Feeding Problems- Advice Needed

Hi everyone. I am new to the forum here, my first post. My hubs had burms and red tail boas before (bred one or the other can’t remember which) but the past 6 months or so has been our first bout with BPs. We have three all about 6 months old that hit and gobble f/t mice no problem all of which came to us eating live. My first snake (our fourth) that we got late November hatched late September of 2019 is an Enchi Pastel 66% het Gstripe. When we got her(we picked her up she was not shipped) from her breeder we were told by her breeder that she “has eaten well”. At the time we didn’t question. He feeds live rats. We don’t do the live thing yet, but we plan to. So feeding time rolls around (mind this is a pretty laid back and sweet little girl. Nothing but my hubs arm hair seems to bother her. She curious and relaxed) and we try to feed her and she hides from the f/t fuzzy. We fed the mouse to another snake. This went on for about a month and the hubs decided to assist feed. As soon as she had the prey in her mouth she worked it down and swallowed. We also tried a live rat pinkie thinking she needed the live stimulation and smell. nothing. So I contact the breeder (after he had been rude telling us we just didn’t know how to offer prey items) and see what he did to set up the feeding environment for his snakes. Turns out she had never eaten with out being assist fed. (This was the breeder’s first successful clutch in his breeding efforts). I was slightly agitated that this wasn’t said when we asked about feeding when we picked her up. He is one of those people that has an “i know better than you” attitude instead of an educational one. Anyhow, she still is not hitting on her own. My question is when and why should we worry about her instincts not kicking in? Any advice? Similar situations? It seems like we’ve tried everything… even letting her get hungry. She just shed and it was a smooth shed… not completely whole but nothing stuck. Thank you to anyone in advanced.

You should insist that the breeder take her back and offer a refund. It is totally unacceptable to sell an animal that isn’t voluntarily feeding, not without informing the buyer and pricing accordingly. Especially if he claimed she has “eaten well.” If this is the breeder’s first clutch, he is in no position to act like an authority on anything. You have been swindled, IMO. You shouldn’t have to bend over backwards to get this animal started, that is the breeder’s job. Stand up for yourself.


@westridge thank you for replying but I have no intentions of letting this snake go. I know some people may not agree or may disagree with me, but I have developed a strong liking for this snake. If I can get her eating properly I will be happy, I did not pay much for her as he didn’t like the pastel enchi morph. All her clutch mates were banana enchis. I completely agree with you though, he shouldn’t have let her go with out her being properly started.

That’s a tough spot to be in. I’m one of those stubborn people that gets attached to animals and refuses to take them back to such a breeder - but @westridge is certainly correct.

To try to get the little one eating yourself you’ll have to go through the gauntlet of feeding rituals.

  • Wait until late at night to feed
  • Try doing the little mousey corpse dance with a pair of tongs/chopsticks in front of a hide
  • Try adjusting the enclosure to be smaller or larger but with plenty of hides
  • Leave the food item on the heat source for the enclosure (belly up! Trust me…) over night
  • Leave the food item in the enclosure and cover the whole thing with towels or similar to black it out
  • Use a hairdryer on the food item, especially near its head, and boop snoots with the food item + snake
  • Try finding african soft furs or ASF scents and/or place some rat bedding into the animal’s enclosure before feeding to stimulate hunting
  • … and so many more

If you can return the animal because it will not feed then you should. If not, then there are dozens and dozens of tips like the ones above to try to get a stubborn feeder to feed. See if you can find someone else local to you that has much better experience than the breeder for help.


@asura Thank you, we have tried many of these. We have not tried adjusting the enclosure, leaving the food item or the ASF scents yet. I am for sure one of those people that get attached to my animals… they are pets first for me. It bites me in the butt too often lol

To add to what both @westridge and @asura have said, returning the snake would be the best thing if you don’t want to deal with the struggle of getting them to feed. If you are attached to it already though, let me just warn you now. Some snakes (in captivity and in the wild) sometimes just don’t have the instinct to feed. Those in the wild die because of natural selection. There is always a chance this could be one of those individuals bound for natural selection, so you could be stuck assist feeding for a long while.
Let her go without food for a couple weeks to get her appetite up, and then try what asura has suggested.


It can be tough. All the feeding rituals in the world may also end up in dead ends. You’ll need to monitor the little one really closely to avoid any dehydration and malnutrition. You might also see if you can find a pet store that sells ball pythons (not a PetSmart or department store, but a small shop) and see if they can rehab them for you. A vet may also help.

Don’t forget that you’re in a somewhat dangerous scenario with a little one and it may also have health issues. You may have a “failure to thrive” scenario on your hands that you can’t do anything about. :cry:

Best of luck.

