Do you have a pet ball python that stays in one place and has difficulty slithering around? Or does your ball python have a prominent spine with wrinkled skin? The former situation indicates being overweight, and the latter shows an underweight or possibly sick ball python.
Both scenarios are not good for its health!
Therefore, it is important to know how much your ball python must weigh at every stage to keep it healthy.
Weight fluctuations may indicate health issues in your ball python.
Sudden weight loss is usually a sign of illness or disease.
Weight gain may be a sign of pregnancy or overfeeding.
Weight is key in understanding a ball python’s health, which is why we researched this guide for you.
The weight of a ball python depends on its age and length. On average, a healthy adult ball python will weigh 3-5 pounds and measure between 3-5 feet long. The males tend to be slightly smaller than the females.
While there is no definitive weight for ball pythons, knowing the average ball python size will tell you if your pet is on the right track.
There are many factors, such as illness, environment, and diet, which will affect the growth of a ball python.
Keep reading to learn more about how much a ball python should weigh, including a size chart and instructions on weighing your snake.
Table of Contents
Ball Python Weight And Size Chart
The size chart below shows a ball python’s average weight range and length according to its age.
Track your python’s weight and use this chart as a comparison to ensure your snake is hitting certain growth milestones.
A ball python will usually reach its full-grown size between 3-4 years of age.
Because of sexual dimorphism, female ball pythons are usually larger than males.
|Ball Python’s Age||Weight Range||Average Length|
|1 Month||50-150 grams||10-12” inches|
|2 Months||70-170 grams||10-12” inches|
|3 Months||90-180 grams||10-12” inches|
|4 Months||140-280 grams||12-18” inches|
|5 Months||190-380 grams||12-18” inches|
|6 Months||240-480 grams||12-18” inches|
|7 Months||290-580 grams||12-18” inches|
|8 Months||340-675 grams||12-18” inches|
|9 Months||390-750 grams||12-18” inches|
|10 Months||425-850 grams||18-24” inches|
|11 Months||450-950 grams||18-24” inches|
|12 Months||475-1100 grams||18-24” inches|
|18 Months||600-1800 grams||24-30” inches|
|24 Months||800-2000 grams||30-42” inches|
|30 Months||1000-2200 grams||36-42” inches|
|36 Months||1200-2400+ grams||36-48”+ inches|
How To Weigh Your Ball Python
To monitor the weight of your ball python, you will need a small scale.
A kitchen scale will work as long as it can measure between 50-6,000 grams.
You will also need a small plastic tub to place your python in during weighing.
Most kitchen scales have a tare feature, which will take into account the weight of the plastic tub.
You will start by placing the plastic tub on the scale and pressing the tare button to reset the scale back to zero.
When you place your ball python in the plastic tub, the reading on the scale is the weight of your snake.
When a python is not used to being handled, it will likely stay curled into a ball.
If your ball python is more comfortable exploring outside its enclosure, you may need a container with a lid to keep your snake captive during the weighing process.
Be sure to place the lid onto the container before pressing the tare button to account for its weight.
How To Tell If Your Ball Python Has A Healthy Weight
A ball python with a healthy weight will be lean and muscular with no signs of fat deposits or rolls along its body.
The snake’s spine should be slightly visible, and its head should be in proportion to its body.
The mid-section of a healthy ball python will be slightly larger in diameter and taper down at the head and tail.
An overweight ball python’s body is very rounded, the head appears much smaller than the body, and the spine is sunken.
A ball python of a healthy weight will also be more alert and active, whereas an obese snake will be lethargic.
If your ball python is overweight or obese, you will need to figure out why.
Review your python’s diet and determine whether you are feeding too much or too often.
It is also important to know if your female python is gravid.
A female’s typical clutch consists of 1-11 ball python eggs, adding more overall weight to the snake.
Ensure the prey you are feeding to your python is not too large.
As a general rule, a ball python’s prey should be close to the same diameter as the snake’s midsection.
It is more beneficial to feed a python one larger mouse or small rat than several small mice.
Digesting multiple mice is harder on the snake’s digestive system and takes a toll on the reptile’s body.
Hatchling and juvenile ball pythons should be fed once every 5-7 days.
Ball pythons over 12 months of age only need to be fed once every 10-14 days.
Older snakes may even go 2-3 weeks between meals.
It is also important to provide your ball python with plenty of space to move around.
Once your python is used to being handled, it is vital to allow the snake to have plenty of time outside of its enclosure to exercise.
Is Your Ball Python Underweight?
When a ball python is underweight, it is more prone to illness due to a lowered immune system and malnutrition.
Signs of an underweight ball python include:
- A concave belly
- A very prominent spine
- The head appears much larger than the body
- Thin and wrinkled skin around the neck
An underweight python may also be more active during the day because it is searching for food.
If you notice any of these signs in your ball python, it is important to rule out any parasites or diseases which may be causing your snake to lose weight.
Seek veterinary care for proper diagnosis and a treatment plan for your python.
How to Help an Underweight Ball Python Gain Weight
Once you have determined your ball python is free from illness or parasites, you will need to help your underweight snake get to a healthy weight.
