How do you determine the age of your ball python? - Reptilian hero (2023)

Do you want to know how old your ball python is? Is it because you forgot when it hatched? Or have you recently bought an undocumented animal from a pet store? Regardless, knowing a ball python's age is important for breeding - but is it important for their care?

The ball python's age is mainly determined by the date of its hatching. Otherwise, there are no other ways to accurately determine the exact age of a ball python. However, owners can estimate a ball python's age based on its size, weight, color, and behavior.

The age of a ball python is one of the most important details to know when buying one. What characteristics should be considered to determine their age? How old can they be and what phases of life do they go through? Read to the end to find the answers to these questions!

1st size

Owners can estimate the age of their ball python based on its size. Hatchlings are about 10 to 14 inches long while fully grown adults can be 48 to 72 inches long. Older ball pythons also have larger heads compared to necks.

The ball python's size can be used to estimate whether its age is in the chick or adult age range. However, due to the different growth rates, juveniles and juveniles are difficult to distinguish.

On average, a newborn ball python is about 10 to 14 inches long. So if this is the size of your newly purchased ball python it may be 1 month or less.

However, adult ball pythons reach a maximum length of 4 feet for males and 5 feet for females. Anything shorter can be juvenile or younger. So if your ball python is in this length range, it is likely 3 years old or older.

If your ball python's length is between adolescence and adulthood, it's almost impossible to accurately gauge its age. There are many instances of ball pythons doubling the size of their mate from a same-sex clutch.

In addition to length, there is also a difference in head size between a juvenile ball python and an adult ball python. Adults have larger and broader heads compared to the body, while younger ones have thinner necks and bodies compared to the head.

2. Weight

While not an exact standard, a ball python's age can be estimated by its weight. Chicks weigh 50-100 grams while adult chicks weigh 1400-5000 grams.

In most cases, a ball python's weight is not an indication of its age. But at both ends of the life cycle, from hatch to adult, its age can be estimated by comparing the average weight of each life stage.

If a ball python weighs less than 100 grams, it is most likely a hatchling. But if he weighs 1,000 grams as a man or 1,500 grams as a woman, there's a good chance he's an adult.

It is almost impossible to estimate the age of a young ball python by weight as some yearling pythons can weigh 200 grams while their siblings weigh close to 1,000 grams.

This drastic weight difference is normal in most cases due to differences in inborn metabolism and appetite.

3. Color

Ball python color usually changes in intensity and pattern as it grows. However, keep in mind that some ball python species look the same from hatch to adulthood.

The most common color difference in an aging ball python is its hue. There are many species of ball python that appear to fade or darken as the snake grows.

The pastel ball python, for example, is almost yellow when young, but turns brownish-yellow as it grows.

In my experience, a regular ball python tends to darken as it grows, which I observed with my 6-year-old male, Choco.

Another example is the adult banana python, which has more and larger spots compared to a chick of the same species.

So if your ball python species has faded in color compared to the hatchling, it may be around adulthood (1-3 years).

4. Behavior

Based on anecdotal evidence, many have found that younger ball pythons are more timid and defensive than older pythons. In addition, older ball pythons can show slow and lethargic movements due to age.

Ball pythons can perform the same movements as they did when they were younger. Most breeders have noticed that their ball pythons still move and eat the same way they did when they were young.

On the other hand, some breeders have observed general differences in the behavior of juvenile and adult ball pythons.

Younger ball pythons are considered to be more shy, defensive, and less tolerant of being around them.

Larger ball pythons may be more confident given their experience of being handled and fed by the owner. This is not always true, however, as older and larger ball pythons can be defensive and shy due to their temperament and experience.

On rare occasions, ball pythons can show signs of senility with slow movements, gray eyes, and wrinkled bodies. However, keep in mind that this is generally a sign that the snake will soon die of old age.

The life cycle of ball pythons

Ball pythons go through 5 different growth stages in their lives. These stages are referred to in turn as hatchling, infant, juvenile, juvenile, and adult.

Below is a table showing the average age, weight, and length of each stage:

sceneAlterweight (grams)Length (Inches)
chickFrom birth - 1 month50-10010-14
Kind1-3 Fun100-20014-18
irrelevant3-12 Fun200-70018-27
irrelevant12-36 Fun700-140027-48
Adult36 months and more1400-500048-72

Please note that the weights and lengths given in the table above are only average values ​​from the records of other Python breeders.

There are several scenarios where a 5 month old ball python can be heavier than a 14 month old. Or even a two-year-old bitch who weighs more than a four-year-old.

How do you determine the age of your ball python? - Reptilian hero (1)

Length and weight also do not fully correlate. There are long-balled pythons that weigh much less than shorter ones.

4 factors that affect the growth rate of a ball python

The growth rate of ball pythons varies due to the following factors: 1) innate metabolism, 2) feeding frequency, 3) temperature, and 4) roaming space.

You shouldn't worry too much about your ball python's growth rate. A slow growth rate does not necessarily mean the snake is unhealthy.

