16 gram BP NEED advice

Yep, you read that right. This little beauty is currently weighing in at 16g. It hatched August 3, 2021 weighing 13grams, was not a twin either. The other hatchlings in the clutch weighed in between 50-60 grams. I’m amazed it has survived this long. So far it has only taken 4 mouse pinks by assist feeding. Once hooked on the front teeth it will take it down. It will not take live pinks. I’d like to continue to give it a shot, I like the challenge. Have you come across this before? It will not eat more often than it is. I try every 7 days to feed it but it refuses often. Should I be doing it more often anyways? Larger meals would be pushing its limit as its as skinny as a pencil and its head is the tiniest little thing. It’s super active and moves about its hatchling tub with ease from hot to cold, drinks water and passes waste like any other hatchling.
Looking to see what else I might be able to do for it.

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Interesting. If it really is as thin as you describe I doubt upgrading feeding size is a good idea. Try looking around at other topics about getting hatchlings to eat. Some of those might help. Is it severely underweight or just a runt? Could you post any pictures of it?

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It is roughly 8 inches long. Tiny little thing.

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Wow! That thing is TINY! The body tone doesn’t look like it is starved. I would keep doing what you are doing, try feeding live, and keep a close eye on it. I’m tagging @t_h_wyman because he is very knowledgeable and is incredible helpful

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I have tried live mouse pinks and it just wont take them. I only leave a live pink in the tub for 20 minutes e/o day, it never takes it or even shows interest. So I do f/t and hook it on the front teeth with about 1/4 of the pink in its mouth. Then I leave it be for a good 10 minutes before sneaking a little peek W/O opening the tub. It’s in a cserpents hatchling rack with semi clear tubs. It does well swallowing it. But its 50/50 on those feedings being successful. Cold and hot ends are holding temp, hides on both ends of tub. Small water dish. It otherwise acts like an overly friendly normal BP. Maybe it is just taking its sweet ass time figuring things out. Ha.

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If it continues to take food, try to increase the feeding frequency to 5 days instead of 7, but don’t increase the size of the feeder. This 5 day schedule is healthy for ball pythons up to over 300g or so, and may help speed this one’s metabolism up some to help it grow. Continue to give it the opportunity to eat live, and try to limit how much force goes into force feeding, because it needs to be able to eat on its own, but anything is better than nothing at that size. Aside from possibly @saleengrinch, @ballornothing, @osbornereptiles, anyone I can think of right off with more advice on hatchlings is already tagged. Good luck, and please keep us posted.

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Thankfully there is very little ‘force’ needed. It’s much more of a gentle assist. Due to its size I am especially cautious. I will go back to trying every 5 days. All my other June-Aug 2021 hatchlings are taking weaned or nearly weaned rats like clockwork. This snake is definitely a special case. Thanks for the tags, I am always looking to gain knowledge in this field.

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Try a small live hopper mouse. One thing I have found with baby balls is that pinks do not interest them. I think the movement of the hoppers triggers them however. I know a hopper sounds like it might be too large but you might be surprised at just how large a meal babies can put down. Just make sure you check every 10-15 minutes or so and if it does not eat after a half-hour or so then pull the hopper out

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This has always been my experience as well. I hatched out one about that size last year and he wasn’t interested in any smaller prey items. But he would pound food that looked entirely to big for him.

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I agree with Shaun and Travis that something with fur is going to be the best bet. If size is the issue go somewhere with a lot of feeder selection and ask for a runty hopper. Won’t be the best nutrition but should be adequate.

I had a 17g hatchling once. It ate on it’s own, but I think I fed it too frequently and it passed after 4-5 meals. I think there is probably less room for error on the little guys. If you see it’s digestive system moving stuff along then you’re probably fine but if you keep putting stuff in and nothing comes out you may have issues.

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Thanks for the input everyone. I will try some tiny Hoppers and see if it can handle that. I’ve never met a ball python hatchling that would take Pinky’s either. Rat or Mouse. But due to size it was my best bet for this one. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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