I recently got a new female ball python. She was being fed live but I have switched snakes I have bought from live to frozen-thawed before and figured it would be no problem. So far I have been unable to get her to accept f/t and have had to feed her live. I would like to switch her to f/t as that is what all my other snakes eat. Any tips on getting her to switch?
All mine have easily switched so my lack of expertise would just lead me to say keep offering regularly, no need to panic I don’t takes a few weeks unless she starts to lose weight then you may need to assist feed but I have no experience with that just yet. Mine do seem more excited when it’s “warm,” not just thawed so I usually set them out to thaw for a bit then put them in a baggie and put that in hot water so they’re warm to the touch when I offer and mine usually respond more to that than just thawed and room temp.
Thaw the prey at room temp near the enclosure (it helps entice the snake to eat) once thawed warm up with a hair dryer concentrating on the head.
when offering grab the prey with a pair of tongs from behind the neck (not the tail) and move it around in the enclosure as if it was alive.
I have had some pretty good luck with getting babies switched from mice to rats, and live to frozen so I think I could be of some help. Could you tell me what your process is when offering f/t?
I thaw them in a baggy in hot water. When switching one of my males I used a hairdryer to make it even warmer and entice the snake with the smell, he responded to that and has eaten thawed since. I did that with her and she still won’t take it. She acts interested but won’t strike.
Thank you. I feed them tomorrow night and will update on if she accepts f/t.
Continue to use the hairdryer and focus on heating up the head anywhere between 100-110 degrees F
I have never been successful switching them unless they were babies, but that amount of success was only 2 snakes from mice to rats. I firmly believe its cruel to starve them until they eat what you want. Feed them what they will eat, if you have issues with that give the snake to someone who will feed it what it will eat. I feed all mine live rats. We supervise and takes a long time because only 2 snakes are fed at a time, and my husband and I both watch them like hawks.
@nikkip I understand the sentiment but just to be clear a healthy snake will not be “starving” if it takes a few meal offerings to switch over. Feeling hunger and starving are two very different things.
I have not tried to switch a sub adult or adult over yet but everyone says that is very difficult sometimes not possible.
Keep in mind it can take a while and tough love maybe required and done if the animal is of good body weight, they are grossely overfed in captivity so they can skip several meals without issue, you just know when to apply tough love and when to resume, eventually your snake will switch however there is no timeline.
I have switched even the most stubborn adults in the past so it can be done.
One thing that has really helped me in the past is switching from live, to pre killed , then to frozen thawed. Pre killed still have a good heat signature which triggers the feeding response . Once they get used to eating prekilled from tongs for a few feedings they usually will take a frozen thawed that has been warmed up pretty easily. That has worked well for me and now all of mine are on frozen thawed. Good luck!!!
I’ve been told to feed live a few times before switching to f/t. This would help with getting a feeding response . On the third or 4th try offer frozen. Just one of the many tricks to get a snake to eat, among all of the other suggestions. Good luck!
I’ve never had to do this but I know with some young snakes in general braining helps get the feeding response going. While this is usually a baby snake tactic, could it be done for older snakes needing switching?
I switched to F/T cuz I got tired of buying bedding and food for live. And all mine took to it on the first try. Even the hatchlings. So I was super happy about that.
I used to worry about how to switch my ball pythons over also. Here is the success I used. First, they are just animals, so don’t stress and they will behave like animals. In the wild they have to eat, they will not starve to death. A healthy snake will eat. I put my son in charge of switching them and within a few months all switch that we have tried. We monitor weight, and they get f/t until they eat. If they start to lose weight, they get a prekilled, and then back to f/t when they show growth. I have never had one starve or loose weight from this process. They grow very well inspite of a change. I did notice that a fluctuation (small) of temperature at feeding times has helped some switch sooner if they were being stubborn. They are not any different than farm animals. Keep them proper temps, good housing, and healthy and they do just what you need them to. Adult or juvenile, all have switched. We aren’t breeding for money, so if my snakes grow slower because of the switch over, then I wait patiently and I don’t breed until they are ready.
Try different methods, stewart_reptiles advice is very good. I use quick movements around the head to trigger response. Pay attention to the snake and what seems to alert it. Some snakes prefer the food item left at the mouth of the hide and left alone for a number of hours. good luck
Yes, I wrote an article with my tips.