Ball Python Shedding: Everything You Should Know

One crucial aspect of ball python care is understanding the shedding process, which can sometimes be a source of concern for new and experienced owners alike.

In this guide, we will be talking about ball python shedding. I’ll share, valuable insights, and practical tips to ensure a smooth shedding process for your pet.

From recognizing the signs that your python is about to shed to addressing any shedding issues that may arise, we’ll cover everything you need to know about ball python shedding.

The Shedding Process

As a ball python enthusiast and keeper, I’ve been through the shedding process with my snakes countless times. It’s a fascinating and natural part of their life cycle that ensures healthy growth.

Let’s explore the different stages of the shedding process and what to expect during each phase.

Pre-shed Phase

The pre-shed phase typically lasts around one week, but it can vary depending on your snake’s individual shedding schedule. During this time, you may notice the following changes in your ball python:

  1. Dull and darkened skin: As the old skin starts to separate from the new one, your snake’s skin may appear duller and darker in color.
  2. Cloudy or bluish eyes: Your ball python’s eye caps are also shedding, which can cause their eyes to appear cloudy or bluish in color, often referred to as “blue phase.”
  3. Reduced appetite: Your snake may be less interested in food during this time.
  4. Increased hiding or inactivity: Ball pythons often become more reclusive during the pre-shed phase.

Shedding Phase

The shedding phase can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. During this time, your ball python will actively work to remove the old skin. You may observe the following behaviors:

  1. Rubbing against objects: Your snake may rub its head and body against enclosure items, such as rocks or branches, to help loosen and remove the old skin.
  2. “Crawling out” of the skin: Your ball python will use its body muscles to push its way out of the old skin, starting at the head and moving towards the tail.

Post-shed Phase

Once your ball python has successfully shed its old skin, it enters the post-shed phase. This is a time for you to inspect the shed and your snake to ensure everything went smoothly. Here’s what to look for:

  1. Complete shed: Ideally, your ball python’s old skin should come off in one piece. This is a sign of a healthy and well-hydrated snake.
  2. Clear eyes: Check that the eye caps have been shed, as retained eye caps can cause problems if not addressed.
  3. Healthy skin: The new skin should appear vibrant and healthy, free of any retained shed or injuries.

The entire shedding process, from the pre-shed phase to the post-shed phase, can take anywhere from one to two weeks. However, individual experiences may vary depending on your snake’s age, health, and environmental factors.

Signs of a Healthy Shed

As a ball python owner, it’s essential to understand the importance of recognizing the signs of a healthy shed. Shedding is a natural process that allows snakes to grow and renew their skin.

By observing the shedding process and being aware of the indicators of a successful shed, you can ensure that your ball python remains healthy and happy.

Consistent Color Change

One of the first signs of a healthy shed is a consistent color change in your ball python’s skin.

Prior to shedding, the snake’s skin will appear dull and may exhibit a slightly bluish tint. This color change is due to the separation of the old skin from the new one underneath.

As the shedding process progresses, you’ll notice your snake regaining its vibrant colors, indicating that the shed is going smoothly.

Clear Eyecaps

Another critical aspect of a healthy shed is the removal of the eyecaps. The eyecaps are the protective scales that cover your ball python’s eyes.

During the shedding process, these should come off with the rest of the skin. Clear, bright eyes without any retained eyecaps are a good indication that your ball python has completed a successful shed.

Complete Shedding of Skin

A healthy shed should result in a single, continuous piece of skin, including the head and tail portions.

In my experience, finding an intact shed skin in my ball python’s enclosure is always a moment of pride and reassurance that I am providing the proper care for my slithery friend.

Check your snake’s enclosure regularly for signs that the shed is progressing as it should. If you notice any issues, such as retained skin or eyecaps, it’s essential to address these promptly to prevent potential health problems.

What to Do When Your Ball Python Sheds?

As a ball python owner and enthusiast, I’ve always been fascinated by the shedding process. It’s an essential part of a snake’s life, and proper husbandry is crucial to ensure a healthy and successful shed.

In this section, I’ll share three key husbandry practices to follow when your ball python is shedding, drawing from my own experiences and expertise in reptile care.

1. Increase the humidity in the habitat.

One of the most important factors to consider during the shedding process is humidity.

Ball pythons require higher humidity levels to help them shed their old skin effectively. A dry environment can lead to issues like incomplete sheds or retained eye caps.

