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In the UK we call 'Ball' Pythons something different - Royal Pythons! After their Latin name Python regius. The name supposedly comes from the fact that these animals are so docile, and quite prone to colour mutations that the nobility in Eastern and Northern Africa would wear them around their necks and wrists as jewellery and particularly favoured by certain Egyptian dynasties which earned them their Royal title.
I first fell in love with these animals when I was seven years old and finally got one of my very own for my 21st Birthday as my parents weren't happy having a snake in the house.
They have changed their tune though!
These animals are so calm and gentle that with regular handling they are far more docile and tolerant than any dog or cat. They are hypo-allergenic like most other reptiles, only require feeding once a week and rarely go to the bathroom so cleaning them is a simple task. They are "Crepuscular" and Nocturnal - this means they are most active when it's relatively dim lighting and at night, though they are happy to get up during the day if they fancy a drink, a stretch or a wander.
Royal pythons come in different patterns and colours called "Morphs" - this means you can get everything from a pure white snake, a bright yellow snake, an albino, one with pinstripes, one with white sides and coloured back, one with a very busy pattern or one with no pattern at all - and any COMBINATION of colours and patterns! They are truly beautiful animals and I myself own six who are all different colours and patterns.
Many people think that a snake is all tail - but on a royal it's easy to see a difference. Pythons have a strange trait in that they technically still have back legs! They have hips and tiny little vestigial limbs called "Spurs" which show where the body ends and the tail begins - and they have very small tails really! If you look carefully along the belly of a Royal python you will find a straight line in the middle of the belly - that's it's belly button! Who doesn't love an animal with a belly button? :¬) As 'heavy bodied' pythons (this means their bodies have a more rounded, defined shape) you can also see the neck and where the shoulders used to be on a python from their shape. The longest royal pythons can get to seven foot long - but that is very rare and most females reach just under five foot and males around three and a half. That sounds big, but remember they have no limbs and are fairly slender animals
Many people are afraid of snakes but I hope those of you who are curious will have the chance to meet a lovely Royal Python and discover these animals can be a joy to watch and admire and maybe have the heart to bring one into your home to care for - as they are particularly good for those with allergies and irregular commitments that can leave them too tired some evenings to deal with an animal that needs attention or regular walks.
A non-venomous python species found in Africa.