Your python will need to gradually gain weight to avoid issues such as regurgitation or food avoidance.
Start slowly by feeding your python a smaller prey item once every 5-7 days instead of every 7-14 days.
Feeding smaller prey to your python will help it get used to the idea of eating again.
Avoid feeding your ball python large prey, and do not feed any more often than once per week.
Prey size is important because large prey will be more difficult for an underweight snake to digest, leading to the animal regurgitating the meal.
If a python associates a negative reaction with feeding time, it may be less likely to accept future food offerings.
While you may be inclined to think you need to feed an underweight python more often, doing so will only lead to obesity in the long run.
Getting an obese python to lose weight is often more difficult than getting a skinny one to a healthy weight.
Once your ball python reaches a healthy weight, resume a normal feeding schedule for your snake.
Regularly monitor your python’s weight to ensure your pet remains healthy.
Ball Python Feeding Chart
To keep your ball python at a healthy weight, you need to feed the snake appropriately-sized prey on a consistent feeding schedule.
The following chart illustrates a ball python’s ideal feeding frequency and prey size based on the snake’s age and weight.
|Ball Python’s Age||Feeding Frequency||Appropriate Quantity and Size of Prey|
|Hatchling||The first meal is 2 weeks after its first shed|
Once every 5-7 days thereafter
|1 small fuzzy or hopper mouse|
|1-12 months, or up to 750 grams||Once every 5-7 days||12%-15% of your python’s body weight|
1-2 adult mice
Switch to rats when the python weighs 150+ grams
|1-3 years||Once every 10-14 days||5%-7% of your python’s body weight|
1-2 small rats
|3+ years||Once every 2-2 1/2 weeks or|
Once every 3-3 1/2 weeks if the prey is large
|3%-5% of your python’s body weight|
1 large rat
It is always better to give your python one larger prey item rather than several smaller prey items.
It takes 2-3 days for a ball python to properly digest a small mouse.
Any food left undigested in the python’s stomach will rot, which may cause the snake to regurgitate.
Rotting food also has potentially harmful bacteria, which will cause illness in your snake.
Feed your python frozen mice or rats as opposed to living ones to avoid any injury to your pet.
Thaw the frozen prey for 5-8 hours beforehand, depending on its size.
Always use special feeding tongs to offer the prey items to your python.
Do not offer prey to your python with your bare hand.
The snake will not be able to differentiate your hand from its food, and you run the risk of being bitten.
Check out our dedicated article on how often to feed a ball python.
Factors Influencing Overall Ball Python Size
The full-grown size of a ball python depends on factors such as gender, environment, and diet.
Gender has the biggest influence on a ball python’s overall adult size.
Male pythons have slower growth rates than females, and they tend to stop growing much earlier.
Even when fed the same diet, a female ball python will grow up to twice the size of an adult male.
This size difference is not as noticeable in hatchlings, but it becomes apparent once the snakes reach sexual maturity.
The python’s enclosure environment also plays a large role in determining the snake’s overall size.
A temperature gradient with a basking area between 88-92° degrees Fahrenheit (33° C) is necessary for the python to metabolize its food properly.
Proper digestion helps a ball python maintain a steady growth rate and provides the snake with energy.
The tank needs to be large enough to accommodate a proper temperature gradient.
A juvenile will do well in a 20-gallon tank because the smaller space helps them feel more secure and still have plenty of room to grow.
Once a python reaches adulthood, you will need at least a 40-gallon tank to give the snake enough room to exercise and stretch out.
Some large ball python morphs may even require a 50-gallon tank.
If a python is not getting enough exercise, there is a high risk of the snake becoming obese and unhealthy.
Feeding your snake a healthy diet is very important to the animal’s overall size.
If a python is malnourished, it will grow more slowly and be more likely to stay small throughout its life.
Ball Python Growth Rate
When compared to other snake species, ball pythons are considered to be medium-sized snakes.
Hatchling ball pythons are between 10-17″ inches long, and their hatch weight may vary from 50-150 grams.
Even though the initial growth rate may vary due to hatchling, male and female ball pythons will grow at roughly the same rate until they are around six months old.
After six months, the female pythons will start to grow almost two times faster than the males.
Between six months and three years of age, a male ball python will grow at a rate of 8″ inches per year.
During this same period, a female ball python may grow at a rate between 12-16″ inches per year.
After three years, the female python’s growth rate will slow until it levels off around year four.
After five years, male ball pythons will grow to 2-3′ feet, while females will grow between 4-5′ feet long.
Because of their longer length, females may weigh up to 50% more than males.
Feeding mice to a juvenile ball python may slow the snake’s growth rate, but it helps the animal maintain an overall healthy weight.
Giving rat pups to your juvenile python will cause the snake to have a faster growth rate.
As long as your python is growing within the proper weight guidelines, your snake is considered healthy.
Anything outside of these margins may require a veterinary consultation for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Ball Python Growing Issues
A ball python’s growth rate is considered normal as long as the snake gains weight rather than losing it.
