Ultimate Ball Python Shedding Guide | Everything you need to know

Ball pythons shed just like most other snakes for health reasons, growth, and overall well-being. This ball python shedding guide will show you everything you need to know about their process.

About two weeks after they hatch, a ball python will have its first shed and they’ll continue to shed every few weeks for the rest of their lives. 

All snakes shed their outer layer of skin and their shedding process is vital even stressful sometimes, so it’s important to keep this post in mind to help them through the process.

Infinite Scales ball pythonInfinite Scales Champagne het Hypo Ball Python Post Shed
Ball Python Before and After Shed

Ball Python Shedding Signs

Before a ball python sheds, they will show signs of starting their shedding process. Your ball python may show all of these signs or you may not see any of them before they shed. 

The important thing to know is that they will shed eventually even if it’s months in between. 

These are the first signs you’ll see before your ball python sheds. After you spot any or all of these signs your ball python should shed within the next 2 weeks or less.

Foggy eyes

Ball pythons shed skin from their entire bodies including their eyes. As the skin on their eyes, also called eye caps, starts to loosen, their eyes will fog up and become a dull blue color. 

Dull or darkened color

Another sign of a ball python about to shed is their colors becoming dull and faded. Some morphs, especially darker ones, will become darker before shedding.

Tight or wrinkly skin

Aside from a ball python’s colors changing before they shed, their skin texture will also change. You should be able to see your ball python’s skin become wrinkled especially near their curves. Their skin will also feel and appear tighter. 

Food strike

Ball pythons are known to go on food strikes for weeks and months at a time. One of the first signs of a ball python going to shed is if they refuse food.

Although this is normal behavior for a ball python, not every ball python will refuse food when they’re going to shed. Some ball pythons will eat no matter what and some won’t show any interest at all.

For best practice, don’t offer food to your ball python if you see any physical sign of them going into their shedding phase since it can cause stress.

Pink belly

A ball python with a pink belly is often a sign that they will shed soon. This is especially obvious on the whites of a ball python’s pattern. It’s noticeable on morphs like BELs, Piebalds, and other morphs with white bellies.

Ball Python Shedding Process

Ball pythons that shed go through phases that are distinguished by how they look. Together, these phases will take around 14 days to complete. 

Each phase represents a step closer to shedding their skin which takes no more than a few minutes.

Blue Phase

The blue phase is one of the most recognizable phases during a ball python’s shedding process.

The blue phase represents the point during the process when a ball python’s eyes get foggy and turn a blue tint. 

It’s important not to bother them during this time since they have a hard time seeing through the cloudy layer over their eyes. 

Since they can’t see well and their tight skin gets a bit uncomfortable, ball pythons tend to refuse food during this time. Their appetite usually comes back shortly after they shed. 

The blue phase will last a few days to a week before they shift to the next phase. 

White phase

The ball python’s white phase happens after their blue phase. During the white phase, the dullness and foggy eyes fade. 

Your ball python’s color should look more normal during this phase. This phase is distinguishable by the darker color your ball python will have. 

During this phase, your ball python has developed oils under their top layer of skin that will help them separate it while they shed. 

A few days after the white phase begins, your ball python will begin to shed.

Final phase

Finally, your ball pythons start rubbing their nose on anything they can to loosen their skin. 

It only takes a few minutes for them to completely take off their shed. 

It’s very important not to disturb your ball python during this time especially since the process is stressful and takes a lot of energy. 

From the tip of their nose, their outer layer of skin should roll-off scale by scale.

The goal is for their shed to come off in one piece, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes the shed will tear and it may come off in pieces. 

Even so, let your ball python complete its shed before handling them or disturbing them for assistance. 

Ball Python After Shedding

Ball Python Shedding Behavior

While your ball python goes through its shedding phases it will show behaviors that are out of the ordinary. 

Food strike

Ball pythons are known to go on food strikes: a long period of time between meals. This is especially true while they go through their shedding phases. 

