Burmese pythons (Python bivittatus) are large constrictor snakes. They are known for their incredible size, but how big is a Burmese Python?
On average, a Burmese python will grow to be between 15 and 19 feet long. Most captive animals tend to be around 12 feet thanks to selective breeding.
Like most other large snakes, Burmese pythons are ambush predators.
Their large size allows them to take advantage of larger prey animals in their native range of Southern and Southeast Asia.
This massive size also protects them from predators. Babies and juveniles are common prey for many predators in their native habitat, but very few animals can take out a fully-grown adult Burmese python.
These huge snakes will typically pick one spot and wait for a meal to come by. They can go months between meals if necessary. However, these snakes will take advantage of any prey large enough to be worth eating.
Burmese pythons in captivity are well-known for always displaying signs of hunger. This makes it very easy to overfeed the snake.
Many reports of these animals are from captive snakes.
How much does a Burmese python weight?
While the average weight for a healthy adult is likely under 100 pounds, some very large females can weigh up to 130. There have been reports of animals that are over 18 feet and 400 pounds, but it is very rare to find an animal that long or heavy in captivity.
Wild animals average around 12 feet and weigh around 70 pounds depending on sex. While females are slightly longer than males, females outweigh males by a significant amount.
Babies do start off at about 22 inches long, but they grow quickly. A year old snake will be around 5 to 6 feet long if not more. This means that these snakes grow very fast. Most snakes will reach 9 feet in 2 years and will be fully grown by 8.
One of the interesting facts about animal species with populations that end up separated on islands is how differently the maximum size of the animal can become.
Some animals become much larger than their mainland counterparts such as the fossa, New Caledonian giant gecko, and island populations of the tiger snake.
Others, like reticulated pythons and Burmese pythons can experience insular dwarfism. this is when an island population becomes smaller.
One of the running hypotheses about this phenomenon is that this may be because there may be less abundant prey on an island.
Dwarf forms of the Burmese python can be found on Bali, Java, and Sulawesi. Burmese pythons from Bali average about 6 and half feet long, while snakes from Sulawesi max out at a little over 8 feet.
These snakes can sometimes be found in captivity, either as fully from that island population or mixed with mainland snakes to try to create a smaller snake.
If you want a Burmese python, but you don’t have the space, look into the island populations. Just remember that many populations of wild Burmese pythons are threatened by the pet and skin trade so you should only buy a captive-bred snake.
A properly fed captive Burmese python tends to average around 12 feet, but some animals may be larger or smaller.
One reason for this is the practice of power-feeding.
This is when some feeds a snake larger meals more often in the hopes that it will grow faster and reach a larger size. While this can work to create a larger snake, it is typically not great for the snake’s long term health.
Burmese pythons are very prone to obesity thanks to their constant desire for food. If you are only following the hunger cues of your pet, you will end up with a very fat snake.
This is very bad for the snake. Due to the way that snakes accumulate fat, it can make digestion more difficult and make the snake more likely to experience reproductive troubles.
This includes becoming egg-bound. This can require surgery to fix or the snake may die. Never overfeed your snake. The risks are to great and you will likely lose your pet at a young age.
Burmese pythons live for over 25 years in the care of a good keeper, so keeping them healthy ensures you have your pet for decades to come.
Generally, you should aim to keep steady growth and avoid letting the snake get too fat or have prominent ribs. A healthy snake is heavy-bodied but the tail is proportionate to the rest of the body.
It should not have any fat deposits. The snake’s head should be distinct but it shouldn’t look very small compared to the rest of the animal.
Weekly feeding is best for hatchlings, but you should drop the frequency rapidly. An adult will only eat every 3 to 4 weeks depending on the snake’s metabolism.
Snakes do not need anywhere near as much food as mammals since they do not use calories to maintain their internal temperature.
For more feeding, enclosure, and care info, please read my care guide for Burmese Pythons. If you are thinking about owning one of these giants, know what you are getting into!
Burmese pythons are some of the largest snakes in the world. While some reports put them at over 20 feet and 400 pounds, this is not true.
There are no reputable examples of snakes over 20 feet and the 400 pound snake was likely obese.
If you have any questions, pleas leave them in the comments below.
If you own a Burmese python, please leave your experience with the size and growth of these snakes below.