Thank you for your question. Ball pythons require humidity levels between 40 – 60%. If your snake is shedding without any difficulties, then your humidity level is okay. You can purchase a reasonably priced hygrometer to determine the humidity level in your python’s enclosure and room. If the humidity in the room where you house your snake is below this and your snake is having problems shedding, there are several techniques you can utilize to achieve the ideal humidity level.
- Use an in-room humidifier that can be set to specific humidity level, so it turns off once the room reaches the desired humidity.
- If you use an under-tank heater, place a water bowl over this area. This will increase evaporation from the water bowl and increase humidity.
- Use a cage substrate that can assist with humidity, such as cypress mulch.
- If you are using an aquarium with a screen top, maintaining humidity inside the cage can be difficult, because the top of the cage is open. You can cover approximately 2/3rds of the screen top with a towel or piece of Plexiglas and this will help retain moisture in the enclosure. If you use heat lamps, don’t place any covering that could present a fire hazard in close proximity to the heat lamps.
- Provide a moisture box, which looks like you are utilizing based on your photographs. This can be a plastic box with a hole cut in the top, so the snake can come and go as it wishes. Partially fill the box with damp paper towels or cypress mulch.
The in-room humidifier is the easiest way to control the humidity, because it raises the humidity level in the whole room. If you try to control humidity by using a particular type of substrate, like cypress mulch, you have to make sure you don’t keep the substrate too damp/wet. This can lead to skin issues with your snake and problems with mold and fungus in the mulch.
An excellent reference for keeping and maintaining ball pythons is:
Barker, David and Barker, Tracy. (2006). Ball Pythons: Their History, Natural History, Care and Breeding. Boerne: VPI Library.
This book can be expensive to purchase. You may be able to borrow a copy from your public library through their interlibrary loan program.
I hope this answers your question, and thank you for contacting Ask an Expert.