other ball python breeders and I have learned over the years and won't make the same foolish mistakes we made.
Ball Pythons are Solitary Creatures
A female ball python will coil herself around her eggs for upwards of sixty-days or more while the embryos in the eggs are developing and forming into hatchling ball pythons. Eggshells start to become very pliable and soft to help the baby ball python makes its escape from the egg just prior to hatching. Once they emerge from their cocoon, they observe the terrain by flicking their tongues and then crawl away from the nest site, oftentimes never to see their mother or siblings again. Ball pythons are solitary creatures from birth unlike other animals that thrive in a "community-based" environment.
When you place two ball pythons in the same cage with each other, they will often lay atop each other. This might seem cute or appear as if they’re showing each other affection but they’re not. In fact, it’s well believed that this behavior is a form of one trying to be more dominant over the others. I’ve observed that ball pythons may sometimes stop feeding if they’re housed with other ball pythons.
Not only are dominance and non-feeding factors an issue, there’s really no way to tell if a particular ball python is defecating and urinating regularly. Yes, you may see feces and urates in the cage but you have no idea which animal was responsible for it. What if one of the ball pythons had a blockage due to impaction (foreign object lodged in the digestive tract), the only way you would know that it wasn’t going to the bathroom regularly is if you looked into the cage one day and noticed it on its back, dead.
If you choose to house them together, feed them separately. Do not place a food item (especially a live food item) in the same cage with more than one ball python. I've learned first hand what can happen when two ball pythons go after the same rodent. I've also had to untie a pair of ball pythons from each other because they both attempted to grab the food item, only to miss and grab the other while constricting the cage mate as it struggled for air. Again, if you house them together, remove one ball python, feed it and then return it to the tank and follow this step for each ball python that's in the same tank.
You should never and I repeat strongly, NEVER put a new ball python into the same cage with a ball python you’ve had for a while. The new ball python could be sick already and transmit its illness to your established ball python (or visa versa). It could also come with ticks and mites that will gladly welcome and make no hesitation to introduce themselves “up close and personal” with the other ball python. You should quarantine any new ball pythons and keep them far away from your existing animals.
Adult male ball pythons will often fight or combat with each other during the breeding season. Combats are generally non-fatal but there are exceptions to this rule so that’s another reason why you should not keep them together because your ball pythons could be the exception and result in one of them being killed.
When to House Ball Pythons Together
No, I’m not schizophrenic with this heading despite the fact that I’ve shared with you some examples of why you should not house ball pythons together. There are times when you need to house ball pythons together and that is during the breeding season. Astute breeders will oftentimes house two adult males together deliberately in order to get them to combat each other. Combating seems to raise their testosterone levels and make them more receptive to breeding females. And of course, you can't produce babies without keeping an adult male and female ball python together.
The bottom-line is that if you’re not breeding ball pythons during the breeding season, keep them apart. Yes, they can be housed together and thrive in this environment but keep in mind what can also occur as outlined above.
Feel free to discuss this topic further in our ball python forum.
The arsehole at the shop gave us a wood based substrate to house her on and reading some of the facts online has led me to believe she died of impaction. If this is the case, my fist will be striking the store owner a lot harder than ruby could have struck him. We have a berded bragon from a hatchling and I have worked with snakes but never kept one.
We followed all the rules and advise from the many unknown friends online and now we are looking at each other wondering why? The thought of this baby dying in pain while we were not here to help pisses me off and I need answers before I act irrationaly.
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