Any tips to get picky ball python to eat?

So I got my pastel ivory girl almost 2 months ago. The person we got her from said she ate mice, and he often switched her between live and frozen and sometimes switched her to rats; I didn’t think it’d be too much of an issue since I’ve switched most of mine off live and mice before.

So! I had mice, she perked up but never took them. Tried rats, absolutely no interest! Tried some ASF rats, and she took one once a few weeks back, but hasn’t took any since. She peeks around if she smells mice/asf, but just doesn’t seem to take it.

Now, I’ve only tried frozen (Because that’s all I can get my hands on right now), so I wanted to know if anyone had tips?

Humidity stays roughly 55%, and heat is 75 cool side, 88-90 hotspot, just like the rest of my snakes in my racks. She’s got plants and a hide in there too, and I don’t handle her more than necessary since she’s not eating yet!

Luckily she’s not dropping much weight, she started off a bit over 1200g, and is now 1100g or so last I checked. Also checked her mouth and no RI signs!

The ONLY thing I’ve found is if you have your hand in the upper half of her body, you’ll feel her lung and it feels like it’s wheezing almost? Like she’s not making sounds, but that weird almost gargly feeling in her chest kinda concerns me. Never felt that on my other snakes but she’s not showing any other signs to make me worry? Anyone else experience this?

Here’s a pic because she’s just a pretty gal lol <33


As for the feel in her chest you’ll probably want to consult a vet.

Not eating for two months though, is not a concern, unless she has a respiratory infection. I’ve had a ball python I purchased go 12 months without eating and lost only 8% of it’s body weight. I’ve had another go 8 months and not lose any significant amount of weight. Both times when they first arrived with me. Sometimes they take time to adjust. Her metabolism and your patience have nothing in common. Many snakes in the wild eat substantially less than you would think. Some adult rattlesnakes for instance are known to only eat once or twice a year. Large pythons in the wild will eat a huge meal 2-3 times a year and that might be it. A healthy adult snake will never starve itself. Most ball pythons are overfed anyway so when they want to go on a hunger strike they have plenty of fat stored to hold them over.

To stress the important point here, not eating is only a concern if the snake is actually ill. Just because she’s not drooling isn’t a sign you are RI free. The weight loss you mention would be pretty drastic IF the snake was completely empty when you received it. If it’s defecated since you’ve had that would account for a good portion of it’s weight loss.

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Sadly the closest exotic vet that actually works with snakes to me is roughly 8 hours away in another state, but I’ll see what I can do! I’m not too worried about her weight unless it dropped worse in such a short time.

But thank you for your advice!! I’ll have to double check vets in my area and see if I happened to miss an exotic one somewhere!

In the mean time, just to be on the safe side I would keep her enclosure a little hotter than normal and keep it humid without letting anything be wet. If she has a minor RI that will usually help her body fight it. Keep everything as clean as you can.

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I’ll see if I can find an extra container to put a heat pad and shove her in it while I try and figure this out!! Thank you <3

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First, I would ask if you are certain you are feeling the correct area of the animal to be calling it her lungs. The lungs in snakes are a lot further forward than you might think.

Second, have you palped her? If you can feel follicles, that might explain the behaviour

Third, Fishhead Diagnostics or RAL offer fairly easy to administer tests for the big contenders for viral infection. Order, swab, send back, await results

Fourth, an unregulated heat pad is not a particularly good idea. Too easy to overheat the animal. You need something that is maintained by a thermostat.

What are you keeping the animal in? What are your temps? How are you measuring them? What is humidity? How are you measuring it? What is setup? Substrate? Hides?

Please provide these data and we will be better able to help you


I’m not 100% percent sure if it’s truly her lung, but I’m not quite sure what else it could be? It’s right above the middle of her body if that helps!

She’s roughly 2 years old and I’m not experienced palping my girls yet, but that might be it! One of my girls wen of food for 4 months before I realized she was in breeding mode

Good to know! I’ll look it up!

I know! <3 I have tons of leftover thermostats from when I kept my snakes in tanks, so that’s not a problem

She’s in a 28qt bin in my rack. Temps and humidity are listed above, and I use a thermo-gun and a hygrometer/thermometer combo probe in my tubs. Paper towels, nice water bowl, and tons of plants and a hide for her


I’ve palpated females while feeling for follicles and their insides sometimes make this gross squelching noise, it’s usually just air in their digestive tract. Maybe it was that you heard?


Actually I don’t hear anything from her. It’s just if she’s resting in your hand, you can feel her breathing but each breath feels bubbly almost? Like there’s no sound, it feels like when you have congestion in your chest basically- this is so hard to explain lmao


That sounds like a respiratory. You shouldn’t feel anything when they breathe aside from the rise and fall of their chest. There won’t be any rumbling or rattling when all is well.


Update! (Because I can’t figure out how to edit the post lol)

Got her an appointment to see a vet on the 7th!


Thank you! I think I know exactly why she would be sick as well so I just booked an appointment!


Update! The vet said she looks pretty good, but has some froth in her throat so she’s giving antibiotics just Incase it’s the start of something!

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Unless they did a test on the froth then they won’t know what antibiotics to give her. Tests have to be done to confirm treatments will actually be effective.


Waiting on her to have stool samples to bring back, but she wasn’t too concerned because she’s pretty healthy otherwise

Big update!! Vet found over 30+ roundworms in her, so we’re starting oral meds as soon as the vet sets it up!!


I’m glad the problem was identified and it can be fixed. Another great example why to take them to the vet. Good luck. :+1:


Thank you! Also contacted the guy to watch for signs in his collection, so I’m hoping it’s just some weird fluke that she got them


It is possible they came from the feeders. Might keep an eye on that as well


They can get worms from rats? First time I have heard that. Thanks for the information. What are the signs that the snake has got worms?
How do you know a feeder rat has them?