To tame a ball python (Python regius), you must provide an appropriate habitat, keep his stress level to a minimum and handle him regularly. However, because most ball pythons have calm temperaments, most will become tame without much effort on your part. However, like all snakes, they each have their own personality, and a small percentage of them are irritable and defensive.
The first step to address any problem with your snake is to ensure that his habitat is ideal. His habitat should be roomy enough to permit movement and the establishment of a thermal gradient, ranging from about 90 degrees directly under the heat lamp to the high 70s at the opposite end of the cage. Young ball pythons can live in a cage with as little as 1 to 2 square feet of space, but adults require about 4 square feet of space. Ensure that the cage is not in a high-traffic area, as the activity can frighten your snake. Provide a 12-hour photoperiod by using a lamp timer to switch the lights on in the morning and off in the evening -- inconsistent or inappropriate light schedules can stress your pet.
Stress is not only harmful for your snake’s health, but it can cause him to react defensively to your presence. To help keep his stress level low, provide him with at least one (preferably two) hiding spaces in his cage. This will allow him to hide from potential predators, which will help him feel more calm and secure. Hiding places should be dark, and they should fit the snake snugly. By cutting a door in an inverted plastic plant saucer or a cardboard box, you can make an inexpensive and effective hiding spot.
Try to handle your snake during the day, when he is less likely to be active, which will help keep him calm. Wash your hands before picking him up to remove any scents that he may mistake for predators or prey. Keep your hands relaxed when you pick him up and be sure to support his entire body weight, so he does not fear falling. Allow him to crawl between your hands and explore the environment with his forked tongue.
Keep handling times brief at the outset; you may be able to handle a well-adjusted ball python for 30 minutes or more without observing a change in his demeanor, but limit handling sessions to 15 minutes per day while getting to know your animal.
Do not hover over your snake, trying to gather the nerve to pick him up, as this may cause him to feel nervous. Instead, pick him up quickly, confidently and gently to keep him at ease.