Issues with inconsistent feedings

I got a lil banana boy back in August. I’ve been having the worst time keeping him on a consistent schedule. He weighs about 157g currently and he’s currently in a 12x12x12 enclosure. He’s on coconut husk substrate, the sides are blacked out, warm side temps are 88-90 and ambient temp of the room is around 75-77.

This little bugger is driving me nuts. My other 2 are garbage disposals. He’ll eat for 2 consecutive weeks and then refuse a meal. He has a very good food response. He’ll strike and coil almost immediately after offering. He literally shot himself out of the enclosure to grab his rat last week. Probably would have been fine if he didn’t miss and fall out >_< Not sure if last week traumatized him, he did have some very clumsy strikes this evening. I checked him over and he looks fine.

I just don’t understand why he doesn’t like to eat it after coiling it.He gets fed in the evening around 8-9. I thaw the rat at room temp next to his enclosure and the heat it up inside a plastic bag so that it doesn’t get sopping wet. It’s about 100+ when I offer it. It’s hit or miss. He’ll always strike and coil but there’s no guarantee he’ll actually eat it. He’s coiled and then left it quite a few times. He does the same thing when offered live. Strike and coil but no guarantee he’ll actually eat it. Does anyone have any tips on how get the little bugger eating consistently?


This happens now and then. I suggest hanging onto the tail of the prey item beyond the actual strike and coil. Give it a few solid wiggles to mimic a struggling rat/mouse after coiling.

The extra little effort seems to help convince some snakes that they are really killing live prey. You will see this relatively often on youtube feeding videos from some of the more experienced breeders.

50 of my animals do not need this extra stimulation. 1 female I have seems to appreciate it. Some are just like that. I believe this is related to animals that are started on live food and are hesitant to switch to F/T food. Especially anything that spent any length of time feeding on live.


My fussy feeders seem to do better on smaller meals. Might be worth a try.


I’m going to agree a lot of hatchlings will kill and constrict prey only to leave it lay. May be a prey size issue. Try stepping down the size of the meals your offering. I always like to feed smaller prey more often.


Sounds good. I’ll definitely try downgrading his food size a bit and wiggling it a bit more. @saleengrinch What sort of feeding schedule would you recommend? I was originally doing once every 5 days and then I shifted over to once every 7 days. Thank you everyone!


@wulfsign since I breed my own feeders and feed live im at the mercy of the feeder tub lol. But I do every 3 to 5 days up to 400 to 500 grams. Then I cut it back to 5 to 7 days until fully grown.

1 Like

Also do not check on him at ALL for a few hours after he strikes. I have definitely seen where I check in too fast as they’re still deciding how to go about swallowing the prey and it throws them off and they end up leaving it.

I know the temptation is to keep coming back and checking to see if he is eating but just leave him be and check much later. Hopefully some of this helps!


Consider the type of prey you are offering as well. Since it is a male, try using mice instead of rats.

Also, consider feeding less often. The shortest time between feeds in my collection is two weeks, and yes, that even includes hatchlings. These animals have evolved to be able to survive extended periods between feedings, and sometimes being a little bit hungrier makes them much more willing eat their meals


Trying different prey items and leaving him alone for a few hours are also both excellent suggestions.

I would not suggest continually trying to feed the snake if it’s refusing. It may create a habit of refusing food. If your snake refuses. wait another week or week and a half to offer again.
Are you giving your snake some peace while it’s trying to eat? Some snakes may not eat if a human is around. Try feeding and walking away and possibly shutting lights. Lastly, snakes won’t eat prey items that are too big for them and if they cant handle it they won’t eat it. They may strike and constrict but soon realize the prey is too big. I would suggest downsizing the prey.

The steps I would take for the next feeding…
-wait a week and a half before offering the next meal
-feed at night as they are nocturnal by nature and hunt at night in the wild
-offer a smaller size prey item
-make sure the prey is to temperature to allow the snake to sense it with their heat-sensing pits
-feed in a quiet area with minimal disturbance
-lastly, be patient. the snake can smell the prey. slight wiggling is good but don’t overdo it. you may frighten your snake. also don’t go poking your snake with the feeder or poking their face with the feeder. you may make them pull back. use your tongs, and patiently wait and hold the wiggle the prey and the snake will do the rest of the work

Good luck!

The enclosure lights go off at 8:00PM, I usually feed him around 8:30ish give or take. Once he strikes and coils, I’ll close up the tank, turn the room lights off and leave him alone. I usually wait an hour or so before checking on him. The last few times I’ve checked on him, he’s just been laying on top of the rat. Staring at me like I’ve offended his whole family. His strikes have been super clumsy tho. I’m thinking he may be going into shed soon. Haven’t had a chance to check his belly.

It’s a simple fix don’t overthink it. Smaller prey item and or longer before you check on him. Even just check on him in the morning some take awhile to get good at locating the head. If he is striking he wants to feed this should resolve itself for you.

Great advice. Before reptiles I worked extensively with coturnix quail color mutations and meat production. Some very basic elements of successful production/reproduction seem to be lost on the majority of the reptile hobby.