Some ball pythons won’t eat when presented with food because they are going to shed. Their tight skin and cloudy eyes make it difficult and stressful to hunt and eat(even if it’s a frozen/thawed rodent)

Each ball python is different when it comes to food strikes since some won’t have a problem eating white they’re in either phase. 

Most people advise not to even offer food if you see that your ball python is going through any of their shedding phases to avoid stressing them out. It’ll also save you from wasting a rodent if they decide not to eat. 

Suddenly active  

Ball pythons sleep for 20-22 hours a day. Their most active times are when they are searching for a meal, water, and thermoregulation. 

A ball python that is in its final phase of shedding will be more active than normal roaming around their enclosure. 

They are usually finding a good spot to start shedding and is especially noticeable when they start rubbing its nose against everything. 

Their nose rubbing may look aggressive, but it’s the way they start to get their shed off. 

How often will a ball python shed?

Adult ball pythons shed every 4-6 weeks. While baby ball pythons will shed every 1-2 weeks.

Their first shed will happen about 1-2 weeks after they hatch. As hatchlings, they’ll continue to shed whenever a new layer grows. As ball pythons get older, they shed less frequently.

Ball pythons can go longer than 6 weeks in between sheds with no issues, it just means they aren’t growing quickly.

Ball pythons will continue this cycle for the rest of their lives even once they are fully grown. 

A pregnant(gravid) ball python will have a pre-lay shed after their ovulation. 30-50 days after a gravid ball python’s pre-lay shed, they will lay eggs. 

For more signs that your ball python is gravid click here

Ball python shedding problems

As much as we would love for our ball pythons to have perfect sheds every time, I understand that’s not always the case. 

A bad shed happens when their shed comes off in pieces or it doesn’t come off at all. 

Eye caps

Ball python’s eyes shed just like the rest of their body. The skin that sheds from their eyes are called eye caps. These eye caps may stick even though the rest of the skin sheds off. This can cause issues in the long run so it’s always best to make sure the eye caps have come off.

You can always check the rest of the shed to make sure the eye caps are there. Ball pythons eyes will show wrinkles if they are not well hydrated, this is not a stuck eye cap. This is why you should check the shed to see if it’s missing eye caps because it’s hard to tell on the snake’s eyes.

ball python eye

Shed is stuck on ball python’s tail

Another area that you should check after a ball python sheds is its tail. 

Ball python tails are very pointy and it’s easy for the shed to get stuck on the very tip. Stuck shed on a ball python’s tail can stop blood from flowing to the tip of their tail. 

This will cause your ball python’s tail to fall off so always check to make sure they don’t have any stuck. 

My ball python hasn’t shed at all

A ball python who hasn’t shed at all probably just hasn’t shed yet. There isn’t a set schedule for ball pythons to shed. They shed based on how much and how fast they grow. 

The only time to worry is if you see flakey skin coming off of the ball python that they don’t take off themselves. 

How to Help Ball Python Shed

There are several reasons why ball pythons have bad sheds, whether it’s humidity issues or a wound that is healing. 

Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can help a ball python if it’s having a hard time taking off its shed. 

Soak them in water

The best way to help your ball python shed is to let them soak in warm water. 

They don’t always appreciate it but a good, warm soak will do them good. 

The water temperature should be around 80-90 degrees which, to you, will feel lukewarm. 

Water too cold could cause illnesses like respiratory infections and too hot may cause burns. Always use a thermometer if you are unsure. 

After 15-30 minutes your ball python shed will loosen up enough to help them shed quickly and in one piece.

Soaking your ball python is easiest done in a tub with a lid. A storage tub works best for this. 

Simply drill or solder holes on the sides of the tub for ventilation and fill your tub with lukewarm water no higher than to cover the largest part of your snake. 

Humidity box

A soak isn’t always the most convenient way to help your ball python shed so there are other options for you that might suit you and your snake better.

A humidity box is a small plastic container with an opening wide enough for your ball python to crawl in and out of that holds humidity. 

Adding this box into the ball python’s enclosure lets them choose when to go into a more humid area. 

It’s a less invasive way to help your ball python with its sheds, especially considering they are insecure during this time. 

