Ball Python Vs King Snake: 6 KEY Aspects You MUST Consider

Ball Pythons are considered beginner friendly mostly because they are VERY docile and easy to handle. King Snakes are easier to care for because they are very tolerant to different temperatures/humidities, but they are MUCH more difficult to handle due to their flighty personality.

In my opinion, that is the #1 aspect an aspiring owner should consider when trying to choose between a Ball Python and a King Snake. However, there are plenty of other differences between Ball Pythons and King Snakes that I will share with you in today’s post.

In today’s post, we will take a look at what are the KEY differences between Ball Pythons and King Snakes as pets. From behavior and diet to size, lifespan, cage setup, and much more.

The main purpose of this article is to help you make a responsible, educated decision based on cold facts about these two amazing snakes. In the end, they’re both great pet snakes to own but it all comes down to which one of them is a better fit for you and your lifestyle.

Ball Python Vs King Snake: Main Topics Discussed

Difference In Cost

The price of both snakes can vary GREATLY in price depending on their species. Florida, Brooks, and Desert King Snakes tend to be on the cheaper side of the spectrum, whereas other more rare species of King Snakes such as the Mexican Black King Snake can cost up to a couple hundred dollars.

On the flip side, Ball Pythons can vary greatly in price as well. For a normal Pastel Ball Python we’re looking at $25 to $35 but the price for a more rare, colorful Ball Python Snake can easily go up to $5,000 or even more than $8,000 for extremely rare morphs.

But it really depends on what you’re looking for in a snake. If you’re looking to buy an extremely rare snake, then expect to spend a lot of money on it. Generally, extremely rare Ball Python morphs are considerably more expensive than King Snakes.

VERY Affordable [BUT Also Very Expensive]
Ball Pythons and King Snakes are cheap, but can also be VERY expensive. There are a LOT of Ball Python and King Snake morphs out there with prices as low as $20 to $70 for both snake morphs. Anyone looking for a Ball Python or King Snake can afford to buy one.

Difference In Size

King Snakes are medium-size, non-venomous snakes that kill their prey by constriction. Generally, King Snakes can grow anywhere between 2 to 6 feet [0.6 to 1.8 meters] long depending on their species.

Specifically, the Black King Snake can grow anywhere between 4 to 5 feet [1.2 to 1.5 meters] in length. The California King Snake, however, is slightly shorter in length than its Black counterpart ranging in size from 2.5 to 4 feet [0.7 to 1.2 meters].

The Scarlet King Snakes is one of the shorter species of King Snakes which can grow anywhere between 1 to 2 feet [0.3 to 0.6 meters] in length, according to the Virginia Herpetological SocietyOpens in a new tab..

Ball Pythons, however, are slightly shorter in size than King Snakes, but they are more massive. Of course, the size of a Ball Python will depend on its gender. Female Ball Pythons are usually MUCH larger than the males.

Male Ball Pythons can grow anywhere between 2 to 3 feet long, whereas Female Ball Pythons average 3 to 5 feet long, with Ball Python Hatchlings being close to 10 inches in length.

King Snakes Are Longer BUT Ball Pythons Are More Massive
While both species of snakes are constrictors, some species of King Snakes are known to be LONGER in size than the Ball Pythons. However, while Ball Pythons are SHORTER in size than King Snakes they are more massive snakes.

Difference In Life Expectancy

You can expect a healthy, properly cared for Ball Python to live up to 30 years or even much more than that. The lifespan of a pet is something to consider as you may have to care for it once your kid goes to college.

There are records of Captive Ball Pythons living through their 40′, so that’s HUGE responsibility and you should be aware of how long lives these snakes live.

On the flip side, Captive King Snakes can live anywhere between 20 to 30 years. It is not known how long King Snakes in the wild but we assume that since they have to deal with other predators on a daily basis, their lifespan is shorter in their natural habitat.

Ball Pythons Live Slightly LONGER Lives Than King Snakes
Ball Pythons and King Snakes can live up to 30 years on average in captivity. Ball Pythons, however, can live even longer than that, so I’d say the Ball Pythons tend to live LONGER lives than most King Snakes.

Difference In Diet

There’s not much of a difference between the Ball Python and the King Snake in regards to their dietary needs. Both species of Snakes are carnivorous and eat a variety of foods.

In the wild, King Snakes like to feed on frogs, wee turtles, lizards, birds or even other snakes such as the Rattlesnake. Rattlesnake poison has little to no effect on King Snakes.

King Snakes can eat a variety of other Snakes – venomous and non-venomous – which is the #1 reason they are called King Snakes.

