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Can Ball Pythons Swim? And Do They Like It?

Bumblebee Ball Python outside

If you know anything at all about snakes, you know they can live just about anywhere in the world. Snakes can live in meadows, forests, deserts, woodlands—and even water. They are very versatile creatures that can endure some pretty exciting challenges.

Ball pythons are very common among snake keepers. These delightful beauties are easy to keep, with relaxed personalities and adaptive attributes. So, you might wonder—do ball pythons ever like to take a dip in the water? The answer is, yes, they can swim, but they’d rather soak. Let’s take a closer look at a python’s swimming preferences.

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Ball Python Natural Habitat

ball python lying on a tree
Image Credit by BikerPhoto, Shutterstock

Ball pythons are native to the sub-Saharan part of Africa, just north of the equator. They inhabit grasslands, savannas, and open forests, needing coverage to hide from predators.

Ball pythons aren’t as shy as you might think, however. They also love hiding in industrialized areas like plantations and farms, as they have plentiful resources, including food, water, and places to hide.

Do Ball Pythons Get into Water in Nature?

Ball pythons, like any other creature, need water to survive. Surprisingly, you can mostly find these snakes beside open water. Ball pythons use these natural water resources to maintain the correct body temperature.

These snakes are tropical reptiles enjoying the sultry, humid atmospheres that come with the territory. So, they love taking a little soak and then basking on a rock.

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Water Is Important for Snake Care

When you set up your python’s environment, the humidity gauge—also known as the hydrometer—monitors the humidity level in the enclosure. Your snake also needs access to fresh water at all times.

If your snake lacks proper hydration, it can cause many issues. If they lack a water source, they can have trouble shedding or suffer other health issues as a consequence.

If you notice that your ball python is shedding in pieces and not one solid skin, you might need to closely monitor the humidity in the enclosure because they likely aren’t getting enough.

Humidity Levels

A ball python should live with humidity levels between 50 and 60 percent. Their respiratory systems need to function appropriately—not to mention it helps keep their scales healthy.

Misting Your Ball Python

Water is exceptionally healthy for your snake’s scales. It keeps their exterior supple and movable. They can also shed easily when that time comes.

Ball pythons need a moist substrate as well. Some water-retaining substrates for ball pythons include:

  • Coconut husk
  • Reptile bark
  • Cypress mulch

Some ball pythons might be picky about their substrate, but these types will soak up the water, keeping the humidity. A gentle daily misting can keep things in order.

Allowing Your Ball Python to Soak

Ball pythons absolutely love to soak in water. If you have a big enough water bowl, you might have seen them curled up inside a few times. One fascinating fact about ball pythons, and all snakes for that matter, is that they can absorb water through their skin.

So, even though it might not seem like you see them drinking often, soaking is essentially the same thing for water absorption.

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Water for Ball Pythons

When you give your snake water to drink or soak in, you need to make sure it’s totally safe. For best results, only offer bottled or spring water to your snake. Tap water can have chemical compounds like chlorine that can be very dangerous for your snake.

You should also avoid giving your snake distilled water since it lacks many necessary minerals.

Can Ball Pythons Actually Swim?

Python in the water
Image Credit: Heiko Kiera, Shutterstock

So, we’ve summed up that ball pythons can soak in water. In the wild, they prefer to stay by a water source so they have direct access to that very thing.

And yes, it’s true—a ball python can swim. However, they only do so out of necessity and not as a leisurely activity. There is no reason to fill up a tub, they need just a little relaxing water, usually no deeper and an inch or so.

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Final Thoughts

Ball pythons not only like water—they absolutely require it on land and in the air to survive efficiently. So, even though your ball python won’t want to swim through deep waters, they do enjoy a good bowl soak. You could give them their own area to wade and sunbathe and mist them daily.

Always make sure to check humidity and other factors in the cage to help your python stay nice and cozy.


Featured Image Credit: Ryan M. Bolton, Shutterstock

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