Newbie BP Owner. Help Please

Hi All! I am looking for some advise or help as we are new to this community and want to ensure I am giving the best care possible. A little back story, we picked up our new BP on 12/3 and the breeder advised that he was a few months old and still feeding off small F/T fuzzies, roughly once a week. We purchased a PVC enclosure with a temperature controlled heating element on the top, I have the thermostat set to 88F (I also have an additional thermostat/humidity reader so I can track the humidity better) We did get a larger tank for him to grow into and made sure to give it enough clutter so he felt secure, I do still need to get foliage for it though.
The reader shows temp on one side is 86.6F and humidity at 66%.
He stays in his hide most of the time but does come out to explore occasionally, when he does, his tongue flicks are long and normal and when reaching in to handle he seems to be relaxed and doesn’t tense up. We haven’t handled him much, giving him time to adjust to his new space and not to stress him out.
My worry is when he his out, I notice him digging/rubbing his nose on the sides/corners of the enclosure. I’m not sure if he is just trying to find a way out or if he’s beginning the shedding process? I don’t notice him looking any duller than when we got him or his eyes are “blue”.
My other concern is him feeding… the breeder said he last ate on 11/26 and would have been fed on 12/3 but to give him roughly 48 hours and try to feed him again. I attempted last night but he had absolutely no interest in it. I thawed the fuzzy in a baggie in hot water and then used a blowdryer on it’s head… he seemed interested in it, but moreso was just rubbing his face around on it. I know BP can go a while without eating but with him being so small I’m concerned.

I apologize for the long post, but this is our first reptile and with all the research i’ve done, i’m still at a loss. I’ve attached a photo of him and a small video clip of the attempted feed. Any help or suggestions are appreciated!



From the photo and video, I think it’s way too open a setup. By cluttered…we mean you really need to look to find you bp. Like crumpled paper everywhere or fake leaves. There’s no place to feel safe. He’s most likely rubbing the corners trying to find a way out or hide. The main hide should have barely enough room inside, crumpled paper or moss inside can help

And if He’s hanging out on that branch alot, that’s another big sign he could be stressed about it too. BPs don’t usually bask on branches unless the heat source is in an odd spot or they don’t feel safe on the ground. Sure an occasional one may like it and do it, but with the combo of nose rubbing and not eating it’s more stress related.

I would try setting up a smaller tub habitat temporarily and get used to having him first. Get him feeding. Watch his cues. Learn his personality. Then try again with a bigger setup once you both have more confidence.


Ditto to everything @armiyana Christina said and only to add that except for getting him in a much smaller bin do not handle him at all, nada, for at least a week after that, including do not try to feed him again for at least a week. Give him uninterrupted solitude. :blush::snake:


This is what I learned from Robert Barraclough (Royal Balls) from YouTube, check him out.

BP feeding is 100% instinctual, they do not have to be taught to feed. There are three triggers to getting a feeding response: (rodent) smell, heat signature and movement.

The first trigger is smell. About 10-15 minutes before he wants to feed, he puts a bin of live, stinky rodents in the snake room. Within minutes the snakes’ behavior changes dramatically. Without the rodents in the room the snakes are calm and sedentary. After they get a whiff of rodents, they get very lively and start poking around in anticipation of being fed, like they’re hunting for the prey. He calls this they become “hot to trot”. They’re almost in a frenzy. He claims when they’re in this state he can feed them anything and they’ll eat it, even his boot. If you don’t have access to live rodents as you are feeding F/T, he claims you can get the same response by putting a bucket of warmed F/T in the room again 10-15 minutes before you want to feed. If you only have a single F/T because you only have a single snake, I would introduce the single, warmed F/T to the snake room 10-15 minutes before you want to feed. Try to get it outside of the cage, but near the vent holes of the enclosure. The idea is to get the snake to smell the rodent for a good 10-15 minutes before you actually feed it. Do NOT thaw and warm the F/T in the snake room, do it away from that room. If the snake smells rodent for an extended period of time, it will become used to the smell and lose interest in feeding. Kind of like grandma being used to her house smelling like moth balls. She can’t smell them anymore because her nose has gotten used to the smell. But when you walk into her house you definitely smell moth balls. Once you recognize that the snake’s behavior has changed and it appears to be hunting, first step is accomplished.

The second trigger is heat signature. You have to warm the F/T up to be warmer than room temperature. That way the BP can “see” the warm rodent body with its heat pits. It doesn’t have to be scalding hot, just warmer than room temperature. And when you offer the rodent, use some sort of tongs. That puts separation between the warm rodent and your warm hand. The snake can more clearly see the heat signature of the rodent and not get confused by the heat signature of your hand.

