Ball Python Substrates

The substrates are the materials that will be placed in your ball python enclosure in the form of flooring. For ball pythons, substrates play an important role in their well-being and happiness during their lifetime in captivity, their happiness depends entirely on the substrates.

Choosing the right substrate is very important for new pet owners since it will determine how long your pet will live. Therefore, it is very important to get to know all about ball python substrates. In this article, we will be discussing all the substrates for a ball python, so read this article carefully for all the information you need to know.

What should I look for when buying substrates for ball pythons?

Several new pet owners are wondering what things they need to consider before buying a substrate for ball pythons, so below we provide some tips on things you need to keep in mind before buying a substrate for a ball python. 

  • As ball pythons have burrowing habits, it is recommended that the substrate be burrow-friendly.
  • Invest in substrates that are easy to clean.
  • You should buy a substrate that is free of fungi and parasites.
  • Consider buying a substrate with a more aesthetic appearance.
  • You should choose a substrate that is both safe and natural, as well as sustainable.
  • Ensure that the substrate you choose can hold humidity.
  • Ensure the substrate you buy has no ingestion or impaction risk.
  • Buy an affordable and long-lasting substrate.

List of Substrates for Ball Python

A ball python owner must be aware of all the details about the substrates before deciding to purchase them, so below we provide a list of some substrates, along with the pros and cons associated with them.

Coconut Coir/ Fiber / Chips/Hus

A great choice for ball python enclosure substrates, this product is naturally antimicrobial, meaning that it prevents the growth of mold and fungal growth, which is a great benefit.


  • It is easy to remove, replace and set up.
  • It maintains the hygiene and aesthetics of the cage.
  • It gives geckos an attractive natural appearance.
  • It absorbs a large quantity of water and maintains a sufficient level of humidity in enclosures.
  • It resists the growth of mold and fungal growth.
  • Around $10 to $30 is the price range for this product which is affordable.
  • It is very effective at destroying the naturally musky odor of your ball.


  • It is not completely dust-free.
  • There is a high risk of accidental ingestion.

It is possible to get this substrate at your local pet store or you can buy it online from Amazon using the link provided below.

Buy Coco Coir Brick from Amazon

Buy Coco Fiber Nesting Material from Amazon

Buy Coconut Chip Substrate from Amazon

Bio-active Soil

This substrate behaves just like soil in nature which creates a beautiful landscape and allows a ball to take part in the surrounding in as natural a manner as possible. This makes it one of the best substrates for keeping a ball python captive.


  • Holds moisture and maintains appropriate moisture levels.
  • Natural looking and very healthy for the sensitive skin of your ball python.
  • There is no need for frequent replacements or changes, and it is permanent.
  • It can provide a drainage system and natural soil, which regulates the ball python environment.
  • Keeping these substrates well-maintained will stop the growth of microorganisms within the enclosure


  • Setting it up is difficult.
  • It has a rather high price of around $50 to $100, which makes it quite expensive for pet owners.

You can buy Organic Terrarium Soil from Amazon.

Cypress Mulch

It is a type of bedding that is generally known as forest floor bedding, whereas it is composed of the bark of cypress trees which has been broken down into small pieces, making it a perfect choice for ball pythons who are looking for a natural substrate.


  • There is no mold growth on it and it can moisture well.
  • In a ball python tank, these beautiful wood pieces create a gorgeous, natural appearance.
  • Setup and use are very simple.
  • This substrate inhibits the growth of bacteria and absorbs odors.
  • The price range is between $30 and $150, which is affordable for most pet owners.


  • Your ball python's sensitive belly becomes irritated by these substrates.
  • These substrate pieces have a sharp nature, so if accidentally ingested by ball pythons, they can cause impaction.

You can buy Cypress Mulch from Amazon.

Paper Towels / Newspaper

The use of paper towels and newspapers is the best option for pet owners who have very limited budgets. So, in this simple way, paper is a bedding for your ball enclosure, while Butcher block paper comes in a variety of colors and comes with a durable coating.


  • Substrates of this type are the most affordable and readily available.
  • Substrates of this kind do not pose a risk of ingesting or Impaction.
  • Easy to clean.
  • It is perfect for temporary husbandry.
  • Easy to change except butcher block paper.
  • This prevents mites, parasites, and molds from growing in the enclosure.


  • This does not look natural at all.
  • Frequent cleaning is required for these substrates.
  • Ball python-sensitive skin will not find this substrate comfortable.
  • This substrate does not allow ball pythons to burrow or dig.

Aspen Shaving

In my opinion, this substance is best for baby ball python enclosures because it does not contain toxic poisonous oils or resins, and it is best for the environment in which the ball python resides.


  • In this substrate, ball pythons can burrow depending on the size of the shaving.
  • There is a high level of absorbency in this substrate.
  • It is very soft to touch this substrate.
  • It appears semi-natural.
  • You can get it for an affordable price of around 10$ to 40$.
  • Easy to clean.


  • Some of them are a bit messy.
  • Humidity is not controlled, and mist is likely to infest them
  • If shavings are large, there is a greater chance of impaction.

You can buy Aspen Shaving from Amazon.

Which substrates should you avoid for your ball python enclosure?

Different types of snakes require different kinds of substrates. Every substrate is not suitable for your pet, and some of them can be harmful to them as well. In case you purchase the wrong substrate for your ball python without knowing the consequences, the substrate can be harmful to your ball python.

Below are some bad substrates that you should avoid.


The use of sand as a substrate for a ball python is not recommended, as it can irritate the eyes, nose, and skin, as well as reduce humidity, and cause impactions. Sand is a very dry substrate and will not hold moisture and promote mold growth.


This substrate is also called stones. It is also not a suitable substrate to keep a ball python in because it is easily ingested and causes impaction. Since it is also unable to absorb odors, it should not be used as a substrate for your ball python enclosure.

Pellet products

It is also recommended that you do not use this substrate in your pet enclosure as it may cause impaction and respiratory problems for your ball python as well as being very dusty. It is not suitable for burrowing your ball python and your ball will not feel comfortable in it.

Pine and cedar Shavings

There are also many downsides to using this substrate. It may seem natural, but it can release harmful oils that can cause neurological damage and respiratory irritation to your ball python. It can affect the health of your ball python and may also damage the skin of the snake.

Artificial Outdoor Carpet

It is not recommended to use this substrate for your ball Python enclosure. This is because it can emit harmful chemical compounds into the air, and these compounds can cause respiratory and neurological issues in them, as well. There is a possibility that it may get quite messy and break down after a few cleanings, as well as being quite difficult to clean.

There are also some substrates that you should avoid using in a ball python enclosure such as alfalfa, corn cob, carefresh, and walnut shells.

How often should I change my ball python enclosure substrate?

Generally, there is no set deadline for changing the substrate in a ball python enclosure. However, you do need to pay attention to the substrate as it tends to become stale, moldy, dusty, or hard over time, so when you notice that the substrate becomes stale, moldy, or hard, you would be wise to replace it immediately.

A lot of ball python owners change the substrate of their enclosures around 1 to 2 months. However, bioactive soil should not need to be changed for at least a year.

A spot clean should be done every time you see waste in the enclosure of your ball python. If you do this, your ball python can become healthier.