Many factors affect a ball python’s growth rate, including parasites, poor diet, fasting in the winter months, and illness or disease.
If a python is steadily losing weight, this usually indicates parasites or a serious illness.
Seek veterinary care as soon as possible for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Just because your python may not be gaining as much weight as you would like, it does not necessarily mean your snake is sick.
Below are the most common reasons your ball python is having difficulty growing or maintaining a steady weight.
Intestinal parasites are the most common cause of stunted growth or weight loss in ball pythons.
Some other signs your python has intestinal parasites include:
- Loss of appetite
- Stool discoloration
If you suspect your python has intestinal parasites, seek veterinary care for diagnosis and treatment right away.
The vet will need you to bring a fresh stool sample from your python for the appointment.
The reptile veterinarian will place the fecal matter under a microscope and examine it for the presence of tiny parasite eggs.
There are different deworming medications for the varying types of parasites.
Your veterinarian will prescribe the correct one for your python and instruct you on the dosage.
Depending on how large the parasite infestation is, your python may need a second round of treatment.
To prevent parasites, keep your python’s enclosure clean and free from bacteria.
Establish a daily spot cleaning routine for the snake’s tank to remove waste, and plan for a deep clean at least once per month.
Keep your python’s water dish clean at all times, and change the water every day or whenever it is dirty.
Ball pythons tend not to drink water from their bowl, but they will soak in it for hydration.
The water will easily become dirty and may need to be replaced several times a day.
Parasites are also easily transmitted from one snake to another.
Do not introduce a new reptile to your python without first ensuring the new animal is free from parasites or other illnesses.
If your ball python is having trouble gaining weight, you may not be giving your snake enough food.
While overfeeding is the most common feeding mistake, underfeeding happens as well.
Since the snake goes for long periods between feedings, it may be easy for a ball python owner to forget when the next feeding should occur.
If you have difficulty keeping a consistent feeding schedule for your ball python, set a reminder on your phone or mark the dates on your calendar to help you remember.
The size of your python’s prey makes a difference to its growth as well.
Upgrade a juvenile python’s diet from adult mice to small rats as soon as the snake reaches 150 grams in weight.
Rats will provide the juvenile python with the extra nutritional value it needs during this time of rapid growth.
Fasting During the Colder Months
Ball pythons do not enter brumation in the same way as more temperate species of reptiles, but they may eat less or not at all during the winter.
A ball python can go for up to six months without eating if temperatures are too low.
In the wild, pythons learn to anticipate the cooler weather, so they fatten up before they start fasting.
Any sudden temperature drops in captivity may be very harmful to a ball python.
If the snake has eaten before the temperature drop, it will not digest its food properly.
Anything undigested will begin to rot in the snake’s stomach, and the animal will regurgitate the food.
If you notice this behavior in your python, check the enclosure temperatures to ensure it is not getting too cold.
The tank’s temperature should range from 78-80° degrees Fahrenheit (27° C) on the cool end and between 88-92° degrees Fahrenheit (33° C) in the warm basking area.
Tank temperatures should never drop below 70° degrees Fahrenheit (21° C).
At this temperature, a ball python’s body will begin to shut down.
Prolonged exposure to low temperatures will lead to death if the snake cannot find a warm area to escape to.
Disease or Illness
Disease or illness will usually cause a ball python to lose its appetite, affecting the snake’s growth.
Check out other reasons ball pythons aren’t eating in our guide here.
There are several common signs of sickness in ball pythons, such as:
- Lack of appetite
- Nasal discharge
- Weight loss
- Open-mouth breathing
- Shedding problems
Bacterial, viral, and fungal infections are all common in ball pythons and respiratory infections and various skin conditions.
Any time your snake is sick and is not eating well, the growth rate will be slowed.
If you notice any signs of illness in your ball python, seek veterinary care as soon as possible.
Commonly Asked Questions
Can a tank be too large for a ball python?
While an adult ball python will happily thrive in a 50- gallon tank, baby and juvenile pythons need smaller enclosures to feel more secure.
A 10-gallon tank is a good size for a young ball python until it reaches its adult size.
When providing an adult ball python with a very spacious tank, it is important to make the environment as natural as possible.
Provide plenty of hiding places and greenery throughout the enclosure.
Ball pythons tend to be solitary animals, and they enjoy keeping to themselves during the day.
How do I know if my ball python is hungry?
A ball python will signal it is hungry by pacing near the front of its enclosure.
The python will also flick its tongue more frequently when it is hungry.
What is the oldest ball python ever recorded?
The oldest ball python recorded in captivity is 65 years old as of 2023. It is a female snake living at the St. Louis Zoo, who made the headlines in 2020 for laying a clutch of seven eggs on its own!
Ball Python: What to Expect with its weight and growth
If you’re a proud ball python owner, then getting worried about their weight is pretty common. In this guide to the weight and growth of a ball python, we have covered everything from what causes growth issues in them to identifying an overweight or an underweight ball python.
Plus, we have also thrown in some tips to help your scaly friend stay healthy!