How to Find Out If Your Ball Python Is a Male or Female

Written by donella bowles
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How to Find Out If Your Ball Python Is a Male or Female
Ball python (python image by FXTW from Fotolia.com)

Snakes can make for exciting and mysterious pets. One of the mysteries to most snake owners is the sex of the pet snake. While it is easier to determine the sex of the snake when it has reached sexual maturity, reptilian experts can use certain techniques to determine whether your ball python is male or female when it is as young as a couple of weeks of age. Amateurs should never attempt sexing techniques that could injure the snake.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Measure the length of your ball python if it is fully grown. Females are typically larger than males, ranging from 4 to 6 feet in length. The average size for most female ball pythons is 4 to 4 1/2 feet long. Males average 3 to 3 1/2 feet in length.

  2. 2

    Determine the thickness of your ball python relative to the thickness of another. Male ball pythons are more slender and have smaller heads than females.

  3. 3

    Look at your ball python's tail. Both males and females have anal spurs on either side of the vent under the tail. According to the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo, these claw-shaped spurs are remnants of hind limbs lost in the evolutionary process. Males have larger anal spurs and use them to caress the female during courtship.

  4. 4

    Consider taking your ball python to a veterinarian or reptilian expert to have it popped or probed. These are the only sure-fire methods of determining the sex of your ball python if it has not yet reached sexual maturity. Ball pythons reach sexual maturity between 18 months to four years of age. Popping involves slowly applying pressure to the snake's tail upward toward the vent in order to expose the hemipenes (male genitalia). Cloacal probing involves inserting a probe into the snake's cloaca to determine how far it can be inserted. A probe can be slid a further distance into a male than a female.

Tips and warnings

  • Only experts should attempt popping or probing a ball python. Inexperienced attempts can result in injury, or even death, to your ball python.

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