How Many Teeth Do Ball Pythons Have?

Royal or Ball Python Snake

Ball pythons are not venomous snakes. Like their boa constrictor cousins, they hunt and kill their prey by squeezing or biting down, instead of through poisoning.

I used to think snakes did not have teeth, so learning this made me curious about the number of teeth pythons actually have.

How many teeth do ball pythons have? On average, they have thirty sharp little barb-like teeth, mostly lining the top. They have four rows on top and two on the bottom.

The number of teeth they have also may depend on their age and their size. Smaller ball pythons have fewer teeth, while huge ones might have a few more. They also lose teeth frequently but seem to have no end of toothy surplus that can grow back pretty quick.

Ball python teeth are tiny, similar to a comb, and are often angled backward in their mouth. This is because their teeth have little purpose beyond helping to shuffle their already-strangled prey into their stomachs. You’ll never see a snake chew its food.

Makes you wonder if little teeth like that are actually painful.

Are Ball Python Bites Painful?

Ball pythons are like many snakes, with teeth to help catch their pray. What if you own a ball python and it bites you?

Are ball python bites painful? They might puncture the skin and leave little pinpricks, which might cause light bleeding, but generally speaking, they are not very painful.

You will likely be more startled by that ball python’s speed than by his or her teeth or the pain. If you’ve ever been scratched by a cat or dog, it’s comparably less painful. Although, if you have a massive ball python, it might have bigger and more teeth, which might make it slightly more painful.

If you are bitten by a ball python, don’t panic. Some snakes latch on when they bite. If it was an accidental bite, they’ll let go. If you “trespassed” (you might know you own that vivarium, but your snake probably doesn’t), and that’s why it bit you, feel free to put something else in front of its face that it can bite instead.

Once the ball python releases, use rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, or another antibacterial, to rinse it off, just in case. If it’s bleeding, feel free to slap on a couple of band-aids.

How Often Do Ball Pythons Bite?

Ball pythons are tame. They aren’t out to eat your hand, and they probably wouldn’t want to anyway, since they enjoy their mice so much (and since your hand probably smells like hand sanitizer or the barbecue potato chips you were just snacking on).

How often do ball pythons bite? Unless they feel threatened or scared, ball pythons will not bite you. Adult pythons only bite handlers by mistake unless the handler is meaning to cause harm or they feel significantly threatened and uncomfortable.

That being said, the baby ball pythons like to take a swing at biting more frequently. Of course, this is less daunting, as their teeth are smaller and they have fewer. They will begin to lose teeth as they get older, as they will continue doing for the rest of their life, but their teeth will always grow back in.

Another note is that pythons, in general, are a little moodier right before they shed, and so if your little slithering friend seems uncomfortable or uneasy, try to be extra-gently when handling him, or just give him space.

Unless you’re taking your ball python out of its enclosure to try swing dancing to “Jail House Rock” with it, the likelihood that this shy, larger snake will try to bite you is very minimal.

Read on to learn why these types of snakes tend to lock their jaws in the event of a bite.

Why Do Ball Pythons Latch On When They Bite?

Some snakes are venomous, which makes sense for them. That’s how they get their prey. But pythons and constrictors both need to use sheer squeeze power and jaw strength.

So why do ball pythons lock their jaws when they bite? Without the help of venom when attacking prey, these snakes need to constrict them. They strike, bite to hold down, and then squeeze once they are wrapped around their prey.

If a ball python bites you (which is unlikely) and will not release, it’s because he or she felt threatened, and then tends to stay clamped on out of instinct.

I did some research and here are a few tips to get the snake to let go in the event of a bite:

  • Douse it in water. A lot of snakes will get the memo, especially if they only felt mildly threatened, but some of them will only find it annoying and will stay latched on. 
  • Submerge her in the water. Yeah, I know, this sounds kind of extreme. Especially when your snake is a sweet little desert-loving ball python and not a seasoned swimmer snake, putting her head underwater just long enough to get her to let go is effective… most of the time.
  • Wait until he or she lets go. It’s not like the longer your snake is biting you, the more venom it releases. These snakes are not venomous, just stubborn. So if you really want to have a Western-cowboy-style showdown with your scaly friend and to be more stubborn, let the snake just “hang out.” (Bad pun, I know.)
  • Put something else in front of his face. Something that looks bite-able but is not dangerous to the snake. If it bit you by mistake at feeding time (which is the most common reason a grown ball python will bite any handler), try putting the mouse near its face and that should give him a good enough reason to let go and move on to its next victim.
  • If all else fails, line his gums with alcohol. Not rubbing alcohol. Vodka or any kind of alcoholic beverage will startle the snake and it will definitely let go then. Alcohol affects snakes too, and the fumes are not so good for them, so I don’t recommend spraying the snake with it. Just put some on the bitten place and it should release.

Again, these snakes rarely bite. If it seems to be biting frequently (and it’s not a baby ball python just testing out her little chompers), try to figure out why and when it feels threatened.

Related Questions

How big are ball pythons? Ball pythons start out at ten inches as babies. The females grow larger than males. Males can grow to about three feet in length, while females grow anywhere from three to five feet. They generally weigh around five pounds, depending on health and length.

Where are ball pythons from? Ball pythons originate from central to western Africa. They are accustomed to arid climates and grassy lands. They are used to humidity around 60% or so. They like trees as much as they like the ground.

What does a ball python eat? Even in the wild, ball pythons mainly eat rats and other rodents. They eat any variety of rodent, and can even manage birds or fish if they can’t find any mice.

What color is a ball python? White, brown, gray, black, and other earthy tones, usually in wide splotchy marks or nearly-camouflage patterns.

How often do ball pythons eat? Adults need to be fed every 1-2 weeks, while baby ball pythons need feedings to be a little more frequent. They’re going to need that energy to mature.

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