How to get a defensive ball python to eat?

I am running into a little bit of trouble with my most recent ball python, opened the package with him in it on march 23rd. First feed attempt was on the 5th(13 days after he was received) and he was extremely defensive. He made multiple quick “bluff” Strikes in a matter of seconds, so i put him back into the rack he’s housed in. Usually ill give a full week between attempts, but since my only days off are Sunday and Mondays, with sundays being feeding day, i decided to try today(6 days after his defensive strikes towards prey) and he did the same, 4 quick defensive strikes within 5seconds. Both attempts have been F/T appropriately sized items, since it’s what i generally feed my other ball pythons. Im still relatively new to owning ball pythons, so i’ve never had a defensive feeder. The breeder was feeding live, Should i attempt a live mouse next week? His weight is concerning since he was less rounded than other snakes i’ve recieved from breeders(think rounded triangle with a slight point).
He’s in a temp regulated tub, has a appropriate sized hide, appropriate substrate, and his tub sits at no lower than 65% humidity.

1 Like

In my opinion, I don’t think you’re allowing enough time if you’re only giving it a few strikes. If he’s striking, I see that as a positive. Live works well if that’s an option.


It sounds like you are offering the food and then taking it away when he doesn’t immediately go for it. A lot of snakes won’t eat that way. Try getting the prey hot and then just leaving him alone with it for a few hours. Also, if he was on live before you should not be surprised if he doesn’t take f/t right off the bat.


Thank you both, Ill probably get a live one for him next week and give it a go while also giving it longer time to work up his willingness to take it. I actually will be either feeding all my collection live or fresh killed since i started breeding rats recently and have two pregnant females. Its going to stay very small scale but it’s enough to feed the ones i have and plan on getting. My other 4 are amazing eaters and i guess i might be subconsciously expecting him to be as well. As i said im still new to this, So any information i can get or advice will always be welcomed and put into action some way or another. So if others still want to chime in please do.

1 Like

1- all BPs are very different individuals and a fussy eater is very common for them, 13 days may not have been enough after the stress of relocation for this one.

2- you said you “put him back in rack”, do you feed in separate container? If so try offering in his enclosure.

3- just leave the f/t in his bin overnight if he doesn’t take it when offered, I’ve had many eat like that, some are just shy when a giant tree is throwing food at them.

4- are you sure you’re offering the same prey item rat vs mouse, f/t vs live/fk that it’s been eating?

5- mix it up keep trying different combos of prey type.

Are you moving him to feed?

all of my snakes stay in their tubs for their feeding, but i do move the tub to the top of the rack since i built the rack and have a ‘worktable’ setup on top of it for feeding, holding spray bottles, tongs, and a spot that has a digital scale for weighing food+Snakes… So i move them to feed, but they stay in their enclosure for it.

1 Like

Yeah, Im thinking the 13 days wasn’t enough after the shipping to destress. Since he does seem like he’s calming down a little after each attempt. But im another 6 days before i try again.

He stays in his enclosure for feeding, all of my snakes do. I just poorly worded what i said since i was in a rush to get information. I feed them in their enclosure ontop of their rack system.

I’ve tried leaving it in overnight twice now, It’s still there the next day.

I believe this one might be the issue, The breeder had it listed as eating live rat pups, which seems a little big given his size(He looks like he can barely handle medium mice). I only have mice until my rats give birth, and even then itll be 20+ days before they’re suitable as food.

I’ve been trying mice, but ill definitely see if i can find some rats locally or online. My next attempt will be a live mouse, If that one fails itll be live rat for sure.


I may be reading this wrong, but it sounds like you may be attempting to feed more than once every 7 days. If this is the case, I’ll suggest that you cut back to attempting to feed every 7 days, at most. If you attempt more often than this, it will just be too stressful for him and make him even less likely to eat. On your next attempt, offer him the exact same prey item that he was getting at the breeder, including size, species and f/t or live.

Yeah, Due to scheduling at work and getting into the busy season(Im a cable tech, during summer we work upwards 16hrs 6days a week) i tried to feed him on my days of. Ill just bite the bullet and wait a full 7 instead of 6 days this next time. I’d rather miss out on 20mins of sleep to properly feed him than to force a stressful situation on him. The breeder had him listed as eating live rat pups(the snake was only roughly 145 grams when i got him, and rodentpro has rat pups listed at 20-29grams…which just seems too big, especially considering his ‘roundest/biggest’ section of his body is only about the size of a 13-15 gram mouse)
with that being said, do you think i should go ahead and still try a live rat pup. or maybe try a fuzzy or even a live mouse? since as i said, he was definitely a smaller guy when i got him, and he’s also not eaten in almost 3 full weeks

again, as i said im still very new to the hobby. So any advice, is very appreciated and thanks everyone who’s contributing here

1 Like

If he was on rats, he should get a rat, but if you want to go down in size, there’s nothing wrong with that.


Okay thank you, Ill search around for a live rat then.