Considered a popular pet, the ball python is a snake with a long and interesting life. But how long do ball pythons live exactly, whether they are kept in captivity or in the wild? Do female ball pythons live longer? And what can you expect from their average life cycle?
In this article, we will endeavor to answer these questions. We will discuss the average lifespan of this particular species of snake, both in captivity and in the wild. We will also talk about what life is like for this reptile, from egg to adulthood. Let’s get started!
How Long Do Ball Pythons Live?
Ball pythons live an average of 20-30 years in captivity. It is unclear how long ball pythons live in the wild, as their lifespan is usually tracked in captivity. They are popular pet snakes, so it makes sense as to why we are more aware of their captive lifespan!
The oldest ball python lives in a zoo in St. Louis and is estimated to be 63 years old as of 2021. Amazingly she laid eggs at the age of 62 without having had contact with a male ball python in 15 years. The oldest ball python with official birth records lived at the Philadelphia Zoo until he was 47 years old.
Given their extended lifespan while in captivity, it is safe to assume that ball pythons do well as pets or in zoos. Their ability to far exceed an anticipated lifespan of 20 years is clear in these situations.
Female Ball Python Lifespan
Ball pythons exhibit sexual dimorphism, which means that females are larger than males as adults. However, the two don’t display significant differences in lifespan. As you saw above, the oldest estimated python was a female that laid eggs as a 62-year-old, while the oldest recorded ball python in captivity was a male.
Whether you are interested in keeping a ball python as a pet or simply want to learn more about them, knowing how their life cycle works is important. Let’s discuss that in more detail now.
The Average Ball Python Life Cycle
From developing in an egg to shedding its skin as it ages, here’s what the average ball python life cycle is like. This way, you can know what to expect from your pet python at any age!
Ball pythons hatch from eggs laid by a female snake. An average clutch (or group of eggs) that a female ball python can lay is anywhere from 5-10 eggs. Ball pythons lay less than a dozen large and healthy eggs on average, which is different from other species that lay many eggs and hope for the best.
This tends to result in larger, healthier babies. The eggs incubate under their mother’s care and warmth in an average time of 50-60 days. Snakes have a unique tooth that they use to cut their way out of leathery soft egg shells when the time is right.
Once hatched, ball pythons can move within a minute. They are independent and enjoy feeling a sense of safety and security in smaller enclosures. While it is important to scale up your ball python’s enclosure as they age, hatchlings appreciate a smaller container to live in.
Juvenile ball pythons are usually two feet in length, with female ball pythons growing faster than males. This is largely due to the fact that they lay eggs. Juvenile ball pythons are also between two-six months in age.
As they grow, pythons will be able to consume larger and larger prey, but it is important to only feed your pet python food of a certain width since they swallow their meals whole. You should also weigh the food- young pythons shouldn’t consume any single meal that weighs over 15% of their body weight.
Male pythons will be sexually mature at around 8 months old, still in the juvenile age group. Female ball pythons need much more time, usually over two years before they are sexually mature.
Most ball pythons are considered adults when they have reached their full size. This occurs right around their third year of life. Female pythons will be larger than males, at around 3-5 feet long, and males will stop growing between 2 and four feet.
Female ball pythons are capable of having babies well into their old age. Many pythons struggle with obesity in captivity, which is why it is important to never overfeed your adult python, should you choose to keep one as a pet.
Given how long ball pythons can live, are you curious to learn more about other species of snakes and their lifespans? Let’s compare different snake species now!
Comparing the Ball Python Lifespan to Other Snake Species
Can other snakes live as long as ball pythons can? Since ball pythons can live roughly 20-30 years in captivity, if not longer, here’s how long many other species of snakes live:
- Burmese pythons are closely related to ball pythons. They can live up to 25 years in captivity, though it is possible for them to live longer in rare cases.
- Green tree pythons are brightly colored and camouflage well in natural environments. However, they have a slightly shorter lifespan of 10-15 years, both in captivity and in the wild.
- Reticulated pythons are also closely linked to ball pythons. They live an average of 18-23 years in captivity.
- Spotted pythons are also called the eastern children’s python. They live an average of 20-30 years in the wild.
- Corn snakes are a popular pet snake species. They are small and easy to care for, and they live an average of 10 years in captivity. However, some have been known to live for over 20 years, so it seems to depend on the health of the individual snake.
- Kingsnakes are another pet snake that is gaining popularity. They live an average of 15-20 years in captivity, a long time compared to their wild counterparts.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © photos2013/Shutterstock.com
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