Hours: Monday - Friday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Thursday-Friday 5:30 p.m. - 8 p.m. for Night Eyes; Saturday & Sunday 1 p.m. - 8 p.m. for Night Eyes Admission: $11 Adults, $6 Child; Night Eyes Admission is $6 or $5/members
Creature Feature: Nala the Ball Python
This is Nala. She may look a little intimidating, but she is actually a really sweet and pleasant ball python at Blank Park Zoo.
Nala is not a snake you’ll typically see when you visit the Zoo, as she is used for educational programming such as Summer Safari camps, library visits, corporate promotions and more. When she’s not on a program, you may find her outdoors in the Critter Corner this summer, which is situated right by the Zoo’s gift shop. The Critter Corner is an area for the Zoo’s education animals to enjoy the outdoors in addition to providing an opportunity for you as visitors to meet them up close.
Nala generally has a tame disposition and is used to being handled by educators and enjoys meeting the public. She is one of our “touch” animals, and I always love seeing children get excited to meet Nala and have the opportunity to touch her smooth, yet bumpy skin. (Adults don’t seem to get nearly as excited as children do, ha.)
The name ball python refers to their tendency to curl into a ball when stressed or frightened, which I have yet to see Nala do. She typically wraps herself and “snuggles” around your arm. Certain staff at the Zoo, as well as volunteers, are trained to handle our education animals, learning how to hold, handle and care for them. That’s why we ask you to be very gentle and not stress the animals if you see them at a Zoo program.
Ball python facts:
- Ball pythons are commonly found in grasslands, savannahs and sparsely wooded areas in western to central Africa.
- In the wild, they eat small mammals, birds, lizards and other snakes. At the Zoo, Nala’s diet is typically a few mice every couple weeks.
- They live to be about 10 years old in the wild and 20-30 years in captivity (at Zoos). Nala is 10 years old.
- Ball pythons are endangered. They are hunted extensively and captured for the local pet trade. They are also considered a local delicacy and killed in the thousands for their skin.
- A ball python’s color pattern is typically black with light brown-green side and dorsal blotches. This coloring helps camouflage against the ground. The bottom scales, or scuts, are ivory white in color. If the snake is in a tree, the white blends in with the light from the sun. This is called counter shading.