The white lipped python is generally considered to be an intermediate to advanced snake and a medium-sized python.
They are fantastic pets so long as you don’t mind the occasional nip happening, especially when they’re hungry.
You may be wondering:
How big does a White Lipped Python get?
The white lipped python is 5.5-9.5 feet long. This depends on the exact species since they run quite a variety of size depending on location. On average, white lipped python pets are 6-7 feet long.
Now for the long answer, the white lipped python is made up of several different species listed under the same genus.
Since we’re dealing with a broadly identified snake rather than a specific type, we’ll be looking at all six species of white lipped python and just how large these snakes are.
Let’s get started.
Neonates and Juveniles Sizes & Growth
Across the board, neonate (freshly hatched) white lipped pythons are approximately 1 ft long, with some being as small as 8 inches and others a little under a foot and a half.
This variance is primarily seen between the sexes of the white lipped pythons, though it isn’t always indicative of whether a neonate snake is a male or a female.
Indeed, traditional sexing methods should always be tested to assure that you’re getting exactly what you want.
Northern white lipped pythons (click for my complete care sheet) tend to grow a bit slower than southerns, though they are faster than any of the other species except those southerns.
Biak white lipped pythons are very rarely seen in the pet trade.
Wau white lipped pythons are much the same. However, these species are some of the slowest growers of the bunch often taking up to five to seven years to actually reach their adult length.
For a snake that lives up to thirty years, this doesn’t seem like a lot; but northern white lipped pythons are often to adult length and weight (ie; breeding size) around 3 to 4 years of age.
Juveniles of all species will eat voraciously and grow extremely quickly under the correct caretaking circumstances. It’s simply getting those first couple of feet on them with the ones mentioned above that seems to take so long.
Adult White Lipped Python Sizes
Adult white lipped pythons are not snakes of considerable size… except for the southern white lipped python.
Measuring a surprisingly 9 ft at record adult length, it is common to see southern white lipped pythons in the wild measure 7-8 ft. They appear to be thicker, hardier, and simply better at climbing than their northern cousins.
Northern white lipped pythons do not suffer from a lack of food or predatory instinct, they are simply on the smaller end of this particular genus.
At 6-7 ft, these snakes are comfortable in the care of humans and easier to maintain for intermediate and early advanced keepers than say, the length of some very large pythons and boas on the market (and very easily available) today.
If looking for the less-common Biak, Karimui, Wau, or Huon Peninsula (HP) varieties, you will find that all of these are much smaller snakes than the two above.
Though some scientists argue that the Biak is actually just a color variety of the northern white lipped python, this is not the case in current taxonomy.
Regardless, you will find that most of these barely creep into the 6 ft range on their highest end and are more likely to be 4 to 5 ft long at adult length and much, much leaner snakes than the northern or southern white lipped python.
Why? Studies are still happening in their native land, but the general thought seems to be human encroachment on their habitats.
Differences Between Sexes
As with almost all snake species in the world, the female of any of these varieties will almost always be longer and heavier than the male of a similar age and food availability network.
Why? It makes breeding easier for both male and female. Males do not need to carry eggs for any length of time and females do.
Females need the extra weight to survive while they work with their clutch of eggs, while they lay, and to deal with the heavy resources that laying eggs takes from them.
Particularly in this species, it is rarely seen for larger males to breed smaller females.
This is likely because female snakes are simply so much larger comparatively in relative age/stature/area in white lipped pythons that there are no males outweighing or out-measuring them.
Space Considerations Associated With Your Growing Snake
Since the southern white lipped python is less common in the pet trade than the northern, we’re going to assume that you’ve purchased a northern white lipped python.
Perhaps you purchased a neonate at a reptile show or you know a breeder who has a brood ready to move on to their new homes. Fantastic. Congratulations on your new pet!
Your beginner setup will likely cost you around $1,500 for your bare minimum needs up and through juvenile years. Neonates need only a 1x2x2 ft enclosure, but this is still larger than most neonate beginner species need by a long shot.
Your adult northern white lipped python will likely require a custom enclosure with front-opening windows (these reduce the possibility of you being bitten or struck at since most predators come at these snakes from above).
The absolute minimum we recommend that this be is 4x3x2 ft, though 6x4x4ft is more ideal and allows your white lipped python to exhibit natural climbing behaviors.
It is likely that your white lipped python will be slightly north of 6.5 ft in length at adult measurement. That means that you need to give them the most room that you can.
If at all possible, try to allow an enclosure long enough that the snake can stretch out fully without touching either end of the enclosure, in at least one direction. This is both a comfort thing as well as a way to ease shedding issues.
The largest southern white lipped python found in the wild was 9 ft 3 inches long and was a female who was seen leaving her freshly hatched eggs.
She was somewhat undernourished so her exact weight, at ideal weight, was unknown. This is to be expected for a female that’s recently laid eggs.
NATUSCH, Daniel JD et LYONS, Jessica A. Ecological attributes and trade of white-lipped pythons (Genus Leiopython) in Indonesian New Guinea. Australian Journal of Zoology, 2012, vol. 59, no 5, p. 339-343.