Can a Young Ball Python Live in a 20-Gallon Tank?


young ball python

Finding the right size tank for your pet ball python is an important factor in keeping it happy and healthy. A snake’s tank habitat is where they will spend most of their life so it’s important that they have room to slither, shed, and bask. To choose an appropriately sized tank, a snake’s owner must know how large that snake breed can get and the age of the snake.

Can a young ball python live in a 20-gallon tank?

A 20-gallon tank is considered to be on the smaller size as they can range from 2.5 gallons (a mini tank) to a whopping 180-gal. While ball pythons are known for not getting very big, how small is too small. To answer the question: Yes, most young ball pythons can live in a 20-gallon tank. 

Recommended Tank Size By Ball Python Age

Tank Size By Ball Python Age

Ball pythons regularly live between 20 and 30 years in captivity and grow to be 3-5 feet long. Using such a subjective term leaves room for error so instead, go by the ball python’s stage of their growth cycle.

Ball python growth can be categorized into three stages: infancy, adolescence, and adulthood. Ball pythons take between 3 and 5 years to reach sexual maturity and thus, adult form. Up until this point, a snake can accurately be considered to be young. Young snakes can further be divided into two sizes that require specific tanks.


Baby ball pythons are referred to as hatchlings. They are usually around 10 inches in length and can comfortably reside in a 10 gallon tank. Snakes grow quickly, in general, but even more so during their first few months of life. A baby ball python’s weight can almost double from one season to the next so it’s important to keep a watchful eye rather than just relying on a calendar date. As your ball python grows, so should the size of their enclosure. 


At the 6-month mark, a ball python is considered to be a juvenile. Their rate of growth is considerably slower than that of their infant stage but not over by any means. During this period of time, which lasts until a snake has reached full adulthood, a ball python will approach their complete length, which for males is 3-4 feet long, and for females is 3-5 feet. Snakes of this size can comfortably be held in a 20 gallon tank but will need a larger one closer towards a ball python reaching full maturity. 


At this stage, a ball python is at least 3 or 4 feet long and will continue to get longer. The recommended tank size for adult ball pythons is at least 75 gallons, however, they can still end up needing a larger tank later on. Snakes are “indeterminant growers” a term refers to living things that never stop growing. So, although ball pythons rarely exceed 5 feet it’s not impossible for them to grow larger. 

How To Figure Out Your Ball Python’s Age

Ball Python’s Age

For a first time ball python owner, trying to figure out its age can be a tricky endeavor. The best way to do this is to talk to the pet seller. Most ball pythons are about 1-3 months old when they are sold in pet stores, but this isn’t always the case so be sure to ask the store associate. 

For the most accurate information, buy ball pythons for sale directly from the breeders themselves. They’ll have intimate knowledge on the snake’s age, temperament, and eating habits. When in doubt, a breeder will be able to provide accurate recommendations for the size of their tank.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of things to consider regarding the setup for a reptile companion. Their native habitat will play a leading role in determining their heat, lighting, and humidity needs. Whether they are arboreal or ground dwellers will influence decor and whether rocks, hiding boxes, or branches should be utilized. But the most important decision of all is the selection of the actual tank or terrarium for your new snakes’ habitat. When in doubt, buy a tank that’s larger than what you might need.

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