To increase humidity, you can mist the enclosure with water, use a larger water dish, or add moisture-retaining substrates like coconut coir or sphagnum moss.

Make sure to monitor the humidity levels using a reliable hygrometer, aiming for 60-70% humidity during the shedding process.

2. Temporarily withhold food.

It’s a good idea to withhold food for a short period when your ball python is shedding. Feeding during this time can cause stress and increase the risk of regurgitation, as the snake may be more focused on shedding its skin than digesting food.

Generally, it’s best to wait until the shedding process is complete before offering food again. This allows your snake to focus on shedding without the added stress of digestion.

3. Refrain from handling the snake unnecessarily.

Handling your ball python during shedding can be stressful for both you and your pet. The snake’s skin may be more sensitive than usual, and it’s not uncommon for them to be more irritable during this time.

It’s best to minimize handling as much as possible while your snake is shedding. This allows them to focus on the shedding process without the added stress of being handled.

Once the shedding is complete, and your snake is back to its normal behavior, you can resume handling as usual.

Common Skin Shedding Problems and Solutions


1. Incomplete Sheds

Sometimes, our slithery friends may experience incomplete sheds, where only parts of their skin come off. This can be due to various factors, such as low humidity levels, inadequate hydration, or stress.

Causes of incomplete shedding:

  • Low humidity in the enclosure
  • Dehydration
  • Stress or illness

How to help your ball python with incomplete sheds:

  • Increase humidity levels by misting the enclosure or adding a larger water dish.
  • Gently soak your snake in lukewarm water for 20-30 minutes to help loosen the skin.
  • Monitor your snake’s health and address any underlying issues that may be causing stress.

When to seek professional help:

  • If the stuck skin doesn’t come off after a few attempts at home remedies
  • If your snake appears to be in pain or distress
  • If the snake has a history of chronic shedding problems

2. Retained Eye Caps

Retained eye caps are another common shedding issue that ball pythons can face. Eye caps are the clear protective layer over the snake’s eyes, and they should come off during a normal shed.

Causes of retained eyecaps:

  • Insufficient humidity
  • Dehydration
  • Trauma or infection

How to safely remove retained eyecaps:

  • Gently moisten the eye area with a cotton swab soaked in warm water
  • Carefully use a blunt tool, like a credit card edge, to lift the eye cap
  • Avoid using tweezers or sharp objects that could harm your snake’s eye

Potential risks and complications if not addressed:

  • Infection or inflammation of the eye
  • Impaired vision
  • Permanent eye damage

3. Stuck Skin on the Tail

Stuck skin on the tail is another issue that can occur during shedding. This can be problematic if not addressed, as it can lead to constriction and loss of circulation.

Causes of stuck skin on the tail:

  • Dry conditions in the enclosure
  • Incomplete shedding

How to help your ball python remove stuck skin:

  • Soak the snake in lukewarm water to help loosen the skin
  • Gently rub the tail with a soft cloth or your fingers to encourage the skin to come off

When to consult with a reptile specialist:

  • If the skin does not come off after several attempts
  • If the tail appears discolored or swollen
  • If your snake seems to be in pain or discomfort

4. Retained Skin Near the Vent

Retained skin near the vent (the opening for waste elimination) can cause hygiene issues and potential infections if not resolved.

Causes of retained skin near the vent:

  • Incomplete shedding
  • Low humidity levels

How to assist your ball python in removing the skin:

  • Soak your snake in lukewarm water to help loosen the skin
  • Gently rub the area with a soft cloth or your fingers to remove the skin

When to seek professional help:

  • If the skin does not come off after a few attempts b
  • If the vent area appears red, swollen, or infected
  • If your snake exhibits signs of distress or pain

By addressing these shedding issues promptly, you’ll ensure that your ball python remains healthy and comfortable. Remember, prevention is key – maintaining proper humidity, hydration, and stress

Soaking to Correct Shedding Problems

As a ball python enthusiast and owner, I’ve experienced my fair share of shedding issues with my slithery friends. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, our ball pythons can face shedding challenges. In such situations, soaking your ball python can be an effective way to correct shedding problems.

