If you own a ball python, or if you plan to get one, you probably already know that those amazing snakes do shed from time to time. However how often do ball pythons shed? And are there any things you should keep an eye on when it comes to shedding? The answer is, yes, there are definitely some things you should be aware of.
Don´t worry though, in this article you are going to learn everything you must know when it comes to ball python shedding.
Why Do Ball Pythons Shed?
Like all reptiles, ball pythons shed periodically. When you were a kid, your mom probably had to buy new clothes for you from time to time, because you had outgrown the previous clothes.
Especially babys grow very fast, that´s why you have to buy them new clothes maybe every six months. (Or maybe even more often, I don´t have kids yet, but two little brothers, haha)
It is absolutely the same with ball pythons. Especially when they are babys they shed a lot. That is because they have outgrown the old skin.
Another fact you should know is that ball pythons grow their whole life, which means that they shed from time to time their whole life as well. That doesn´t mean that they get absolutely huge. They will stay the same size more or less at a certain point.
Further you can see ball python shedding the same as human shedding. We also lose dead skin the whole day, our dead skin is also part of house dust (but you probably know that).
The only difference between us and ball pythons in this point is that ball pythons shed in one go and we shed all the time a little bit. Hope this simplified explanation makes sense. 🙂
How Often Do Ball Pythons Shed?
You are probably already planning to wear the dead skin as necklace, right? Don´t worry, I understand. However the truth is that there are no real numbers I can give you here. It depends on how fast your snake grows, how much you feed and so on and so forth. A very young ball python might shed every 4 weeks, whereas an adult ball python only sheds once in 1-3 months.
Honestly, it should not bother you how often your ball python sheds. If your snake wants to shed, it will. If it is not ready to shed, it won´t. There are no dangers here. It could only be dangerous if your ball python is not able to shed correctly, but I´ll come to that later in this article.
How To Tell If Your Ball Python Is Going To Shed
Actually you can separate a ball python´s shedding into three steps.
If your ball python is in step one, you might see that the skin colors might have got a little bit dull. It could be that your python´s eyes get a little bit milky, but that does not have to be the case yet. Most experienced reptile keepers can see this step, if you are a beginner you might not see it already, since there is not much of a difference in colors yet.
The eyes are completely milky. The ball python´s belly gets a little bit brown, sometimes even redish. The colors are very dull. The milky eyes come from a liquid that is between the new and the old skin.
This is actually pretty tricky. You might have a look at your ball python and think to yourself, okay it must have shed, but where is the skin (I know…the necklace)? However, if you don´t see the skin, it means that your ball python is still in shed.
That´s the third shedding phase. It almost looks normal again, but if you rub your thumb against your ball pythons skin, you can even peel the dead skin of your snake. (Don´t do it though, your ball python can do that alone)
Your ball python´s colors look absolutely stunning again. It almost looks freshly hatched and you have a new necklace. Absolutely awesome! But wait, you should also know that ball pythons tend to defecate while getting rid of the dead skin, so you might have a look at the dead skin before you wear it.
Should You Feed During Shedding?
There were some rumors that ball pythons should not be fed during the shedding because the gullet is shedding as well. However that´s just a myth. If your ball python is currently shedding and you are not sure if you should feed, just try it.
If your snake doesn´t want to eat, simply remove the food and everything is fine. You can feed your snake after the shedding then.
What To Do For A Successful Shedding
First of all, especially when your ball python is in phase 2, you should leave it alone. Just let it do it´s thing and don´t handle it too much. Your ball python can´t see properly in this phase because of the milky eyes, and you might even get bitten because of that.
Second, you need high humidity in your ball python enclosure. Between 50% and 60% would be okay. I know that some people have problems with keeping high humidity, so if you have problems with that, I recommend you to create a moist hide.
Get a hide like this for your moist hide and fill it partially with moist sphagnum moss like this one. Don´t place the hide directly under the heating lamp if you use one, otherwise the moist hide will dry out quickly.
Creating a moist hide is very cheap and will help your ball python immensely to shed successfully. Keeping your ball python well hydrated at all times helps as well. Need help with getting the right humidity? Read my humidity guide here!
Of course you need the correct temperature as well, but I am sure that you already know that.
What To Do If Your Ball Python Didn´t Shed Completely
If some of the old, dry skin still sticks to your ball python, you have to peel it off. What is very important here is that you peel the skin off from the snout to the tail. Don´t peel from the back to the front.
Make sure that you peel off the dead skin on the eyes. If you don´t do that, your ball pythons eyes could get infected and this results in your ball python being sick and a vet bill that nobody wants. If you are absolutely not able to peel the skin off, you have to go to the reptile vet.
To make peeling the old skin off easier, you should give your ball python a bath or put wet kitchen roll on the affected spot. After the skin got wet for a while, you can start to peel off the skin.
Please make sure that it is not too cold in the room where you give your ball python a bath. Too low temperature can result in a lung inflammation.
As you see, the question “How often do ball pythons shed” isn´t that important. It is more important to make sure that your ball python is able to shed completely in one go. I really hope that this article has helped you. If you have any questions, just leave a comment in the comment section below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.