Why Do Ball Pythons Burrow? (Under Bedding & Water Bowl)

Why Do Ball Pythons Burrow

Featured Image. Reddit


You might have seen some holes in your backyard or the mountains during your hiking trip.


Have you ever wondered what these are? Or what are they for? Or perhaps you wondered what made those holes?


These holes might be openings to snake burrows or the nesting spots for snakes and other wildlife animals.


Usually, snakes inhabit burrows that other small mammals and vertebrates have abandoned.


But typically, these are exhibited by snakes in the wild, or is it?


If you own a ball python, you will find out this burrowing habit might be a typical snake trait.


So, if you saw that your ball python is burrowing, is this a behavior you should be worried about?


The answer is no. Some of the reasons ball pythons burrow under things are because they feel hot, sick, or their hide is insufficient and inappropriate.


In today’s discussion, we will share some reasons why your ball python burrows and the appropriate actions you can take to address this behavior.



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Is it normal for ball pythons to burrow?

a ball phyton in the grass


In the wild, ball pythons live in burrows.


They are nocturnal animals which means they stay hidden in burrows during the day and come out at night to forage.


Pythons who are acquired as pets also exhibit this behavior. 


However, the correct question should be, “do ball pythons dig the caves, soil, or tunnels they burrow themselves in“?


The answer to this is no. They do not.


Ball pythons make use of the termite mounds, or those burrows created by rodents.


They can also opt to live in piles of leaves, under rock piles, or anything warm and dry.


By their physical characteristics, ball pythons cannot dig on hard surfaces to create burrows because they have soft scales and fleshy snouts, which means they cannot penetrate the hard ground.


However, they can make holes using their beddings since this isn’t as hard as the soil and rocks present on the ground.


The beddings of ball pythons are usually lightweight, which means they can slither in quickly, just as they would in the leaves or the sand out in the wild.


Why do ball pythons burrow?

ball phyton burrowing on water bowl
Image. Reddit


While some ball pythons in captivity enjoy burrowing, others do not.


You must know which one matches your snake’s personality to understand its behavior better.


If your ball python suddenly starts burrowing when it hasn’t done that before, then it may be a sign that something is wrong.


Here are a few reasons why your ball python is burrowing under their bedding or in their water bowl:


1. Wrong humidity

Ball pythons need to be in a humidity range of at least 50 – 60% to thrive in captivity.


When they are placed in a shed, this humidity level increases up to 70%.


If your python’s cage is a bit too dry, then chances are, they would burrow underneath the beddings to get some groundwater.


You will also notice that your snake is soaking itself in its water dish quite often.


To ensure that the humidity in your python’s enclosure is at an appropriate level, make sure to use a hygrometer and check if the amount of moisture and humidity is within the ideal range.


2. Wrong temperature

Ball pythons burrow to keep themselves warm in the wild, so in captivity, their enclosure must be 90 – 95°F when warm and 70 – 80° F when cool.


Depending on the status of its enclosure, your python might be burrowing because they feel either too warm or too cold.


If you are using an under-tank heater and notice that your ball python is burrowing itself underneath the beddings, then this means that your snake wants to get enough heat.


On the other hand, if your snake is burrowing itself on the water bowl or the cool side of the vivarium, then this means that the cage is too hot, and your snake is trying to stay cool.


Make sure to have a working thermostat in your pet’s enclosure and watch the temperature closely to ensure that they get the ideal environment to live in.


3. Stressed or sick

If your ball python is stressed or sick, then chances are, they would spend more time in burrows resting rather than exploring.


You can liken it to their behavior in the wild, wherein they hide whenever they are feeling unwell to protect themselves from unexpected attacks from predators.


In captivity, ball pythons would hide to avoid being seen whenever they were sick.


Stress caused by boredom can also cause a ball python to hide in its burrows.


To keep your pet engaged, make sure to provide enough hides and some enrichments like plants and branches to keep your snake occupied.


4. Lack of appropriate hides

An ideal hide would be one that can cover your snake’s whole body and shouldn’t be too big for your snake when they decide to curl in.


Providing it with the appropriate kind of hide can make it feel safe and secure.


If its hide is too small, too tight, or too big, chances are, they would feel stressed and insecure and decide to burrow themselves under their beddings instead.


Key Takeaway

While experts might conclude that ball pythons do not burrow, a snake in captivity may prove otherwise.


Indeed, ball pythons do not burrow in the wild as they use the tunnels dug by rodents and some termite mounds.


Suppose your ball python burrows itself under beddings or in its water bowl while inside the aquarium or container.


It indicates that there is something wrong with your setup. So, you should evaluate your snake’s enclosure carefully.


Check to see if the humidity and temperature are set at the suitable range and if there are enough enrichments to help your snake overcome boredom.


Also, check if your snake is not hurt or stressed, and make sure that the hides are of the proper amount and size.


A pet owner who loves to share useful facts and information about a variety of animals.