Benefits of Soaking Your Ball Python

  1. Soaking helps to loosen and soften any retained skin, making it easier for the snake to shed it off. This is particularly helpful for dealing with stuck skin on the tail or retained eye caps.
  2. A soak provides much-needed hydration to your ball python, especially during shedding when it’s more susceptible to dehydration.
  3. Soaking can also help reduce stress for your snake, as it promotes relaxation and comfort during the shedding process.

Proper Soaking Techniques

  1. Find a container large enough for your ball python to comfortably fit in and fill it with lukewarm water. The water should be shallow, just deep enough to cover your snake’s body when it’s submerged.
  2. Slowly and carefully place your ball python into the water, allowing it time to adjust to the new environment. Remember to stay calm and gentle, as snakes can sense tension and stress.
  3. Keep a close eye on your ball python throughout the soak, which should last between 15 and 30 minutes. This ensures your snake’s safety and prevents it from becoming too stressed.
  4. If you notice that the retained skin has softened but hasn’t come off completely, you can use a damp cloth or your fingers to gently help remove the loose skin. Avoid forcefully pulling the skin, as this can harm your snake.

Precautions and Considerations

  1. Ensure the water is lukewarm and not too hot or cold. Extreme temperatures can cause stress or harm to your ball python.
  2. Never leave your snake unattended during the soak. Close monitoring is essential for your ball python’s safety.
  3. Soaking should be used sparingly and only when necessary to address shedding problems. Over-soaking can lead to skin issues or increased stress.
  4. After the soak, gently dry your ball python with a soft towel and return it to its enclosure, ensuring proper humidity levels are maintained for a successful shed.

Soaking your ball python can be a valuable technique for correcting shedding problems. By following the proper steps and precautions, you can help your slithery friend have a smoother and more comfortable shedding experience.

How to Avoid Problematic Sheds


As a ball python enthusiast and keeper, I can’t stress enough how crucial it is to take preventative measures to avoid shedding issues. Here are some essential steps you can follow to ensure your beloved reptile friend experiences a smooth shedding process:

1. Maintain Proper Humidity Levels

Humidity plays a significant role in the shedding process. Ball pythons thrive in environments with humidity levels between 50-60%, but during shedding, you should aim for 60-70% to facilitate proper skin removal.

To measure humidity, use a reliable hygrometer placed inside the enclosure.

You can maintain optimal levels by misting the enclosure, adding a larger water dish, or using a reptile-safe humidifier. Always monitor the humidity and adjust accordingly to prevent respiratory issues.

2. Ensure Your Snake Remains Well Hydrated

Adequate hydration is essential for a successful shed. A properly hydrated ball python is less likely to experience shedding problems.

Provide a water dish large enough for your snake to soak in if needed, and ensure the water is fresh and clean at all times. Change the water regularly and clean the dish to prevent bacterial growth.

3. Provide a Damp Hiding Spot

A damp hiding spot can significantly help your ball python during shedding. To create one, use a hide box or container with an entrance and place damp sphagnum moss or a damp paper towel inside.

Ensure the hiding spot remains damp (but not wet) throughout the shedding process, as this will provide a moist microclimate that aids in skin removal.

4. Maintain Good Enclosure Hygiene

Keeping your snake’s enclosure clean is crucial in preventing shedding issues. A dirty enclosure can harbor bacteria and parasites, potentially causing skin infections or irritations.

Develop a regular cleaning schedule that includes spot-cleaning feces and urates, as well as monthly deep cleans with reptile-safe disinfectants.

Don’t forget to clean and sanitize water dishes and other accessories to maintain a healthy environment.

6. Keep Your Snake’s Stress Level Low

Stress can negatively impact the shedding process. To minimize stress, avoid handling your ball python during shedding, maintain consistent temperature and humidity levels, and provide ample hiding spots for your snake to feel secure.

Also, avoid loud noises and excessive vibrations near the enclosure. By creating a calm and stress-free environment, you’ll promote a smoother shedding experience for your beloved ball python.

Providing a well-maintained environment, ensuring proper humidity, and minimizing stress are key factors in preventing shedding problems.

How Long Does it Take a Ball Python to Shed?

The shedding process, also known as ecdysis, can vary in duration depending on several factors. On average, it takes a ball python approximately one to two weeks to complete a full shed.

The shedding process typically starts with the eyes becoming cloudy or “blue” due to fluid buildup between the old and new layers of skin. This stage called the “blue phase,” lasts for around 3-5 days.

After the eyes clear up, the actual shedding begins within the next few days.

