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While raising a ball python, you may find out that they sometimes don’t eat at all. You should discover the causes as well as know how to get a ball python to eat during these times. Let’s find out how to feed them in this article of BestLifeTips.
Why is my ball python not eating?
There are many different reasons why ball python is not eating. Here are the most common causes behind a ball python not eating.
- Parasites and disease
Illness is the most pressing reason why your snake may not be eating. Sickly ball pythons that are suffering from parasites are much less likely to demonstrate a healthy appetite than those that are healthy.
- Being stressed
This case is especially common if you just got your snake, took your snake on a trip, or changed its enclosure. Fortunately, it is the easiest reason to remedy.
Not offering sufficient heat for both day and night is a common mistake, especially with beginner snake owners. All ectothermic animals, including ball pythons, need adequately high temperatures to digest.
The basking area should be at about 88-92°F, and the cold end of the enclosure shouldn’t lower than 75°F. If it is too cold, their body and metabolism will begin to slow down. Your ball python will not eat if it’s unable to digest its food.
- It’s a specific season
When the winter comes, ball pythons will have little to no appetite. They will go through a period called brumation, which is similar to hibernation. They will become inactive and stop eating for a few months.
The female may begin fasting again as the breeding season comes.
- Being picky about their food and feeding techniques
Some ball pythons can be incredibly picky in how and what they eat, especially for wild-caught ball pythons.
- Their enclosure is messy
Ball pythons have a very advanced sense of smell. You may resolve their picky eaters’ habits by cleaning throughout the cage after every shed and defecation. They will eat more readily when they can’t smell themselves.
- They’re about to shed
Most ball pythons will not eat when they are getting ready to shed. All you need to do is just offer the proper humidity level and soak your snake so that they can shed comfortably.
How can I tell if my ball python is hungry?
It’s not hard to know if your ball pythons are hungry or not. They will let you know when they’re hungry. They will start prowling their enclosure. Their tongue flicks will increase in frequency and number.
How to get a ball python to eat?
How to get a ball python to eat – Heat the prey
Ball pythons can be very sensitive to the temperature of their prey. Many snake owners feed them prey that is room temperature or even cold, recently thawed rodents to their reptiles. This is a common cause of ball pythons refusing to eat.
To solve this issue, you need to first properly thaw the prey. Remove the prey from the freezer and thaw in the refrigerator. Do not thaw in room temperature, since this can lead to the formation of bacteria.
Once the prey is completely thawed, you can use a heat lamp to warm it. Use a reptile heat bulb with around 15-25°F wattage and do not aim the bulb too close to the prey, as this may damage the prey’s body. Make sure that the grey won’t get wet.
How to get a ball python to eat – Feed at night
Ball pythons are nocturnal hunters, so some individuals may be sensitive to the time of day when they are fed. It is a good idea to feed them after sundown. Whether feeding at day or night, you should keep the room as dark as possible.
How to get a ball python to eat – Offer more security
Ball pythons are particularly sensitive to insecure feeling and getting stressed. If your snake lives in a rack system without a hide, add a hide. A long PVC pipe maybe the good idea. Make sure the hide is appropriate for the individual snake.
If your ball python has already had a hide, try putting it in a pillowcase in the enclosure about an hour before feeding, then offer the prey. Try to stay out of a view and leave immediately when your snake takes the prey.
How to get a ball python to eat – Change the size or color of the prey
Ball pythons are really picky. Those in the wild probably never see white rodents, so some of them may not recognize this prey as food. Try to find brown or spotted mice or rats to offer. Change the sizes from large to teeny to see if your snake has a preference.
How to get a ball python to eat – Change the prey type
Sometimes changing the prey can stimulate ball pythons. Some ball pythons will only eat mice. Try offering mice with repeated attempts of introducing rats scented with mice.
African soft-furred mice are natural prey for ball pythons in the wild and may be more desirable. Only offer this type if there aren’t any other options left, as you don’t want to encourage your snake to only eat prey that is harder to find or more costly.
How to get a ball python to eat – Enhance the scent
Ball pythons are known to prefer gerbils. So some can be stimulated to eat by scenting the prey with something very desirable. You can try using gerbil bedding to scent frozen-thawed rats. Other owners also have had success with chicken broth.
How to get a ball python to eat – Try braining
Splitting the head to expose the brain matter, for some unknown reasons, this sometimes gets the snake to become interested. You may want to test this method out to see if it is stimulating for your snake.
How to get a ball python to eat – Allow for plenty of time between attempts
If you try any of these methods but your ball python doesn’t seem interested, give it a few days in between feeding. It’s very important if the snake appears fearful or distressed. Do not force the prey on a fearful snake, that will only make the matters worse.
How to get a ball python to eat – Tease feeding
This method can be very effective but can also potentially stress the snake more. So you should only do this after the above methods have failed. This method may take some practice to initiate effectively with individual snakes.
Tease feeding is accomplished by strategically tapping the snake’s snout or wiggling the prey in front of and around its head. Stop the process right away if the python retracts its head and balls up or shows other signs of high stress.
If the snake angles its head toward the prey that it’s looking to bite, this is the response you want.
How to feed a baby ball python?
Hatchling pythons grow quick. Females can grow up to 12 inches within a year and males can grow eight inches per year. Baby ball pythons need to eat a lot. They should be fed a hopper mouse every five days for the first four weeks of their life.
You should also make sure their feeding response is strong and that they are able to strike at prey accurately during this time.
Overfeeding baby ball pythons is not an issue since they have extremely high metabolisms.
How to force feed a ball python?
Force feeding is just one option to resolve if your snake is not eating. There are two options for forcing the food into your snake’s system.
Force feeding using solid food
You need to prepare a small pre-killed pinkie and cut off its head. Hold the snake behind the head gently and firmly, and push a pinkie against the snake’s mouth with a pair of tweezers, forcing it to open its mouth.
The snake may start swallowing the food on its own. If the snake does not swallow the food, use a thin steel or plastic rod, and gently push it down the ball python’s throat.
Once the food is past the snake’s neck, massage the pinkie towards the stomach with your fingers. The stomach of the ball python is about a third of the way down the body.
Once the pinkie has been swallowed, leave the snake in a warm dark cage so that it can digest the food.
Use a three-milliliter to five-milliliter plastic syringe and attach a soft rubber or silicone tube to it. Use liquidated cat food or even a beaten egg with calcium and vitamin powder, lubricate the tube with water.
Hold the snake’s head and open its mouth. Then push the tube down the throat of your ball python. After emptying the syringe’s contents, keep the snake’s mouth closed in order to stop the ball python from regurgitating the food.
Return the snake to its cage, make sure it has a dark side to escape, and the cage is at the appropriate temperature.
To sum up, force feeding your ball python should be the last solution, after all the above attempts have failed.
If you are in doubt, contact the veterinarian to make sure your snake doesn’t have any underlying health issues.
Before owning a ball python, you should learn about their living habitat, features as well as their instinct. So you can know how to get a ball python to eat when it’s not eating. Come back with BestLifeTips for more helpful information.