Do you breed ball pythons? What do you feed your hatchlings?

The topic says it all.

But, I have a reason for asking. This is our first year breeding, out of nearly 30 years keeping. I am used to buying animals near 100 grams and doing whatever I wish to establish them as reliable feeders on F/T rats.

We just hatched our first two clutches, an albino het pied to a pied het albino, and a black pastel pied het albino to a black pastel pied poss het Albino. Both were smaller clutches, 3 and 4 eggs, respectively. First clutch is digesting its’ second meal, second clutch has just had its’ first shed.

Yes, we hit a Panda Pied. :smiley:

Being the first totally fresh babies we ever had, I had asked a respected local breeder about what to offer as a first meal. I had expected a certain size rodent to be my answer, but I was surprised to hear “live- they never eat anything frozen-thawed for the first meal”.

Okay, so, factor in the likelihood that anyone producing larger amounts of baby ball pythons will maybe be less inclined to deal with trying F/T off the bat. Totally understandable.

I breed ASF for backup and for the ability to get new animals acclimated faster, if need be.

I personally am stubborn and went ahead and bought some frozen rat pinks just to be able to offer a smaller, less intimidating prey item to the babies, because I normally stick with rat pups for animals I buy near 100+ grams.

My initial effort reflected what I was told. No strikes, but I noted a sure curiosity from each of the 3 from the first clutch. So I left the rat pinks in the tubs and closed them.

Returned a nebby half hour later, all 3 ate!

I know the prey size is less than ideal, but the less intimidating approach is what I wanted just to help establish the frozen offering I plan to stick with.

All 3 babies ate their second meal as well in the same fashion, and all 3 ate two rat pinks, each. (The first feeding, 2 of the babies ate two rat pinks, and one had only eaten one).

I’m stubborn enough to make frozen thawed a mandatory offering, but I was very surprised at how little effort this took.

What are your experiences with fresh hatchlings?

FWIW, I am keeping the babies in a Reptile Basics VE-6 rack, the size 11 tubs (if memory serves. It’s the medium tub of 3 sizes this rack can accommodate). Hot spot is 89, cold side is 83 or so. Rodents offered are thawed in hot water and patted dry, and come from one of the national suppliers online.


I breed BP among other things, breed mice and rats, all my BP on mice (simply because I get a higher success rate of hatchlings taking the first meal first time offered) and switch to rats on the second or third meal.

I will switch or make an attempt to switch animals on a payment plan at the customer’s request and usually by the end of the year I will try to switch the remaining animals to F/T.


I start my babies on hopper mice. Their motion/activity seems to help trigger a feed response. After two or three or four feeds I start switching in rat pups and once they are taking those I begin switching between live, p/k, and f/t


I appreciate your reply! I have your female hypo calico kingpin from last year, she took a week to switch to frozen thawed, and this reply gives me perfect insight into her preference at first.

She’s such a beauty, and doing so well! Thank you!

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I can definitely agree with the natural movement being the right trigger. I actually have a 1,000 gram female that really doesn’t want to strike at frozen thawed rats unless I spend an extra few minutes trying my best to imitate the rat actually crawling near her via hemostats. A lot of thought and patience to make it work, but it was the desperate final effort to get her on frozen (I bought her in the 700 gram range and did not ask what her normal fare was). I feel silly at times when I realize what I’m doing, but hey, it works, and I got the idea from seeing a feeding response blow up immediately when a live crawler mouse finally decided to start moving after sitting still a while in the tub.

I am glad to hear that, usually the sooner you switch them the easier it is, when young they are voracious so it makes tramsitionning a lot easier, of course you do have exceptions.

I had a clutch of 11 hatch in May this year (my very first clutch ever). I only had one eat a f/t fuzzy mouse from tongs out the gate and 2 or 3 others ate when I left a f/t fuzzy mouse in overnight, the rest wanted nothing to do with f/t and I had to feed them live fuzzy mice to get them to eat at first. They all eat great now on live hopper mice and I could probably switch them to f/t, but honestly it seems cheaper to just feed them live at this point.

My ratio for immediate f/t eaters last year out of 11 hatchlings was about the same as @walkergirl.

All the rest got one live mouse hopper to kick start them. Almost all took a f/t rat by the second meal. One or two were a bit more stubborn but they all came around by less than a month old. All of them were voracious f/t eaters thereafter.

For those contributing results of first feeding attempts of frozen/thawed, please list the prey type (rat, mouse, ASF, etc.) And the size. With hopes to learn more about first-time offerings for hatchlings.

As of now, all 7 of my fresh babies have taken a frozen-thawed rat pink. 5 of those 7 ate two consecutively on the same day. Still waiting for further intial results!

In the UK it’s illegal to feed live prey. As here though a lot of breeder raise mice/rats. I’m sure it does happen but Predator BP for example off YouTube feeds all his hatchlings FT. with decent results.

“it is illegal to live feed unless it is in the snakes best interest. If the snake just wont take f/t or fresh killed then you can feed live. If you can show the snakes health is in a bad way then you can feed live.”

In the UK it’s illegal to feed live prey.

Actually it is not how the law reads, under the Protection of Animals Act 1911 it is not illegal to feed a live vertebrate to another unless you cause it unnecessary suffering.

Sadly human right activits have managed to convince people that it was illegal.

I saw that act assumed it stemmed from there. That’s what I get for assuming. :slight_smile:. Good to know

So from the sound of it, it would constitute as necessary given some need to eat live? Lemme tag @eaglereptiles and see if he knows.

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If falls more under the scope of unnecessarily mistreating or torturing an animal before it’s death which also apply to animals entering the human food chain.

So it can be a huge grey area and depending on who is argue the case as far as reptiles are concerned it gets confusing but in no way does the law read as “it is illegal to feed live”


I’m going to be honest, I haven’t got a clue.
Up until recently I thought it was 100% illegal to feed live here in the UK, but as Deb said, it is a grey area.

The ‘Animal Welfare Act 2006’ is worded like this:

"The Act states:

"A person commits an offence if—

(a)an act of his, or a failure of his to act, causes an animal to suffer,

(b)he knew, or ought reasonably to have known, that the act, or failure to act, would have that effect or be likely to do so,

(c )the animal is a protected animal

(d)the suffering is unnecessary."

So I’m going to say if you get caught feeding your hatchlings/picky eaters live mice, your unlikely to get in any trouble.

If your going to make a YouTube channel dedicated to snakes chasing mice around a maze for fun or causing unnecessary stress to the mouse before it’s death, then the law will kick in.

I believe it’s more “don’t be cruel while feeding live” than “don’t feed live at all”.


That’s good to know, useless to me but interesting how something is bent and made to be misunderstood even by the people it affects. I again just assumed people living there saying it would know their laws. Kind of disappointing I thought everyone was feeding FT to hatchings there and having good success.