How to Handle a Ball Python for The First Time?

Ball pythons are generally considered to be easy to handle. But mishandling can cause them stress and lash out on you. This is why some first-time ball python owners face problems during the first few months after getting their ball python. So, the question at hand is, how to handle a ball python for the first time?

There are several things to know about handling a ball python if it’s your first time. Starting from when it is appropriate to handle him to how you should handle him. For example- the smart choice is to not handle him before and after a meal and to hold him by his middle two-third part with two hands. Just like these, there are a couple more tactics that you should know.

In this article, I am going to talk about how you should handle your ball python a bit more in depth. This is very important information for those new to handling pythons. So, make sure you read till the end to get some proper idea on handling ball pythons.  

how to handle a ball python for the first time

Handling A Ball Python for the First Time

As mentioned earlier, ball pythons are very easy to handle but there are some things that you should know if it is your first time handling a ball python. Such as- the temperature they should be kept in, or how often they should be handled, or what are the safety measures that need to be taken, etc.

Now, let’s talk about some of the most important things that you should keep in mind if it is your first-time having a ball python as a pet.

> Provide Sufficient Adjustment Period

It is important to know that transportation is always stressful for ball pythons just like any other animal. So, when you bring your ball python home, make sure you are giving him enough time to settle down. It is better to not handle your ball python for the first few days to let him get adjusted to his surroundings.

To make your ball python feel at home, provide him with at least one hiding place if not more. Because ball pythons are very shy animals. They tend to hide a lot in the wild and this privilege should be given to them even in captivity for letting them adjust more easily. So, for the first few days, just make sure your ball python is getting fresh water and enough time to settle down.

> Holding for The First Time

Handling your ball python for the first time may seem tricky at first if you don’t know that ball pythons are head shy. By the term head shy, I mean, if you try to pick your ball python up by his head, there’s a possibility that he will turn himself into a ball or he’ll flinch backward. So, it is important to know the technique of handling your ball python.

how to handle a ball python

To avoid causing this kind of stress for your ball python, make sure to handle him by picking up the middle part of his body. Because this way you’ll be able to handle him more easily without making him feel stressed. So, make sure you keep your hands away from your ball python’s head at all times.

Also, make sure to provide him with proper support with both of your hands so that he doesn’t dangle. Grasp the middle two-thirds of your ball python’s body to give him proper support with the freedom of letting him move as well.

> Handling Concerning Feeding

It is also important to avoid handling them before and after their meal so that you don’t cause them stress. If you handle your ball python before their meal, they might not eat at all. Therefore, the day you plan on feeding your ball python, avoid handling them.

Also, avoid handling your ball python at least 2 days after he has had his meal. Because handling too much in a short period after his meal may cause him to vomit and also may result in him showing aggressive behavior and having digestion problems. Because too much handling is known to cause stress for ball pythons.

> Wash & Sanitize Your Hands

Another important thing to be aware of is that washing your hands and sanitizing them is very important before handling your ball python. This is very important due to two facts. First is, as they find prey using smell and heat sensing, sanitizing will make your hands smell inedible. Otherwise, the smell of your hands may confuse them and they might confuse your hands as food.

Another fact is that washing and sanitizing your hands will also protect your ball python from infections. Therefore, it is a must as these parasites can cause serious illness and stress for your ball python.

> Avoid Sneaking Upon Him

Make sure that your ball python sees you coming to pick him up. Don’t just go and sneak up on him as this may cause him to panic and make him agitated resulting in his discomfort. This sneaking up may also cause you to get bitten by your ball python.

Therefore, it is important that your ball python doesn’t get startled and that he is aware of you reaching out to pick him up before you actually do so. To make sure you are not sneaking upon him do the below-mentioned steps accordingly-

  • First, gently touch the back of your ball python while your ball python is in the enclosure as that’s where he feels the safest. This way he will know that you are there and you are planning to pick him up and won’t be startled when you do so.
  • After that slowly and confidently reach the middle part of his body and using your both hands pick him up deliberately. If you hesitate while picking him up, it will irritate him and cause difficulty later on.

This way, you can pick your ball python up with ease and without causing him to startle.

> Avoid Handling During Shedding

Shedding is a common thing that occurs multiple times throughout a ball python’s life. Younger ball pythons shed more frequently than the older ones. You must avoid handling your ball python during his shedding period. Because during this time, ball pythons prefer to be by themselves.

To know if they are shedding, look for the signs like if the scales of your ball python is looking dull, or if the eyes are starting to look blue or milky. During this time your ball python may spend his entire time hiding and may avoid eating. If so, leave your ball python alone and refrain from handling him until he is doing shedding his skin completely.

Ways of Handling Aggressive Ball Pythons

The above-mentioned tactics are the guidelines for handling a relatively less aggressive ball python. But what should you do if your ball python is aggressive? For the most part I’d recommend you to not bother an aggressive snake. But there are scenarios when that might be necessary. Like taking the snake to a vet or cleaning its cage.

ball python suddenly aggressive

In that case, you’ll need a proper snake hook. This will help you handle your aggressive ball python more easily. Using a snake hook you can easily pull the snake out of its hiding place and keep their head away from your hands.

I use the DocSeward Snake Hook for handling my snakes. It’s pretty well built and has a nice comfortable handle that I really like.

Also, if you are scared of reaching out to your snake with naked hands then you can also buy the RAPICCA Animal Handling Gloves. This will protect you if your snake ever decides to bite you. Ball pythons have 100 small teeth curving inwards. And a bite can be pretty painful. So, it’s best to glove while handling a python with temperament issues.

Here’s a video that beautifully explains how you can use a snake hook to distract and pick-up aversive pythons. Of course, he didn’t use ball pythons but the method is basically the same. So, make sure you give this a look if you have an aggressive ball python.


Knowing the proper handling techniques, you can easily handle ball pythons. They are mostly great at withstanding handling which makes it an even easier process. But on the off chance that you python is not that into handling you should keep your hands off of them and only use a hook when it is necessary.

In this article, I have given you enough information on how to handle a ball python for the first time. I hope this article was able to answer all your queries and wish you the best of luck with handling your first ball python. Thanks for reading till the end. Have a great day.