If you have ever seen or owned a snake before, you likely know that snakes have to shed their skin as they grow. This includes ball pythons. Although most people know that ball pythons shed, most people don’t know how frequently this happens.
Most ball pythons will shed their skin every four to six weeks. With that being said, younger ball pythons shed more frequently than older ones, meaning your ball python should change its growing schedule as it ages.
To find out more about your ball python’s shedding schedule and what you can do to help your python during this process, keep reading. This article tells you everything you need to know about these delicate creatures whenever they shed.
Why Do Ball Pythons Shed?
Ball pythons shed for the same reason all other snake shed. Shedding their skin allows them room to grow. As snakes grow, their outer skin has to be removed so that the newer skin can take its place. Since shedding happens because of growth, younger snakes shed more often than adult ones.
Although it may sound strange and gross to think of a snake shedding all its skin, it isn’t all that different from us. Even though we do not shed all of our skin at once, our dead skin cells are constantly flaking off our body. This is exactly what happens to snakes, but their dying skin all comes off at one time.
How Frequently Do Ball Pythons Shed?
Most ball python shed every four to six weeks. At the peak of their growth, however, juvenile ball pythons can shed more frequently. For example, juvenile Ball Pythons are known to shed as frequently as once every month.
Ball pythons typically hit their physical maturity whenever they are between three and five years old. whenever your snake reaches this age, their growth rate will slow, causing their shedding frequency to slow as well.
How Long Do Ball Pythons Shed?
The shedding process typically takes ball pythons no more than two weeks. First, the snake will pre-shed for one to two weeks. During this time, the snake’s belly will turn pink, skin will look dull and darker, and eyes will become milky and opaque. After the eyes clear up, the ball python should shed within the next three days.
Is It Painful When Ball Pythons Shed?
The shedding process is relatively pain-free for ball pythons and other snakes. Although the process can be awkward and irritating, the snake shouldn’t experience a lot of pain. During the process, a lubricating moisture layer forms between the two layers of skin. This layer will not prevent against awkwardness or some irritation, but it prevents the shedding phase from hurting.
What to Do When Your Ball Python Sheds
Most snakes can shed their own skin without any help. That being said, there are some things you can do to make the process go more smoothly. For example, making sure that the environment is perfect for a shedding snake can go a long way. Here are some things to do when your snake is in its shedding phase:
Perfect the Tank Conditions
The most important thing you should do to help your ball python during the shedding phase is to perfect its tank conditions. In order to shed correctly, the tank needs to have high humidity levels. Aim for humidity levels between 50% and 70%. You can use a humidity gauge to monitor the exact humidity levels within the enclosure.
If you cannot get the humidity above 50%, add a large water dish to the enclosure, select a substrate that holds humidity well, and put a cover on the top of the tank.
You also need to add a shedding box to the tank. Shedding boxes are moist and will help the snake get rid of its skin faster. Select a shoe box or some similar cardboard box and poke holes in it. Then, place dampened paper towels inside the box. Place the entire box inside the snake’s enclosure.
Place coarse objects inside the tank as well. The coarse objects will provide a place for your snake to rub on as they are trying to remove their skin. Stones, branches, and other rough materials are great choices. We recommend selecting items that replicate the snake’s natural environment.
Provide Extra Moisture
As we mentioned above, humidity is crucial for a shedding snake, as is water in general. In addition to keeping the humidity levels right, make sure to mist the snake and provide it quite a bit of water. Even though snakes don’t drink a lot on a regular day, they drink a lot more during the shedding process.
Try not to handle your ball python while it is shedding. Even though the shedding process is not painful, it is awkward and stressful. Trying to pick up your snake during this time can be even more stressful. If you can avoid it, try not to hold your snake at all while it is shedding.
Clean the Cage After
Once your snake is finished shedding, make sure to clean up the cage. You will be able to notice piles of excess skin laying around. Make sure to use gloves while you are cleaning out the cage since snakes often defecate after the shedding process is completed.
Once again, ball pythons typically shed every four to six weeks. That shedding tends to last two weeks at most. Knowing when to anticipate the shedding phase can help you care for your ball python during this awkward and stressful time.
Featured Image Credit by TKBackyard, Shutterstock