Questions around the size a ball python will get are among some of the most commonly asked. This is no real surprise considering the fact that they are notorious for being one of the biggest pet snakes available. Ball pythons are most definitely one of the best snakes to own as a pet because of their friendly and docile natures. They like to be handled, even as adults, adding to their charm. If you are considering buying this species of snake, then the research below should help you to get a better understanding of what to expect.
So, how big do ball pythons get? Ball pythons typically reach between 2-5 feet in length, with females being slightly longer than males on average. Domesticated ball pythons should reach their full adult size by around 3 years of age, which is faster than their wild counterparts, who tend to finish growing at 5 years of age.
Hatchlings typically start out at around 5-10 inches in length. From there, they grow slowly toward their full adult size.
Ball pythons get quite big as they grow into maturity, so you must prepare yourself for this before bringing one into your home.
Its important to consider that female ball pythons tend to be longer and thicker than their male counterparts once they reach maturity.
When most people hear the word ”python”, they understandably think of a massive snake with an aggressive nature – this is not the case with the ball python species.
Instead, they are relaxed and calm, which makes them an ideal candidate for a pet.
Let us now explore the topic further so that you can get a greater understanding of their size and how this would relate to you looking after them.
How Long Do Ball Pythons Get?
On average, when ball pythons grow to maturity, they reach a length of about 4 feet. Some specimens will reach 6 feet in length; however, this is a rarity.
As already mentioned above, female ball pythons are generally longer and have more girth than their male counterparts once they grow to adulthood.
Females reach a length that’s between 3 feet to 5 feet; males reach a length of about 2 feet to 3 feet. The specimens that grow to a length of 6 feet are scarce.
You may not be aware that the reason why they acquired their name and the reason for being called ‘ball pythons’ is because they tend to curl up, thus resembling a ball.
Logical really. This is typical of a ball python, whom are keen not to show off how big they are!
The length of a snake will slow down and come to a complete stop once they reach sexual maturity.
Yet, many ball pythons continue to grow in thickness. A ball python will reach its full length by the time they are two or three years of age. This is true even though they live many years (they can live to be 30 or even 40 in some cases)
Ball pythons may not be as long and as thick as their cousins – the reticulated, Burmese, and rock pythons, but they are large none the less.
When considering a habitat for your ball python, you must factor in their size – it should be at least 3 feet in length and 1 foot in depth.
The height of the enclosure is not so important, as this species remains terrestrial for the most part.
Ball Python Growth Rate
The growth rate of a ball python is reliant on their food supply and what they consume.
An size chart, accurately mapping out how long ball pythons grow when they reach a certain age does not exist. Size and length differs from snake to snake, environment to environment. We can only go by averages.
Snakes grow at a different rate, and their growth is dependent on a few factors such as their prey size, the frequency that they are fed, the size of their egg when they hatched, and many other considerations.
It is difficult to obtain information on length according to age. But there is information on weight/age depending on the prey.
Consider the following information, you will notice how the more prominent the prey that a ball python eats, the bigger they become in weight. More food also means they grow much faster:
When Ball Pythons Eat Mice
|Weight of Snake
When Ball Pythons Eat Young Rats
|Weight of Snake
How To Feed A Ball Python
When feeding your ball python, its important to factor in their age and size. The diet largely dictates how long and big it will ultimately grow.
If you were to not feed enough food, provide enough nutrition or feed the wrong foods, your ball python may experience stunted growth and will not be able to grow to their normal size.
When deciding upon a meal plan for your ball python, remember that ball pythons are anything but omnivores – they are strict carnivores. You must replicate a diet similar to what they would eat in the wild.
The most common foods to feed your snake include gerbils, chicks, mice, and rats.
Please note: the food you give your snake must suit their age. Giving large prey to a hatchling would prove too much of a challenge when they attempt to consume, swallow and digest it.
So practically speaking, if you own a younger snakes, stick to smaller mice. If you own an adult snake, you can opt for a variety of prey.
You must however, be sure to provide food that aligns with their carnivorous eating patterns.
Providing vegetation, even insects can be problematic and even dangerous to their health. Snakes simply need to consume other animals to derive their energy and nutrient requirements.
You should also be very careful and selective on where you acquire the food for your ball python. It comes strongly recommended to seek out a local pet store or specialist seller of dead mice.
Other than this, you can of course breed your own mice to feed but this does come with many challenges.
Never provide captured mice/rats to your ball pythons from outside. They often carry many diseases and other problems like parasites which can cause harm to your snake.
Moreover, it is advised that you feed dead mice/rats to your snake. You can always ask for dead mice at the store if you did not want to undertake this task yourself.
Live rodents will likely fight for their lives and have been known to harm a snake that is attempting to eat them. Scratches/bites can lead to open wounds that risk infection.
One challenge to be aware of is that young ball pythons can encounter difficulty when understanding how to eat dead prey.
You can try to encourage your snake by shaking the prey in front of them; this should trick him into thinking that the victim is still alive.
Do this as many times as necessary until your snake becomes accustomed to dead prey.
The optimum time to feed your pet is in the evening, as this is when ball pythons seek their prey.
Bear in mind that the younger the ball python, the more often they eat. Juvenile ball pythons dine once or twice a week.
Once a ball python completes their meal, the digestion process begins. It can take up to five days to complete.
Make sure that you provide your snake with a warm and dark hiding spot within their habitat to digest their prey comfortably.
You may wonder when to feed your ball python again; when you feed them depends on if they have defecated following digestion.
If they have expelled, you can look feed them within the next two days.
It is best to randomize feedings rather than adhering to a strict schedule to encourage natural feeding habits where possible.
Consider the following information on how often your ball python must feed and how much, concerning their weight:
Feeding Chart for Ball Pythons
|Ball Python Age & Weight
|First Meals (3-5)
|Hopper Mouse or Pinky Rat
|Every 5-7 Days
|Adult Mouse or Young Rat
|Every 7-10 Days
|Large Mouse or Weaned Rat
|Every 10-14 Days
|3x Adult Mice or Young Rat
|Every 14-21 Days
|2x Small Rat or 1x Medium Rat
|Every 28-56 Days
As you can see, the larger and older your ball python the less frequently they eat. However, there serving size is larger.
For younger snakes, it therefore generally follows the mantra, little and often.
There are times when your ball python may not eat as often as he/she should. Usually, there is nothing to be alarmed about.
It could be that the food you are serving is too large, they may be a picky eater, they may be uncomfortable in their environment, or it could be the current season.
There are even reports from some ball python snake owners who claim that their snake hasn’t eaten for up to a month!
What is important is that you are aware and try to identify why they are not eating. If you see any signs of ill health, the time has exceeded 2 months, or you can observe physical changes in your snake – it is best to consult your vet of your concerns regarding feedings.
Ultimately, ball pythons make excellent pets. They’re calm and like to be held even into adulthood. Bites are often rare, and even in the unlikely event they were to bite, they certainly cannot kill you.
If you are looking to adopt a ball python, bear in mind that they grow to be very long. This is something to consider if space in your home is limited.
Otherwise, you will enjoy the company of your ball python for many years to come.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.