Ball pythons make wonderful pets for reptile enthusiasts. But whether you’re looking forward to owning a ball python of your own or already own one, questions will arise. What kind of food best suits ball pythons? How should you raise them? But the most common question is: how big do ball pythons get?
The short answer is that most domesticated ball pythons can grow anywhere from 2–5 ft in length. However, a variety of things influence them to reach this height. So, if you want them to achieve their ideal size, you must care for them accordingly.
In this article, I will discuss in more detail how big ball pythons get and what factors play a role in the rate of growth of ball pythons. So, if you want to learn more, stick around till the end and let us jump right in.
How Big Can Ball Pythons Get?
Ball pythons do not grow to be as massive as some of their other breeds. They are relatively short, stocky snakes with thick bodies. As a result, they make the ideal reptile house pet due to their small size. On average, a ball python can reach up to 2–5 ft in length.
Regarding pythons, female pythons are generally far larger than their sexual counterparts. It is due to their genetics allowing them to grow to achieve a higher growth rate. Most females grow to be between 4 and 5 feet in length. There have even been cases where female pythons recorded to be 6.5 ft long have been found.
Due to their size and their thicker and stocky build, female pythons weigh, on average, around 5 lbs, depending on their length. However, some larger pythons can weigh up to 7 lbs.
On the other hand, male pythons are much smaller than their opposite sex. It is because of a sexual dimorphism that exists in ball pythons. As a result, males grow to be 2.5–3.5 ft. when they fully reach adulthood.
However, the largest wild male python ever recorded was 4.5 ft, which is the average length of a female ball python. The smallest adult ball python in recorded history is just 2 ft long. So, when it comes to size, female ball pythons completely dominate their male counterparts.
However, they are only 10–17 inches long when they first hatch from their eggs. These small yet adorable creatures come into the world with an appetite to help them swiftly reach their ideal length. For the first six or so months, both the males and females grow at a roughly identical pace. But afterward, the female Python tends to grow at a rate of 1.5 times that of the male.
On average, the males grow around eight or so inches a year after the initial six months. At the same time, the females can grow up to 12–16 inches annually. Compared with others suitable for being kept as pets, they are in the medium-sized group.
Ball Python Age And Weight
Due to their weight, these pythons have a stockier build. However, the males of these species are thinner, weighing in at just two or three pounds. Unlike the females, which are far heavier, some of the larger snakes weigh around seven or so pounds.
A ball python’s length and weight are closely related. The rate at which these snakes grow depends significantly on the frequency of their meals.
After hatching, the male and female pythons should typically weigh around the same. As for the duration of the first six or so months, their growth rates are almost identical. However, males may weigh between 1.6 and 2.8 oz. At the same time, female snakes will weigh between 1.76 and 2.8 ounces after hatching.
They maintain the same weight for the first six months, with minor differences. However, in the following months, the weight disparity will become more apparent. By nine months, female ball pythons, on average, weigh between 15.87 oz and 1 pound. On the other hand, the males only go from 14.10 to 15.87 oz.
And by the 2-year mark, as they start reaching adulthood, female ball pythons can weigh 2.64 to 3.96 pounds. At this mark, not even the heaviest male ball python weighing around 2.42 pounds can compare to the smallest female python.
By the 4-year mark, they have fully grown, with the female pythons weighing between 4.4 to 6.61 pounds. And smaller males will weigh around 1.98 -2.64 pounds and have not gained any weight after the 3-year mark.
Their Rate Of Growth
Suppose you are a new owner of a ball python or planning to get one. I recommend keeping track of its growth rate. Monitoring your snake’s growth rate will give you insight into its health condition. And give you an idea of whether it is maintaining an ideal weight and length.
As I discussed earlier, the growth rate between male and female ball pythons differs by a rate of 1.5 due to sexual dimorphism. Thus, female snakes can grow at a rate of 1 ft annually.
Generally, they continue to grow at this pace until they reach maturity at four years and start slowing down. And ultimately reach a halt in their growth around five years. While male pythons only grow around 8 inches annually, reaching maturity at three years.
How Long Do Ball Pythons Need To Grow?
Before going into more details regarding how long they typically take to grow, let us first look at them as hatchlings. Hatchlings are around 10–17 inches long, and include both male and female pythons. And will stay around the same range for the first six months. At which point, they are both around 20-27 inches.
But from here, their growth rates vary greatly. As of the one-year mark, male snakes can be between 1.5 and 2 ft. At the same time, female snakes, on average, will be 2 ft long. The following year, the males will reach 2–3 ft, while the females will achieve a length of 2.5–3.5 ft.