Several factors can influence the duration of the shedding process, including the snake’s age, health, and environmental conditions.

Younger snakes, for instance, may shed more frequently as they grow rapidly, while older snakes might shed less often. Proper humidity and temperature within the enclosure also play a crucial role in facilitating a smooth shedding process.

Why is My Ball Python Constantly Shedding?

If you notice that your ball python is shedding more frequently than expected, it’s essential to determine the possible causes.

Ball pythons typically shed every 4-6 weeks, with younger snakes shedding more often due to their rapid growth. However, some factors can lead to increased shedding frequency:

  • Overfeeding: Feeding your ball python too much can lead to rapid growth, which may cause more frequent shedding.
  • Parasites: External parasites, such as mites, can cause skin irritation, which might trigger more frequent shedding. In this case, it’s essential to consult a reptile veterinarian and treat the parasites accordingly.
  • Health issues: Certain health conditions, such as infections or skin disorders, can lead to irregular shedding patterns. If you suspect a health issue, seek professional advice from a reptile veterinarian.

As a ball python keeper, it’s important to monitor your pet’s shedding patterns and ensure their environmental conditions are optimal. If you’re concerned about your snake’s shedding frequency, consult a reptile veterinarian for guidance and advice.

Can You Handle a Ball Python While it’s Shedding?

During the shedding process, your ball python will be more sensitive and prone to stress. It’s generally best to limit handling during this time, as excessive handling can cause unnecessary stress and may lead to incomplete or problematic sheds.

However, it is safe to handle your snake once they have completed shedding and their skin appears healthy and intact. Be gentle and observant of their behavior, as they may still be more sensitive than usual.

Should I Feed My Ball Python While Shedding?

Feeding your ball python during shedding can be a tricky decision. Ball pythons tend to have a reduced appetite and may refuse food during this period.

Additionally, the stress of feeding can exacerbate shedding issues. As a result, it’s generally advisable to temporarily withhold food during shedding.

If your snake is approaching a shed, you may want to wait until they have completed the process before offering their next meal.

How Long After My Ball Python Shed Should I Feed Them?

After your ball python has completed shedding, it’s important to give them some time to recover and adjust before offering food.

It’s generally recommended to wait at least 24-48 hours after shedding before attempting to feed your snake. This allows them to rehydrate, regain their appetite, and return to their normal behavior patterns.

Keep a close eye on your ball python’s behavior, and if they seem eager to eat, you can resume feeding as normal.

Why Ball Pythons Shed in Pieces?


When a ball python sheds its skin, it’s going through a process called ecdysis. Ideally, the old skin should come off in one piece, revealing a healthy, vibrant new layer underneath. However, sometimes the shed comes off in multiple pieces. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as inadequate humidity, stress, or health issues. Shedding in pieces isn’t ideal, as it may indicate that the snake is experiencing difficulties and discomfort during the shedding process.

Factors Contributing to Shedding in Pieces

Inadequate humidity: The most common reason for shedding in pieces is improper humidity levels in the snake’s enclosure. Ball pythons require a specific humidity range (usually around 50-60%, with a slight increase during shedding) to facilitate a smooth shed. When humidity is too low, the skin may become dry and brittle, causing it to break apart during the shedding process.

Stress: Stress can also cause shedding issues in ball pythons. A stressed snake may not shed properly, leading to the skin coming off in pieces. Factors that can cause stress include sudden changes in the environment, improper handling, or the presence of other animals.

Health issues: Sometimes, health problems can lead to shedding in pieces. If your snake has a skin infection or is suffering from parasites, the shedding process may be affected.

Addressing the Issue and Improving the Shedding Process

To help your ball python shed smoothly, take the following steps:

  1. Monitor and maintain proper humidity levels in the enclosure. Invest in a reliable hygrometer and adjust the humidity as needed.
  2. Create a stress-free environment for your snake by providing appropriate hiding spots, minimizing disturbances, and handling them gently.
  3. Regularly inspect your snake for signs of health issues, such as mites or infections, and seek veterinary care if needed.


Understanding and managing ball python shedding is a vital aspect of responsible reptile care. By following the guidelines and advice provided in this article, you’ll be well on your way to ensuring your ball python remains healthy and comfortable throughout its life. Embrace your passion for these incredible creatures and continue to learn and grow as a devoted ball python keeper

Filled under: Snakes

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