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  1. #1
    Registered User Nutriaitch's Avatar
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    Ball Python Length/weight ratio (age?)

    ok, so I know there is no accurate age - weight charts because snakes grow at different rates.

    but is there somewhere that has a chart for length to weight ratios?
    meaning something like saying a snake that is X" long should weigh somewhere between Y and Z grams?

    and how would I go about guesstimating the age of my snake?

    my BP is roughly 20" long (can't say exactly because he wasn't interested in being stretched out near the ruler ) and weighs 129g.

    thanks in advance for any answers.

  2. #2
    Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Just so you know: You can actually cause internal injuries (even fatal ones) by stretching a snake's body to measure the length. (Snakes have been injured & killed by law enforcement cluelessly doing that when they measured snakes they confiscated.) Even when being gentle about it- it's easy to under-estimate our strength when incorrectly applied to a snake's body- and it's just not that important to have an accurate length measurement of a snake anyway.

    I know of no such charts- young & growing snakes tend to look on the thin side for several reasons:
    1. They're eating young rodents (usually) that are more digestible & have more water with less minerals (smaller undeveloped bones) & other nutrients.
    2. When snakes grow, they put on tiny amounts of length, so any gain to their body thickness doesn't show up. You just need to be patient...

    If a young snake is eating regularly, don't lose any sleep over measurements.

    Likewise, guessing the age of a snake is pointless, because snakes grow according to how much they're fed, & how much they can digest (this is totally temperature dependent). FYI, some snake breeders deliberately minimize the growth of their hatchlings by "maintenance feeding"- something I don't agree with & would never do, but many others do. They don't want them outgrowing their minimal housing while waiting to sell them- plus many buyers want cute little ones that aren't yet scary biters. So that makes it very hard to know a snake's age unless the source is honest. With wild snakes, there's no telling as few of them have as much to eat as our captives, & many have to fast through cold seasons.

    All I can say is that a 20" BP is probably at least a year old.
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 04-05-2024 at 10:02 AM.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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  4. #3
    Registered User Nutriaitch's Avatar
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    Re: Ball Python Length/weight ratio (age?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Bogertophis View Post
    Just so you know: You can actually cause internal injuries (even fatal ones) by stretching a snake's body to measure the length. (Snakes have been injured & killed by law enforcement cluelessly doing that when they measured snakes they confiscated.) Even when being gentle about it- it's easy to under-estimate our strength when incorrectly applied to a snake's body- and it's just not that important to have an accurate length measurement of a snake anyway.

    I know of no such charts- young & growing snakes tend to look on the thin side for several reasons:
    1. They're eating young rodents (usually) that are more digestible & have more water with less minerals (smaller undeveloped bones) & other nutrients.
    2. When snakes grow, they put on tiny amounts of length, so any gain to their body thickness doesn't show up. You just need to be patient...

    If a young snake is eating regularly, don't lose any sleep over measurements.

    Likewise, guessing the age of a snake is pointless, because snakes grow according to how much they're fed, & how much they can digest (this is totally temperature dependent). FYI, some snake breeders deliberately minimize the growth of their hatchlings by "maintenance feeding"- something I don't agree with & would never do, but many others do. They don't want them outgrowing their minimal housing while waiting to sell them- plus many buyers want cute little ones that aren't yet scary biters. So that makes it very hard to know a snake's age unless the source is honest. With wild snakes, there's no telling as few of them have as much to eat as our captives, & many have to fast through cold seasons.

    All I can say is that a 20" BP is probably at least a year old.
    thank you for the info.

    I did not know that about stretching them, but to be more clear I wasn't actually stretching him.
    kinda used my finger to nudge him, but never pulled or anything.
    now that I know, I definitely won't ever actually stretch him.

    he gets relatively straight while slithering around on my desk.
    unless there is a ruler present, then it's like he's screwing with me and doesn't go anywhere near full length. I think he does it on purpose.


    I was mostly wondering age for my own curiosity to sorta have an idea where he is in his growth stage.
    and the more I educate myself, I believe I was underfeeding him (too small of a rodent) up until his most recent meal.
    So I'm guessing he may start to thicken up a little going forward.

    again, appreciate the info.
    this is my first snake so I'm still learning as I go.

  5. #4
    Bogertophis's Avatar
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    When guessing the age of a young snake- first look up the average length of hatchling for the species. Then realize it takes a long time when a small snake is eating young (small) prey to get much length- from there it's just an educated guess, lol. At least BPs are pretty big for hatchlings. I've raised many snakes that start much smaller, like corn snakes, & they have to eat pinkies for a very long time- hence, they grow very slowly until they get into larger prey. The smallest snakes I've ever raised were desert glossy snakes- about 7" hatchlings- talk about needing patience.

    I figured (hoped) you were being gentle about measuring your snake, but not everyone is or realizes how easy it is to injure a small snake, so my response was intended for general information to all. Some snakes will stretch out on their own when placed at the baseboard of a wall, btw.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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  7. #5
    Registered User Nutriaitch's Avatar
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    Re: Ball Python Length/weight ratio (age?)

    the first few times I fed him, I was using fuzzy mice. which he swallowed with absolute ease in no time.
    but the more I read and watched videos, I probably should have been feeding fuzzy rats for his size.

    this last meal I was unable to find a single fuzzy rat, and didn't want to buy a large pack, so I bought what was labeled as an adult mouse. who was pretty similarly sized to the fuzzy rats.
    which the act of eating it looked more line with everything I've seen. From videos in the wild to YouTubers showing their pets eating.


    the interesting part was his behavior with the larger prey was completely different, and honestly really cool to watch.

    with the smaller prey, he would kinda slowly go up to it, smell it from a couple sides, then strike and wrap.
    wouldn't squeeze it very long, then immediately just swallow it.

    with the larger one, dude hammered it with extreme prejudice as soon as I lowered it into his tank. no hesitation.
    held that wrap a good bit longer than with the smaller ones.

    but then came the interesting part.
    he moved it into the center and then kinda slithered around it. head on a swivel like he was protecting it.
    checked out his surroundings several times before going in to eat it.