Edit: @ashleyraeanne jinx. The most depressing of jinxes, but jinx.

1 Like

@ashleyraeanne and @asura
Thank y’all for your advice! Unfortunately we live in a rather “snake dry” area when it comes to pets. We have one local pet store that has reptiles and they have trouble keeping the size food items straight. I do have a reptile vet here though. So far she appears healthy over all. We assist fed her last last night as once the head is in her mouth and we set her down she does the rest. She just won’t hit. We will try these methods and update in the coming weeks. Here’s a pic of her after she shed.

1 Like

You know, at the very least I wish I could edit the positive review I gave them on MorphMarket. After a week of having her everything seemed perfect. Lesson learned I reckon. Wait the full 90 days before reviewing.


I feel it might be worthwhile to tell you about an animal I produced. She did not feed voluntarily for the first 18 months of her life. One day, she just started feeding, and now she eats every time with no special rituals required. Just letting you know that kind of thing can happen.


Do this to a T

If your hatchling is less than 200 grams here is what I always recommend.

Use a 6 quart tub as enclosure; remember this is TEMPORARY, ideally until the animal reached 200 grams.

Use aspen as bedding, aspen will allow your new pet to bury himself in the bedding offering added security should it be needed.

Use 1 plastic flower pot saucer as hide (6 inches in diameter), they are very low profile with the top touching your BP’s body, which will provide an even more secure environment

Provide a small water dish.

Provide temperatures of 76/78 on the cool side and 86/88 on the warm side (no higher) –

Provide a humidity level of 50%/60%

Wait 5 to 7 days

Offer a live mouse (the ideal size will be equal the girth size of your snake) in the tub (do not feed outside the tub), close the lid and remove if un-eaten after 10/15 min. It might not work the first time around and in some extreme cased (un-started animals, picky eaters, rehab) it might take more than one try and additional little tips, but it can be done, and worry and frustration can become a thing of the past. Live mice are more enticing than rats especially for an animal that has never ate on it’s own or is a poor feeder.


@westridge much appreciated!

Thank you! We have a glass terrarium at the moment. What heat source would you recommend for this set up?

Glass terrariums can make snakes feel unsafe. I would get it in a tub. Also, use a UTH with a thermostat for the tub.

UTH + thermostat

I would also suggest a tub with a heatpad, just make sure she has a thermostat so she doesn’t get burned! I had a spider baby born and she would not eat (No wobble, just never ate), and just like the breeder you bought your girl from it was my first clutch. Now that I have more experience I know what I did wrong. This spider girl would assist feed amazingly, all I had to do was put the rat head in her mouth and then she would wrap (my hand included). She would never strike though, no matter how hard I tried or how much I pissed her off. After a month or two of assist feeding she finally struck at an asf hopper (I almost cried I won’t lie). So it may just take your girl some time. I think a tub would do her wonders in making her feel secure. Just make sure you drill some airholes in the side and buy a tub with a lid that she can’t open! I would also suggest live mice hoppers if you can find them, I’ve found that live rats smaller than a pup don’t move enough to entice the hatchling.


A word of warning here, though: be very careful with live mice. An appropriately sized live mouse can cause some significant physical harm to your snake. Do not leave them unattended. You should not ever leave live food items unattended but especially live mice. A live mouse will make a meal out of a timid ball python. Dim the lights as much as you can and keep an eye/ear out.

A mouse is good advice, though. I’m a believer (everyone has a different experience/opinion) that furry food items work better. I think a rat pinky was mentioned and I don’t have the greatest record with pinkies and ball pythons. A mouse of the appropriate size will be furrier than a rat of the same size (but they’ll also have more developed teeth!).

You might also ask for some bedding when you buy the mouse: leave it in the enclosure for an hour before feeding to see if the scent activates a hunting response.

Thank you all very much, I would never have really thought about her not feeling secure, she has two hides a pothos plant and sphagnum moss with her and she chooses to lay on the moss next to the pothos plant for the majority of time. Which is center of the tank. I will try a tub.

The key is with any enclousre is to have Tons of coverage. I have a girl who’s 2 years that’s in at least a 45 gallon tank (never actually measured) and every inch of the ground is covered in hides, plants, and cork bark. She can move from one side to the other without being readily seen. And in her time with us she’s only ever not eaten one time. My suggestion would be trying to fill the container you have with more coverage in general before moving to a tub. Just clutter it up crazy. See what happens.

This is an animal that has never successfully fed on its own. It makes a lot of sense to go with a temporary smaller enclosure with a single hide, to strip down to basics and what will be a very secure feeling minimal and temporary environment to get them started. This is not minimalist vs enrichment. After they are sure the animal is started and can survive on its own they can consider what type of permanent enclosure they wish it to be in.