It is alarming and stressful if your ball python goes missing and later finds out that your snake is stuck or hiding in the wrong place. What do you do in such a case?
Ball pythons can get stuck in their hide, enclosure’s sliding doors, adhesive inside the enclosure, wire or vines, enclosure’s lid, holes, reclining chair, the gap between the door and the floor, and under the toilet bowl. A stuck snake will show fast and squirming movements, its muscle will be tensed up, and it will breathe quickly and heavily.
Where do ball pythons get stuck or hide the most? Is there anything you can do to help your snake unstuck or come out? This depends on where they hide!
A Ball python may get stuck inside its hide if it has inappropriate designs, such as different holes, sharp edges, and small and uneven spaces inside.
Ball python hides are the most “stuck place” of ball pythons. Your ball python may get stuck to one of the holes or inside the hide because it has a design flaw, and it might be an inappropriate hide for your snake. Design flaws such as different small holes can “trap” your ball python.
You may want to replace your snake’s hide after (or even before) the incident and choose the safer and more appropriate hides for your ball pythons like this one from Amazon. Many cases have been reported where owners’ snakes got stuck in their fancy-looking hides that are not appropriate for snakes and ended up breaking the hide apart. A simple hide works better than a fancy-looking one with many holes, uneven spaces inside, and sharp edges that may put your snake in harm.
Be careful to not use a hide meant for another animal (for example turtle) for your snake. Indeed, the different body sizes can affect and put your ball python in danger.
Ball pythons may get stuck between the gaps of the enclosure’s sliding doors. Filling the gaps and leaving enough space just for the door panels to slide is recommended.
There are reported cases where their ball pythons always explore and get stuck between the gaps where the door slides. Once the snake’s head is trapped in the crevices, your ball python’s scales may prevent your snake from moving backward, resulting in getting stuck. Owners assist their snake to unstuck itself in this situation.
You can use hot glue like this from Amazon to fill the gaps but leave some space just enough for the door panels to slide open and close.
A ball python may get stuck to the sticky adhesive used inside its enclosure. Using sticky adhesive inside the snake’s enclosure is not recommended as it can damage the scales if the ball python gets in contact with it.
In this case, the ball python of an owner got stuck in the adhesive used to attach the analog hygrometer to the enclosure wall. After the snake detached the hygrometer, the ball python explored and later stuck its neck to the adhesive residue from the hygrometer.
It is not recommended to put any object inside your ball python’s enclosure that needs any sticky adhesive. It may result in your snake getting stuck to the adhesive residue.
You can replace the analog hygrometer with a digital one like this from Amazon. Digital hygrometers are proven to be more accurate in reading temperatures than analog ones.
Ball pythons may get entangled with cords or vine decorations inside their enclosure. Removing vines and placing the cable outside the enclosure must be done to prevent the snake from getting stuck with these objects.
If you are using vines as a decoration inside your ball python’s enclosure, you may want to remove them immediately as they may harm your snake once it gets entangled. These vines may choke your snake as it tries to free itself from being entwined with the vine. I have encountered many cases of snakes getting stuck with such decorations.
Your ball python may get stuck if a cord is lying inside the enclosure. Your ball python’s enclosure setup must not threaten your snake. In many years of keeping ball pythons, I have come across countless times with these cases where their ball pythons got entangled with the cord because they placed the wired probe of the thermostat inside their snakes’ enclosure.
Getting entangled is why many keepers recommend that the wired probe be placed under the snake’s enclosure between the under-tank heater (UTH).
A ball python may get stuck in its enclosure’s lid if the holes have a quarter-inch or more in diameter. The owner can replace the cover with smaller holes as it can prevent the snake from getting stuck.
Ball pythons are curious animals and might explore inside their enclosures. Ball pythons tend to extend their neck upwards and might discover an escape route when exploring. If the holes are large enough for the snake’s head to fit in, your ball python might get stuck if it can wedge its head between the screen lid.
Many owners claimed that their ball pythons got stuck because the enclosure’s cover had huge holes. A screen lid with quarter-inch holes is more than enough for a hatchling ball python to get stuck in. You may want to look for an enclosure lid like this on Amazon that has smaller holes as it may prevent your snake from getting stuck.
Ball pythons can get stuck in any object with holes, such as toys, consumer electronics, rings, etc. It is necessary to be careful when disassembling any item where a ball python can get stuck.
When my ball python escaped from its enclosure and went missing for a week, I noticed that the design of the speaker featured a hole in it. After trying to find my snake around the house, the thought of dismantling the possible objects where my snake was came to my mind, and I started with the speaker. As I unscrewed the speaker, I carefully opened it as the wirings might choke him.
