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Do you think your ball python has fewer teeth than it should have? Want to find out some other interesting facts about your scaly friend?
One of the aspects that are the most frightening when it comes to snakes is their teeth.
When talking about ball pythons and their teeth, you should know that there’s nothing to be scared of. Their bite isn’t as bad as it might seem.
But How Many Teeth Does a Ball Python Actually Have?
When reaching adulthood, the ball python, or royal python as it is commonly known, has 30 barbed teeth split between two rows on the bottom and four rows on top. Young pythons have an additional tooth, called the egg tooth, that helps them get out of the egg, but this one will be lost very early on in their lives.
The next part of the article will give you a clearer understanding of ball pythons, their teeth, and their bites.
The Teeth of a Ball Python
The teeth of reptiles, and especially the ones found in a ball python’s mouth, behave just like the human ones do. These teeth are very small for a snake of its size.
They are angled backward and barbed which helps them hold onto any prey when they bite. This is perfectly aligned with the style of eating encountered in these snakes.
A ball python will use the strangling method to consume its prey. It will wrap its strong and long body around the prey and then it will swallow the food as a whole.
It will use its teeth to hold tight to its food as the mouth will try to swallow it. Ball pythons won’t chew their food. This is the way of eating for a lot of other snakes.
They will usually swallow it and then wait for one to two days to digest it in full. This is one reason why you shouldn’t handle your ball python the first couple of days after it has eaten. It might cause it to regurgitate the food.
These types of snakes won’t have the big fangs you are expecting to see inside a snake’s mouth. Fangs are useful only when the snake has to inject venom, but seeing how the ball python uses a different hunting technique, these fangs would be useless for it.
The baby python snakes will have fewer teeth overall, but will always have a bigger tooth called the egg tooth. This very sharp tooth will only be used to crack the eggshell when the snake is hatching and will be oversized for the snake’s other teeth and overall size of the head.
This tooth will eventually fall and will not be the only one to be replaced by the snake. The ball python will have a fluctuating number of teeth depending on its age and size.
You should expect to see fewer teeth inside the mouth of smaller and younger pythons than in the mouth of older and larger ones.
Even so, the number will always be somewhere around 30 teeth, divided into two rows at the bottom and four rows at the top.
Ball pythons will continuously lose and replace their teeth.
Do Ball Pythons Have Any Venom?
No, pythons in general, have no venom. This means that ball pythons don’t have either.
The venom is used in the hunting technique of other snakes that will enable them to immobilize and then consume prey easily. Pythons use a different hunting technique, as I already said, that involves wrapping around the prey and suffocating it.
This is why there is basically no reason for them to have any venom in their teeth. As a matter of fact, ball pythons are some of the most harmless snakes when it comes to their bite.
They won’t usually bite for no reason and when they do, they wouldn’t even break the skin most of the time and they won’t hold onto it either.
How Often Do Ball Pythons Bite?
Ball pythons won’t attack when they are threatened. They will curl up in a ball instead. This means that you will rarely see a ball python biting to defend itself.
When they hunt, they will keep the bite for the end and will first wrap their bodies around the prey and squeeze as strong as they can.
They will only bite when they feel that the prey has stopped moving, at which point they will start to swallow it whole.
What To Do When Bitten By A Ball Python
Of course, the first thing would be to calm yourself down. A ball python bite should most of the time be very mild, which means that you will only have to mitigate some low, unnoticeable damage.
The next thing you should do is remove the snake if you see it holding strongly onto you. YOu should try to stay as still as possible, even though your instincts will tell you something else.
At this point, it shouldn’t take long before your python will let you go.
You can also try to spray or splash some water on the animal’s head. It has proven helpful in a lot of similar situations.
You should never try to forcefully pull the snake off of you. Remember that this reptile has backward-facing teeth and although it won’t intentionally push the teeth inside your skin, if you pull it, they might go deeper than they should and you could end up with some ugly cuts.
As the first bite shouldn’t even break through the skin, causing additional damage because of your actions is basically the most important thing to try to avoid.
With its small teeth and its weak jaw, the ball python will cause a bite that can only be described as a bunch of small pinpricks on your skin.
When you notice that the snake has let you go, try to put it calmly back into its tank and proceed to wash your hands with warm water and anti-bacterial soap for 20 seconds or more.
If you feel the need, you can even apply an adhesive bandage or anti-bacterial ointment to increase the healing speed.
Although not venomous, some reptiles might carry the salmonella virus on the outside of their skin, so you should try to avoid getting an infection.
Do all of these and there’s nothing you can do more. Even if you’re agitated and pull the snake forcefully off you, the resulting cut won’t be something impossible to handle and you won’t need any stitches or additional medical care.
Avoid Getting Bitten By A Ball Python
A python will usually give off some signs before resorting to biting so if you want to avoid any bites, you’d better pay attention to what they are trying to show you.
These snakes have a very mild personality and will use bites as a last resort. Their signature protective measure will be to curl up inside an s-shape or ball, in the hopes of protecting their heads.
This is where they got their nickname of ball pythons.
The python will usually try to give you plenty of signs before jumping for the bite. Instead of ignoring the snake and its warning signs, try to give it a break when it looks like it doesn’t want to be handled.
Here are some signs that your snake might be stressed out by your presence:
- Eyes locked on you
- Head up
- Mouth open
You shouldn’t be bummed that your snake doesn’t want to spend time with you. I`m sure it has positive feelings towards you seeing that you are the one feeding it.
Even though they might like you, they would get moody from time to time, as most owners can tell you. Most of the time, they will be considerably crankier during shedding periods.
Shedding brings snakes to such a state that they would even refuse to eat.
How To Keep Your Ball Python Calm
You shouldn’t have to do a lot to keep a ball python calm. They are naturally pretty chill creatures.
One of the most important things to keep a snake calm and happy is to provide and set up a tank properly.
Always look for signs that your python might be angry before picking it up to handle it. Never make fast moves around it and try to avoid approaching the snake from behind to prevent it from getting scared.
You should always do your best so as to not surprise your snake too much with your actions and movements.
Snakes are also agitated by a lot of movement so try to move the cage away from other animals or areas with a lot of foot traffic.
Can a Ball Python Lose All Of Its Teeth?
Well, yes and no, depending on what you mean.
Ball pythons will both lose and gain teeth all throughout their lives.
However, it shouldn’t happen that the ball python loses all of its teeth in one go.
If at any point you notice that your python has no teeth left, then you should take it to the vet to understand why.
It can be one of the two cases:
Your ball python has tried to eat something harder than it can handle
It does happen that a snake tries to go for a stronger prey, and due to its weak jaw, it might lose most of its teeth. This won’t happen when it eats what it is supposed to eat (mainly mice or rats).
This is why it is very important that you only feed it the proper food for pythons and nothing else.
The python is suffering from mouth rot
There is an infection that can affect the mouth tissues of your snake and it is called mouth rot.
It’s just one of those illnesses you can’t prevent and will just have to treat the snake for. It won’t be able to get over these infections on its own, so make sure you take it to the vet as soon as you notice them. Other signs to look for are pus around the eyes, nose, or mouth, a lack of movement, or a lack of appetite.
This is basically all you should know about the snake python’s teeth and bite. They have a lot of teeth but little use for them, which is why the teeth are very weak and won’t make a lot of damage when biting. This snake is one of the safest ones to own so don’t be afraid to go for one if you want to.