When it comes to caring for snakes you might need to make some changes based on when they are shedding. Like your snake may naturally refrain from eating just before it molts. You’ll also have to look out for irregularities in their shedding routine as it might indicate health issues as well. So, knowing how often do ball pythons shed is important for any owner.
Ball pythons will shed every 4 to 6 weeks. If all is well and your ball python is receiving the proper diet and living conditions it requires then they will shed periodically in this time frame. But, due to health-related issues they may go without shedding for over 6 months. In that case proper medical attention might be required.
I will go more in-depth about everything you need to know about ball pythons shedding. So, keep on reading for a better understanding on the topic at hand.
Why Knowing Your Pythons Shedding Regime Is Important?
Ball pythons go through various physiological changes when they shed. So, you might need to make some changes when you realize that it is time for you python to shed.
For example, when your ball python is shedding it may refrain from eating as they lose their appetite. Many owners panic during this moment and wonder why their ball python is not eating. But during this time, it is completely normal and a natural behavior.
Another reason you need to know this is because you might need to aid your snake to molt. In the wild they will actively try to find things like water sources and rough surfaces to help them molt. But in a cage that won’t be possible. And you will need to actively provide resources to help them shed.
Shedding is a periodical event in a ball python’s life. And as mentioned before it should occur every 4 to 6 weeks. But, due to underlying health issues this may be delayed. So, knowing when they shed may help you pinpoint those health issues and take proper action early on before any severe damage occurs to their health.
Signs of Shedding
There are some telltale signs of knowing when your snake is ready to shed. There are three main signs that can help you tell when your snake is about to molt. Looking for these signs are easy. They are quite hard to miss actually.
1. Pink Belly
One of the first signs you will notice when your snake is ready to shed is their bellies will start to turn pink. Usually, a ball python has a white or cream-colored belly. So, if you notice your snake’s belly is pink, there is no cause for concern. It just means it is ready to shed – which is a natural process all ball pythons go through.
2. Loss in Color
Ball pythons are vibrant and colorful. Almost like they are drawn with paint. This shiny coat is one of the things that make them such beautiful creatures. Well, at least in my opinion. When I got my first snake, I noticed the color becomes significantly muted.
Turns out, this just another sign of them shedding. You will notice the normal vibrant color of the snake’s body become much less vibrant. Again. There is no reason to worry. This is one of the signs it is ready to shed.
3. Cloudy Eyes
The 3rd and last sign of your snake shedding is you will see the eyes become cloudy or opaque. This stage is what experts refer to as ‘being in the blue’. The eyes will soon clear up and the snake will start shedding as soon as the next 36 hours or so.
As you can see there is nothing to worry about when your ball python is shedding. It is a natural process during growth. They can also shed when losing or gaining weight.
When Do Ball Pythons Shed for The First Time?
When you first get a ball python you might be more sensitive to all its behaviors. You might get a bit worried about when it should shed for the first time.
A ball python will shed for the first time within a week of hatching. From then onwards, as I mentioned, they will shed every 4 to 6 weeks.
Helping Your Ball Python Shed Better
As a caring snake owner, there are a couple of things you can do to help your python shed better. The first thing you should remember is to never remove the skin yourself. In fact, during the shedding process, you should not handle the snake in any way shape or form.
Only when the shedding process is completely over, you can handle the snake. This is because shedding its skin is quite irritating for the snake. This is also the time they are more aggressive.
The snake will typically take less than 14 days to shed completely. The pre-shed process which was the signs I mentioned will last for about 1 to 2 weeks. If you see the snake is having trouble shedding you can help it a couple of ways.
Have a Shedding Box
Having a shedding box gives your precious snake a dedicated spot to shed its skin. You do not need to have a special kind of box. A generic plastic container box big enough to fit the snake will work perfectly fine.
Use damp moss to fill the plastic container and then cut a whole on top for the snake to enter. This not only gives the snake a designated place to shed, but it also provides the rough and humid environment for optimal shedding.
This video below properly shows how you can use a plastic container to build a humidity box for you ball python.