The third trigger is movement. When offering the dead rodent, wiggle it a little bit to make it appear alive. Do not bop the snake on the face with the rodent, often that will intimidate the snake and it will retract and lose interest. If you’re still not getting a strike, but it looks like the snake is interested, pull the rodent away, wait a few seconds and then reintroduce the rodent. You might have to do that a few times to get a strike.

I noticed in your post and video you warmed up the F/T and you used tongs, both excellent. The girl seemed REALLY interested, but I noticed you didn’t wiggle it or pull it out, wait a few seconds and reintroduce the rodent. I think if you would have done that it would have pushed her over the edge and you would have gotten a strike.

You should wait a few days and try again. Maybe try some of the stuff I outlined above.


Thank you! I planned to get more things to put in there (I live in a very small area and not a lot of stores to choose things from) and we looked at a smaller enclosure but couldn’t find one in our area that would give him the heat/cooling areas we were advised he needed and were told as long as we filled it up, he would do fine.
As far as the branch, he was only up there one time when he was exploring, he had left my hand and went up there for a bit then climbed back down.
I interact with him roughly 10-15 minutes a day (other than just letting him watch me do regular things through the glass) and I let him come to me when he’s in his hide. He seems to really like the one that’s in there, its pretty shallow to the ground and he’s able to curl up in there.

I will get more items to fill up the sparse areas to make him feel more comfortable. i’m just concerned with him being so young and not eating. It is cold where I am and my house does not stay at a warm temperature so a tub habitat worries me that he won’t be able to stay warm.


Thank you for that info! I’ll check out that youtube page for sure!

I clipped the video to show how he was rubbing on it, I did wiggle it in the beginning and got his attention, to which he watched it for a while. When he didn’t go for it the first time, I pulled it out and put a little more heat on it and tried again and he did the same thing. I even tried to put it closer to the ground like it was walking near him but he just watched it.


I would stop handling him completely until he’s eating consistently, as handling can contribute to stress levels.

When you say his “hide”, do you mean singular, as in he has only one??? Give him a bunch, some on the hot side, some on the cool side, some in the middle. Fill the whole enclosure with clutter and places to hide, a hiding ball python is a happy ball python. The enclosure size will be fine as long as it’s cluttered up and there’s not too much open space

I’d make sure the prey is body temp as well, they often won’t strike if it’s not warm enough


The number one top priority for a ball python is security. As you know and others have posted above, they do not feel secure in wide open spaces like in a large enclosure. That’s why you need many tight hides and lots of clutter. I definitely like the idea of crumpled up paper until you can get your permanent clutter. A large enclosure can work with lots of clutter.

After acquiring a new BP, you should definitely not handle them for a good week or two. They need the time to settle in and acclimate without the stress of handling. And I wouldn’t even try to feed until after a week of settling in.

As much as you want to handle your BP, as much as you think they like to be handled, handling causes stress. Stress leads to feeding issues. They really don’t want to be handled, period. Don’t believe me? Take your ball out, put her on your flat hand, put your hand flat on the ground. Once she stops freaking out and uncurls from a ball, she’s going to take off and explore. They will always prefer free roaming to a holding session. So many pet keepers can’t come to terms with the fact that it’s in the snakes best interest to NOT be handled. These are not dogs. They are not cats. They are not mammals. You can’t treat them like a mammal pet. I don’t mean to bash anyone about the whole handling thing, I just think if keepers really thought about what the snake wants more and what they want less, they might come to the conclusion that handling is not in the snakes best interest as I have. Sometimes is just takes lots of experience and reflection to come to terms with it. Robert Barraclough (Royal Balls) from YouTube has a video talking about less handling to keep the stress down. I REALLY like his videos. He’s very knowledgeable and spot on for many topics.


Hang in there and post here often. You’re doing many things correctly and it’s apparent you’ve done lots of research. Lots of folks here love to help out and not judge like on other platforms.


@kaymalar If you have a Dollar Store or a hobby store near you, you can pick up some fake greenery to clutter up your tank. And as @chesterhf Hilary said, lots of small snug hides.

And btw welcome to the community! We are so happy you are here! You will love this place! No judgement here!

What is your beautiful boy’s name? He is really very pretty! Sorry your welcome aboard came so late! :snake::pray::blush:


Hmmmm. So I have to respectfully disagree with you here. And of course this is just my humble opinion due to experience with my snakes.

When I do my weekly cleaning I handle each one of my 22 snakes individually. I check them out for any health issues. They get some out of the enclosure exercise and some one on one social interaction with me.

I have 15 ball pythons. Their personalities vary. Some are super curious and some not so much. None of them seem to mind handling. I think it’s because I interact them on a regular basis. I don’t believe this weekly interaction stresses them out because they all eat consistently, including the rest my 22 snakes. Sometimes even in the middle of a shed.

