Male Vs Female Ball Python: 3 Best Ways To Identify Gender

Ball Pythons are one of the hardest reptiles when it comes to identifying gender. Typically their physical attributes are similar making it a complicated process. However, we can use subtle differences and different methods to assist the process.

In this article I am going to write about the following;

  • Size & Growth Differences 
  • Probing Method
  • Popping Method
  • Pelvic Spurs

What Are The Physical Differences?

One of the differences between male and female Ball Pythons is their size and weight, at 6 months of age a female will typically overtake the males in size and weight and remain the larger sex between the two.

Male Ball Pythons have hemipenes, these are the two penises they’ll use during the mating process. Males have two penises because no matter what side the female tail will be, they’ll have success in mating.

Although it is hard to see unless you have a male and a female next to each other, their tails have slight differences. A male’s tail will be blunter and square-ended, whereas a female will taper into a sleeker more pointed tip.

Male Vs Female Growth Chart

AgeMale LengthMale WeightFemale LengthFemale Weight
Hatchling10 – 16 Inches80 Grams10 – 16 Inches80 Grams
Six Months16 – 27 Inches275 – 360 Grams16 – 27 Inches300 – 360 Grams
Nine Months25 – 30 Inches400 – 450 Grams25 – 35 Inches450 – 470 Grams
One Year1.5 – 2 Feet500 – 800 Grams2 Feet650 – 800 Grams
One and a Half Years2 – 2.5 Feet600 – 900 Grams2 – 3 Feet1000 – 1400 Grams
Two Years2 – 3 Feet800 – 1100 Grams2.5 – 3.5 Feet1200 – 1800 Grams
Three Years+2.5 – 4 Feet900 – 1200 Grams4 – 6 Feet1200 – 3000 Grams

Fun Fact: Only 14% of all snake species have males larger than females.

Methods To Identify Gender

Their size alone isn’t an accurate measure for identifying gender, so here is a list of 3 different methods to use.

#1 Probing

Probing is the most accurate method for identifying gender in Ball Pythons, but it can cause harm to your pet if done incorrectly. I recommend if you’re not confident in probing, you seek out an experienced breeder or veterinarian.

The following steps to probing are;

  1. Purchase a snake probing kit
  2. Ensure the probe is sterilized
  3. Apply water-based lubricant to the probe
  4. Carefully insert the probe into the vent, pointing towards the snakes tail end
  5. Gently push the probe until stops
  6. Place your finger as a marker and then remove the probe
  7. Measure the distance marked from the vent toward the tail

A probe will typically measure 9-15 subcaudal scales for a male Ball Python and only 1-5 subcaudals for females.

#2 Popping

The popping method is the process of making the hemipenes of the male prominent to identify gender, if there are no prominent bulges this means your Ball Python is a female.

I recommend only using the popping method on Ball Pythons under 6 months of age because as they get older they have stronger muscles and will be able to better resist the popping process.

Follow these steps for popping hemipenes;

  1. Hold your pet firmly but not so tight you’re squeezing them
  2. Press your thumbs on either side of the vent scale 
  3. Apply pressure with the thumb closer to the tail tip, this will pop the hemipenes

#3 Pelvic Spurs

Both male and female Ball Pythons exhibit spurs on both sides of the cloaca, on average males typically have larger spurs than females. However, I don’t find this an accurate method to determine sex because it’s based on an average. Probing and Popping are by far the best methods to use.

Summary

Identifying the gender of Ball Pythons can be challenging due to their similar physical attributes. However, there are methods that can assist in this process. While size and weight differences can provide some clues, they’re not definitive indicators. 

The three methods commonly used are;

  • Probing 
  • Popping 
  • Observing pelvic spurs

It is important to exercise caution and seek professional assistance if needed to ensure the well-being of the snakes.