What Is The Best Ball Python Substrate?

There are a couple of substrates that will serve your ball python’s enclosure well. However, the ideal one should be the one that the ball python will find appealing, comfortable, and safe.

Ball pythons, as is agreed upon, require an environment with lower and ambient humidity levels. You will find safe substrates that are pocket friendly in pet stores and online markets. Whichever you pick, ensure that it will work well for your ball python.

In this article, you will be acquainted with all the details of some ball python substrates. If you stick around till the end, you will have the confidence you need to get the best substrate.

What Should I Look At When Buying A Ball Python Substrate?

Before you explore the available options, it is essential to look at the consideration to make. This section will look at the variables that will guide the rest of the article. The variable will be used to compare the top best substrates. After going through, then you will make the most informed choice to serve your pet python well.

Variable One: Water Retention And Power And The Humidity Effect

So, what are the roots of the ball pythons? Research has it that ball pythons are native to the grasslands and forests of Africa. These regions always have medium to high humidity levels. The substrate you pick should affect the level of humidity without making the snake feel uncomfortable.

Variable Two: The Burrowing Habit Of The Ball Python

Although uncommon, you will find ball pythons enjoying excavating and burrowing in their substrate. If the substrate you pick is loose, it will give the captive snake (*sorry*) an enriched life.

Variable Three: Parasitic & Fungal Risk

The skin of your ball python is rich and can serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner to mites. It would be unfair to choose a substrate that will bring in itchy mites or encourage mold growth if the environment in the enclosure is of high humidity.

Variable Four: Cost

For many people, the willingness and unwillingness to go deeper into their pockets is a big contest. Once you get an appropriate substrate, you will need to meet the cost attached. To get rewarded for each dollar you spend, invest in quality.

Variable Five: Ease Or Hardness of Cleaning

You will be cleaning the enclosure from time to time. So, it would help if you chose something that will not make the tidying a tedious process.

Variable Six: Buying Convenience

The more straightforward options will always be easy to get – they will be there at the grocery stores. Complex (and, although arguable, better) options may need you to take a trip to a special shop. The others, well, will require the tap of a button on an online store.

Variable Seven: Visual Impressiveness (Or Aesthetics For Short)

Depending on how you prefer things, you may or may not care about the enclosure’s overall look. Different substrate options give different outlooks, which depends on what you want to keep seeing.

Variable Eight: Substrate Ingestion Risk

The ball python will be ready to eat on whatever substrate you bring along. So, do you want a substrate that may prove fatal if ingested by your python – I guess no. You can choose between one that is of minimum risk and no risk at all.

Now that we’ve got the variables in place, why don’t we look at the substrates one by one? Let’s go!

The Review Section: The Four Best Options For Ball Python Substrates

Remember, the eight variables are the criterion to judge the options for ball python substrates. You will see how the options differ from each other. Best believe that you will not make a misstep in this read. You will discover the nitty-gritty details of some substrates and how they outshine or get outshined by others.

Option One: Coconut Husk

In the market, this substrate goes by the name ‘coco husk,’ and those who make it use chopped bits of shells from the coconut fruit. Among the many, people consider coconut husk as the best ball python substrate. Also, it is a good one that serves reptile and amphibian species in the tropics.

VariableCommentApproval Rating (Yay-yay, Yay, Nay Or Nay-Nay)
HumidityThis substrate can take in large water amounts. So, if the environment is highly humid, coconut husk will drastically deal with the situation.Yay-yay
BurrowingSince the substrate comes in large chunks of husks, it isn’t the ideal substrate for your python to burrow.Nay
Mites, Parasites, and FungiNatural, every coconut product is antimicrobial. This means that the husks will resist fungus and mold growth. From time to time, this substrate type will stop mites from itching the python’s skin.Yay-yay
CostUnfortunately, coconut husks are among the most expensive options. Typically, it will cost you up to $30 to get a large bag.Nay
CleaningSince the coconut husks are in large chunks, it is easy to remove your python’s waste. The only caveat is that the husks are darkened, and you may miss some waste. But, the substrate absorbs foul odors excellently.Yay
BuyingYou can get a bag of the husks at a reptile specialty shop or your local pet store. The product is not sold by weight but by volume, and it is neither heavy nor dense.Yay
AestheticsThe husks have a lovely and natural look, and the bedding they form looks beautiful.Yay-yay
Ingestion RiskUnfortunately, your ball python may experience impaction if they accidentally ingest the husks. This is because they are in large chunks.Nay-nay
TakeawaysIt is easy to work with this substrate, and it is probably the best readily-available substrate for your ball python.

Option Two: Bio-Active Soil

In the ever-growing world of herpetoculture, bio-active soil is one of the fascinating entries. And of course, they enter with a good reason. Bio-active soil is a substrate that offers limitless enrichment opportunities. It makes the enclosure look like a beautiful landscape, and it provides your ball python with all the naturalness it needs.

