I just hatched my second clutch of ball pythons on Dec. 11. I have 1 out of the 6 that still hasn’t eaten. It has dropped from 62 grams to 59. I’ve tried live hopper mice and all but this one have eaten. I’m thinking it may be time to assist feed. What do you think?
So if you are trying to feed once a week, you are only about 4 tries in. if you are trying more often than that, it is too often. I usually will not attempt to assist feed before 6 weeks after hatching. Have you tried pre-killing a very small mouse hopper and leaving it in front of the baby over night?
Thanks for the help. I have tried feeding 5 times. I have been trying to feed once a week on Saturdays but I did try twice this weekend as she seemed somewhat interested Saturday morning so I tried again Sunday evening. I will wait until this coming Saturday to try again. Should I continue trying a live hopper mouse or should I just try a pre-killed hopper instead?
Personally if this was my snake I would try one more week with a live fuzzy mouse (important: young enough that it still doesn’t have developed teeth) and leave it in overnight.
If that doesn’t do it. Then I would go ahead with an assist feed with a small pink rat. I find that not having fur helps a lot with the snake rejecting an assist because the teeth really get stuck on the bare skin.
Also some opinion advice for assist feed: I like to go in stages to only assist as much as needed because I think it helps get them off assist faster. That means first I just open the mouth with the rat nose and gently press the rat on the roof of the mouth - some snakes will immediately have a feeding instinct by the taste. If they don’t latch on then I move on to gently getting the whole head into the throat and place them down in an empty tub. 90% of assists take this for me. The really stubborn ones will thrash until they get it back out. Then I move on to getting the shoulder of the rat past the throat so that they really can’t get it back out.
A week after an assist I’ll offer the live fuzzy mouse again. If they don’t take I will go through the assist stages again and I find that they start taking it at an earlier and earlier stage until they become that snake waiting at the front of the tub for their rat every week.
Hope you find the info useful. Best of luck I’m sure you’ll get them eating!
Have you tried heating the frozen thawed food so its hotter than the surroundings, and trying in dim light.
Or even different food like a multi or mouse.
For me in the UK using live is a not legal unless the snake would die otherwise, so if all else fails I would assist feed smaller food until it works out that it is food and starts taking on it own.
It may take a bit longer but I have never had to use live doing that, they all work it out in the end and take frozen thawed larger fuzzy rats eagerly.
Strangely most of mine that start with assist feeds are mental for food once they work it out. I guess its because of the smaller food assist fed and they are hungry by the time they eat independently, but it could be anything.
One thing I prefer is to use a fuzzy multi of the same size as a pink rat. I find they are easier to handle, (less floppy) more robust and less likely to explode in the process of assist feeding. especially if you have to try a couple of times. I just don’t like the mess. Just a personal preference.
I believe @graysnake specified a pre-killed small small hopper mouse placed in front of the baby and left overnight in his post……
So, in the UK, how do they know, in the privacy of your own home, if you are feeding live or pre-killed? Are there laws there on how you are allowed to pre-kill?
Can you post a picture so I can see the body condition?
I guess they wouldn’t know , but buying them on a regular basis from the same place would be a bit suspicious.
I’ll try to get a pic this evening. I don’t think body condition looks too bad yet. I may wait until Friday or Saturday when I try to feed again to get a pic though as I’m trying not to bother her at all and cause any stress.
Here is a pic of the one that refuses to eat. I had a live hopper in with her for an hour and no luck. I just killed the hopper and left it. We’ll see what happens but I’m ready to assist feed with some rat pinks in an hour or so.
The body condition doesn’t look even remotely concerning to me, that’s a pretty standard baby. I may be in the minority here but I assist feed as an absolute last resort. I try frozen thawed, I try live, I try prekilled, I try scented, I try leaving it in a brown paper bag, I try annoying the snake into striking, and I try leaving the snake completely alone for 7-8 days in between. Normally by the time I’ve done all that it’s been at least two months since hatching, and that’s when I start to consider assist feeding.
Thanks. This is only my second clutch so I’m probably more worried than I should be. My first clutch all ate within 2 days after their first shed. This clutch too a lot longer. I’ll leave this dead hopper in with it overnight and then try again in another 5 to 7 days.
Agree seeing the picture that I’d probably wait longer to assist.
Like @inspirationexotics says, different things will work with different snakes. Some need a calm situation to have the confidence, others need some stress to trigger a defense bite first.
My most effective strategy that works with 95+ out of 100 on the first try is the live fuzzy mouse left the entire night. I know people say the fast movement of the hoppers stimulates a response but in my experience a lot of snakes are scared of the larger fast moving thing in their cage. And it’s not safe to leave too big of a hopper overnight. I find I get a higher success rate with fairly developed fuzzies that will crawl around quite a bit but barely have open eyes, teeth not developed.
Thanks! I’ll wait another week. I’m just getting myself worried I guess. I’ll see if I can get a fuzzy mouse. Might not be able to. But hoping she was the hopper I just killed and left in there. I’ll leave it over night. Keeping my fingers crossed.
Oh yeah she looks like she still has good body weight! Force feeding should definitely be the last resort as it is stressful on the snake.
I agree with @crypticoils-pythons about the moving fuzzy so hopefully you will be able to find one……
Have you tried a larger prey item like a weanling or adult mouse? Some babies need a larger heat signature.
I haven’t. I may give that a try if I can’t get it to eat smaller first.
I was able to get a fuzzy mouse today. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and hope that it’s not there when I check tomorrow morning.
Yay! Best of wishes for a gone fuzzy tomorrow morning!