As long as your ball python isn't showing any signs of illness, malnutrition, or refusing to eat, there's no need to worry!

The main indicator of ball python growth is hair loss. When a ball python loses hair, it means it has grown so much that it needs to replace its skin.

1. Innate metabolism

Ball pythons have different metabolic rates, some faster than others. Because of this, some snakes grow faster than others of the same age.

Metabolism has a major impact on a ball python's growth rate as it also plays a major role in predicting how often it will need to eat.

Thanks to faster digestion, ball pythons can consume larger amounts of food, which also leads to faster growth.

Fun fact:Ball pythons can get 90% of their energy from their prey. However, they also use a lot of energy digesting their food, which is why they are seen hiding after they have eaten.

2. Feeding frequency

In general, ball pythons will grow faster if they are fed more frequently. Ball pythons convert the nutritional value of their meals into muscle mass and fat, which causes them to grow.

Ball pythons that are fed more frequently or with larger meals can grow faster than those that are fed infrequently or with smaller prey items.

Be careful because feeding your python more often can endanger your python! They may have shorter lifespans due to organ failure and contaminated feces.

>>Learn more about overfeeding and proper feeding in our articleCan ball pythons be overfed?

3. Temperature

Warmer temperatures can help the ball python digest its meal faster, which also results in faster growth. However, there should be a temperature gradient in the room from the warm to the cool side in order to give the hose the opportunity to cover its heat requirements.

Providing a heating device such as an under-tank heater or heat lamp can improve the ball python's digestive rate.

heating mats andheating bandscan be used to heat the secondary tankHalogenDeep heat lamps and projectors are the optimal option for ceiling heating and/or lighting.

4. Roaming-Raum

Giving your ball python plenty of exercise space can result in improved digestion and therefore a faster growth rate. In addition, climbing sites can enrich ball pythons and encourage exploration.

When a ball python roams around in its enclosure, one can speak of a "mini-training". This can improve your snake's digestion, mental stimulation, and overall health, which is important for its growth and overall well-being.

You can even take the Ball Python out from time to time to walk around the room or outside. But of course it should always be supervised.

>>Learn more about taking your Python outside in our articleCan you take your python outside?

How old are ball pythons?

On average, captive ball pythons can live about 10–30 years. The oldest proven ball python in the zoo is 64 years old.

The lifespan of a ball python is relatively long compared to other pets like cats and dogs. Even among reptiles, pythons are generally long-lived animals.

Although ball pythons can live long lives, their lifespan varies based on their overall quality of life — whether in the wild or in captivity.

One study found that ball pythons kept in poor conditions have a shorter lifespan [1]. This is due to lack of employment, an unsanitary environment, cramped stalls and other poor husbandry practices.

Female ball pythons tend to be larger than males, but their lifespans are generally the same.

Some breeders also share the fact that crossbred pythons can have quite short lifespans, as short as around 5–7 years.

On the other hand, there are reports of 30-year-old females still looking healthy and consistently producing good eggs. Again, the quality of life they receive under our care can matter.

Further questions

How do you weigh a ball python?

Ball pythons can be accurately weighed in grams using a scale. Ball pythons must not weigh more than 10 kg and are easily weighed on a large gram scale.

Up to what age can ball pythons reproduce?

There is no set age at which a ball python should stop breeding. This can vary depending on your health and the condition of your reproductive organs. There are reports that ball pythons can conceive as young as 30 years of age.

How big is an adult ball python?

Adult male ball pythons typically weigh 1,000-1,500 grams and are 4-4.5 feet long. The females can grow up to 1.50 to 1.80 meters and weigh about 2,000 to 5,000 grams.

Ball Python Age Determination Summary

The age of a ball python can be determined by hatching date. Otherwise, estimates are the only option based on their characteristics such as height, weight, color, and demeanor.

Ball pythons start out as chicks, grow into babies, hatchlings, juveniles, and eventually adults. Their growth rates can vary depending on factors such as innate metabolism, feeding frequency, temperature, and habitat.

On average, ball pythons in captivity can live about 20 to 30 years. However, there are reports of much older pythons, the oldest of which is a 64-year-old female currently at the zoo.






How can I tell how old my snake is? ›

The two ways to age a snake are its length and weight. However, these vary based on the species of snake. Other indicators of old age include changes in pattern and color, and a larger head and body size. We've listed the average weight and length of each species as hatchlings, juveniles, and adults.

How big is a 1 year old ball python? ›

Size By Age
AgeMale LengthFemale Length
Six Months20 to 27 inches
Nine Months25 to 30 inches25 to 35 inches
One year1.5 to 2 feet2 feet
One and a Half Years2 to 2.5 feet2 to 3 feet
4 more rows

How big is a 2 year old ball python? ›

Ball Python Size & Weight Chart
18 Months600-1800 Grams24-30 Inches
24 Months800-2000 Grams30-42 Inches
30 Months1000-2200 Grams36-42 Inches
36 Months1200-2400++ Grams36-48++ Inches
12 more rows
Feb 10, 2021


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