Hello! I’ve had this ballpython for 7 months now, just a normal. He has never ate for us, and I’ve tried everything!
From live feeds to thawed, I have tried microwaving the rat, I tried mice, I’ve just thawed out the mouse in the fridge then putting it in scolding hot water. I’ve but more heat on him to see if he was to cold, and I’ve tried no heat, I’ve recently tried to spray the tank down to make it more humid for him. He just seems so scared all the time and isn’t even interested in the mouse at all. The people I got him from said he was originally eating small Rats and I’m not sure if they were just lying about him eating fine to get a sale. It’s getting worrying now and I just have no clue what to do. I’ve always feed him at night and tried to do everything I can to get him to eat.
Does anyone know what I should do next? Or what I should try?
Although we don’t breed Royals/Balls, we had a corn snake this season that was exactly the same. We tried everything. Here’s some of the things we’ve tried and worth giving a go if you haven’t:
Peirced the stomachs and smeared contents on head
Washed in dish soap
Scented with lizards
Scented with frog
Scented with tuna
Left over night in a small container
What eventually got her eating, was we tried her on a chick leg and she devoured it. Since we have been scenting mice with small slivers of chick with fur on them. We’re now at just rubbing the mice on a chick and soon will try non-scented mice.
It might be worth trying your snake on something else and once they eat that, scent a rat with whatever it is you can get them started on.
From these pictures it looks fairly healthy. Balls can go off food for many reasons and for long time frames. I recently had one that went one year without eating.
What I did (and still doing) seems to be helping. I have only hear of this from one person, but I tried it anyway.
Buy some “reptile electrolyte soak”
Follow the directions to mix
Let it soak for 30 minutes
Skip the next day and on day 3 do it again
Then try feeding it on the following day (day 4)
When you feed it, use a much smaller size rat, something around a rat pup size or even a fuzzy. If it takes it, you can try feeding again in 2 weeks the same size. If it want eat again, repeat the same steps. After a few meals try increasing the rat size slowly. You may have to do this process several times.
If this does not work the first time, repeat the steps the following week but try a mouse hopper or smaller. Some will take mice over rates.
Keep us posted. And hope this helps you.
Thank you!! I’ll try this, hopefully it will work!
Thank you for the information! I’ve tried scenting with fish before and that didn’t do anything but I’ll try some other things! Thank you again.
No worries! There’s literally dozens of different things you can try. Our girl was one of the most difficult snakes to get feeding we’ve had. She was hatched in June and is only now esting on her own force feed her as she started to lose weight.
Just try different types of prey until you find one it will take and then scent the rat with that. There will still be the scent of the rat present, so over time you should get it going. Also try having a look at the enclosure as you said your snake appsars scared. That suggests it doesn’t feel secure which can cause them to go off food.
As has already been mentioned they can sometime go off of food for a variety of reasons - breeding season, shedding, husbandry or simply because the snake wants to watch you suffer and lose sleep
For suborn boas i have used softfur rats. Use a smaller size then you normally would use. You may have to leave the softfur rat overnight in a small container with the snake. If you get a fuzzy with no teeth yet you can leave the softfur rat alive for this. Never leave a live rat with teeth with any snake.
If this doesn’t work you may have to force feed it. You may want to see if someone by you or your vet can help with this. If you do this make sure its a very small rat warmed up and put some olive oil on it to. Use 12" tweezers hold rat behind the head and push the rat into the mouth. Slowly push the rat as far as you can down the throat. Release the rat and pull the tweezers out. Now use your thumb on the belly of the snake and push the rat down as far as you can get it. Your other fingers should be supporting the top of the snake as you push the rat down. You will need a second person to help to keep the snake straight as you do this.
I have also had boas go a very long time with out eating. Sub adult 187 day and 14 year old adult 360 days. But he normal would only eat 3 times a year for me. One 5 lbs rabbit.
What was he eating in his previous home? F/t, live, etc. How have you tried offering the f/t prey? Sometimes gripping it with the tongs in different spots (like on the scruff of the neck instead of dangling by the tail or leg) and making it move in different ways (like wiggling it on the enclosure floor instead of dangling it in the air) can help. If you haven’t already, you might try experimenting with moving it around in different ways. You can also try leaving it in the enclosure overnight. Some snakes are just shy feeders.
Have you tried braining a f/t feeder? You can either use something like a pin to poke some holes in the skull, or split open the front of the skull with a sharp blade. If that doesn’t work, you can also try making a small incision in the feeder’s abdominal wall. Sometimes exposing the smell of brain/innards seems to be irresistible to some snakes.
You said you’d tried f/t and live, but have you tried freshly pre-killed?
How often are you offering food? Sometimes offering too often can make them not want to eat. You might try waiting longer (like 2+ weeks or more) between offerings.
