If you are considering getting a reptile pet, you’ll certainly enjoy the company of a ball python. Ball pythons are the most popular pet snake and the second most popular pet reptile after the bearded dragons.
The ball pythons are considered medium-sized snakes in the world of pet snakes. However, ball pythons are the smallest African sub-species compared to other types of pythons. Like humans, ball pythons go through life stages and like us, each stage has different needs and requirements.
This guide covers the size and weight of ball pythons, growth rate, differences in size between the male and female species, and more.
What’s the average size of a full-grown ball python?
On average, a full-grown ball python will be at least three feet long. At around three years, your ball python will reach its maximum length, and this goes for both sexes.
However, many factors may influence the ball python’s adult size. For example, a juvenile python that regularly refuses to eat may grow up smaller than one who ate every rat offered.
The growth and size of a ball python depend on several factors;
● Enclosure size
● Environmental conditions.
When hatched, a ball python measures approximately 10 inches long. Unlike other python species, the ball python is smaller despite its rather intimidating rapid growth, weight, and size. You can quickly notice the differences between the male and female ball python, and there’s also a notable difference between domesticated ball pythons and wild ones.
The adult male python grows to an average of two to three feet, while the adult females grow to an average length of three to five feet. So, female ball pythons grow faster and larger as compared to their male counterparts. However, both male and female ball pythons reach their maximum growth by the age of three years.
The domesticated “pet” type of ball python—which is restricted to an aquarium, tub, or other enclosure other than its natural habitat—grows slowly because its growth is limited to its space. Therefore as the reptile grows in different sizes, ensure your ball python enjoys a high quality of life by providing them with the best tank setup possible.
You can still set up an enclosure, such as a plastic tub or glass aquarium, where it can grow comfortably without feeling squeezed. Something to note, though, is that ball pythons tend to feel vulnerable in overwhelmingly large enclosures. Pick one that’s not too small or too big, but make sure it caters to the reptile’s growth spurts.
In the wild, ball pythons live mostly in holes—the python will keep searching for a different space to fit into as it matures. Ball pythons in the wild tend to grow larger because they’re not held captive in any space—they’re free to expand and increase in length, weight, and size.
Curious about the latter? In the next section, we’ll explain what the average weight of a fully grown ball python looks like and then describe the differences between the male and female ball pythons.
What’s the average weight of a ball python?
Weight is key in understanding a ball python’s health. Fluctuations in your python’s weight may indicate health issues.
The weight of a ball python will depend on age, length and sex. On average, a healthy adult ball python weighs 3 to 5 pounds for both sexes. Male and female ball pythons have different growth rates hence a noticeable difference in size and weight mainly because males seem to stop growing while females keep growing for around one more year. An adult male ball python will weigh around 1.98 – 2.6 pounds, while a female will be around 4.4 – 6.6 pounds.
Ball Python Growth Rate
As we’ve already seen, the ball python grows based on its enclosure or natural habitat. And that depends on several factors:
- Disease or Infections
- Habitat/Size of the tank or enclosure
Domesticated (pet) pythons—which are held “captive” or live in spaces outside of their normal, natural environment, tend to reach four to five feet in length. However, there have been discoveries of wild ball python specimens measuring 6 feet in length, so size isn’t necessarily cast in stone.
Female ball pythons grow larger than their male counterparts, weighing 2000-3000 grams, while males weigh about 9000-1200 grams. At this point, pythons can mate and reproduce.
Baby ball pythons hatch at about 10 to 17 inches long and weigh between 50-80 grams. In this phase, the baby snakes feed on live mice every 4-7 days until they’re about a month old.
After that, the baby ball pythons can feed on frozen or thawed rats or mice once every 14 days (two weeks). This varies with the pet owner because, in the wild, ball pythons don’t feed as much as those in captivity. However, it will take anywhere from three to three and a half years before these little reptiles get to maturity and start producing their offspring.
Male ball pythons also eat much less than females unless they’re breeding. In the first three to four years, you’ll notice that the reptile grows vastly and begins to slow down its growth later on like other reptiles. Some grow faster, but ball python accumulates between 500 and 800 grams yearly.
Below is a chart demonstrating the approximate growth rate of male and female ball pythons.
|Age||When fed young rats (weight in grams)||When fed on mice (weight in grams)|
Male vs Female Ball Python Sizes
From the chart below, you’ll notice that ball pythons will always vary in their sizes in terms of length & weight at each life stage —whether they’re male or female.
Ball Python Size chart by length
|Age||Males Length||Females Length|
|Hatchings||10 to 17 inches|
|6 months||20 to 27 inches|
|9 months||12 – 18 inches||25 to 35 inches|
|1 year||1.5 to 2 feet||2 feet|
|2 years||2 to 3 feet||2.5 to 3.5 feet|
|3 years||2.5 to 3.5 feet||3 to 5 feet|
|4+ years||2.5 to 3.5 feet||4 to 6 feet|
Ball Python Size chart by weight
|Age||Males Weight (Grams)||Female Weight (Grams)|
|Hatchings||50 to 80|
|6 months||275 to 360||300 to 360|
|9 months||400 to 450||450 to 470|
|1 year||500 to 800||650 to 800|
|2 years||800 to 1100||1200 to 1800|
|3 years||900 to 1200||1200 to 2000|
|4+ years||900 to 1200||2000 to 3000|
There are several visible and subtle differences between the male and female ball python. We’ve seen that the female type grows faster and has a larger appearance than the male, which grows up to 3-4 feet long, while females grow to 4-5 feet or more.
Aside from the obvious difference that female ball pythons lay eggs and male ball pythons don’t, there are only a few visible and peculiar differences between them.
One main difference between these reptiles is that, on average, female ball pythons tend to be larger than their male counterparts. The females are usually thicker and heavier, while the male ball pythons are thinner and smaller in size and weight.
Ball pythons are known to be sexually dimorphic. This means that both males and females have slight differences in their physical appearance. But, all pythons grow at different rates, largely determined by the amount and type of food they consume and the space or environment in which they live.
Ball pythons reach their maturity when they are 3 years old. However, they grow very slowly at this point. That means that male ball pythons usually reach a maximum length of 4 feet, while females are found to be slightly longer.
In addition, their maximum weight is about three to five pounds. One of the main reasons ball pythons are popular is that they’re relatively smaller snakes than other pythons.
Ball pythons’ growth usually depends on their feeding schedule, type of feed, habitat, exercise, and sex. It’s no wonder female ball pythons grow 1.5 times faster than male ball pythons because they feed more, lay eggs, and possess other notable characteristics.
What Is the Largest Python Ever Recorded?
According to local government officials in Rachmat, the largest python ever recorded was a reticulated python 48 feet 8 inches long and weighed about 983 pounds (about 445 kilograms).
If confirmed, this python captured by Indonesian villagers would be the largest snake ever kept in captivity. Many people flocked to the Curugsewu village zoo on the country’s main island to catch a glimpse of the snake.
Reticulated pythons are the largest snakes in the world, whose best-known habitats are the swamps and jungles of Southeast Asia.
Nurture Your Reptile
Ball pythons’ size is affected by their enclosure or environment, their eating, and how they’re taken care of. Provide adequate space that ensures your reptile friend grows, exercises, and feeds well throughout the different stages.
Properly caring for your ball python also ensures it can live up to 30 years or more.