Ball pythons are one of the most popular snakes kept as pets due to their docile temperament and variety of color morphs.
The ball python or royal python is one of the smallest species of pythons, but they are larger than some other species of snakes commonly kept as pets.
It is important to understand how much a ball python will grow so you are able to provide a large enough enclosure for the animal.
So how big will a ball python get?
As a general rule, adult female ball pythons are larger than males. A female ball python will measure between 3-5′ feet long, and weigh 4-7 pounds. Males range from 2-3′ feet in length and weigh 2-3 pounds.
Female ball pythons are larger than males because they have a faster growth rate.
The larger size of the female also aids her when she is carrying a clutch of eggs.
Keep reading to learn more about how large ball pythons get and how quickly they grow.
How Big Does A Ball Python Get?
Whether you are researching ball pythons for fun or trying to decide if you want to make one your newest pet, their size is one of the first topics you should look into.
When a ball python is a hatchling, they will measure approximately 10″ inches long, but soon they will grow to several feet.
Female ball pythons grow to be larger than their male counterparts, a trait very different from many other animals in the world, but common for snakes of all kinds.
A fully grown, adult female ball python will measure on average anywhere from 3′ to 5′ feet long.
5′ feet is considered large for a ball python, but there have been recorded instances of these animals growing 6′ feet or even larger, though these lengths are not the norm.
If you are the owner of a male ball python, expect the snake to grow 2′ to 3′ feet long on average.
Ball pythons are muscular animals with their bodies measuring 4″ to 6″ inches in diameter.
As an adult, these animals will weigh somewhere around three to five pounds, but this is very much dependent on how well-fed they are and other environmental factors.
Males of this species will not just be shorter than a female, but they will also be more slender and have a smaller head.
How Long Does It Take For A Ball Python To Grow?
You now understand how big a full-grown ball python can get, but you might wonder how fast these animals grow and how long it takes to reach those lengths.
These animals will do most of their growing in the first three to four years of their lives but will continue to grow after this initial time frame, just at a much slower pace.
When they are hatchlings, a ball python will measure approximately 10″ inches, but within the first three years of their life, you should easily expect the snake to grow to 3′ feet.
Growth is rapid in those first months of life.
Learn how long it takes ball pythons to grow up in our dedicated article.
The snake will reach sexual maturity at about two to three years old, and with sexual maturity, growth will slow down greatly.
Snakes who receive proper nutrition and are well fed can reach sexual maturity as young as 18 months old.
This information is typical of snakes kept as pets in captivity, but the growth rate is a little different for ball pythons in the future.
In the wild, a ball python can take four to five years to reach its full size.
The rate of growth is dependent on a few things, including the genetics of the ball python.
Every person is a little different, growing at different rates, growing faster, taller, or staying shorter, and ball pythons are no different.
In addition to genetics, environmental conditions can play a role in their rate of growth.
Perhaps the most important factor when it comes to the rate of growth is if the ball python is if the animal is getting proper nutrition.
If your snake is well fed and given proper nutrition, the growth rate will increase.
A well-fed snake grows much faster than an underfed and malnourished one.
It is most important to worry about proper feedings for your animal to help keep them happy and healthy.
Check out our ball python weight and growth guide for a great table for your snake’s growth.
How Long Do Ball Pythons Live?
If you are the owner of a ball python or considering becoming an owner of one, you should understand these animals are a long term commitment.
Ball pythons can live for a very long time in captivity if they are well cared for by their owners.
The average life expectancy for a ball python in captivity is between 20 and 30 years.
The oldest ball python on record lived to be 47 years old before it died.
Reaching 20 or 30 years is a great feat for a ball python because, in the wild, they don’t usually reach anywhere near this age.
Ball pythons in the wild usually live to be about ten years old, because they have so many more hardships to overcome.
Learn how long ball pythons live.
In the wild, these animals, like most wild animals, are at risk of being attacked and killed by predators.
Additionally, they also have to contend with the unpredictability of extreme weather situations.
They also are at risk for diseases and parasites.
Captive ball pythons, when properly cared for, will be able to be treated if they develop a disease or have parasites, don’t have to worry about predators, and don’t have to worry about weather issues.
Because they don’t have these worries, their life expectancy greatly increases.
How Big Of A Cage Will I Need For A Ball Python?
There are many options when it comes to caging your ball python.
You will have the option to get as simple or elaborate as you would like, but keep in mind, the more elaborate you get, the more you will have to do when it is time to clean and disinfect the cage.
Younger ball pythons do better in a smaller aquarium, as they feel more secure.
With larger cages, these younger snakes are likely to get stressed and overwhelmed.
For adult ball python care, an enclosure measuring 36″ inches by 18″ inches by 12″ inches will make a great home.
These snakes do need some room to move and climb, and providing a large enough tank will allow them to do so.
The tank will need to be large enough to provide warm and cool spots to allow the snake to regulate their body temperature.
Whatever type or size of enclosure you decide on, you will need to be sure it is secure.
For help in picking the right home, check out our guide to the top ball python enclosures and cages.
