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Difference Between Ball Python And Boa Constrictor

Are you researching to figure out what kind of snake you want to bring into your home?

Do you have an interest in learning more about different kinds of snakes people have has pets?

If you are interested in how popular pet snakes compare to each other, you might focus on ball pythons and boa constrictors.

This will lead you to ask:

What is the difference between a ball python and a boa constrictor

While these snakes do look similar, there are some significant differences. These include how they reproduce, how many skull bones and teeth each snake has, their size, and the geographical area where the wild ball pythons and boa constrictors live.

If you are interested in learning more detailed information on the differences between these two snakes, keep reading this article.

what is the difference between a ball python and a boa constrictor

Difference Between Ball Python and Boa Constrictor?

It is not uncommon for pythons and boa constrictors to be misidentified.

They look very similar and even have the same type of scales, but there are a few key differences between the two kinds of snakes.


The first difference is how the animals reproduce.

When snakes have babies, they will lay eggs to be incubated using warmth from the mother’s body, or the eggs will be incubated inside the mother snake’s body, and hatchlings are born live.

A snake who lays eggs is called oviparous, and a snake who incubates the eggs internally and has a live birth is called ovoviviparous.

In pythons, including the ball python, the mother snake will lay her eggs, making her oviparous.

Boa constrictors, on the other hand, are ovoviviparous.

Skull Bones And Teeth

Another significant difference between these two kinds of snakes is the bones found in their head and the number of teeth.

Boas have very distinct bones in their head, making them different from many other snake species, including pythons.

Boas have fewer bones in their head than pythons have.

Pythons have premaxilla, a pair of upper jawbones.

This is something boas do not have.

So beyond having fewer bones in their heads, boas also have fewer teeth than pythons.

Size Of Pythons Vs. Boas

Overall, boas are, on average, found to be smaller than pythons.

There are many boas and pythons subspecies, but most large boa species will measure from 4′ feet to 12′ feet.

Pythons have many more giant subspecies that may reach over 20′ feet long.

Of the boas, the only “giant snake” is the green anaconda, sometimes reaching more than 20′ feet but is considered the world’s heaviest snake.

The reticulated python has been dubbed the longest snake globally, with the longest measuring over 32′ feet.

Natural Habitat

Boas and Pythons originate from different areas of the world.

Pythons are strictly Old World snakes, living in Africa, Australia, and Asia.

The ball python, specifically, originates from Africa.

The term “Old World snakes” means they are not naturally found in North or South America.

This is a historical term referring to Africa, Asia, and sometimes Europe as the old world and North and South America as the new world.

When it comes to boas, these New World snakes mostly live in the western hemisphere, primarily in central and South America.

There are a few species of boas living in Africa, Madagascar, Fiji, and Reunion Island, but most will be found in the Western Hemisphere.

You’ve probably heard stories about pythons in North America, specifically Florida, but these were introduced accidentally.

They are considered an invasive species and are not native to this part of the globe.

Pet Snake Differences

If you are debating what snake you should pick to bring into your home, there are a few things to keep in mind.

The boa constrictors and ball pythons you see for sale will both make great pets, but there are a few little differences.

A boa constrictor is a good eater all year round, but you might find your ball python is much pickier during some times of the year, sometimes refusing what you offer it.

In captivity, the boa will likely be larger than the python, with a much slower metabolism, meaning you won’t have to feed the boa as often and smaller food given at each feeding.

Ball pythons will be more likely to hide and don’t like to climb, since they aren’t arboreal when in the wild.

Both are tame and docile, with proper and regular handling and care, but a boa is often a bit more laid back than a ball python.

How Are Boas And Pythons Similar?

With some significant differences, you might be wondering how these snakes are similar.

They do have the same kind of teeth, scales, and very heavy prey-crushing skulls.

The teeth in both the ball python and the boa constrictor are curved and face slightly backward.

The orientation of the teeth makes it harder for prey to escape.

Neither the boa nor the python has legs, but both have the remnants of hind legs.

We know this because they both have a pelvic girdle, a hip bone used in the past to support rear legs.

Besides this bone, they both also have vestigial limbs, called spurs.

Spurs are more common in males and useful when fighting.

These spurs are the last remains of what used to be limbs on their ancestors.

Ancient fossils of snakes have been found showing preserved leg bones.

Millions of years of evolution have removed their limbs, but these signs show both snakes once had them.


Boa constrictors and ball pythons are often mistaken for each other by new pet owners, but how they reproduce, their anatomy, size, and where they are from differentiating them.

Ultimately, either would make an excellent pet for anyone interested in owning a snake.

After reading this, we hope you have a better understanding of the differences between these snakes.

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