Rehabbing a friend's bp

A bit of a back story: Years ago a close friend of mine got into reptiles when she moved out of her parents house. She started with a BP, and followed with several other reptiles. I followed in her footsteps and got my first BP, Kane, my pied. That was three years ago. Kane is a unit. I adore him and have acquired some other bps to eventually breed to him. First and fore most they are my pets. Friend never intended to breed, and due to a few things i won’t go into, her first BP died. at the end of 2021 I put her in touch with a friend of mine who i’ve purchased hognoses from, and who also breeds BPs. Breeder friend sold the close friend a really nice male with multiple genes, and she immediately started having issues getting him to eat. I gave her multiple tips and suggestions - starting off with making sure her temps and humidity were all correct, and then making one change at a time after that.

Here were are a quarter of the way thru 2023 and this three year old snake is 400-something grams, skinny and just not looking great. Friend who has him is expecting a baby in a few weeks, has NUMEROUS other pets, and had another animal that was struggling (genetic issue, leopard gecko with enigma syndrome) so i offered to take them both in and try and rehab. the leopard gecko was humanely euthanized after consulting with a few breeder friends.

I do still have the BP, and right now I am focused primarily on getting more calories into him. he’s super skinny, and he was pretty dehydrated when i first got him, had a nose rub over one nostril, and just looked pretty crappy. I put him into a tub immediately, make sure he had water, humidity and hides. He’s in a relatively small tub at the moment, just for ease of monitoring, and making him feel comfortable. he drank probably half of his water bowl in the first 24 hours i had him, so he was definitely thirsty.

Here’s few pic of him when i first got him a couple weeks ago:

Obviously he needs groceries. Here’s a pic of him after a shed, his nose his healed, hes looking not quite so yuck. Obviously still needs groceries, but there’s about a week between those pics and this most recent one. I did remove the shed he’s sitting on.

So far i have been unable to get him to take a rat. He’s obviously hungry, and is ALL about the mice i have when i offer. The mice sizes i have currently are not suitable for a bp his age and size (400 or so grams when i first got him). I have tried thawing rats in with mice when i feed. I’ve tried “scenting” a rat on a frozen mouse, next i am going to try scenting a rat with dirty mouse bedding. If that doesn’t work i’ll try rubbing mouse blood on a rat and see if that interests him. I would REALLY appreciate any other tips from more experienced keepers. I’m trying to avoid live if at all possible, that’ll be my last resort.

thanks all


I’m glad that it looks like the nose rub was superficial and mostly resolved with the shed.

Honestly for malnourished animals like this, I actually start out on smaller prey and slowly work back up to small meals a little more often or to a better size meal over time. Sometimes after being like this for so long it’s harder for them to properly digest and you can end up with regurge or partially digested stools.

The other downside is just that ball pythons can be notoriously picky eaters, I actually just sold a male who was a mouser. No matter how much I tried he would refuse rats. Mice? Anything was fine. He would let you drop feed and walk away even. He may just be one of those. It may be a bit early to say though.

The important thing is to make sure he’s getting some calories in, even if it is too small at the moment.
My schedule for working with an underweight rescue like this was starting out with 1 very small meal (or whatever size they were already eating beforehand) every 7 days for a couple weeks while I got the rest of his issues sorted. Then started offering a small meal every 5 days. As long as they were well digested and no regurge, after a few meals on the 5 days I would try the next size up and wait the 7 days again. Rinse and repeat until they are eating the proper size every 7 days. Once they got to the right weight we went every 10-14 days maintenance feeding.

There may be some others with recommendations that differ, but that’s how I would handle him. He’s well enough to take meals and not need to be tube fed. It’s just tough for us sometimes cause we want to start seeing change faster than they can sometimes.


Agree with all points that @armiyana stated! That is a great feeding schedule for a underweight bp. You were also aware enough to give it a good soak, dehydration is actually more of a issue than most think in a undernourished animal! So good on you! The only other thing is on the same page as @armiyana right now I have a adult breeder female and a few others that will only only only take mice! It does suck having to give 3 jumbo mice a week in some instances, but at least they eat!


Awesome advise, thank you!!! I’ve been communicating with his breeder too, and she suggested a very similar feeding schedule. He was eating for his owner, but i don’t think she was feeding him on any kind of schedule, and he was refusing a lot of meals. She had him in a 40g front open tank, when he came from a rack system, which i think made him feel insecure? Who knows. I can say putting him in a “small” tub he’s not refused a mouse.


where do you get your jumbo feeders? Normally i buy bulk at Expos. Figures that I brought this dude home from my friend’s right AFTER the nearest expo. :woman_facepalming: I’ve never ordered online, but i know of a couple sites - just never had any experience with them.