Place Rough Objects Inside the Enclosure
In the wild or the jungle, the snake will have plenty of rough or coarse objects to help it shed. It can rub against them. This helps the loose skin to get caught in these objects and helps it peel off easier. You can recreate this in your enclosure too.
Adding things like small branches or pine cones and barks can help give your snake almost the same environment it would have in the wild. This is great for two reasons. Firstly, this is exactly the kind of thing your snake would have access to in the wild.
Plus, it does not take much effort for you to recreate. You can probably find some twigs, barks and small branches in your yard.
Right before your snake starts shedding, you can use a spray bottle to mist it. Use a clean bottle and slightly lukewarm water. Spray it near your snake. You can also spray the inside of the enclosure itself. This will also help in raising the humidity levels, which as I mentioned, is good for its shedding process.
Control the Humidity
Speaking of humidity, snakes need high humidity levels to shed properly. To help your snake shed, you will need to keep the enclosure’s humidity levels between 50 to 70% percent. Maintain the humidity at this level too.
Some cages or enclosures can have problems with maintaining a specific level of humidity. To avoid this, you can put a water bowl inside the enclosure and close the top of it to keep humidity from escaping.
You can use a hygrometer like the ThermoPro TP50 to measure the humidity levels to be sure it is in the right range for your snake.
Soaking can be done if the snake is not shedding completely. You need to be careful doing this though. If not done properly, it can cause harm to the snake and may even cause it to drown. A safe way to do this is to use a pillowcase and warm water.
Specifically, shallow water that is not deeper than 1 inch. Here are the steps you need to follow:
Step 1 – Place the Snake in the Pillowcase
Start with a clean and tidy pillowcase. Place the snake inside the case and also tie the top of it. This will keep the snake inside the case and prevent it from escaping.
Step 2 – Fill a Dish Tub with Water
Get a large enough dish tub and fill it with water. As I mentioned, the water height should be not more than 1 inch. Make sure the water is lukewarm.
Step 3 – Place the Snake Inside the Tub for About 20 Minutes Each Day
All you need to do now is to take the snake with it being inside the pillowcase and place it inside the tub filled with warm water. This will cause any excess skin to come off as the snake crawls around inside the pillowcase.
Do this for about 20 minutes each day. You need to do this only if you see the snake is having problems shedding its skin. Otherwise, as you probably know by now, it is best not to handle the snake during its shedding process.
Clean the Snake’s Enclosure
Proper cleaning of your snake’s enclosure will promote better health. After the snake has shed completely, give the enclosure a thorough cleaning. The snake also tends to defecate at this point too. Wear proper gear like hand gloves before cleaning.
Why My Ball Python Hasn’t Shed in Months?
A healthy ball python will shed regularly. If you see that your snake hasn’t shed in a long time, there could be some problems with its health or the enclosure might not be humid enough. Both of these could stop your snake from shedding.
A rule of thumb is to check for 6 months. If the snake has not shed within 6 months there might be a problem.
Some health-related reasons that might cause the snake not to shed could be parasite infestations or skin infections. If your snake is stressed or dehydrated, that can cause improper shedding or no shedding at all. To avoid stressing your python, you can give it a proper hiding spot and easy access to plenty of water.
Cutting down in handling the snake is also helpful in reducing its stress levels. At the end of the day, a good hiding spot, reduced handling times and hydration will help. But if you fear that there might be infections or health conditions like sepsis, immediately take your python to a vet.
When pythons shed, a lubricating secretion is produced that helps the old skin to come off. Without the snake shedding the old skin, the secretions can dry up and glue the outer skin to the inner skin. This can be fatal for your snake if this happens for a long period of time.
So, if you see that your snake is not shedding even after taking proper care and making sure the enclosure is properly humid, you would want to take the snake to the vet.
Now that you know how often do ball pythons shed, you can be more prepared for providing your pet snake the proper attention it needs during this time. Keep a lookout for the signs of shedding and if you notice anything to be concerned about immediately take the snake to a vet.
I hope this article has provided you some proper insight on ball pythons shedding nature and what you should do during this time. Thanks for reading till the end. Wishing you and your snake good health. Have a great day.