VariableCommentApproval Rating
HumidityThis formulation of this soil works to hold moisture as well as maintain the needed levels of humidity. Occasionally, the substrate will require misting.Yay-yay
BurrowingSince it is a pseudo-soil, the bedding is the most perfect. It will allow your python to burrow as if she is out in the wild.Yay-yay
Mites, Parasites, and FungiThere are beneficial organisms in the substrate. With proper maintenance, the organism will take care of any microorganisms that are not welcomed.Yay
CostSetting up the bedding will cost you something between $50 and $100. But this isn’t such a scary figure since you may never need it replaced, that is if things go smoothly. Also, you can save some money if you take it up as a DIY.Yay
CleaningThe life in the soil (the beneficial organisms) will take care of the cleanliness issue – including your python’s shed skin and waste material.Yay-yay
BuyingFrom a specialty shop (bio-active terrariums), you can get a pre-made mix. The other alternative is that you research how to do it (DIY) and get all the components you need from a garden supply store.Yay
AestheticsOf all the options, this bio-active thing is the one that looks most natural. Since you can utilize live plants on the soil, you can create a mini-habitat for your ball python.Yay-yay
Ingestion RiskThe risk of your ball python ingesting the substrate is ever-represent. However, the impaction risk depends on the chunkiness of your substrate mixture.Yay
TakeawaysOn paper, you and I can agree that everything about this substrate sounds fantastic. The problem is that pet parents need to learn about it. If you have the patience and time, this option will serve you well.

Option Three: Coconut Fiber

This substrate, which is also known as coconut coir, is a product of grounding coconut shells into their fine form. So, it creates a sort-a soil that can be light or dense and fluffy at the same time. However, the fluffiness is dependent on its moisture levels.

VariableCommentApproval Rating
HumidityIf your focus is on this variable, know that this substrate is the best. It retains moisture excellent and maintains humidity levels.Yay
BurrowingCoconut fiber is excellent for burrowing since it is very soil-like.Yay
Mites, Parasites, and FungiThe substrate is dense. Thus, it will limit the flow of air. Also, there is a slight mold-development risk when you use this substrate. To reduce this risk, you should frequently turn and aerate the fiber. This will allow the substrate to dry out occasionally. Also, coconut has been reported to have antifungal properties.Yay
CostThe loose kind of coco fiber is priced between $10 and $20 for the large bag. If you get the compressed coco-fiber bricks, they will even be more affordable.Yay
CleaningTo identify the piece of the soiled substrate is rather challenging, and so is spot-cleaning it adequately. You may need to completely change the substrate, but that is no small task because of its soil-like nature. The substrate will stick notoriously to anything wet.Nay-nay
BuyingYou can either get this bedding from an online pet store or a brick-and-mortar shop.Yay
AestheticsThe look of coconut coir is the same as that of dirt. While the substrate may not be the most beautiful, it will give the enclosure a natural appearance. This feature appeals to many owners of ball pythons.Yay
Ingestion RiskSince the fiber particles are small-sized, there is a high chance for your ball python to ingest the substrate. However, they will be very little impaction.Yay
TakeawaysAre you prioritizing the maintenance of the humidity level? If yes, then this substrate is an excellent choice for you. Also, your ball python will burrow with ease. The only caveat is that the substrate will not be easy to clean. Also, if there is little maintenance, the coconut fiber is likely to developed mold.

Option Four: Cypress Mulch

At face value, cypress mulch is like any other type of mulch – the kind you see or use in landscaping and gardening. What makes up cypress mulch is chunks of cypress bark and wood that has been grounded.

VariableCommentApproval Rating
HumidityOf the many substrates on this list, cypress mulch is exceptional in humidity maintenance. Once you pick it straight out of the bag, the substrate is already humid and moist. It will eventually dry out – which is not much of a problem since you can inject some misting every couple of days.Yay
BurrowingSince the substrate comes in large chunks, it is not among the best, and your ball python won’t like burrowing in it.Nay-nay
Mites, Parasites, and FungiCypress natural resists fungus and mold growth and is antimicrobial. Retailers and wholesalers sell it in sealed bags, thus creating a high moisture environment. This helps mites stay away, and usually, the arthropods do not stow away in the storage bags.Yay-yay
CostThe cost of cypress mulch is the same as that of coconut husk, that is, between $15 and $30 a bag. If you get it from garden supply stores, you will get it for much less.Yay
CleaningIt can be challenging to spot-clean the contaminated substrate and even harder to know when your snake does ‘big’ things. The only advantage is that cypress mulch will resist bacterial growth. Also, it is an excellent odor-absorption material.Yay
BuyingYou can get this product from an online shop, a garden shop, or a pet shop. Compared to coconut fiber, cypress mulch is heavier because of its moisture content.Yay
AestheticsThe wood pieces are attractive, and they will create a naturally gorgeous terrain for your pet.Yay
Ingestion RiskSome cypress mulch pieces are sharp, so there is a likelihood of accidental ingestion that may cause impaction. More fatally, the pieces may cause perforation of your pet’s digestive tract. To eliminate the risk, feed your ball python using a paper towel.Nay-nay
TakeawaysCypress mulch is a great option, but the one caveat it has is what makes it number four.

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