Sorry I have a local shop here in Colorado that does good prices, other then that I have used rodentpro myself.


I’ve also used rodentpro for feeders. There’s some mixed feedback at times, but I never had an issue. I think LayneLabs is also well recommended.

Glass front 40g can totally be part of the reason. it may also explain the nose too if he’s been bopping it out of fear. Once he’s eating well and back up to weight maybe try a small glass front and see, but sometimes they stress out too much and just like to be in a comfy safe feeling tub. My oldest girl is one I would love to do a display for, but she’s supper defensive and will continuously bop her nose


As a note regarding feeders - I’ve used cold blooded cafe for the last 3 years or so without any issues or complaints. Always been great quality.


I don’t have any rehab experiences but all the advice that’s been given is great. I do think the 40 gallon tank was the first problem for him which resulted in the rehab situation.

I have used rodentpro a few times with no issues. It’s actually only 3 hours away from me but with such high gas prices I just pay to have them brought to my doorstep. I have also used LLL Reptile with no problems either. As long as this little man gets some calories consistently he might end up satisfied to be a “little tuber”tubber! ! Lol! :blush::sunglasses::wink::snake:

God bless you for caring enough to help him out. These guys are totally dependent on us. I breaks my heart to see one fall by the wayside. You are a dear one! :heart::+1:


Thank you ALL for the feedback and support. Hes on a 7 day schedule rn with the mice i have. Hes 100% into eating, so i think bumping him to every 5 days wont be an issue. Lord knows i have pleeeenty of mice for him :sweat_smile:

Ill be sure to update this thread with his progress over the coming months.


Yay! Glad to hear that! Please do keep us updated! :heart::snake:

1 Like

Quick update. Plantain is eating more consistently. Im about to bump him to a 5 day feeding schedule. Hes definitely settled in nicely to his tub, and i see him out at night. Hes also not nearly as flinchy when i handle him.

Still needs work as far as weight goes. I see him every day, so i dont really see a change. What do you all think?


He’s looking great!
I’d actually keep him at a 7 day schedule if he’s been gaining weight well. It definitely looks like he has from that image.

Has he been tolerating bigger foods well for you?


I honestly haven’t attempted sizing up - He STILL is refusing rats. the brat. But he takes the mice without hesitation. His breeder recommended keeping him at 7 days as well, so that’s what i’m going to do.


Oh no, I guess on the plus side as a male hopefully he’ll stay on the smaller side.

If he starts getting really voracious, I mean like flying out at you at feed time hungry, what I’ve done with a couple of my hungry boys as they grew was midway through the week I gave something VERY small. Like a fuzzy if they were eating adult mice. Just a snack to hold them over every other feeding or so.
After they finished that bit of growth and they settle down again it’s back to just the usual 7-10 days for feeding.
I’ve got one of my yearlings getting that way right now, but thankfully he’s eating pretty okay size meals. He just didn’t like my last attempt to size up a bit. hoping that changes next week.


I really wish I could get this dude on rats, i could SO easily upgrade his food size if he would take them. I should hit the expo near me tomorrow and see if my feeder dude has jumbo mice, Downside to going to an expo is I wander around to talk to friends, and end up buying something i probably shouldn’t. :sweat_smile:

My two females are getting to that point… I’ve been holding off on upgrading their food size cuz i won’t have anyone else to eat these hoppers if i do that. LOL


Plantain is still trucking along on his small mice. I stopped by a popular place near ke called “that fish place/that pet place” on my way past from sisters graduation. Mainly to see if they had anything interesting and to window shop enrichment ideas. Ended up grabbing 10 xl mice for the boyyo. Shame i just fed him yesterday… will have to wait til next weekend to try him on them. Tfp/tpp is an hour from me, so its not quite economical to hit it once a week. I may see if theyll give me a bulk discount. But only after i make sure plantain will actually eat them.

Yesterday he was pretty voracious about his mouse. As soon as i opened his tub he was coming out of his hide.


What a cute name!!! Hopefully he will graduate to his xl mice!


Sounds good! Right now I have 4 bps that won’t switch to rats yet and are on jumbo mice, which is fine. If he won’t switch to rats as he gets bigger you may have to give him a couple at a feeding instead of one. Not as economical as rats, but the biggest point is -he is eating regularly!


AMEN to this!! I honestly really just wonder if his owner wasn’t on a “schedule” and just fed whenever she remembered/had time. Being impatient and wanting a really good feeder isn’t the best attitude either, which she definitely had. Taking my time and letting him go at his pace seems to have gotten him back on his game. First couple feeders took a lot more enticement than they do now.

Bane, how long does it generally take you to get them switched? average time, obviously it depends on the snake.