Can Ball Pythons Swim? Ball Pythons’ Water Requirements

Ball Pythons are exceptionally versatile creatures. And they can survive in almost every terrain; from the dry forests of Savannah to rainforest patches and swampy areas around the Nile.

They are ground-dwelling in nature but you might have come across your ball python soaking comfortably in shallow waters. Therefore, many Python parents have this common query; can ball pythons swim? 

Yes, ball pythons can swim but they are not exceptional swimmers. They will only swim in extreme circumstances, to escape predators. Otherwise, they mostly like to soak in shallow water as it helps them to hydrate and cool down. Therefore, there must be a facility for shallow water in their terrariums. 

These snakes have some wonderful water habits that every python parent must know! Here is an in-depth guide to ball pythons’ water habits. 

Do Ball Pythons Naturally Need Water? 

can ball pythons swim

Ball Pythons are naturally tropical creatures that thrive the best in humid climates. The hot and humid climate of the Savannahs is the most appropriate for these snakes. 

So, when it comes to water, ball pythons do need it to perform various bodily functions.

In their natural habitat, you can find ball pythons soaking in the water. You will find them close to a water body so that they can take a leisurely dip whenever need be. 

Ball Pythons Love Soaking!

Ball Python Soaking

Spotting a ball python in a swamp shouldn’t surprise you because it is their comfort spot. After a good soak in the water, they like to rest on rocks.

Even though ball pythons love soaking, it is only needed in moderation. You wouldn’t find ball pythons in water all the time as they are terrestrial creatures. And when it comes to swimming, they cannot swim for long because they only have two lungs and their respiration works like humans. 

Just a little soaking every day will help them to hydrate and regulate their body temperatures. This gives them a respite from the extreme heat in the wild. 

Editor’s Note
Just like other snakes, ball pythons also soak water through their skin. So, in a way, soaking is like drinking water for them. This helps them to stay hydrated.

Watch this video to know all about ball pythons’ soaking habits:

Reasons Why Ball Pythons Go in Water

ball python soaking in water

To Regulate Body Temperature

Water is essentially a great coolant for animals. And even terrestrial creatures like snakes, including ball pythons, require water to beat the heat!

If you have a ball python at home, you must install a water tub in their terrarium. They can soak in the water whenever they need to cool down. 

To Maintain Hydration 

Unlike us, snakes do not drink water per se. Their hydration is mainly dependent on their environment. 

Ball pythons naturally come from hot and humid areas of West and Central Africa and therefore, the way their hydration works is by soaking moisture from the air and water. 

A lot of their water requirement is taken care of by their regular dips in the water. Their skin is a brilliant absorbent and can soak water through the skin. 

Editor’s Note
The large surface area of one of the longest snakes in the world; the ball python, can absorb ample water. 

To Keep Themselves Mites-Free 

Water can be a great life saber for ball pythons when they are infected with mites. Just by soaking in the water for a while, can help them with all the pain and discomfort caused due to the parasites. 

If you find your pet soaking in the water for unusually long and there are some clear signs of discomfort, you should notice the signs. It might be a case of parasite infection. 

Being in water naturally helps them to relieve the pain and will eventually treat the infection if the case is mild. However, if the case is severe, it may not go away on its own and it will probably require medical intervention. 

To Evade Predators 

Water is a true savior for ball pythons in all senses. Even in times of danger, swimming in water can help ball pythons escape their predators. 

Predators like hyenas, leopards, and birds prey on ball pythons, and therefore the best place to hide for them is underwaters. 

This is the only time the pythons would prefer to swim. And that too, they cannot do it for longer. Just to escape their predators, they will take a nice dive to hide. Otherwise, they prefer soaking. 

Can Ball Pythons Drown? 

ball python swimming

Ball Pythons are just like us when it comes to breathing. They cannot stay in water for too long. 

They have two lungs like humans and their air-bearing capacity is also limited. So, a ball python can stay immersed in water only for a short period. You won’t find a ball python swimming for an unusually long duration, because they cannot.

Therefore, ball pythons only swim when they have to seek refuge. Otherwise, they will prefer shallow water where they can breathe conveniently. 

How Much Water Should You Keep in Ball Python’s Enclosure? 

For the ball python’s enclosure, there should be a provision for a tub where they can soak whenever they feel like it.

This is extremely important for ball pythons because without soaking, they won’t be able to maintain their body temperature and will eventually become dehydrated. 

Soaking moisture from the environment and water bodies is one of the most crucial body mechanisms for snakes without which, they cannot thrive. 

You do not have to install a large-sized tank as ball pythons don’t prefer a deep tank. Instead, you just have to provide a shallow water dish, in which they can immerse themselves comfortably and soak as much as they want. 

Editor’s Note
Make sure the dish is sufficiently big for the snake to coil itself into. If the size of the dish is too small, it won’t be able to fit inside it, as the ball pythons are quite long.

Effects of Dehydration on Ball Pythons 

dehydrated ball python

If there isn’t sufficient water and humidity in the ball python’s enclosure, then there are a plethora of problems awaiting your pet, such as: 

  • Cracked scales due to loss of moisture
  • Loss of skin elasticity 
  • Difficulty in shedding 
  • Sunken eyes
  • Difficulty in the regulation of body temperature 
  • Dry mouth and tongue
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Kidney and heart failure in extreme cases

How to Maintain Humidity Levels in the Tank

ball python enclosure with enough humidity

If a ball python is in the wild, it can fulfill its water requirements somehow. But, if the ball python is in captivity, then you should ensure that it gets sufficient water. 

One of the best ways to keep your snakes hydrated is by providing moisture through the environment. As more than 50% of a snake’s water requirements are fulfilled by soaking moisture through the skin. 

Here are some ways of maintaining the humidity levels in a ball python’s enclosure up to the mark: 

  • Humidifiers – Using humidifiers will keep your pythons well hydrated. And will maintain humidity levels in the tank as per the requirement. 
  • Spraying – You can spray some water in the enclosure to increase the humidity levels in the tank naturally. 
  • Put a hot water bowl in the warm areas of the enclosure – The evaporated water will keep the enclosure humid. 
  • Absorbent Bedding Absorbent bedding will provide enough moisture to the snake throughout the day and will also keep the snake’s body cool. 
  • Moving water sources – The moving water sources like an artificial waterfall will evaporate and increase the humidity levels in the tank. 


How Often Should Ball Pythons Soak? 

Ball pythons should soak at least twice a week. This will maintain their hydration to an appropriate level and will also help in shedding. However, that doesn’t mean it is fixed. Every snake has a different requirement at different times. For example, a ball python may want to soak more frequently during summer and it may not want to soak at all if the temperatures are relatively low. 

How Long Do Ball Pythons Soak? 

Ball pythons, on average, soak for 15 minutes or so. If they want to be more leisurely, they can soak for even longer. If you install a water tub in your snake’s enclosure, you can expect your pet python to soak comfortably whenever they feel like it. Sometimes, they might soak for unusually long, but that shouldn’t bother you as the snake would be shedding its skin. 

Summing Up

Conclusively, ball pythons are not great swimmers. They cannot swim for long and therefore they do not prefer it. 

A ball python would only swim when it has to escape a predator like a hyena or a leopard. 

However, soaking in shallow water is one of the most crucial activities for snakes, including ball pythons, as it helps them to stay hydrated. 

Therefore, if you have a pet ball python at home, make sure you install a water tub for it so that it can soak whenever need to be! 

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