My first couple years I care-sheeted my animals to a body condition that didn’t compute with me. I read a couple of papers on python metabolism and started talking to people outside of the BP sphere and changed my routine. The last 3 seasons have been extremely smooth. I’ve always tended to ignore fussy eaters if they’re established, but I rarely have them anymore. All of my females eat readily after they lay, and it seems like they recover their body condition faster than they did on the care sheet diet.

As others suggested, try a smaller item. All of my snakes that wrap and drop will take a smaller meal without problems.

Interesting. If that’s what you are doing and your snake is still eagerly striking I would downsize the rodent size. I see nothing wrong with what you’re doing through this dialog so I would try a smaller size and that should resolve your problem. Your snake has the appetite by striking and coiling but just can’t consume the large rodent. I hope everything works out

1 Like

Do you find there is any advantages of going longer in between feedings? Snakes maybe able to go long periods of time in between feedings and do in the wild. But considering most of our collections are captive bred animals I’m personally not seeing any benefits with bi weekly feeding schedule.

1 Like

I generally find that I have fewer animals refusing to eat when their feeding schedule is more spread out.

In a more broad sense, I believe that most of the animals in captivity are massively overfed which is unhealthy for them. Accumulation of fatty tissue around the heart and lungs puts a stress on their organs which shortens their lifespans, it also leads to fatty liver disease. The high-frequency upramping of their metabolic processes and feeding-associated organ growth/shrinkage shortens their lifespans.


@t_h_wyman have you been doing this long enough to see a difference in lifespan or breeding life?


I definitely agree there tends to be over fed and or overweight animals. I may not be a dr but my experiences as a amateur boxer taught me small more frequent meals increases metabolism. Now I will freely admit I don’t know if the same holds true to snakes being cold blooded. I feed prey that is way smaller compared to what I observe people feeding similar sized animals. I do feed more frequently though. This has always worked for me. But scientifically not sure which way is better or if there is a difference.

1 Like

I had a corn snake that I purchased as a hatchling and kept for twenty-five years. Feeding schedule was every two to four weeks and no feeding for three to four months during winters

I have a fifteen-year-old ball python, a seventeen-year-old chondro, and a thirteen-year-old alterna. All of them are basically on the same cycle as above.

Now, none of these are/were breeding animals so that takes a degree of body stress off of them. But, with the exception of the ball, those ages are in the upper end for what we typically see in the hobby.

Outside of the ages though, I can observe the body tone of my own animals versus what is frequently seen across the hobby - the “double chin”, the “pinhead/cookie dough roll” body, the “back valley”…I have also seen necropsies of animals from other collections and performed necropsies on my own animals and seen a marked difference in the presence/amount/distribution of fatty tissues between the two

I grant that there is no scientific study behind it but when I look at my own collection and at the hobby writ large, there is sufficient anecdotal evidence for me to personally feel that overfeeding is an issue within the hobby.

You are correct that there is a difference in metabolism between warm- and cold-blooded animals.

Analogy - think of it along the lines of an engine.

Your boxer metabolism is akin to a muscle car; the engine normally idles higher, say around 3k RPM, and when you eat it is like revving up to 4.5k RPM.

The snake metabolism is a Yugo, the engine normally idles around 500 RPM and when it eats you are having to rev up to 4.5k RPM

The end point may be the same, but the stress put on those engines to get them from their idle to that end point is rather different.

Add this second factor in. When you eat, your heart, lungs, and stomach stay pretty much the same size (yes, your stomach stretches a little but that is within a normal range). With snakes, their heart, lungs, and stomach undergo a massive growth spurt effectively doubling, and in some cases tripling, in size and cell density. The lung has to increase in size to provide more oxygen to the blood which has to be distributed by the heart that has to increase in size to provide higher volumes of blood to the stomach which has to increase in size to facilitate the act of digestion.

Sticking with the engine analogy. When you as a boxer eat, the V8 muscle car engine stays a V8 muscle car engine and simply revs. When the snake eats, the straight 4 Yugo engine has to be rebuilt on the fly into a V8 muscle car engine in the time it takes to get up to 4.5k RPM. Likewise, when you the boxer are done digesting, you just ease your foot back off the gas and the revving V8 muscle car engine returns to an idling V8 muscle car engine where as when the snake finishes digesting the revving V8 muscle car engine has to return to an idling straight 4 Yugo engine.

Again, the end point may be the same between the two - idle to revved to idle - but consider now how the stress of a full cycle for each of those engines is radically different.

Now, consider that returning to that idle speed allows each engine time to “repair” itself from the stress of being revved. Imagine if you start letting the snake engine move back down to the Yugo form but once you get down to 2k RPM you slammed it back into V8 mode at 4.5k RPM. And then you kept doing that. Over and over. Think about how doing that just constantly compounds the stress

Feeding smaller prey items can help help reduce that stress - less time running in V8 mode at 4.5k RPM means more time can be spent moving back toward Yugo mode and possibly allowing brief moments of idle time - but the effects will ultimately catch up in the end


@t_h_wyman If you don’t mind me asking what is your feeding schedule is for females that are breeding? Do you continue your bi weekly schedule? And my boxer metabolism is more like a pinto these days. Your analysis makes sense to me. Gives me a little food for thought. As always I appreciate you taking the time to put things in a prospective a non PhD can understand.