Ball pythons are pretty notorious for this behaviour. If the pictures are current, he doesn’t look overly skinny, and he must have been eating at some point, or he wouldn’t have gotten to the size he is. I know it can be stressful when a snake won’t eat, but remember that they’re not like mammals (or even most other reptiles). They can go a looooong time without food and still maintain their health and body condition. Don’t despair, and don’t give up! Odds are he’ll eat sooner or later.
I was just looking more closely at the picture of his enclosure. You might try adding more cover in the form of fake/real plants, rocks, branches, extra hides, etc. It looks fairly exposed aside from his hides (though it’s good he has those!). Often snakes won’t eat if they don’t feel secure. The fact that you mentioned he seems afraid of everything could suggest that he just doesn’t feel secure and hidden enough to feel safe eating.
Is he in a glass tank? If so, you could also try blacking out at least three of the sides with cardboard or construction paper or something. That can also help them feel more secure.
The advice already given is great. If I were you I would invest in a reptile scale to keep track of his weight even though you have already had him for 7 months. I don’t know how old he is but in my experience if an established eater BP goes from one owner/environment to another owner/ environment, sometimes just that change can interrupt a solid feeding habit.
Again, imho, ball pythons, especially males, can often present a feeding challenge for some owners. Everything has to be just right, consistent and constant.
So, all that being said, if you are able to find chicken hearts at the grocery store, it might be worth a try to scent a smaller prey item as suggested with a chicken heart.
Also if you have access to a pet store that sells gerbils, preferably, or hamsters or even mice, you can ask them for a small bag (or bring your own baggie) of soiled litter out of the cage, Put the prey item in the bag to scent it and then offer it to your BP. This method worked for me.
As @d_y_python stated, snakes BPS can go for months without eating. If none of the suggestions work maybe your BP is just not hungry. If that’s the case then I would just offer an unscented prey item on a consistent basis and keep track of the weight.
If he hasn’t eaten within a few more months and he starts to losing weight I would take him to a vet to have him checked out.
Best of luck to you and your BP!
I’ve been trying to do more with the tank actually! The snake is actually my parents and my Mom doesn’t think there is anything wrong with the tank, the reason why he even has anything but a hide was because I stepped in. But still thank you and I’ll try to convince her more on getting more things!! You are amazing
Thank you so so much! It’s been a hard road with this ball python, we aren’t sure if the python was in okay condition in the first place sense they wouldn’t even tell my the exact breed he is or his age. But still! Thank you so much and you are amazing!
I wanted to try braining actually! I’ve been trying other things first but that was going to be the next attempt. I do know that he was eating at least a little at the breeders place. I know he used to be there breeder male for awhile until I’m guessing he took a turn for the worse. I try to feed him every 3 weeks for so, just to give him time. Also thank you for the information! You are amazing!
I successfully got my sand boa eating f/t after only ever being fed live for nearly a decade by her previous keeper by braining her mice. I had the best luck when I split open the front of the skull, typically from the top of the nose to between the ears of the mouse. I used a scalpel, but any sharp blade will work.
Of course, my situation (and species) was different from yours. Every snake and situation are unique, but it’s definitely worth a try! If he doesn’t take the brained rodent immediately, leave it in with him overnight. The stronger scent may eventually tempt him.
Respect you trying to figure this out! Not an easy task getting a finicky eater to eat.
Many great responses and ideas. To add something:
I would cut that light out. Doesn’t need the light, and if it is acting anxious, likely feels overexposed. Let it chill in the dark, and turn off all but a dim blue light at night (in the room, not over the tank). Go in there and see if it is on the prowl. This is when our ball wants to eat. When it is out at night, it is usually hunting.
If you want to give it some light, handle it outdoors some during the daytime where it can get some dappled sunlight.
I have had some success with scenting with vanilla essence
@roblack has a good idea about the lightning. If you are using any light (day or night) I would turn them off. If any is for heat, then you might want to change your heat source.
When I commented before, I figured you have the husbandry down, sorry, this should have been my first thing to check. Make sure there is a hot side of around 87 and cooler on the other side. Have at least 1 hide (2 if you can fit one on each side). Lighting is not needed as they are nocturnal and do not need an type uv lighting. Many who breed and have large collections use racks and no lighting at all, and they handle it very well. Temperature, lighting and lack of hides can be a reason for them not to eat. And if it has not eaten good for you, some of this could be the problem.
I would still soak them as I stated before as it will help it some. This process will not hurt to try or even do every so often.
Ours just did this. He eats live and we got him a hopper. We finally put him in a short, but wide black tote on heating pads. After a week in there and getting adjusted, he soaked for like 3 days or so and then ate. We’d like to get on frozen thawed. That’s our goal. Good luck
I’m not sure if it was recommended yet, but for really difficult eaters, I’ve put them in a small Tupperware container with a lid and some air holes punched in the lid and left a rat pup or fuzzy overnight inside the enclosure. Something small enough the snake won’t shy away from and small enough it won’t injure the snake. This has worked for me multiple times and has helped others that have contacted me about trouble getting their snakes to eat.