There is something about having snakes for pets. I know how neighbors can look at you, and relatives will have tens of stories to say.
But as a proud pet owner, you will adore the ball python. Of course, you cannot cuddle it like your dog, or it will not run to slather you with all its affection when you walk in through the door, but you will know it that you have him, and it’s you!
Now, go on that holiday!
Now say, you want to go out of town for a week and a half. Or you have an urgent errand, and you know you have to be away from your ball python with no one around to take care of him. What will you do?
Well, if you kept this snake or any other snake and not a dog or a cat for a pet, you will never have to bother your friends, or relatives, or acquaintances, and even neighbors to take over your duties of giving it food or looking after it! Why? Because ball pythons can go without food for more or less six complete months! Whoa!! Did we say SIX months?!!!
If that is not enough to surprise you, here is one more fascinating fact about them that will make your jaw touch the ground. Most snakes, including the much-loved ball python, can go without drinking water for twelve long days without culmination in any significant health conditions.
How do they manage to do it?
Call it amazing survival tactics or nature’s sorcery, but ball pythons have this capability of reeling back their rate of metabolism by almost 70%! Trust us, that is quite a lot. The snake’s body becomes a storehouse of all the energy that has. It pares down activity to the bare minimum to conserve whatever energy it can.
A ball python is a low maintenance snake:
All the pet snakes are low maintenance ones. But a ball python has explicitly a lower energy demand than most of them for most of the year. When they are not eating for weeks or perhaps months, they desist from using up any of the stored proteins in their bodies. This is the secret behind their surviving so long without any other source of nourishment.
But what it does not mean is that you can become careless around them!
Snakes, especially in their pre-adulthood, need to have proper nourishment and a good source of protein-rich raw food. You must endeavor to feed the ball python once, at least in a fortnight.
Adapting to the situation around them:
In the animal world, sooner or later, all animals learn to preserve their energies. This is mostly because when winters set in, food can suddenly seem to disappear. Some of the animal’s horde their food for use through winters, some hibernate, and yet some others spend the winters lethargically. Snakes, in particular, cut down their metabolic rate to preserve their energies and so that they can go on longer without actually consuming anything at all.
Snakes are very efficient at using their stored energies:
It is not for nothing that snakes are considered to be extremely intelligent reptiles. They go through a lot many stages in using their stored up energy. The fats in the snake’s body are the first thing to burn. Only when all the fat reserves in its body are used up, the snake begins to burn out its protein storage. Amidst all this, the most bizarre phenomenon is that snakes will continue to grow normally in spite of reduced nutrition and reduced rate of metabolism!
Have you sometimes wondered how it digests its food?
For a start, they have no teeth to tear and masticate their food? So how!
Snakes have powerful digestive enzymes that help it to break down its food even as it is in the process of being swallowed. Some powerful enzymes those!
The length of the entire ball python is the long digestive tract. The digestion in the snake begins from its mouth and ends at the anus. Much like us, the snake will start swirling its food (prey if in the wild) in the mouth in a bid to coat it properly with its saliva that contains digestive enzymes.
Once the snake begins to swallow it, the oesophagus (which takes us half of its body width) helps in pushing down the prey to the stomach. The oesophagus or the food pipe is long and full of stiff muscles. It expands and continually constricts as the food is passing through it to the next level for getting digested.
The stomach has digestive enzymes, too, and once the food is broken down there, the gall bladder and the kidney perform its functions. In the end, what remains of the mortal remain of its prey that is undigested is the claws and the hair of the animal!
This process of digestion is quite long drawn and quite conclusive evidence that it stays for quite a bit inside the stomach before it excretes it entirely out. Very little wonder then that these snakes can go without food for a bit.
The size of the prey determines the length of digestion:
Some of the snakes eat less and more frequently. While some snakes like the ball python will eat meals that is 75% of its body weight and then not be bothered about eating for days, weeks, and even months!
Throwing up of food:
Yes, they do this often.
Ball pythons will throw up undigested or digested food if they have had problems digesting it. Other health problems or even if the prey was too large to be swallowed. Temperature can also sometimes play spoilsport is not helping it to absorb completely. So, if you are someone that is in charge of providing it its food, make sure that you give him healthy bites. You don’t want to give him a bigger animal than the gap between its two eyes.
And finally, once it is fed, you take that vacation, okay!!