Misting water

Another way to raise the humidity in your ball python’s enclosure is to mist down their tank daily with water. 

Misting their tank should raise their humidity just enough to help them shed without having to remove them from their enclosure. 

Ball pythons should have about 70-80% humidity in their enclosure while they are going through either of their shed phases. 

Vitamin e

If for any reason those two methods don’t work you can try using vitamin E oil. 

Vitamin E can be purchased in liquid form that can be rubbed onto your ball python if they need it. 

As long as there are no additives added in the Vitamin E liquid as most have them.

I’ve found that supplements like this one have the purest form of vitamin e if you don’t mind cutting open the capsules. 


When a ball python is in shed: 


  • Soak them every once in a while – weekly or monthly to help with shedding and hydration.
  • Add humidity to their enclosure – spraying with water bumps humidity up immediately and helps loosen the skin in preparation for shedding.  
  • Add enrichment for them to rub against. Ball pythons can remove their shed with nothing but the sides of their enclosure, but it doesn’t hurt to add hides, branches, stones, or other decors to help them along the way.
  • Make sure their eye-caps come off too! Ball python’s eyes shed just like the rest of their body. Sometimes it can be stubborn and not come off with the rest of their shed. Always double-check to make sure it came off too. 


  • Lather snake in cooking oil 
  • Handle your ball python while they’re going through their shedding process
  • Peel the shed from your ball python before they start shedding. Snake’s skin is very stretchy and peeling the shed can cause healthy skin to come off.

Why Do Ball Pythons Shed?

Ball python shedding is the natural behavior of removing its outermost layer of skin. There are many reasons why it’s important for any snake to have a good shed and ball pythons are no exception.

Here are 3 of the main reasons why a ball python sheds:

1. Growth

Ball pythons shed every time they outgrow their skin. This is why they shed so frequently when they’re younger. Hatchling and juvenile ball pythons will shed every 1-2 weeks depending on how much they each. Their outer layer of skin can’t grow with them so…they shed it off.

Even as a full-grown adult, ball pythons will shed their skin, just not as often as when they were younger. 

2. Protection

Ball pythons also shed their skin as a form of protection from mites, parasites, and other bugs or bacteria.

Certain mites and parasites will hide and breed under the ball python’s scales. The process of shedding can help get rid of these parasites.

It’s their way of cleaning themselves.

3. Healing

Ball pythons will also shed when they have a wound. Shedding helps bring out the new skin when a ball python is injured. 

When a snake gets injured, they heal from the inside out. As each layer is shed, the wound will become less noticeable, eventually leaving a scar.


What should humidity be when my ball python is shedding? 

A ball python’s enclosure should be about 50-60% every day. When your ball python is going to shed, humidity can be bumped up to 75%-80% to help them have a complete shed. 

Should I feed my ball python during the shedding phase?

Some ball pythons will eat while in shed, but most will refuse any food you offer. Feeding your ball python could cause stress while they are in shed so it’s recommended not to offer them food at all. 

Even if your ball python eats while in shed, the process of hunting may cause them stress. 

It’s ok for them to miss 1 or 2 feedings while shedding and they should go back to a normal feeding schedule shortly after they shed. 

Do ball pythons eat their shed?

Ball pythons do not eat their shed. Most reptiles that eat their shed do it for nutritional reasons, but ball pythons don’t need that. Since they don’t eat their shed you must remove it from their enclosure.


Ball pythons shed their skin every once in a while just like every other snake and it’s something they’ll have to do for all of their lives. Since it’s such an important part of your ball python’s life it’s best to know good practices for helping your ball python shed. 

Shedding problems are less likely to happen when your ball python’s enclosure has the right temperatures and humidity although bad sheds can happen. 

There are many steps you can take to ensure your ball python has a good shed such as soaking them in warm water. 

A bad shed every once in a while isn’t going to harm your snake so don’t worry so much when it happens.

Remember to enjoy that slithering companion! Having a snake is fun and they can be calming, make the most of it, and good luck!

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