Is strike feeding best, or best for all ball pythons?

I am new to Ball pythons, but not snakes in general to which i have many years experience.
Most references about feeding ball pythons talk about strike feeding being the only or best way for ball pythons. So that’s how I started to try and feed them,
Sure its convenient, you immediately know who has fed and its fast and convenient.
But with my previous non ball pythons I used to prefer passive feeding as it was called back in the day.
By this i mean not heating the food so heat pits could recognise it and just leaving the food in the tank.

Since getting into ball pythons recently I struggled to get some of my more shy ball pythons to strike feed. It scared and intimidated them. they would sometimes rather starve.
In a recent post about tips to get a ball python to feed I saw one person saying just leave it in the tank over night. (sorry cant remember the person to credit them)

That reminded me of the old way i chose to condition my non ball pythons animals to feed.
I tried it for my shy non feeders and it worked.

The snakes are less aggressive that way when hungry. The non feeders and shy ones also started to eat or ate better.

I submit that passive feeding is better because you have more feeding success with shy animals and you do not get aggressive snakes when hungry. EDIT: Following t_h_wyman comment, to clarify please do not take the word aggressive literally . Please see his comment for clarification.

Obviously all animals are different but is passive feeding not a good way to progress conditioning for all?

Any thoughts or comments? Just an opinion and I am willing to learn more from your views.


I can’t say I believe 1 is “better” than another. The goal is simply for them to feed as regularly as possible no matter how. I prefer strike feeding as it gives me a better sense of who is interested, it’s good to know when breeding to help determine gravid or not and is the more natural way they would feed it the wild. Although I’ve had many a feeding that even after a strike/wrap I was gifted the unpleasantness of finding said prey nice and smelly the next day, especially when left over heat source. :nauseated_face:

I’ve also had a few that are shy and prefer I just leave it for them but again not always 100% success rate and usually a younger animal.

At the end of the day I believe it’s important for each keeper to know their animals and do whatever is necessary for the most ideal care they can provide. Which often times means trying new things when the old or normal is no longer happening.


I rate and consider your view.
A few questions though.:

I am not sure, my understanding of current thinking is all hunters will scavenge, its easier nutrition, takes less energy for more reward and nutrition is the priority for survival, even for those we thought were top preditios like T Rex

Total agree, cant argue with that

But who is the priority here, the convenience of the keeper not liking the unpleasant smell or the animal. Its not all about food intake for me, too much stress reduces thriving.

Not fixed in my thoughts, just exploring and listening.


It really depends on the snake. Most of mine will strike feed or not eat at all, but I do have a few ball pythons that prefer it if I leave a thawed prey item in their tub so they can eat it in privacy. I don’t think any one method is better than the other overall. I just do whatever each animal prefers so I can keep them eating consistently.


I don’t know how to do the gray box thing (probably showing my age)

I wasn’t saying they wouldn’t scavenge, any predator would but my info/references/reading/experience tells me that they would actively constrict more prey items than scavenge. Some hunt, some lie in wait.

We agreed on the 2nd

I wasn’t using the example of the corpse smelling bloated rodent being a nice gift the following day as a matter of inconvenience or any reason to overlook the stress or betterment of the animal. It was more of a hobbiest joke on some of the wonderful things we get to experience that most pet owners don’t. I’ve had both drop & strike feeders leave me those surprises. As I stated in what we agreed on, whatever gets and keeps them feeding regularly and staying healthy is paramount.

Good conversation though, keep it going :+1:


me either?

Thanks for the clarification, yes that’s my understanding too.

True, and smell of the rare regurgitation. :face_vomiting:

Interesting discussion, I am shifting my position a bit. Maybe give the snake the choice ?


The first thing I would like to address is this statement:

An animal’s food response is not aggression. Aggression, by definition, is an act of impulsive and/or unpredictable violence. A snake that launches itself out of its tub when presented with food is not being impulsive nor is it being unpredictable, it is acting in accordance with a biological imperative that is the result of millions of years of evolution: When prey is present you hit hard and fast so that 1) the prey does not escape, and 2) they prey does not have a chance to inflict damage. Calling a perfectly normal and natural behaviour “aggressive” is feeding into the narrative that these animals are dangerous
Now, to address your more specific question.

@snaxxs put it best here

Some animals will drop feed. Some animals will not. If you know your collection well enough to know which are which then you can feed accordingly.

I will add to this somewhat. With balls (and with most pythons and boas actually) you are again coming up against a biological imperative. These two genera have evolved to locate their prey by heat signatures, that is why they have heat sensing organs all over their faces. So placing an unheated item on the floor of their cage and simply eat it is expecting them to go against part of their evolutionary nature. Will some animals do it? Sure. But again, that is down to specific animals and should not be applied across the board for all of them.

I will also caveat that drop feeding in no way guarantees that an animal will not be incredibly food motivated. I have a blackhead python that I drop feed. But when it is feeding time you better believe that, when I open her cage, I have a hook in hand ready to deflect her because as soon as she smells food all she wants to do is eat and she will very literally bite/strike anything - my arm, the hook, herself, a branch, the trashcan, the bowl the food is in, the glass door of the cage… My Dumeril is the same way, she explodes out of her cage the moment the door is open enough for her head to fit. And she knows that moment, I can crack the door and nose tap her with the hook and she does not react, but as soon as it gets wide enough for me to get the F/T rat in, BOOM! I could not drop feed her even if I wanted to.


I see your point in other arenas, there is a lot of prejudiced towards snakes. But I assumed that the audience of this forum would not be under the misconception that these animals are dangerous.
Surely I don’t have to be careful about language here? or do I?

I prefer to always err on the better side of caution. While many of us on here avid or long-time keepers there are also those that may just be dabbling with the idea of getting a reptile and are doing some research, or a parent that has a child that wants a reptile and they are trying to find out if they are safe. For those that are not as well-versed as us, reading that these animals are “aggressive” might be a tipping point that keeps them away.

Additionally, in the past, there have been instances where FWS or AR activists have joined or lurked forums looking for conversations they can use. These are, admittedly, not nearly as common as the above, they do still happen now and again. And, lest I be accused of insane paranoia, here is an example from my other hobby where FWS used forum posts to investigate smuggling of poached material:


WOW, I have been out of the hobby for too long. Well nobody wants that.
As a lot of people just look at the first post.I will edit the first post and add your comment.