Just line all other snakes, ball pythons swallow their prey whole. And if you own a ball python, you’ve probably seen it too. On top of that, ball pythons don’t have fangs like cobras as they are non-venomous. So, it might seem like they have no use for teeth. And that is why so many people wonder whether or not do ball pythons have teeth.
Yes, ball pythons have teeth! These appear as small, pointy pieces of bone poking out from the roof and floor of a snake’s mouth. In babies, these teeth are embedded in the gums. As the snake ages and grows larger, these teeth eventually change positions and rest in sockets on their jawbones.
Now that you know that ball pythons have teeth, you probably have loads of new questions related to that knowledge. Well, good for you, here I am going to cover a ton of topics considering ball python teeth. So, keep on reading.
How Many Teeth Do Ball Pythons Have?
The number of teeth a ball python has depends on the ball python’s size. The smallest snakes have 42 teeth, and snakes closer in size to an alligator will have around 200. Ball pythons usually sport 81-104 teeth in their mouths, but some specimens will sport more than 140.
The fangs fasten into the prey and cannot move independently. This is why it is so easy to remove them when the snake is shedding its skin. They do not have venom or poison in their mouth but rather use their fangs to hold onto prey and suffocate it.
The number of teeth a ball python has is usually an indication of its particular species, but it can also vary by the genetic makeup of the snake and age. A young ball python recently shed its skin will have far fewer teeth than an older snake.
This is because older snakes replace the fangs they are growing into when they are young with larger ones. As they grow older, their fangs keep growing as well.
How Do Ball Pythons Use Their Teeth?
Ball pythons use their teeth to kill and eat their prey. When the prey is small enough for them to swallow whole, ball pythons will use all of their teeth to drag the food in and push it down into their stomach completely whole.
The sharp teeth in a ball python’s lower jaw will be used as well as its tongue which also aids in swallowing bigger prey outside of its mouth.
While they don’t have venom, ball pythons use their teeth to grab onto their prey and kill them. For example, if a ball python is stalking a rat in the wild, it will use its sharp incisors to bite down on the skull of its prey when it senses that the rat is near death. The snake will then thrash about violently until the rat dies.
Do Ball Pythons Chew Their Food?
No ball pythons do not chew their food. To speak the truth, ball pythons don’t even have the right type of teeth (Molars) that different animals use to chew food. Their teeth are solely designed to grab hold off and reel in prey to swallow.
If you look closely the teeth of ball pythons are slightly curved towards the back and looks almost like a hook. And you can imagine that these teeth are designed to dig deep into flesh and grab onto them.
For chewing you need teeth with flat heads. Like the teeth at the back of your mouth. Ball pythons don’t have them. So, you can say that ball pythons don’t chew on food. They directly swallow it and digest the food using their strong stomach acids over a long period of time.
Do Ball Pythons Lose Their Teeth?
Yes, ball pythons will lose their teeth multiple times throughout their life. And every time they will grow them back.
Baby ball pythons will gradually replace their tiny baby teeth with full adult teeth over time. But even after that the ball python will continuously lose its teeth. This is to ensure that it always has fully functional and healthy teeth. As these are a ball python most valuable asset.
Even if a ball python loses its teeth while catching prey, due to trauma or some other reason, it will grow some new ones easily.
Can Ball Pythons Bite You with Their Teeth?
Not, usually. It is because ball pythons are only designed to kill what they can swallow. And they definitely can’t swallow a human. But sometimes they might bite due to stress, mishandling or mistaking your hand as a small prey.
Baby ball pythons are often observed to bite owners. But their teeth are so small, that you won’t feel a thing. Maybe a little tickling sensation. Adult ball pythons almost never bite humans. But if you do something that causes the ball python stress it might lash out on you.
Also, moving your hand around in front of the snake can trigger its hunting instincts and cause it to bite you. This is similar to cats biting or pawing your hand if you wave it in front of their face. But, while they don’t bite to hurt you, your ball python will go for the kill. And it could be painful. Hand feeding ball pythons could also get your hand bitten. So, it is always best to use a feeding tong.
If you ever get bitten don’t pull away your hand as it might trigger the python to bite even harder. The ball python should stop biting soon as it realizes that the hand is too big to kill. Wash the area with soapy water then swab the areas with some type of an antiseptic. Visit your doctor if you are bleeding profusely.
Do Ball Pythons Get Dental Issues?
Ball pythons are usually not prone to many dental issues. As we’ve discussed before, they continuously shed their teeth. So, there’s not much chance for developing dental issues. But they can succumb to oral illnesses. Here are some of them:
Poor Mouth Tissue
If you examine your ball python’s mouth, you should be able to see a healthy pink color. This is important because the mouth tissue can turn white, brown, or similar in response to conditions such as poor diet or infections. If it turns this color, it’s time to take some action!
Poor diet is why many people find that their ball pythons have these oral issues. Most pythons are kept as pets and fed a diet not found in the wild. While there are some exceptions, the type of diet that most people feed their pythons is not natural.
There is too much fat, which causes the oral health to get worse over time. If the mouth tissue turns white or brown, you should call your veterinarian immediately. The skin is an important barrier between the outside world and the internal digestive system, so if the area is compromised, it can lead to problems.
Another illness that can occur is the scraping of teeth. This occurs when the mouth tissues are inflamed, sometimes when teeth are infected or have dental caries. Bacteria can damage the gums and skin, causing irritation, which shows up as scratching behavior by your ball python.
You must keep an eye on this symptom because it can signify serious oral health issues. If you suspect your ball python has trouble eating, keep an eye out for scraping behavior. You may catch the problem early on and be able to act before it goes too far.
Mouth rot is another deadly infectious oral disease affecting ball pythons. Mouth rot can cause significant weight loss and death, so it’s imperative to watch for the symptoms of this condition at all times.
It is caused by bacteria found in the natural environment. Stress and poor living conditions can increase an animal’s susceptibility to developing mouth rot.
Mouth rot also occurs because of a poor diet. Ball pythons are predatory creatures. So, they need to be fed a diet with high levels of protein and various vitamin and mineral supplements.
Ball pythons are a popular snake species that many pet owners find appealing because they are small and docile. However, if the question is- do ball pythons have teeth– the answer may surprise many. These particular snakes are well-known for the unique arrangement of teeth in their mouth, about which by now you have a very clear idea.
But don’t be alarmed about them harming you, your family or your pets. If you feed them well and manage their enclosure properly, there’s next to no chance of them ever lashing out.