Getting hatchlings to eat, my options

Hey guys! So I have a clutch of hatchlings that are about a month old and we are trying to get them to eat. We have been offering frozen thaw every other day. We are getting lots of strikes but no grabs. I have a few options up my sleeves and wanted to know what you guys think I should try next?
I have African soft fur rat oil to scent the mice
I have vitamin B12 to stimulate appetite
And I can assist feed
I want to save the assist for last so what do you guys think, should I try the scent or just go straight to the vitamins?

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You do not want to assist feed until it is the LAST resort this is something you want to avoid at all cost.

Assisting is not the magic solution to avoid feeding what you need to feed, it’s one when everything else as failed.

Now what you want to do is feed what works in your case there are likely 3 issues

Wrong prey: Feed live and offer mice no matter how you feel about it, you are also offering too often do not offer more than once a week, the more you offer the more you are stressing them out leading to more refusal.

It can take about 6 weeks post shed before having to worry about assisting but you obligation is to get them to eat on their own no matter what it takes.


I agree with @stewart_reptiles. We start all our hatchlings on live hopper mice for at least the first three meals then try to start introducing FT rats. Most make the switch fairly easily. We have a few Divas that think they are special and deserve live… Lol.

Agreed, babies need live sent and stimulation, I just started feeding my newborns for this season. Live hopper mice and fuzzy rats. They don’t eat necessarily before your eyes but I leave them in overnight and the next morning all mice/rat fuzzies are in the babies bellies.


I’ll share my method here since I am going through the process right now with the 2020 hatchlings. Some folks will disagree with me for trying to start hatchlings on F/T but I’ve got about a 85% success rate. I have never been able to find a reliable source of live rodents that are sized correctly or priced well, so I developed this method to get me over the “first meal” hump.

The first thing I do is leave the babies in the incubator until a few days after their first shed. I remove the egg shells and shed skin so that they don’t rot in the humid environment, but I don’t rush moving them into the baby racks. It seems that the longer I leave them in the egg box, the more enthusiastic they feed.

The second thing I do is write the date onto a sticker. This is the date the animal moved into the tub. I do not offer food or really mess with them at all for AT LEAST 2 weeks. My room temperature is 77-78 and the warm side of the baby tubs are 87-88. I have used paper towel and reptichip for substrate and there doesn’t seem to be an advantage of one over the other as long as you keep the humidity up.

The last thing I do is offer food. Frozen mouse hoppers get thawed out and put into a ziploc bag. The ziploc goes into a bowl of hot water for a few minutes. Feeding time is either early morning (4-5 am) or nighttime (9-10 pm) after the snake room lights go out. I always feed in the dark. I look into each tub to see which hatchling is showing signs of being hungry. You will be able to tell. If they are curled up in their hide box, don’t bother them - move on to another hatchling because they aren’t ready. The ones that are cruising around the tub or hanging out on top of the hide box are usually ready to go. I wear a headlamp with a red filter on it and use a pair of small tongs to present the hopper to the snake. Most of the them take it. If they don’t, I typically wait anywhere from 3-6 days before trying again.

This is not a foolproof method, but it works well for me. If there is a local show going on, I will always drop by to buy live hoppers for my hatchlings that don’t take the F/T. A lot of the times they will take F/T after the first live meal.

Again, I am not opposed to feeding live. Its just that my supply has been spotty or inconvenient to obtain. I have no desire or time to raise rodents for personal use, so this has been the way that I get my animals started. Hope this helps, guys.


Yeah so just to be clear assist feeding is my last case last ditch plan. And live isn’t really viable unless I have no other choice so I want to try less drastic options first like scenting and vitamins which I have had success with in the past

From my experience with my hatchling, when he strikes, he is striking cause I’m stressing him tf out. What has worked for me when I have gotten him to eat f/t is to heat it up slightly and present it to him at the opening of his cave. The only times he has eaten f/t is when he was in his cave and the prey item was right at the opening. He doesnt eat f/t if I dangle it in front of him or if I leave it with him overnight. I have fed him live fuzzies because I was worried about him losing weight rapidly and I’ve been assured live always works (and in his case it does). I have trouble remembering that these are still predatory animals whose instinct is to hunt, not be fed.

You don’t have other choices at this point by now two weeks later you should have had 80% to 100% success on first meal offered, if you don’t you are doing it wrong and the longer they are not eating the more you are getting in that vicious circle of not getting food, not wanting to eat.

Have a reliable source of food or breed your own is something to think about when breeding (preferably before you hatch your first clutch) :+1:


Exactly. With things like king snakes and rat snakes you can potentially get away with only offering F/T, but with BPs everyone should know the babies are best started on live. Many other snakes that have heat pits are the same, and you shouldn’t breed unless you have live to offer, and not just as a last resort.

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