How Old Is My Ball Python? The Ultimate Size & Weight Guide!

Ball pythons, also known as royal pythons, are the smallest members of the python family. They make popular pets due to their manageable size and low maintenance.

If you’ve had your ball python for a while, you may forget its birthday. But don’t worry, we won’t tell–luckily, there are many ways for you to deduce its age.

You can tell a ball python’s age based on size and weight, a process much easier when your pet is younger. While each snake will differ, some guides chart average lengths and weights per month for the first year of life, and yearly after that, such as the one in this article. Aside from size and weight, your ball python’s pattern, colors, and head size also provide clues. 

How To Tell How Old A Ball Python Is 

how old is my ball python

There are four main ways of deducing your ball python’s age: observing its weight, length, patterns and color, and head size.

In general, it’s much better if you have taken measurements throughout your reptile’s life to have a reference for its growth rate. If you haven’t, the following charts provide estimated average sizes per age to help you.

By Weight 

ball python on weighing scale

From hatching to their first year of life, ball pythons put on weight rapidly. If your ball python is young, this is the most accurate way to gauge its age down to the month. 

Additionally, ball pythons, especially females, reach sexual maturity based on their weight, not age. 

Generally, males become sexually mature at 53 oz., while females can become pregnant beginning at 70.5 oz.

Remember that the following weights are general averages; each snake will differ.

Also, remember that diet dramatically affects how quickly your pet gains weight. Those that eat rats earlier (beginning at 5.2 oz) will grow faster.

If your python weighs drastically more or less than the given weights, check if it shows any symptoms of illness, such as lethargy, sunken eyes, or, in the case of obesity, visible skin between scales. 

If your ball python seems happy and healthy and doesn’t show any symptoms, even if it doesn’t match the following weights, it should be fine.

AgeAverage male weight (oz.)Average female weight (oz.)
Hatchling to 4 weeks1.5 – 2.5 oz.
One month 2 – 3.7 oz.
Two months2.8 – 4.5 oz.
Three months4.5 – 7 oz.
Four months7 – 9.5 oz.
Five months9.5 – 10.5 oz.
Six months10.5 – 12.7 oz.
Seven months12.7 – 14.1 oz.
Eight months14.1 – 15.8 oz.
Nine months15.8 – 16.5 oz.
Ten months16.5 – 17.6 oz.
11 months17.6 – 24.6 oz.
One year17.6 – 28.2 oz.(Small males can weigh as little as 14 oz.)22.9 – 28.2 oz.
Two years28.2 – 38.8 oz.42.3 – 63.4 oz.
Three years31.7 – 52.9 oz.42.3 – 70.5 oz.
Four years and older31.7 – 52.9 oz.70.5 – 105.8 oz.

Editor’s Note
The easiest way to weigh your snake, particularly when younger, is by using a digital kitchen scale!

By Length

ball python length

Measuring your ball python’s length is another great way to determine its age. However, they grow longer and slower than they gain weight, making it a less accurate way to tell how old your pet is.

You should also consider if your pet is a male or female. Adult female ball pythons are always longer than adult males.

Getting your snake to lay out in a straight line can also be incredibly challenging. Forcing it can be dangerous since you may stress out your pet and cause it to attack you.

If you truly want to measure your pet snake, consider free online tools such as SerpWidgets, which can give you a reasonably accurate estimate.

How to measure your snake using SerpWidgets and more:

AgeAverage male lengthAverage female length
Hatchling10 – 17 inches
2- 9  months20 – 25 inches25 to 30 inches
One year2 – 3 feet2.5 – 3.5 feet
Two years2.5 – 3.5 feet2.5 – 4 feet
Three years2.5 – 3.5 feet4.2 – 6 feet

Beyond three years, the snake keeps growing longer and longer, albeit at a much slower rate than when they were younger. In science, this is known as indeterminate growth.

Pattern And Color

close up of ball python skin pattern and color

It’s difficult to pinpoint your pet ball python’s exact age using its pattern and color. However, it does provide clues as to your python’s general stage in life.

As your snake ages, its colors become less bright, and its patterns become less symmetrical.

Until about ten years old, ball pythons will have bright, proportional colors and patterns.

Between 10-20, their colors are slightly less bright, and their designs become somewhat muddled.

Twenty years and above, their colors and pattern continue fading and becoming more misaligned.

Head Size Relative To Body

ball python head

Ball Python heads continue growing slowly throughout their lives. The careful observer will be able to notice which snakes have bigger heads and, therefore, are older.

Unless you are an expert, this method only applies if you have at least two snakes beside each other for comparison.

The Average Lifespan of Ball Pythons 

In the wild, ball pythons only live an average of 10 years. 

In the comfort of captivity, though, assuming they have access to a healthy diet and do not develop any diseases, ball pythons can live up to 30 years.

Some argue that getting a ball python pet is a good investment since they live twice as long as the average pet cat or dog. While true, the cost of providing for them can add up through the decades, evening out the comparison.

Beyond their slightly expensive diet of live small rodents and insects, ball pythons are low maintenance and easy to care for.

Once they are done growing and can settle into their main tank or enclosure, adult ball pythons only need to eat once every week or two and have their tanks cleaned thoroughly at least once a month.

Editor’s Note
You never need to bathe your pet ball python. However, they like to soak now and then in a warm bath of 85°F, particularly when they are shedding.

How Big Do Ball Pythons Get? 

big ball python

Males reach adulthood earlier than females, reaching their full size on or before their second birthday. 

Most males don’t grow past 3.5 feet and will weigh between 2 – 3 lbs. Females typically reach adulthood in three years, where they will be between 4 – 6 feet long and weigh 4 – 5 lbs. 

Remember that many factors influence your ball python’s final size and weight. Sex aside, these include diet, enclosure size, general care, and overall health.

Ball Python Average Growth Rates

Like most animals, ball pythons grow extremely quickly when young, then slow down and eventually plateau as they become adults. Because of this, ball pythons shed about once a month and frequently eat in the first year of their life.

Watch a baby ball python shedding:

Males grow about 8 inches yearly, while females grow 12 – 16 inches yearly. Additionally, females put on an additional two oz. or so each month compared to the males. 

In a nutshell, you could say that females grow about 1.5x faster than males. 

Editor’s Note
Snakes have two categories of adulthood: sub-adult and adult, the difference being the development of sexual maturity.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Big Should My Ball Python’s Enclosure Be?

Your pet snake should always be able to stretch itself out fully in its enclosure. However, if you put your snake in a tank too big for its size, it may become uncomfortable and stop eating.

Here are some general tank size guidelines:

Hatchlings up to 11 oz. – 10-gallon tank
Juveniles (1-2  years) – 20-gallon tank
Adult males and females – 40-gallon tank
Any snake over 4.5 feet – 75-gallon tank.

How Do I Know My Ball Python Is Overweight Or Underweight?

Obesity is a common problem for snakes in captivity. Signs of being overweight include visible skin between scales, folds in the skin around the head and neck area, and a round, squishy body (instead of firm).

Meanwhile, your snake is underweight if it has a triangular body shape, hanging skin, sunken eyes, hollow belly, and the loss of jaw muscle definition.


Truthfully, you don’t need to know your snake’s age. Your snake will always display its needs, such as feeling cramped in its enclosure, being hungry, being overfed, or struggling to shed its skin and needing a bath.

If you are attentive and always address its concerns, it will grow happily and healthily for the next few decades, whether you know its exact age or not.

However, it can be fun to know its age anyway, especially so you can tell your friends about your “x-year-old ball python at home.” We hope the tips provided in this guide are helpful to you!

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