I often find myself wondering, as I’m sure you do, too: How often do ball pythons shed their skin? I did some research, and this is what I found.
How often do ball pythons shed? Ball Pythons shed their skin every 4 to 6 weeks depending on their age. The younger the snake is, the faster it will shed its skin as a ball python‘s shedding is attached to its growth rate. Ball pythons shed their skins at a rather consistent rate with this rate at which they shed changing with their age.
Ball Pythons often shed because they originate from humid places. A lot of science and evolution comes into play when it comes to getting rid of that old skin.
How Often do Ball Pythons Shed?
Generally, the fastest a juvenile snake will shed its skin is about 30 days. Adolescence, being at the ball python’s age of peak growth, is the time during which the skin will shed most quickly.
As the snake grows older and its growth rate slows, the skin will shed less frequently and will come to a rest of somewhere between 45 to 60 days between every shed.
Ball pythons reach full maturity in 3 to 5 years so after that benchmark the ball python should be shedding its skin on the more infrequently.
As the ball python sheds, it will begin to act differently, so it is important to understand the signs that a ball python is going to shed its skin, and how long that process takes.
Additionally, it’s important to help your ball python should they have any trouble in their shedding process.
Signs a Ball Python is Going to Shed
Ball Python will show two categories of signs when it is entering its shedding process: physical and behavioral signs of shedding.
Physical signs are what you can literally see changing on the ball python. These cues are much easier to identify and much safer as the behavioral difference may cause your snake to act unpredictably.
Generally, their stomach will turn pink, their skin will appear much duller in color, and then they will enter the “being blue” process where the snake’s eyes will appear opaque or blue. This is all a healthy part of the snake’s shedding process as even the eyelids of the snake need to shed skin.
These cues may be difficult to notice if you aren’t being attentive as even the “being blue” stage is only visible from certain angles and will eventually revert to their natural black color before shedding. If you suspect that your snake will be shedding soon, inspect it twice a day, looking for the discoloration of the snake’s skin or the blue eye effect.
Behavioral signs are changes in the actions or attitude of your snake just based on the extra energy the snake is putting into it shedding process.
Think of it like changing clothes: Everyone acts differently when someone is messing with them while they’re switching outfits. Behavioral changes are snake specific so there
Generally, the ball python will lose its appetite and want to be left alone more, however, the reason that these changes are so hard to identify in regard to shedding is because of how many factors could be causing these behaviors.
These behaviors are behaviors found to other factors to lack, being too cold, being lonely, or going through pregnancy. So try to use the behavioral changes in conjunction with the physical changes to pin down when it will shed. If you do so, you’ll be able to pin down pretty well when they are entering their next shedding process.
What is a Ball Python’s Shedding Timeline?
The shedding process begins way before any shedding actually happens.
For two weeks before the shedding even begins ball pythons may begin to act differently. This because they know that their shedding is coming and they are preparing for it.
As the shedding actually begins, there are multiple stages to the process, the most significant of which (the snake actually removing the old skin from its body) happens incredibly fast.
Within the first day or two of the shedding process, you can tell that the snake’s belly is getting pinker and their skin is getting duller. These are the first physical signs that shedding is coming. This is a fairly subtle process and it may take a while for you to notice this process happening.
Days three through seven are when you can start to see in actual change in color from the impending shedding skin, and the snake’s eyes will be blue in color, otherwise known as the “being blue” stage of shedding. While this is the most noticeable stage of the shedding process it is still rather hard to pick up on if you are not carefully watching your snake.
Days seven through ten are some of the hardest to identify. At this point, your ball python has its skin ready to be shed and the generally retain their color, even potentially getting a darker color from this process.
Days ten through twelve, the shedding finally takes place ball pythons will rub up against a rock or branch of some kind to add friction to the skin shedding process. This happens rather quickly after all the preparation the snake puts into it their skin comes off quickly and can be easily missed if you are not paying close attention.
What is the Behavior of a Ball Python During Shedding?
Ball pythons will act differently due to their shedding. While each ball python is different, it is important to note the similar feature in changed behavior that some of them hold as they will help you know how to handle a ball python during its shedding process.
The first thing to note is the loss of appetite. If your ball python isn’t interesting in eating than it could be shedding. Watch them carefully to see if they are showing any physical signs of shedding as loss of appetite can be caused by other things too, but generally, it is best to not leave food for you ball python if you know they will be shedding.
One of the reasons ball pythons avoid eating during the shedding process is due to their weakened vision which is caused by the shedding of their eyelid skin.
On top of the loss of appetite, ball pythons are known to be more aggressive when they are shedding. So you’ll want to avoid playing or moving your ball python during its shedding process as this may elicit a more extreme reaction than normal.
Problems Shedding and What to Do
The proper shedding of a ball python will be one long shed of skin.
This doesn’t always happen; your snake’s skin may shed in part or some part may not come off fully during that shedding process. If your ball python is consistently having problems shedding, this is probably due to it being in a too dry environment. Snakes need humidity to shed their skin.
To help with this you can either add a humidifier to the room the snake is in or you can place their water dish under whatever heat source you are using for them this should keep the snake’s habitat more humidified and help with the shedding process.
If your snake is still having problems shedding or has part of their skin still on them you will want to let them soak to remove the excess skin. You can do this by place a large enough bowl for the snake to soak in full of water. The snake should take care of itself and soak in the water.
If this still doesn’t work, talk to a veterinarian about commercial shedding aid, which has proven useful in fighting against shedding problems. In fact, here you can find an article we wrote about how to properly care for your snake that may be shedding. We include how to tell that they are about to shed and what to do to help them shed comfortably. We even talk about what to do after your snake sheds, and the proper steps to take.
Do ball pythons eat their shed skin? No, ball pythons do not eat their shed skin. This is a frequently confused mistake that is caused by the process in shedding where it looks like the snake has shed their skin but they have not. From there either two things have happened. The snake will shed its skin in the next couple of days. Or, the snake has given up on shedding its skin, something that is often attributed to stress.
Is shedding painful for a ball python? It’s generally not thought as painful but rather as irritable. It is awkward and new for a snake to shed its skin. This is why they act so aggressively and don’t want to be touched. They are sensitive during their shedding process. It has been shown that allowing your snake to soak in water seems to easy their irritability.
Why do ball pythons shed? Shedding is a natural process in all snakes where they will get rid of their outer skin. This process is used to help with the growth of the snake, which is why snakes will shed more the faster they grow, as such the snakes shed much fast when they are young and in their juvenile years.