Feeding Ball Pythons


Feeding Ball Pythons

Ball Pythons are a constrictor and their diet consists of small rodents. They will eat mice and rats throughout their lives. They are nocturnal, so a good time to feed is at night. A separate feeding cage is NOT recommended. When you move a Ball Python to a separate cage to feed it may stress them and cause them to not eat. This is a good lesson for everyone: You should never leave a live prey item (other than a pink mouse or pink rat that cannot bite a snake) unattended.

When it comes to feeding Ball Pythons it is easy to provide the snake with a balanced healthy diet, since snakes consume whole prey items. Ball Pythons usually begin eating baby mice and rats, called pinkies.

When is the best time to feed my Ball Python?

When it comes to feeding Ball Pythons try at night. Ball Pythons are nocturnal, meaning they rest during the day and are active primarily at night so have have a tendency to feed better at night.

Ball Python Feeder Sizing Chart – The Appropriate Size rodent to Feed to your Ball Python.

  • Hatchling-99 grams: Mouse Hopper
  • 100-199 grams: Mouse or Rat Pup
  • 200-349 grams: Rat Hopper
  • 350-499 grams: Weaned Rat
  • 500-649 grams: Small Rat
  • 650-1199 grams: Small Rat – Medium Rat
  • 1200-2799 grams: Medium Rat
  • 2800 grams and up: Medium Rat – (Large Rat)
rat

What happens if the food is too big for a Ball Python?

As a rule of thumb don’t feed your ball python anything bigger than the thickest part of its body. If you stick with this rule you won’t ever have an issue. Some times if prey is too large they may regurgitate it and the snake could get stomach acid on it which can burn the snake or even be lethal.

Feeding Ball Pythons on a Schedule

Ball Pythons eat rodents, primarily rats and mice. The size of the food item is dependent upon the girth of the snake. Don’t feed your ball python anything bigger than the thickest part of its body. This is recommended for ALL snakes. If your snake is a hatch-ling it should be fed every 5-6 days but as it gets older it’s not really needed to feed as much, since there fat stores have built up during the year. 10-14 days is good feeding schedule for an adult ball python.

If your Ball Python doesn’t eat weekly it is okay to skip a feeding and try to feed him again the next time. Also, if your snake seems to be overweight (the tail should slowly taper to a point, not have an abrupt change in width from the vent to the tip) you should wait longer in between feedings as to prevent obesity issues.

How to get hatch-ling started feeding

How to get baby Ball Pythons to feed. Start hatch-lings feeding on either live rat pups or mouse hoppers. Put the young rodent in the snakes enclosure and leave it for the snake to feed. It’s a good way to start them. If the Baby Ball Python doesn’t feed, take the food item out and try again in a few days.

Wait a few days after hatching from the egg before offering the first meal 7-10 is a good starting point or after first shed. Remember they absorb the yoke before coming out of the eggs and in doing so this provides them with enough nutrients to survive for the first few weeks.

Here’s some steps to follow on getting baby ball pythons started feeding.

Start Week 1 a few days after the first shed. Be sure the hatch-lings are housed by them selves in a small 6qt tub with with fresh water and a hide box.

  • Week 1 drop a rat pink in each box and leave it over night.
  • Week 2 again drop a rat pink in each box and leave it over night.
  • Week 3 drop a mouse pink in each box and leave it over night.
  • Week 4 don’t even offer them a meal this week and leave them alone. Add some crumpled up newspaper to their boxes for added security.
  • Week 5 again drop a rat pink in each box and leave it over night.
  • Week 6 place the snake in a deli cup with a rat pink in if after few hours they don’t eat it, try replacing it with a mouse fuzzy for a few more hours.
  • Week 7 assist feed a mouse pink twice a week until they start feeding on there own.

How often to feed a baby ball python?

We try to feed baby ball pythons once a week until they reach about 400grams. We slowly increase the size of the meal as the snake grows so it does not become overweight.

Hint for a ball python that isn’t feeding

If your Ball Python isn’t taking food, try looking at the temperatures of the enclosure, is his tank to big, are there enough hides? Did you try different colored mice? (If you were feeding white mice try feeding brown.) What time of day where you feeding them? Some Ball Pythons only take during the night, and then some don’t care. Ball Pythons will often refuse food if they are handled excessively or when their habitat changes. They will need time to get comfortable in new surroundings before accepting a meal.

Should I feed My ball python Mice or Rats?

Rats are slightly more beneficial to snakes because of their nutritional content. They are also more convenient because they come in larger sizes and as the snake grows you can upgrade in size and still feed only one prey item per feeding. However, if your snake is willing to eat multiple mice per feeding than it’s mainly just personal preference.

Power feeding is never a good idea

Some people power feed there Ball Python so they grow faster; It will cause your snake to become too fat and may have an ill affect. If you over feed your Ball Python it cuts it’s lifespan in half. It’s called power feeding and should never be done. If you feed your Ball Python one rat a week it will grow to its maximum size. If your snake does not take to rats then you can feed it two adult mice back to back.

What if your Ball Python won’t eat?

If you are keeping it at the correct temperature, and it is healthy, it should feed regularly. If it refuses a meal several times in a row, or if it regurgitates, or if you notice obvious weight loss or signs of disease (fluid or bubbles in the nostrils, sneezing, open-mouth breathing), it is time to make an appointment with a reptile veterinarian.

Need help finding a reptile veterinarian near you check out  ARAV’s Find A Vet . (ARAV) stands for Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians.

The different ways to feed

Now you know how often to feed your Ball Python and what size prey to offer. Let’s talk about the ways  in which you present the prey. There are basically three ways to feed:

  1. You can offer frozen-thawed and warmed.
  2. You can offer freshly killed.
  3. You can offer live prey.

Of these three feeding techniques, the first option is by far the best and safest. To find out more about switching to Frozen-Thawed click Frozen-Thawed

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