A friend of mine told me about his ball python and the problem with a toy in the enclosure. The python got stuck as the toy has a hole in it. The owner decided to let the snake slither on top of his toys. The snake was injured and needed intensive medical attention.
Another case happened when a ball python had a ring tightly stuck in the middle part of its body. The poor ball python sustained a bad injury and has to skip feeding schedules for three weeks. This stuck case is suspicious as the ball python has a thick body, and the ring couldn’t “naturally” reach the snake’s thick middle body unless someone used force.
A ball python can get stuck in a reclining chair. When a snake is stuck in such an item, the owner must carefully disassemble it as the components shifting may hurt the pet.
One of the scariest places for you to find your snake stuck or hiding is a reclining chair, as its up and down movement mechanism might hurt your snake. This case happened when an owner’s ball python managed to go inside the small space under the reclining chair and stayed there for hours.
The owner laid the chair on its side and waited for his ball python to come out. The snake came out as soon as the owner decided to dismantle the chair.
A ball python can get stuck in the gap under the door if it manages to escape from the enclosure or the owner gets distracted. Using mineral oil can ease the snake’s movement if it gets stuck in tight spaces.
There is this one case that scares me the most. When an owner got distracted for a few seconds, he found his snake stuck in the gap between the floor and the door. The owner was able to unstick his snake without getting injured. He used mineral oil, lubricated his snake’s neck, and slowly moved the snake in a sideward direction towards the corner of the door.
A snake might hide under the toilet bowl as it may appear as a perfect hiding place for the snake. Offering food and a warm hide may entice the snake to leave the inappropriate hiding place.
A friend of mine I talked to before writing this article mentioned that she was very stressed when her snake escaped during the cleaning of the enclosure. Her snake decided to hide under the toilet bowl. It is one of the most challenging and stressful “stuck ball python” cases I have encountered.
The owner offered food, a warm hide, and even put an icebox around the toilet bowl. After many hours, the snake came out when the owner re-offered a new meal beside the warm hide.
A ball python can be considered hiding in a tight space if it is curled up, constantly breathing slowly, and has little to no movement.
If you see that your ball python turned itself into a “ball” and is not moving in a dark and narrow space, it can be considered just hiding. Slow and constant breathing, curled-up body, and slow or no movement are good signs that your snake is relaxing on its own. Ball pythons love to hide in dark, secluded, and tight spaces as it makes them feel secure.
A ball python is stuck if 1) it is in a fixed position for a very long time 2) it has fast and squirming movements 3) its muscle is tensed up and 4) has rapid and heavy breathing.
Your snake may exhibit these signs because your ball python is tired and stressed from trying to free itself from being stuck. Your stuck snake also knows that he is susceptible to the possible attacks from a predator, thus the fast movements.
What can you do if your snake is stuck? Continue reading as I share the possible ways to get your snakes coming out or getting unstuck.
The following can be done if a ball python is stuck or hiding in the wrong places:
- Don’t Panic
- Gently Stroke its Body
- Lure with Food
- Trick the Temperature
- Turn the Hide Upside Down
- Use Mineral Oil
- Mist with Lukewarm Water
- Wait for the Snake to Come Out
- Go to the Vet
- Slowly Break or Dismantle the Object
A stuck ball python may experience further stress if the owner is panicking and screaming.
If you realize that your snake is stuck, don’t panic. Just relax. You should be calm, especially in moments like this, to come up with a solution that may help your snake be unstuck. I encountered a case where an owner started to scream while getting his python unstuck.
Screaming in front of your stuck snake wouldn’t be helpful and may cause further stress to your ball python.
Stroking the body of a stuck ball python makes moving easy for the snake.
You can assist your stuck ball python to get itself unstuck by stroking its tail, underbelly, and back softly. Sudden poking may cause your snake to tense up its muscles more, and moving might be harder for your snake. Don’t try to pull your stuck snake out. Let the stuck snake move on its own while petting its body to reduce the risk of injury.
Pulling out your stuck ball python may damage its scales and even break your snake’s ribs and spine.
If a ball python is hiding in an undesirable place, placing food a few feet away can convince the snake to come out.
You can try to stimulate the senses and lure your ball python out by offering a meal. If you are feeding your snake a frozen-thawed meal, you can place the feeder two feet away from where your snake is. With this gap between your snake and the food, you can gently grab your ball python when it decides to come and check the food out. Changing the frozen-thawed feeder every couple of hours is a must as it might start building bacteria and is not safe for your ball python to consume.