Again this is just my humble opinion due to my experience with my own snakes, that if a snake feels safe enough to eat consistently in it’s surrounding environment, it will feel safe enough and even enjoy occasional short handling periods with its keeper. :heart::snake:


Ah, I think you’re confusing physical contact with handling. Certainly when you clean once a week and inspect their health you’ll have to make physical contact with the snakes. I don’t consider that by itself handling, just physical contact. When you say they get exercise, is that via free roaming or are you actually handling them? I suspect they are free roaming (supervised, of course) while you tend the enclosure. Or are you actually holding and handling them for an extended period of time like you would a Rubik’s Cube?

I’m talking about actively handling for 10+ minutes just for the sake of handling. That’s what I have an issue with. That’s what I think the snakes tolerate, but do not necessarily want.

When I plop down on the couch my cat comes up to me. She rubs on me. I rub her ears and she purrs and kneads on me. Clearly she likes it, not merely tolerates it. If she didn’t enjoy it, she would leave. Snakes are not the same. You open their enclosure and if they come out on their own it’s to free roam, it’s not to come see you. They may even come over and tong flick you, but that’s just because you’re standing right there and you smell familiar. And if you extend your hand they may even climb onto you, but I bet they don’t stay with you. I bet as soon as they climb onto you they climb off to free roam. They don’t actually want to be handled. And if you’re forcing them to do something they don’t really want to do, it’s got to be causing them some level of stress.

I feel this is more than merely my opinion. I feel it’s fact. Maybe I’m way off, but I don’t believe I am.

If you’re not having feeding issues, then you’re probably not significantly stressing your BPs. I believe many of the chronic feeding issues keepers have with BPs are due to stress, whatever may be the cause.

Feel free to disagree, of course, but maybe ponder and reflect on my thoughts and see if there’s any truth there.


This is what I am talking about so I see where we are not talking about the same thing. I keep all my snakes in my bedroom, so when I clean their tubs I will hold them for a minute or two and then let them stretch out on my bed while I clean the tub, fluff substrate and clean the water bowl. Then I may hold them for a few seconds more before I return them to their clean tubs. They are not out long enough to be stressed but at least they get a little human interaction. Of course it is more for me than them! :joy:

Yes I totally agree with this. When you hold a ball python long enough and it starts to move straight as an arrow quickly in any direction to get away, it’s time out, snake is stressed and needs to be returned to its enclosure yesterday. And yes they will slither away as soon as you put them down as opposed to sitting cozily on your lap in front of the television. They are definitely not in the same category as a cat or a dog! Totally agree!

Great discussion @kavoll!


Thank you! A breeder actually recommended this website and i’m so grateful they did!

While I am waiting to get to the store this weekend, I remembered I had some strings of fall leaves in a tub. I grabbed those last night and placed them all around his enclosure yesterday evening to give him some more coverage and to clutter it up some more. He came out of his hide shortly to check things out but never fully emerged. I’m hoping tonight he will come out more and explore. I made sure not to remove him from his hide when I put the leaves in there, I simply moved slowly and watched his body language so ensure he didn’t feel as though I was a threat. He had his head out almost the entire time and was just resting. If I can get the video to upload, I have a short clip of him curiously checking out the leaves.

I did notice that when I get home from work and turn on the room light and begin moving around (yesterday I was just cleaning) he does poke his head out a bit and watches, I believe he is pretty curious as some snakes are, but he does not retreat when I move upto the enclosure to say hello. (My son is a little jealous because he doesn’t come out of his hide when he arrives home from school lol) i’m sure it’s just coincidence as snakes don’t really recognize sounds or things but I like to believe otherwise :wink:


Poking out of the hide can be a good sign!
BPs are ambush hunters and that’s ideally when and where you would want to try feeding them. When they’re doing those little peeks in a dim room in the evening. They don’t usually come out looking for food, they like it to come up to the house, doordash style.

As a heads up, it’s also when you want to be careful about getting a little too close to the hide because you may get a quick nip too before they realize you aren’t food. Little ones can get excited


Thank you for the heads up on that! I tried to make sure when I got near his hide I kept at the side and really kept my focus on him and his movements! I’m really hoping the filler will help him feel more relaxed and able to explore more!


@kavoll Weeeeelllll I might have lied a bit! Here is Izzolena, produced by @banereptiles Nathan, hanging out with me while I am sitting here catching up on the news for awhile! :joy:
She just kinda settles on me! :joy:


Very nice necklace you’ve got there, @caron. :joy:


Why thank you Jennifer! That’s exactly what Nathan said! I upgraded her enclosure this afternoon and she was like “I’ll just hang out with you for awhile!” When she unwound herself she just laid on my chest until I had to put her up! She is the most laid back BP! :blush::snake: