So my girl just layed her first clutch and mine as well. The little ones aren’t eating after over a week and 2 unsuccessful feeding. I tried hopper mice and rat pups. I’ve done basically everything I can think of, I feed in the dark, left the rodent with them longer, I changed what rodent I fed, I didn’t handle them for 4-5 days after the first failed feeding. Any advice or help would be great cause I really don’t want to assist feed them if possible.
I’ve seen Brian Barcyczk use a method that he swears by. Get a frozen and thawed small fuzzy, and use the nose/head of the fuzzy to open the Ball Pythons mouth, and gently push the fuzzy into the Ball Pythons mouth about halfway, so the fuzzy hopefully will stick to the baby BP’s teeth. Then hold the baby Ball Python around the middle if its body, letting his head hang downwards with the fuzzy in its mouth for a minute or two. After a few minutes, with the fuzzy staying in his mouth, gently lay him into his enclosure and close it. Come back and check 10 minutes or so later, and it should have swallowed it. If not, try it again.
This is “assist feeding” and should work.
The first ones are always the scariest. Take a deep breath!
First off… How old are the little ones? When did they have their first shed? How are they housed currently?
The answers there may help out a lot.
That said… They may just need a little more time to settle in. I would definitely try a rat fuzzy cause you can safely leave them for a bit. Mouse hoppers can still be little biters. Sometimes leaving them alone for an hour or so at night does the trick for the shy ones.
I’ve had a couple that felt more comfortable with some bedding to nestle down and hide in instead of just bare paper towels. I used Aspen shavings for my fussiest one, but you do have to watch the humidity until they get the hang of feeding and you can make small changes.
This method is known as ‘assist feeding’ and is absolutely not recommended for getting your snakes started on food. This is only for when the baby is visibly in decline.
Without more info on age and such, I would not recommend this at all. I have used assist feeding before when needed, but this is on hatchlings that are at least a month after first shed and starting to drop weight which does not sound like op’s case.
If they had big yolks and absorbed them fully they may not eat for a couple weeks. We do live mice fuzzies to start all of ours, sets the feeding response and makes it easy to start. Hopper mice or rat pups are too big unless you have huge babies, and if they are huge they may not eat for a few weeks anyway.
That Brian Barcyczk assist feed method sounds like SpongeBob’s Bubble Blowing Technique.
I agree with armiyana and would not jump to assist feeding. The fix for this is to figure out why they’re not eating, not force them to eat because that’s not solving the problem.
Do they have hides? I’d make sure they each have one so they feel secure, and if they’re in tubs that let in a ton of light, black out some of the sides. Also keep leaving them alone as much as possible
Agree with all @armiyana & @chesterhf advice. I have had several that wouldn’t eat for even 5-6 weeks after their first shed, so don’t panic or worry about assist feeding for a while still. Follow the advice and wait and see. Keep us updated, and pics of their enclosures may help as well. Good luck🤞
Worth mentioning that assist feeding is incredibly stressful for a snake, especially a brand new baby, and if someone hasn’t walking you through and shown you exactly how to do it you could also easily puncture the snake’s mouth/throat or do other serious damage.
Multiple things to try. Definitely adding hides, making sure temp/humidity are stable, leaving them alone as much as possible - don’t offer more than every 5-6 days. Try live hoppers, live fuzzies (sometimes hoppers are intimidating). You can try a drop of vanilla extract on the head, and placing the snake in a brown paper bag with the rodent. You can also try offering frozen thawed and heating to 102-103 degrees, sometimes this works for my hatchlings who don’t seem interested in live.
I have a clutch that hatched two months ago (almost 9 weeks) and only three of the 5 have taken their first meal. Sometimes it takes a while. Definitely try all possible other options (including letting them get hungry) before even considering assist feeding.
I totally agree that assist feeding should not be attempted to get hatchlings to eat their first meal.
Waiting and trying again with rat fuzzies is a great suggestion.
Good luck with the little ones.
So would feeding them in like a Tupperware container work as an alternative?
They are 3 weeks old and shed a week ago. I tried feeding immediately after their first shed. They are housed in a glass 20 gallon enclosure with three hides and paper towels as bedding for the time being. We had some humidity issues so I changed the water to be closer to the heat lamp and covered some ventilation. If you have more questions I would be happy to answer
I would separate them out into individual tubs with their own hide and then feed each in their own enclosure. Having them all in a tank together probably isn’t helping the situation. The way you have them now is kind of a no win-situation where you either have to feed them all in one enclosure (not good), or pull them out to put them in separate containers to feed (also stressful and not good). An ideal scenario is to be able to drop in a prey item quickly without bothering them and stressing them out, which you can’t do in this situation
The glass tank doesn’t give them enough security. They actually should be separated into their own enclosures. Smaller totes with airholes works good. Hides and water bowls of course. Heat is also important as long as it’s regulated with a thermostat.
If the totes are semi clear, try covering with dark towels or something like that.
They do best in darker , smaller spaces.
I would separate them and then try offering a fuzzies or hopper in a few days after they are in the new enclosures.
Agreed with above, if they are all in the same enclosure, that’s a huge part of your problem right there. I would recommend individual shoebox tubs for each individual snake. A hide in each, a paper towel and water bowl in each, and you’ve got to fine tune temp and humidity - temp around 89 for a hotspot and 82-83 for ambient, humidity 65-75ish. Right now in one enclosure, these babies are likely stressed about numerous things - sharing resources with their clutchmates and constantly being touched by other snakes moving around, not feeling secure in a large/clear/tall tank, and humidity is almost always an issue in tanks. Your best chance of success will be to separate them all into individual tubs, give them a week, and offer again. You may need to invest in some heat tape and a thermostat to make a consistent hotspot for all of them.
@weevil looks like we found the problem! They should only be housed together until they have their first shed and then sorted into separate housing. In the case of your little ones possibly earlier. They took a bit longer than average to shed, methinks.
I don’t have tubs besides like 16 quart tubs, would those work and how would I heat them?
Could I use like thermal tape?
Walmart has 12 qt totes that are more suitable for a hatchling.You can drill small holes along the sides and back for air and still have enough room for a small hide and water bowl.
Here’s a link to look at the heating tapes we’re referring to.
Incubator Warehouse Repti-Warm (4 Inch, 48 Inches) https://a.co/d/cTG6yeG
The enclosures don’t need to be tall. Most of my juveniles and adults are in tubs less than 7inches tall.
The heat tape is only on one end of the tub. You can find 3 and 4 inch wide heat tapes that work great . A thermostat is critical though.
Me and my dad were talking about getting a rack system for our snakes we just have too many to keep in individual cages. So this would seem like a good reason to get that going.
It would absolutely be a good reason
My home made rack built for 28qt totes.
Each level has its own heat tape . Two levels are controlled by a double inkbird thermostat.
I need to add more shelves in the base yet for the 41 qt totes.
Much cheaper than most rack systems available. I am however ordering hatchling tubs from ARS Caging with the cup holders built in so I can build a hatchling rack next.