Do you find that many snakes way over fed?

I mostly think it’s because we misconceptualize what an ideal body weight for a snake is, and they don’t need to eat every week a meal that’s 1 1/2 to 2 times their girth. I mean I feed once every 9 to 11 days the size of the girth to my boa and his body does not have fat on it he is solid muscle a very rectangular body shape

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So with cornsnakes (the thing I am specializing in via breeding) its easy to tell when they are being overfed since they are such lean and long animals to begin with. They get really round and sausage like with skinny skinny tails. Looks really ridiculous honestly. You want a good laugh go look up obese corn snakes sometime.

And my boys which are approaching 3-4 years get a fuzzy rat every 2 weeks. Before that it’s either a few pinky mice and eventually pinky rats every 5 to 7 days. Babies under a year usually get fed much more often to get to pinky rat size before I slow down.

My ball python (I only have one so don’t count me an expert) is up to a small rat every 2 weeks (though ask her she’d take one every other day). She’s all muscle and strong as all get out. Definitely not overweight. And I think that balls end up with the same thing… Big fat bodies and ridiculously skinny tails in comparison instead of the steady streamline decrease to tail.

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I see a lot of BPs that are overweight in the hobby, especially breeder females since people want to get them as heavy as possible without thinking about body condition. Retics are the poster child of obesity/overfeeding in snakes in captivity given that the top names in the industry keep them as fat slugs all the time. I have seen a good amount of gopher/bull snakes that were obese for sale on MM as well. One even had fat rolls on his spine from how overweight he was.

I feed my female BP once a week, but sometimes skip a week to give her a break since they aren’t meant to really eat that often. I feed my male every 2 weeks since he is bigger than her and I don’t need him to get any bigger quickly. I feed my rosy boa every 7-10 days, every 2 weeks if I am giving slightly larger meals. Those are all my snakes that are still growing, but my adults are a bit different.

Both my adults are colubrids and they can get fat easier than others, so I don’t feed them as frequently most of the time. My nearly 10 year old Arizona mountain kingsnake gets fed twice each month, and if I feed him more he starts to get chunky. Once my rat snake is recovered and I feel comfortable feeding her larger meals (feeding her jumbo mice at the moment so she doesn’t have trouble breathing) I will probably feed her on the same schedule. Adult snakes need far less feedings than babies since they don’t have anything to put the extra weight towards.


I completely agree that retics are the poster child obesity in the snake hobby, it is it shame that we try to keep these big and beautiful animals we make them grossly overweight and then they die early because of it. For the most part we don’t even know how long most snakes would live if we kept in the proper bodyweight and usually in the right living conditions. :frowning: I mean almost 90% of the boas listed anywhere besides morphmarket usually are big overweight and make horrible pets because of their food “aggression”/ feeding response and horrible breeders because they’re more interested in food and breeding

Honestly, of the commonly kept constructors, I feel that in general, it’s mostly the Boas who are susceptible to overfeeding.

Balls do just fine when fed as much as they want.

Burms and Retics have adapted to live their entire lives in both food shortages or food surplus, these animals will thrive regardless of wether they a fed a large meal every 5 days, or a moderately sized meal every 3-4 weeks. Heavily fed burms and retics will not live as long, but will still live long nonetheless.

Boas on the other hand, have not adapted to handle long periods of food surplus, they would be lucky to survive a few years of heavy feeding, or even a decade generous weekly feedings.


No snake in the history of snakes is adapted for a food surplus for their entire lives. Most snakes are adapted for quite the opposite, especially pythons and boas. Feeding a snake until it is obese will not make them thrive, with retics they are arboreal, and can’t climb well if they are sausages. Though most don’t even bother giving them proper enclosures and just let them be ground slugs. If a human was 500 pounds, would they be thriving? No, not in the slightest. There would be pain, discomfort, and so many things wrong internally that it would make “thriving” rather difficult. Obesity in any animal is bad, snakes being high on the list since they are not meant to have fat on them at all.


Retics/Burms and Humans are quite different, these large snakes have indeterminate growth, humans have determinate growth. Within reason, no matter how much you eat, you will be the same height, and have the same reproductive potential.

In the wild some individuals will opt to grow as large as their food source allows them to.
These females will convert their abundant food supply into extra size and extra eggs, a lot of extra eggs, in the florida everglades burm clutches of around 80 eggs are not uncommon, 100+ is not unheard of. The largest retics in captivity regularly lay around 50-60+ eggs. Not to mention, these larger specimens lay eggs more frequently.

Their lifespan is only slightly shortened by a lifelong food abundance, well fed Retics & Burms still live 20+ years.

So Yes, in my opinion, Retics kepts within the same vein as Jay’s from prehistoric pets, and Burms in the everglades are thriving, just as I would consider conservatively fed burms and retics to be thriving as well.

Just thought I’d briefly chime in to say that you see the same thing in leopard geckos. My concept of what was healthy got thrown out the window after my first vet visit with my first leopard gecko- I had been relying on what I saw online to tell me what was healthy.

You also see it in mammal species, especially cats and hedgehogs. People think it’s “cute” to have a super-fat cat, but its not cute at all- when I look at the same animal, I see diabetes and osteoarthritis. I had clients bring in these 30+ pound cats, and they were incredibly offended that I strongly emphasized a need for weight loss. Same thing with a family that had sugar gliders as well.

It’s a huge battle trying to explain that to clients. I remember, when in vet school, one of my classmate had very obese dogs. And when she brought them in and one of the profs wouldn’t budge an inch on his assessment, it changed those dogs’ lives- I saw them running so much more easily after that!

I wish that I could wear a truth-o-meter that would flash green to show that I’m not just being a bum-head, and I’m not just trying to get money. But people don’t like feeling criticized.