By the three-year mark, the male snakes will reach full maturity and come in at around 2.5 to 3.5 ft in length. On the other hand, the counterpart can grow to be 3–5 ft at that point. And will continue to grow. After four or so years, they will reach the ideal length of 4–6 ft, dwarfing the males.
Feeding Pythons According To Size
As I mentioned earlier, when it comes to a python’s growth rate and size, how much you feed it plays a vital role. It is necessary to consider the sort of prey you are providing for your pet snake. By picking the proper prey based on its size, you can prevent obesity and help it thrive.
Using an appropriate schedule and proportioned prey that matches your snake’s specific needs, you can ensure a healthy life for your pet. Snakes that have reached adulthood or are in the juvenile stage should have longer gaps between each feeding. It helps them thrive without the risk of obesity.
Feeding more frequently may result in your snakes growing fast. But as a consequence, it can negatively affect the lifespan of your snake.
When feeding your Python, both mice and rats are great options. However, pick the right size for your snake’s specific needs. Snakes that have recently hatched will need mice that are still fuzzy. Feeding a rat or mouse of that size once a week is ideal for them at that stage.
If your snake is under 150g, you can move to a hopper mouse or a fuzzy rat. Please keep the same gap as when they were hatchlings. But once it is between 150–350g, you should feed it a small or medium-sized mouse or a rat pup.
Once your snake reaches 350–600 g, the gap between feeding sessions should increase to 10 days. For prey portions, at this point, an adult mouse or weaning rat should be sufficient. But once it weighs 600–1000 g, it will require at least one jumbo mouse every two weeks or one small rat.
Weighing between 1000 and 1500g means that it needs to be fed at least two jumbo mice every two weeks or a single medium-sized rat. And after that, its diet should consist of 3-4 jumbo mice, or one significant rate. Leave three weeks in between each feeding to ensure you do not overfeed your pet.
However, you can adjust these based on your Python’s health conditions. And understanding whether it is overweight or underweight.
Obesity Among Ball Pythons
It may be difficult to believe, but besides humans, obesity can also pose a major issue for ball pythons. The main culprit behind this issue is overfeeding. Or, in some cases, not misinterpreting their size. It is a frequent misunderstanding because of the stocky build the ball python is known for.
Thus, it is often too late when the owner realizes their error and their snake is already obese. But there are a handful of signs that you should be on the lookout for to confirm whether your snake is overweight or not.
- In contrast to the remainder of the body, the tail dramatically narrows.
- The skin may be exposed or stretched, and scales may be dispersed.
- Around the head and neck region, folds in the skin will be visible, notably if they curl or flex.
- The body will lack solid muscle and be uniformly rounded and soft.
Another surefire way to get an idea about your snake’s overall condition is by looking at its girth. Lay your snake down so that its tail is closest to you. After that, please take a closer look at the shape of the girthiest part of its body.
The shape will give you insight into its condition. If it is rounded and resembles an equilateral triangle, your snake is in prime condition. But, an obtuse triangle with a more rounded shape is a sign of being overweight. Lastly, if the thickest portion is entirely oval, it is very much obese.
If your snake is suffering from obesity, you will notice it in its actions. Due to being obese, it will have less energy to stay curled up or even move around. It will look far pudgier than what you would typically expect. It is especially apparent when they curl up due to their fat rolls and the visual absence of their spine.
Though it might seem scary at first, all hope is not lost. There are a few steps that you can take to help your snake if it is starting to become overweight.
- Include stimuli in their tank, such as climbing ropes or branches.
- Spread out mealtimes or use smaller prey.
- Track your snake weight, and note the weight change from before and after you fed it.
Factors Influencing A Python’s Size
I mentioned how Python could grow to 3 – 5 ft in length. But what variables contribute to this variation? Let us take a closer look.
As I have mentioned throughout this article, gender plays a significant role in the size difference. Due to sexual dimorphism, female ball pythons grow much larger than males. Their growth rate is 1.5 times that of their counterparts.
Like any other animal, husbandry also plays a vital role in how large your Python can become. Thus, breeding python’s necessary genes to produce larger offspring is an essential factor in a python’s size.
For the metabolism of food, an ideal temperature variation and a basking region of 88 – 92°F are necessary. It promotes movement and reduces obesity, in addition to assisting them in maintaining a constant growth rate.
It is difficult to provide an area for your snake to exercise and maintain a temperature gradient without an enclosure that is the right size. Using a 20-gallon tank for juveniles may work, while adults must have 40 gallons. A 50-gallon tank is required for some ball python variants.
How big ball pythons get is a simple question. However, to fully understand the answer, we must take a closer look at all the aspects. Not only their length but their weight and the ideal condition for them to maintain that size.
And with the insight I provided, you should have a better idea on this matter by now. Thank you for reading. Goodbye and Goodluck.