Do you want to know the gender of your ball python?
Would you like to avoid hurting your python through probing?
If you ever plan on breeding your ball pythons, you need to know each snake’s sex, but this isn’t always easy to tell.
And using the probing technique can lead to serious injury if not performed correctly.
Many ball python owners would rather learn how to sex a ball python without probing.
When telling a ball python’s gender without probing, the tail is the place to look. A male ball python’s tail is thicker until the end, while the female’s tail is thin and tapers off more gradually. You may also be able to look for spurs at the end of the python’s tail, and the males’ are bigger.
Look ahead for more details and answers to other gender-related ball python questions.
How To Sex A Ball Python Without Probing: Two Ways
This section covers the two safest ways to sex a ball python without the dangerous probing.
Tail Size And Shape
Comparing the tail size and shape is the easiest way to see what gender the ball python is.
It’s best to do this with a male and female of similar size in person, but looking at various images will give a good idea.
Male has two hemipenes at the end of their tails.
This is what they use when they lock and mate with females.
The hemipenes are actually in the body, starting just below midway down the ball python’s body.
Females don’t have these organs here.
As a result of having the organs, the male’s tail shape is affected to make room for and protect the sex organs.
The male’s tail stays about the same size until right before the tail ends.
At the end, the tails size tapers quickly to the point.
Overall, this gives the male ball python a thicker-looking tail.
Female ball pythons do not need this extra thickness.
From just under the midway point of their bodies, the female’s tail begins a gradual taper or thinning until it reaches its point at the end.
This gives the female ball python’s tail an appearance of thinness through the lower half of her body and tail.
This may seem unclear and easily misunderstood to some, but the difference is relatively straightforward once you’ve tried it.
Most people can accurately guess the gender of their python, with only one at home using this method.
Searching For Spurs
Ball pythons, and most pythons, have a different evolutionary ancestor from other snakes.
Pythons’ ancestors had tiny back feet.
Over time, these feet lost their usefulness and have shrunk until they’re almost unnoticeable by most.
However, most pythons, including ball pythons, have residual legs called spurs towards the lower end of their bodies.
These are small and almost useless.
You may not even notice them unless you go actively looking for them.
However, if you want to confirm the sex of your ball python without probing, looking for spurs is one way to go.
Along the lower half of the python’s body, on the underside, you find small spurs.
Male spurs can stick out somewhat and move, while female spurs are almost invisible and don’t do much.
The female has almost no use for these spurs, although some experts speculate they may use them a small amount when wrapping around prey.
Males use them more as the spurs help position them when locking to mate with a female.
This method is really only useful when comparing males to females in person, but it’s still an excellent way to confirm the gender guess you made from the tail shape method above.
Bonus: Growth Differences
As a bonus method for telling the gender of a ball python, look at the growth rate of the ball pythons directly.
Females will get longer and heavier quicker than males will.
The issue with using this method is how it only works if the pythons are close in age.
Male and female ball pythons will end up with larger females in time, but it’s harder to tell at youth.
After you have hatchlings at one year of age, it’s simple to guess which is male and female when you see the females take off in size while the male grows more gradually.
Here’s our ball python growth rate guide that covers the size of these snakes in greater detail. Make sure to check out the table!
Why Use Probing To Tell Sex?
Probing is a method of investigating the size of the cloacal vent in snakes, including ball pythons, to tell the reptile’s gender.
Around the mid-body, there is a small hole on every snake.
This vent is largely different from male to female.
Probing takes a thin metal line or pole and inserts it into the vent.
If the stick goes in very little, the snake is female.
When the probe goes in a way, the snake is male.
Generally, experts use scales as a way to measure depth.
As the probe is inserted, the expert notes how many scales deep the probe goes.
1-3 scale is female. 9-15 scales are male.
There are significant issues and dangers with this method, so we only recommend experts attempt this one.
First, the probe must be the correct size and design.
If the probe is too large, it may injure the pet.
Also, if the probe has any sharp edges, it could cut the sensitive area easily.
Using too much pressure or the wrong angle with the proper probe will also hurt the python.
It’s better to leave this to the experts and either ask one of them to do it (such as a vet or breeder) or trust the above methods.
Another more risky method is popping the ball python.
Now you know a little more about how to sex a ball python without probing.
Probing is accurate, but potentially dangerous if the wrong size probe is used or too much force is applied.