Ball pythons make wonderful pets for those who want an alternative to furrier varieties. While ball pythons may not shed fur, however, they do indeed shed their skin. While this is not surprising to most, it can be a somewhat jarring experience for those unaccustomed to seeing it. If you are planning to own a snake, however, you will have to understand that dealing with this bodily function will be a part of sharing a home with one. That means knowing how often they are likely to do it, how to assist them, and how to treat your ball python during this time.
Why Do Ball Pythons Shed?
When most animals grow, their skin grows with them. However, this is not the case for snakes. To accommodate their growth, they will shed in order to make room for their newer, roomier skins and bodies. Shedding also provides the evolutionary advantage of regularly getting rid of external parasites. Since snakes never stop growing, you can expect them to shed throughout their entire lives. If you want to learn more about how large these snakes can get, check out “How big do ball pythons get?“.
How Often Do Ball Pythons Shed?
Healthy adult ball pythons for sale typically shed their skin every 4-6 weeks. However, younger animals may go through this process more frequently. While a healthy shed should come off in one piece, it is not unusual for it to occasionally break off. Especially around the eyes and nose. The entire process of shedding should take up to two weeks.
If you have previously owned non-serpentine reptiles, you may be used to seeing them eat their own skin. This is not the case with snakes, who will typically leave it. Because of this, you are going to have to dispose of your snake’s skin yourself. You can do this by putting it in compost, creating crafts out of it, or simply throwing it away. If you own isopods, you may even want to give your snake’s shed to them as a food source.
Helping Your Ball Python Shed
If you see that your ball python is having trouble shedding, you can assist it by creating a humidity chamber. You can do this by placing a heating pad under a large container with a wet hand towel inside. If a loose, small piece of skin isn’t quite coming off, you may want to gently pick it off with your fingers or a pair of tweezers.
How can I make sure my snake has an easy shed? Provide your snake with a proper diet and ensure that its environment is suitable. This means making sure that there is an appropriate amount of heat/light/humidity. Providing your snake with a constant source of moisture will help as well. This means laying out a ceramic bowl that is constantly filled with water and giving it a “moist hide”.
How do I know when my ball python is about to shed? Approximately a week before your snake is ready to shed its skin, colors will start to fade. Its eyes may start to appear cloudy, and you may even start to see old shed separating from new skin. Your snake may also seem lethargic and display a loss of appetite.
Can I handle my snake as it’s shedding? No. Shedding is an uncomfortable, stressful process for your snake. Attempting to handle it during this time for anything other than an emergency will only further upset your snake. Wait to resume handling until a few days have passed from your ball python’s last shed.
Can I try feeding my snake as it’s shedding? While snakes will not typically eat as they’re shedding, you may want to try to get a meal in during the early stages. If your snake refuses to eat, be sure to remove the food item within 30 minutes of putting it out.
For a new reptile owner, seeing their snake shed can be a somewhat nerve-wracking process. However, there is little reason to be concerned. This is a completely natural bodily function that your snake should be able to accomplish with little issue. As long as you know what to look out for, you will know how to ensure your ball python’s health and comfort during this process. When bringing home a ball python for sale, simply wait to observe the first signs of a shed.