Do Ball Pythons Like Sand? – Why Sand Is Bad For Your Snake

Sand is considered a serious health and safety risk to any snake. So no, ball pythons do not like sand. Silica sand and common play sand can cause irritation to a ball pythons eyes, sales and nasal passages. Sand can cause a disease to the lungs called Silicosis.  This disease develops after repeated exposure to silica dust. 

There is a reptile sand called Calci-sand, this is sometimes recommended, but is know to also cause serious damage to reptiles. As a substrate Calci-sand can actually cause dehydration and extreme irritation. Some reptile shops will try to selling this product to beginner snake owners who haven’t done their full research prior. So it’s recommended to stay away from this product.

(Please scroll down to the bottom of the page to find ‘Other related articles you might like’, once you are done reading).

Problems sand causes

Ball pythons, like all snakes, live at ground level. When they breathe, the air is also from ground level. Minute pieces of sand can sometime be inhaled through the nasal passages and get stuck. If you have used sand as a snakes substrate and it seems to be sneezing a lot, this could well be the reason. If this is the case, please visit a veterinarian as soon as possible. Followed quickly be removing the sand for a much more suitable substrate.

Sand can cause irritation to ball pythons skin. The small grains scratch away at snakes scales and sometime even leave open wounds and cut. Open wounds leave your ball python at serious risk to bacterial infections, along with blisters, skin inflammation or swelling and respiratory infections.

Respiratory infections in ball pythons are caused mainly by bacteria and can be related to stomatitis. Viruses, parasites and fungi and also cause respiratory disease, which can all stem from exposure too sand. 


Stomatitis is commonly know as “mouth rot”. This is a condition caused when bacteria in the mouth gets into an open wound (As stated before, this relates to sand exposure in the respiratory system) causing infection to the lining of a ball pythons gums.

If you suspect mouth rot for your ball python, please consult a veterinarian or reptile specialist for further advise and treatment.

Symptoms include;
  • Swelling to a ball pythons mouth and gums  
  • Loss of colour around the mouth
  • Lack of eating
  • Rubbing face on vivarium furniture

Other substrates you should consider?


From a cost perspective and easiness to clean, newspaper is sometimes a favourite for ball python owners. It’s cheap, it does the job fairly well and is easy to replace. These points are all great, (if you are someone who is constantly in a rush, to which you probably shouldn’t be owning a pet which needs this much care and attention) but this substrate isn’t very attractive. Nor is it very suitable for a ball pythons needs. It won’t hold humidity levels and it doesn’t aid in its shedding process in any way shape or form. The ink from newspaper can also be irritant to ball pythons skin.

Aspen Shavings

A lot of ball python keepers like this Aspen shaving substrate. Aspen shaving make the vivarium look more aesthetically pleasing, specially compared to newspaper. You can buy this substrate from most pet stores, and in all specialist reptile stores. 

Just be careful not to confuse Aspen shavings with Cedar or Pine shavings. These specific shavings contain harmful toxins which will highly irritate your ball pythons skin. This can cause abnormal shedding problems, and can cause infections throughout the process.

Aspen shavings do seem to dry out pretty quickly and don’t hold moisture for as long. But if you are cleaning the vivarium often enough, and can afford the change of substrate every time, then its definitely a great choice.

Coconut Shreds

Coconut shredding are considered safe to all types of snakes. For this reason it has become one of snake owners favourites, specially with breeders. This coconut substrate makes for great nesting for a pregnant ball python. Coconut substrate keeps humidity high and absorbs loads of moisture which again is perfect for a nesting material.

Coconut shredding do not mould, and they are the best substrates for absorbing bad odours. Everything you should be looking for in a substrate.

Most Recommended For Ball Pythons

Bathing Water Bowl – Click Here

Heat Lamp and Guard – Click Here

Reliable Thermometer – Click Here

Vivarium/Enclosure – Click Here

Climbing Branches – Click Here

Hydrometer – Click Here

Other pages you might like…

Do Ball Pythons Have Teeth?

When Do Ball Pythons Stop Growing?

Are Ball Pythons Arboreal?

Do Ball Pythons Burrow?

Can Ball Pythons Hear?

Are Ball Pythons Nocturnal?

Forrest Floor Bedding For Ball Pythons?

Do Ball Pythons Like Sand? – Why Sand Is Bad For Your Snake

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