Feeding a Ball Python
Ball Pythons are constrictors. They coil their bodies around their prey and slowly squeeze the life out of it. When the prey exhales, Ball Pythons will tighten their grip. The prey will die fairly quickly
Known to be finicky eaters at sometime. Make sure all environmentally factors are correct i.e. the temperature, the enclosure, or the humidity.
Ball Pythons eat small rodents. Mice, rats, and hamsters are a few of Ball Pythons prey but I prefer to feed mice only.
Younger Ball Pythons should be fed more often than adult Ball Pythons. Feed a younger Ball Python every 7-10 days. An average mouse will be fine for each meal.
Feed an adult Ball Python between 2-3 weeks. I feed my Ball Python 3-4 mice at each meal.
Ball Pythons CAN become obese. Do
not over feed a Ball Python. Signs of obesity are: the skin between the scales
are visible, difficulty in forming coils, and fold lines in the skin when a fat
snake remains in a coiled position for prolonged periods of time.
NEVER feed wild caught mice to your Ball Python. Wild caught mice have diseases the Ball Python's immune system can not handle. Go to a local pet store and purchase mice there. Mice are not expensive, almost a dollar per one.
Most Ball Python owners prefer to feed dead prey to their Ball Pythons. A live rodent may fight back during the constricting thus hurting the snake. I saw a story of a man who fed a rat to his Ball Python. The rat bit the Ball Python right on the head killing the snake. The rat would later die also. If you are going to feed live rodents please watch the entire feeding process to make sure nothing goes wrong.
Some people buy frozen rodents and store them in the freezer until they are ready to feed their ball python. Frozen rodents are cheaper than buying live ones. Some ball pythons will not eat thawed mice. It just depends on the ball pythons preferences.
I precaution wait about 2-3 days before handling after a feeding. Handling could
cause regurgitation. Give the snake some time to eat it's food.
Strategies for getting finicky eaters to eat
Before trying any of these methods make sure all the housing aspects are correct i.e. the temperatures, humidity, and substrate. Try to not make any sudden movement during feeding. Usually try to feed at night. If the ball python won't eat just try to leave it alone at night with its prey and with the lights off. Make sure just a few of these things are correct before trying the methods below.
1) Brown Bag Method: Get a brown paper grocery bag and penetrate it a few times with a paper punch. Put an almost weaned rat (with it's eyes still closed) inside the bag along with the snake in the bag. Fold over the top and staple it shut and let sit over night. Check in the morning. Repeat if necessary. If the snake does not eat the rat try a weaned gerbil or a pre-killed gerbil.
2) Rodent Hole Method: Use a bucket and make a hole half way up the bucket that's big enough for the snake to crawl though. Inside the bucket place an almost weaned rat. Place a lid on top of the bucket. Let the bucket sit overnight in the tank. If this method fails try using a different rodent. Repeat as necessary.
3) Force Feeding: This is a LAST resort! Do not try this unless you are an experienced herper! It is better to have an experienced person do this as this may hurt the snake! I can't stress this enough, do not try this unless you are completely positive you know what you are doing! Pre-kill a small rodent and lubricate it with water or beaten whole egg. Gently but firmly grasp the snake behind the head. Take the rodent and slowly push it into the mouth of the snake. Push the rodent in as far as you can. At this point the snake will usually finish the process for you. This is an extremely stressful experience on the snake and regurgitation is not uncommon. Try again in a few days if the snake does decide to regurgitate
*Pictures AND MOVIES to come soon!*