In captivity, King Snakes feed mainly of small mice. Remember that live food such as mice can oftentimes hurt your snake by biting him, and so, I suggest that you offer your King Snake prey animals that were killed beforehand.

On the flip side, Ball Pythons that are younger [under 1 year old] should ideally be fed fuzzies and pinkies. Adult Ball Pythons will happily feed on mice or rats depending on how big they are.

Generally, you shouldn’t give a Ball Python prey that is wider than the widest part of their body as it can lead to regurgitation or the prey may even get stuck in their mouth.

You may want to experiment to different prey size to see what your Ball Python prefers, but if you’re unsure of what prey size your Ball Python prefers I suggest you go for smaller prey to avoid any possible complications.

Age-Based Feeding Interval
Juvenile and Baby King Snakes and Ball Pythons should be fed once a week since they are still growing. King Snakes are voracious eaters, so feeding them twice a week is safe if you want them to grow more rapidly.
Adult King Snakes should be fed once a week, whereas Ball Pythons should be fed once every 10 to 14 days.

Difference In Behavior

Ball Pythons are generally VERY healthy, hardy and resilient animals that make GREAT beginner pets mostly due to their docile, calm personality.

And since biting is the behavior that often elicits the most attention from new keepers, it is worth saying that these snakes rarely bite their keepers, but when they do is mostly because they feel threatened or mistake your hand with prey.

To avoid an unpleasant situation, ensure that you learn how to properly handle your snake. As a general rule of thumb that applies to almost any species of captive snakes, you should touch your snake gently on the back before trying to handle.

King Snakes are also docile, beginner friendly snakes. But King Snakes are known to have a more flighty personality, which may result in a more difficult handling when compared to Ball Pythons.

King Snakes & Ball Pythons Are Docile Snakes
Both snakes are great snakes to have. They’re both docile and beginner friendly. They rarely bite their owners and when they do is mostly because they feel scared, threatened or mistake your hand with prey.

Difference In Cage Setup

Probably the BIGGEST difference between these two lovely snakes is their cage setup. King Snakes come from anywhere in the United States, Northern America, whereas Ball Pythons come from a more tropical environment.

Since they come from slightly different environments, a King Snake’s environment will require a little less heat and humidity, whereas a Ball Python’s environment needs a little bit higher of a heat since they come from a more tropical environment.

Ball Python Vs King Snake: KEY Pros For Each

Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of what are the differences between Ball Pythons and King Snakes so that you can make a responsible, educated decision, but let me also share with you some PROS of owning each one of these two snakes.

Ball Python PROS

  • Easy to care for [MINIMAL CARE REQUIRED]
  • They eat only 2 to 3 times a month
  • Manageable size
  • They are friendly, docile snakes
  • They like to be handled
  • They are beginner friendly
  • They are affordable
  • They are very CUTE
  • VERY healthy snakes
  • They come in a variety of colors and patterns

King Snake PROS

  • Manageable size
  • Easy to care for
  • They are beginner friendly
  • They eat 4 to 5 times a month
  • They are friendly, docile snakes
  • They are affordable
  • They come in a variety of colors and patterns

Ball Python Vs King Snake KEY Cons For Each

And since no pet snake is perfect, let’s also look at some of the cons of owning a Ball Python and/or King Snake.

Ball Python CONS

  • They eat live food
  • Their food will take up quite some space in the freezer
  • Like most reptiles, they’re not VERY sociable creatures so trying to bond with them may be difficult

King Snake CONS

  • They eat live food
  • Their love for food may lead to a mistake bite
  • Their food will take up quite some space in the freezer
  • Like most reptiles, they’re not VERY sociable creatures so trying to bond with them may be difficult

Lastly, both snakes live long lives with captive Ball Pythons usually living more than King Snakes, but that can be both a con and pro based on your needs and preferences.

Conclusion

Hopefully by now you have a better understanding of which pet is a better fit for you, your family, and your lifestyle.

In conclusion, both snakes are great pet snakes to have mostly because of their friendly and docile personality.

Regardless of which pet [if any] you choose to move forward with, please do your homework and research the behavior and overall needs of each one of them to ensure you make a responsible, educated decision.

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Sorin Trifu

Hi & Welcome to My Blog! My name is Sorin and I'm 26 years old. I've always been a Pet LOVER and I've always enjoyed writing. I had my FIRST Pet when I was 6 years old and ever since then, I've learned a lot about Pets. I'm glad to combine my passion for PETS & WRITING and share with you ALL my knowledge about them.

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