In the case of live feeding, you may want to put the live feeder inside a transparent plastic tub with a locking feature and place it a few feet away from where your ball python can see it. The motions and noises from the live feeder may catch the attention of your snake and might start to come out.
A ball python may come out from its hide if the temperature becomes unbearable (either too low or too high).
The combination of a warm hide and heat source might work for your hiding ball python. Put the heat mat under the hide and plug it into a thermostat. Place the heat mat and hide a few inches away from your ball python. Make the hiding place uncomfortable and convince your ball python that it is not a suitable hiding place by decreasing the temperature by placing a box of ice near your ball python. Due to the temperature drop, your ball python has no choice and might come out to thermoregulate on the available heat source.
When luring your snake out, try to stay in one place and not move around the room. You can turn the lights off for your snake to feel secure. You can check every hour if your ball python comes out or not, but try not to make any noise. The use of an icebox is a maximum of two hours only. Otherwise, your snake might get sick.
A ball python will move towards a hide if it feels vulnerable.
If you think that your ball python is stuck in its hide, you can try to expose your snake. You can use your ball python’s behavior against it in times like this. You can help your ball python get unstuck by turning the hide upside down. Being exposed is one of the ball python’s kryptonite, and it might move when it feels that it is not in a secured location.
Mineral oil can be applied to the stuck body part of a ball python to help ease its movement. The oil should be removed once the snake has been freed.
You can try to use mineral oil and lubricate the stuck body part to help your ball python move. Applying a fair amount of mineral oil around the stuck body part might ease the movement of your stuck ball python and may eventually be unstuck.
You need to remove the oil from your ball python’s body right away as it may have adverse effects on your snake. You can soak your snake’s oiled body part in lukewarm water and wipe it with paper towels until there is no trace of oil left.
Misting a python is not recommended as it can make the pet feel uncomfortable and can make a hiding ball python come out.
Spraying water towards your ball python is uncomfortable for them. Your ball python might move and come out by misting gently towards the snake. Spraying is effective when a ball python decides to hide somewhere inappropriate.
The keeper can wait for the ball python to come out on its own. This applies only if the ball python is not trapped by any items or narrow hole where it might have got into.
Waiting for the snake to come out on its own is a long but worthy process. While waiting, you can block the entrance towards the other rooms or towards another object where your ball python might wedge itself. It can prevent your snake from further hiding if you don’t see your ball python come out and go somewhere else.
You shouldn’t wait if your ball python is stuck and in danger. You can use your own strength and help the snake by guiding it to move its body safely. You can also ask for somebody’s assistance in getting your snake out of danger.
If the ball python is stuck to a movable object, going to the vet is the best option as it can minimize the damage the snake would obtain from getting stuck.
Going to the vet is one of the best options if your ball python got stuck in a movable object (e.g., a snake’s hide). Visiting the doctor can reduce further damages that your ball python may acquire from getting stuck. The vet might be able to cut the object without harming your snake inside.
Before visiting the vet, you may want to put the item(where your ball python is stuck) in a specific state where it wouldn’t be moved easily to prevent your snake from falling if your ball python figures out to be unstuck.
The owner should be careful in disassembling or breaking the object where the ball python is stuck as it can hurt both the snake and the keeper.
Breaking or disassembling the object where your ball python is stuck might be your last resort, but this method can be dangerous for you and your snake. Having someone to watch your stuck snake while you dismantle or break apart the object is necessary. It would be best to be careful and focused when trying to break or disassemble the thing, as sharp edges from the object might hurt you or your snake.
A ball python might hide or get stuck in different places or objects such as its hide, gaps in the enclosure’s sliding doors, the adhesive used inside the enclosure, wire or vines inside the enclosure, the enclosure’s lid, different holes, reclining chair, the gap under the door, and under the toilet bowl.
A ball python can be considered hiding in a tight space if it is curled up, constantly breathing slowly, and has little to no movement. A ball python is stuck if: it is in a fixed position for a very long time; has fast and squirming movements; its muscle is tensed up; has rapid and heavy breathing.
The owner can do the following to make a ball python come out or unstuck: don’t panic; gently stroke the snake’s body; lure the snake with food, hides, and heat source; turn the snake’s hide upside down; use mineral oil to lubricate the snake’s stuck body part; mist the snake with lukewarm water; wait for the snake to come out; go to the vet, and slowly break or dismantle the object where the snake is stuck.