Ball pythons are very popular pet snakes, but they are also among the best at escaping their enclosures. Some of this is due to the fact that they are extremely strong for their size, and some of it is because the average ball python pet owner is a novice snake owner. Novice snake owners will not expect a ball python to be capable of escaping from their enclosure and will often underestimate their pet. Once the ball python escapes their enclosure, the clock is ticking for them to be found. Here are some tips on how to find your pet ball python once they have escaped their enclosure.
The first thing to remember is that the ball python will be drawn to warmth. Just as you need to add a heat source to their enclosure when you set up their cage, you should know that they will naturally seek out a warm place as well. This source is often electrical in nature. Common attractions would be television sets, stereo equipment and anything that emanates regular heat without being overtly hot. Underneath the television set is ideal because of the heat factor as well as the hiding spot.
Ball pythons often will hide out in plain sight, but blend in with their surroundings. Do not overlook looking in places simply because they seem too obvious. If the snake is warm and has a feeling of blending in, they will not hesitate to hide in plain sight. Check the obvious places as well as the not so obvious.
Remember that a ball python is like any other snake in that they will eventually need water. Once they are loose from their cage, they will eventually seek out a source of water. Ball pythons have been found in plumbing, sinks, under sinks, bathtubs and yes, even the toilet. These are not necessarily bad places to begin your search because once the ball python makes their way into the pipes, you have a real pet (and environmental) challenge on your hands.
Just as a ball python will seek out a water source, they will also eventually seek out food. If they are stressed, they may not eat at all which means death eventually. Most healthy ball pythons are going to go looking for food if they are hungry though. This does not mean that your pet ball python is going to go after the family pet or your own neck.
Ball pythons are actually relatively small in the python world. They usually do not get big enough to be any kind of threat to humans. In a crazy world it could possibly strangle a newborn baby or completely incapacitated old person, but that is so remote that it barely affords mentioning. Ball pythons are not killers and are generally harmless snakes. They do hurt like crazy when they bite, but they are not going to kill someone.
To hunt down your ball python, many people will leave some food source out in the open. The python will smell the food at some point and come looking. It takes a patient and dedicated owner to leave a mouse out in the open of their home, but it is necessary if you took on the responsibility of the snake in the first place. Containing the mouse in some way while still leaving an avenue in for the snake is a good idea.
Most ball pythons are more active at night, so using a flashlight is not a bad idea to find them either. Get out the flashlight at night and check the nooks and crannies of your home. Sometimes a ball python will go outside of the home given the chance or the avenue, but most of the time you can find them right in the home they lived in. Do not give up the search simply because you did not find them right away. It sometimes takes time to ferret them out.
Melissa Kaplan, “Finding Escaped Snakes in the House”, anapsid.org
“Troubleshooting Guide to Ball Pythons”, kingsnake.com