The ball python is one of the most popular pet snakes.
The boa constrictor is one of the most feared snakes (though it shouldn’t be).
Can you really compare the ball python vs boa constrictor?
Do these two species have anything in common at all?
It turns out they do. Quite a bit, in fact. But they also have a number of key differences.
Keep reading to learn all about the similarities and differences between boa constrictors and ball pythons. And if you are trying to decide on one of these species as a pet, we will help you figure out which one is right for you.
Table of Contents
- 1 Ball Python Vs Boa Constrictor
- 1.1 The Ball Python
- 1.2 The Boa Constrictor
- 1.3 Difference Between Ball Python And Boa Constrictor
- 1.4 Similarities Between Boa Constrictors And Ball Pythons
- 1.5 Advantages Of Keeping A Ball Python As A Pet
- 1.6 Advantages Of Keeping A Boa Constrictor As A Pet
- 2 Boa Constrictor Versus Ball Python: Final Thoughts
Ball Python Vs Boa Constrictor
We will begin our comparison of the boa constrictor vs ball python by looking at each snake species individually, before comparing them directly. We will finish by looking at the advantages of each species as a pet.
The Ball Python
Ball pythons are named so because they tend to curl up in balls to protect their heads with their bodies. In some African cultures, the ball python is considered a symbol of the earth.
These beautiful snakes make wonderful pets and are believed to have even fascinated the likes of Queen Cleopatra. It is said that she wore one as an ornament around her wrist. For this reason, ball pythons are also called royal pythons.
Young ball pythons grow about one foot per year and reach a length of 4 to 5 feet in adulthood. They come in colors like brown, grey, black, yellow, white, and beige with black markings.
The Boa Constrictor
Boa constrictors are mostly found across Central and South America. They are called ‘constrictors’ because they constrict themselves around their prey’s body and squeeze until the prey cannot breathe.
Although they are powerful hunters, they rarely attack humans. Despite this, most humans believe they are dangerous and many kill them.
Boa constrictors spend most of their time in trees or hiding under fallen leaves. Most boas grow up to 1 to 13 feet in length and weigh 60 to 100 pounds. There is a large variation, because there are many different species of boa constrictors.
Because of their large size, they cannot move too fast. Boa constrictors come in brown, grey, and cream colors with dark saddle-shaped markings. These earthy colors easily camouflage them from their prey.
Difference Between Ball Python And Boa Constrictor
There are several big differences between boa constrictors and ball pythons. Let’s take a look at the most important ones.
Ball pythons belong to the family Pythonidae, whereas boa constrictors belong to the Boidae family. For more on this, read our article on the differences between pythons and boa constrictors.
Locations And Habitats
Pythons are considered “Old World” snakes, since they are mostly found in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Boa constrictors are considered “New World” snakes, because a majority are native to Central and South America.
Method Of Reproduction
Ball pythons reproduce by laying eggs (known as oviparous reproduction). Boa constrictors do not lay eggs. Instead, the female boa gives birth to live young snakes attached to yolk sacs. This is known as ovoviviparous reproduction. The exception to this are some sand boas and Mauritius Round Island boas, which lay eggs.
The average ball python grows to 4 to 5 feet in length, whereas most boa constrictors grow up to 7 to 12 feet.
Most ball pythons come in colors like brown, grey, black, yellow, white, and beige with black markings. Boa constrictors come in brown, grey, and cream colors with dark saddle-shaped markings.
Boas are shorter, stockier, and have more tapered heads than ball pythons. Ball pythons have longer, more rounded snouts than boas.
Boas tend to have eyes higher up in their head region. This helps them see even when they are partially submerged in the water.
Ball pythons have one more bone in their skull or head region than boa constrictors do. They also have more teeth than boas. Ball pythons have two rows of scales on their bellies under the tail, whereas boas have a single row of scales.
Hunting Methods And Dietary Habits
Boas usually like to hunt in the water. In addition to constricting, they also drown their prey. Ball pythons, being lighter and more agile, tend to hunt easily from trees and on land.
Boas eat everything from crocodiles to goats, whereas ball pythons stick to smaller mammals and birds.
Boa constrictors get much bigger and tend to have more energy than ball pythons. Ball pythons are smaller and more docile. They generally do not attack unless they feel threatened. Their bites are nonvenomous.
This makes ball pythons easier to handle, especially for beginners to snake husbandry.
Boa constrictors are generally more curious and active. They can be suited as pets for expert herpetologists and reptile lovers who can handle larger snakes with ease. Beginners should not get a boa constrictor, but there are other great pet boas suitable for first-time owners.
Similarities Between Boa Constrictors And Ball Pythons
The two snake species also have a few things in common. Here are the main similarities between boa constrictors and ball pythons.
Both Are Nonvenomous
Both species of snakes are non-venomous. They kill their prey by constricting it. Ball pythons are docile but may still bite humans if they feel threatened. Small boa constrictors are not dangerous to humans, but the larger ones with sharp teeth could cause painful lacerations on the human skin.
Both Are Primitive Snakes
Both pythons and boas are considered primitive snakes, because they have two lungs and vestigial leg bones. Their skulls are heavy and their jaws more rigid than “advanced” snakes like elapids and vipers.
Both Kill Their Prey Through Constriction
Ball pythons and boas both kill their prey by constricting and suffocating it. They wrap themselves around the prey and constrict tightly until the prey cannot breathe.
Both Have Two Lungs
Boas and ball pythons both have two lungs, whereas other snake species have one lung.
Advantages Of Keeping A Ball Python As A Pet
Ball pythons make wonderful pets, because they are low-maintenance. They spend most of their time curled up in a ball.
You can feed your adult ball python once every 3 to 4 weeks. You also need to use a UV light with a timer and you need to maintain the enclosure’s temperature. Other than that, ball pythons are fairly easy to care for.
Captive-bred ball pythons are docile and easy to handle, even for beginners to snake-keeping and young kids. Small-sized ball pythons do not need too much space and are perfect pets for apartment dwellers. An enclosure of 2 x 4 feet is adequate for most ball pythons, and you can easily keep this in the basement or even a bedroom.
These days, breeders have created many wonderful morphs of ball pythons with stunning colors and patterns. This makes them unique and interesting pets.
Advantages Of Keeping A Boa Constrictor As A Pet
Boa constrictors are more interactive and curious than ball pythons. This makes them wonderful pets, especially for experienced snake-keepers adept at handling larger snakes.
Captive bred boas are also versatile and easily adjust to a variety of housing needs. These days, boa constrictor morphs are available in beautiful colors and patterns.
They also have a long lifespan and a great temperament, which makes them great companions for years to come.
Boa Constrictor Versus Ball Python: Final Thoughts
When comparing the ball python vs boa constrictor, it becomes evident that both species have unique characteristics and advantages as pets. The ball python, known for its docile nature and low-maintenance care, is an ideal choice for beginners and those with limited space.
On the other hand, the boa constrictor’s interactive and curious disposition makes it a suitable companion for experienced snake enthusiasts who can accommodate its larger size and energy levels.
Additionally, both species share common traits such as non-venomous nature, primitive attributes, and their method of killing prey through constriction. Ultimately, the decision between the two as a pet depends on your experience level, living space, and preference for interaction with your snake companion.