Existing in a way that is convenient for us is a lot different than thriving. It can take decade or more for a wild retic to get to the monstrous sizes seen in captivity (in terms of length). No snake in the wild is going to be obese given they never have constant food. Just because they can grow to huge sizes, does not mean it should be done in a way that effects their quality of life. A huge fat retic or burm in a tiny enclosure is not a thriving animal. Just because they eat and breed, does not mean they are thriving. And you are right, humans are a bit different than snakes. For instance, females of our species are meant to have fat stores for having a baby. But guess what isn’t meant to have body fat? Snakes. Again, any obese animal be it snake, human, cat, lizard, dog or even chickens will have a terrible quality of life compared to if they were kept correctly and with ideal body conditions. If it shortens their lifespan, then it should be obvious it isn’t right. Here is a good video on how retics look in the wild, and how they should look when healthy.


There is no exclusive, singular way of keeping/feeding a thriving Burm/Retic

In the wild most retics/burms will never reach a monstrous size, but some will reach gargantuan sizes and some will do it quickly.

Plenty of wild Burms/Retics will take advantage of every food opportunity, growing as big as their food source allows them to.
Just look at the Florida Everglades, they pull hefty Females out every single day.

Who put you in charge of deciding whether a wild or captive snake “should” reach its maximum size/ reproductive potential?

I never mentioned anything about enclosure size.

Female Burms/Retics absolutely need fat, and the amount of fat they produce will directly influence how many eggs the female produces, and if the female will even try reproduce for a given year.

This is a good video about how a few retics look, on a single trip, in a single geographical location, with no known ages.

Just as a disclaimer, I prefer conservatively fed retics; however, I acknowledge the fact that keepers who allow these animals to reach their full potential are not wrong.

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I seriously think this statement should be common sense. I don’t see how anybody who cares for the health of their snakes could disagree. It’s been proven when you feed a snake unlimited amount of food, they grow faster(obviously) and their organs and brains can’t keep up with the food intake. They die earlier, and it can cause many health issues to arise.
Most people over feed their snakes. In the wild, and that’s what we really should be trying to replicate as keepers, a snake is lucky to have 12 meals in a year. Colubrids get slightly more because most aren’t ambush predators like boas and pythons.
And for some reason many keepers think because their snake accepts the offering of food every week they must be hungry. Wrong. Snakes have one thing in mind, survival and that survival in the wild is almost directly connected to taking advantage when prey is near. Like @ashleyraeanne mentioned, just because a snake can grow fast and eat ridiculous amounts of food, doesn’t mean they should. So many keepers have the misconception that their snake should eat every week, when really they have evolved to eat much less than that.
Letting a snake get to obese sizes, be it a python, boa or colubrid, just isn’t acceptable and we as keepers need to understand that in most cases it will shorten their lifespan and overall quality of life.

It’s been established by the best retic keepers( and by best I mean ones that care about their snakes health) that a slow grown retic will lay better clutches, with healthy eggs and less slugs. The reason they lay eggs more frequently is because these large specimens are being bred year after year. Most good keepers give their females a year off to recover, but to many people see the monetary value with this species and completely disregard their health and pump them with food to get to breeding size and get bigger clutches.

Overall I think our hobby seriously has to address this issue. I keep snakes because I enjoy and love being around them. They give back to me as much as I try and give to them. If you care about your snakes, why would you feed them so much when it’s common knowledge an obese snake will live a shorter life and will potentially have more health issues down the line.


I see a lot of BPs that are overweight in the hobby, especially breeder females since people want to get them as heavy as possible without thinking about body condition

I got to ask how many BP female do you own a d have you bred?

Reason I ask is that this statement makes very little sense to me for several reasons when it comes to adult females.

1# Adults metabolism is much slower than hatchlings and overfeeding an adult BP is not something that can be really done as BP are far from being a garbage disposal and they will fast to catch up.

2# Why would a BP breeder overfeed a female BP knowing obesity in BP is one of the major contributor when it comes to slugs (would not make much sense would it?)

I think you are mistaking the look of plump females compared with slender males for obesity which is obviously what normal proper ratio are.

Overfeeding an adult BP is a rare thing not a common one.

Now can a young BP be overfed? yes when they are at the voracious stage of their life they can, but again that will be short live for as again they will quickly fast to catch up.

Now how about other species? Yes it’s pretty common with species that are garbage disposal and eat anything in sight when offered.


It’s also funny that the video you use to back up your claims suggest feeding the Retic a meal the size of the largest part of its body once a week.

On a feeding schedule like that, they will get big, and they will look within the same vein as Jay’s from prehistoric pets.

Now you’re talking about breeding.
That in itself is a completely different issue with over feeding. Anyone who actually cares for their snake would not pump it with food to get it to its breeding size faster than if you took time to grow your snake in a healthy manner.


I own 2 BPs, a young female and male. That said, just because I don’t own a ton doesn’t mean it is hard to tell when and animal is obese. If they are so round you can’t tell where their spine is, then that is an overweight BP. Or if they are squishy instead of being muscle noodles, then that is a good sign as well. I would imagine some breeders that do it either don’t realize they are doing it, or pump them up so they don’t have to take a long break between breedings. Not so mention I have seen more than enough videos/pictures of BPs having less than healthy clutches.


That’s completely false.
They will not get big that fast. I fed my mainland male once a week, a prey item the size of his body. At 3 years old he was a little over 5 feet and maybe 2 pounds.

Prehistoric Pets actually has a video on the subject, and in that video Jay fed a female the same way. She was almost 3 years old, maybe 6 feet and also around 2-3 pounds.


They’ll take off once they get larger and are switched over to larger prey items.


Thank you :pray:


I agree they will take off once larger prey items are offered. But that’s a different subject than what we’re discussing.

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