Snakes are great escape artists, who will take any opportunity to explore and get out of their cage.
If you do lose one, check out our tips for finding a lost ball python.
The enclosure should have a tight-fitting door or lid, and it is a good idea for this door to have a lock.
What Should I Feed My Ball Python For Optimal Growth?
As discussed above, what the ball python is fed and how often it is fed affects directly how fast and large they will grow.
Feeding them properly will not only guarantee they stay healthy, but it will also help the animal live a long life with you.
Ball pythons in the wild and captivity have the same diet.
These snakes will thrive on and require a lot of meat to get proper nutrition.
Here is a list of the most popular choices to feed your ball python:
These animals are easy enough to get your hands on to provide meals for your snake.
Most pet stores in your area will carry mice to feed your snake or opt to become your own mouse farm and house a constant supply on hand.
Don’t feed your snake any mice or rats you happen to catch from the wild or around your home as these wild rodents can introduce parasites or diseases to your snake.
Also, do not feed live animals to your snake, as live mice or rats, or any animal will fight for their lives and can scratch, bite, or otherwise injure a ball python in the process.
If you want to use live prey, check out our guide for using live mice with ball pythons.
A bite or scratch can turn into a bigger problem, like an infection.
Also, if you purchase frozen mice for your snake, be sure they are fully thawed before feeding time.
Do not try to cook the mice before feeding your snake.
You will also need to consider the size of the animal you feed to your ball python.
If the food is too large, your snake could have difficulties swallowing and digesting their meal.
When you are feeding your snake, be sure the food is the same size or just slightly larger than the widest part of the ball python’s body.
Do not try to feed your snake any insect or vegetables, as they are carnivores who get the vitamins and nutrients they need from eating meat.
If you’re having trouble feeding frozen mice to your ball python, check out our helpful article at the lin.
Preventing Obesity in Ball Pythons
Obesity is a common problem in captive ball pythons, and it may be mistaken for a fast growth rate.
Signs of obesity include wrinkled or folded scales, visible skin in between scales, a more rounded body shape, and skin that has become soft to the touch.
There are a couple of ways to prevent obesity in your ball python.
Ensure your ball python’s enclosure is large enough for the snake to move around and get some exercise.
Next, always feed your ball python the right amount of food according to its age and size.
Younger snakes need smaller meals more often, while adult ball pythons will eat larger meals spread farther apart.
Female ball pythons being prepared for breeding may be fed more often.
Always feed your ball python the appropriately-sized prey for its body.
If you have a smaller snake, it may need to eat smaller rodents for a more extended period of time until the animal gets larger.
The following tables show a typical feeding schedule for mice and rats based on your ball python’s size.
Ball Python Feeding Schedule for Mice
|Ball Python Size||Mouse Size||Frequency|
|Hatchling||1 Fuzzy||Once per week|
|<150 grams||1 Hopper||Once per week|
|150-350 grams||1 Small or Medium||Once per week|
|350-600 grams||1 Adult||Every 10 days|
|600-1,000 grams||1 Jumbo||Every 14 days|
|1,000-1,500 grams||2 Jumbo||Every 14 days|
|1,500+ grams||3-4 Jumbo||Every 21+ days|
Ball Python Feeding Schedule for Rats
|Ball Python Size||Rat Size||Frequency|
|150 grams||1 Fuzzy||Once per week|
|150-350 grams||1 Pup||Once per week|
|350-600 grams||1 Weanling||Every 10 days|
|600-1,000 grams||1 Small||Every 14 days|
|1,000-1,500 grams||1 Medium||Every 14 days|
|1,500+ grams||1 Large||Every 21+ days|
If you are debating on getting a pet snake and aren’t sure what species you might want, check out the ball python.
These animals are on a smaller scale, with females growing to about 3′ to 5′ feet and males growing to 2′ to 3′ feet long.
Their smaller size and long life span make them great pets for years to come.
Commonly Asked Questions
Can I feed my ball python raw chicken?
Yes, it is possible to feed your ball python raw chicken, and they will happily eat it.
However, it is best to feed your ball python rodents because they contain all of the essential nutrients your snake needs.
If your ball python’s diet consisted only of raw chicken, it would not get these important nutrients.
Are ball pythons aggressive?
In general, ball pythons are very docile reptiles and they do not have a tendency for aggressive behavior.
There are only a few instances where a ball python might become aggressive toward you.
Ball pythons like to spend time curled up, and if you force the snake out of this position, it may get aggressive.
Female ball pythons may also be more aggressive than males, especially when they are gravid or have just laid a clutch of eggs.
Do ball python bites hurt?
A ball python bite may be very painful, as the snake is prone to biting deep enough to puncture the skin.
The bite wound may continue to be slightly painful until it fully heals.
Do ball pythons like to be held?
Ball pythons are not particularly social animals, but they will tolerate being handled very well as long as they are used to you.
The ball python will likely enjoy getting out of its enclosure on a regular basis for some exercise while you handle them.
Never handle your ball python before or after it has been fed.
Your ball python may be more aggressive when it is hungry.
Handling your snake after you feed it may cause the animal to regurgitate its meal.