    I'm assuming because they instinctively know they are most vulnerable when eating.
    And he knew the larger prey would take longer than those tiny ones he was getting.
    so he was making sure everything was cool and safe before starting to eat?

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  9. #6
    Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Many BPs are started as hatchlings on hopper mice (young mice w/ eyes just opened). Do bear in mind though that mice or rats do bite back once their eyes are open- but not until then.

    Smaller than usual BP hatchlings may start on mouse fuzzies, but generally they're considered too small- & especially too small for a 20" BP.

    BPs tend to have taste preferences between rats or mice- & once started, may refuse the other or be hard to switch. So make sure you have a local & regular supply of the prey needed. Many prefer to feed rats to BPs, because an adult mouse is not enough food for an adult BP, whereas rats get bigger. Actually, the larger adult rats are too much food for adult BPs: adult female BPs get bigger & eat more than males, & when fully grown can be fed medium to large rats. Adult male BPs are best maintained on small "adult" rats- if overfed, they're likely to go on long fasts, which gets to be a real pain, not to mention wastes a lot of food.

    If you're feeding live right now, I highly recommend you get your snake on pre-killed fresh (p/k) or frozen-thawed (f/t) prey A.S.A.P. for safety- sooner or later, snakes get injured by live prey, & vets care is needed for resulting infections (hard on your budget)- not to mention pain for the snake, slow healing (hassle for you), scarring (ruins appearance) & even some risk of fatal injuries.
    In this regard, live rats are FAR more dangerous than live mice.

    There's also the issue of humane treatment for rodents- I know they're where they are in the food chain, but rats are quite intelligent & actually make great trainable pets- if you didn't know. Mice, on the other hand, may be cute* (*I raise fancy mice) but they're not very smart & not good pets- so I'm glad that all my current snakes do just fine on mice.

    You'll often see ppl debating nutritional differences & claim rats are better for your snake than mice or whatever- there's minor differences but domestic rodents (rats or mice) are all perfectly adequate, especially if they're fed quality* food. (*That's why I raise my own. When I go into pet stores, I typically see adult mice that are scrawny & about half the size of mine, lol. Theirs look very under-fed.) In the wild, BPs don't eat either one- they most likely consume ASFs (African Soft-Furred), which you can get but they cost a lot more- much harder to raise.

    Snakes get better skills for killing prey with more practice- & many learn to recognize helpless rodents (eyes closed) & don't even bother to constrict them first- they just gulp them down alive. But it depends on the snakes- they have their own personalities too. Even when taking only dead prey, some snakes go through the motions of killing first, no matter what, while some others will eat from my tongs rather politely, lol. (I don't currently keep BPs, btw- but I have in the past.) Bear in mind that BPs primarily focus on the HEAT signature of the rodents- if you feed dead prey, it should be warmed so your BP will recognize it as prey.
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 04-05-2024 at 12:05 PM.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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  11. #7
    Registered User Nutriaitch's Avatar
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    he's been on frozen/thawed since I got him.

    you can buy them locally here by the pack (the bigger the prey the fewer in a pack).
    they only had larger packs of the fuzzy rats when I went last time, but had the individual mouse.
    bought the individual this go round to make sure he could handle it.

    now that I know he can, I'm gonna buy the pack so I have some on hand here and don't have to go to the store every time.

    there is a feeder rodent breeder in my area that offers fresh killed, but I haven't tried those with him because he seems to be good with the frozen/thawed.
    plus it's convenient to just have them here and not have to go shopping just before feeding.

    thanks again for the info, you've been very helpful.

    I'm really enjoying being a BP owner and will probably (eventually, but not right away) get another setup and another snake.
    But my wife wants something more cuddly instead
    We also have a Tarantula, and had a scorpion (RIP). Will have another Scorpion once it warms up a little more and I can go catch another one.

  12. #8
    Bogertophis's Avatar
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    You had mentioned a pack (of prey) so I thought you were just doing f/t- but wanted to make sure. That's certainly the most convenient. But if your snake gets fussy later on, I'm glad you have a nearby rodent breeder just in case. When your snake gets a little bigger, some of them get pretty cuddly too- just sayin'. For many years I had a large BCI (boa) that was VERY cuddly! She can always put your BP in a fleece sweater sleeve & pretend he's got fur, I've kept a tarantula & a scorpion in the past too- I enjoy most creatures & still haven't tried them all. Never had a hermit crab or guinea pig. Always have dogs though- lots to be said for the fur babies.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

  13. #9
    Registered User Nutriaitch's Avatar
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    Re: Ball Python Length/weight ratio (age?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Bogertophis View Post
    I've kept a tarantula & a scorpion in the past too- I enjoy most creatures & still haven't tried them all. Never had a hermit crab or guinea pig. Always have dogs though- lots to be said for the fur babies.

    our Scorpion came from the back yard at the office.
    next one will too.

    late last summer a batch was born back there because we found quite a few tiny ones.
    hoping to get a cool looking one this year, but likely will be another Striped Bark Scorpion because we have a TON of those out here.


    and same on the dogs.
    Have 2 of them now and they are awesome.

  14. #10
    Registered User Nutriaitch's Avatar
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    another size question (that might be a dumb one)

    my snake hasn't shed yet, but I'm curious:
    is there going to be any noticeable size difference when he's done? or is it more just a gradual growth, before shedding, then sheds but will still look basically the same after the shed?

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