Strikes, coils, but doesn’t swallow?

My ball python has recently been skipping meals, three to be exact. Every meal he’s striked and coiled around but when I check up on him two hours later, I find the rat whole on the ground next to him. I leave it overnight but I always find it the next morning untouched. Other than that, he’s always hiding during the day and comes out at night. My temperatures on the warm side fluctuates between 88-89F and the cool side 75-77F, humidity is 54-56%. He’s currently feeding on thawed rat pups and weighs around 173g. I’m getting nervous, anyone know what could be the problem and how I might be able to get him to actually eat? Any feedback is greatly appreciated!!

How long has he been on the size rat that you are feeding? It might be an intimidation factor somehow coming into play. Any other, even minor, changes?

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We have recently switched where we bought the rodents, found out the ones they were selling us before were mice not actually rats. We fed him those for about three weeks before finally realizing. That’s probably the reason :woman_facepalming:t2:. Sorry to ask but do you know any tricks to have him get used to his old diet again? Thank you!!

Sorry I wouldn’t be the best for that. I only own one ball myself and she pounds anything that even remotely smells good. Mice or rats.

I’ve had heard that scenting works. Like do you know anyone with live rats (or mice if that’s what you are trying to get back to) for some used bedding to rub on the food piece? I dunno if it’s something you’d want to do or if it would even work with a ball, but braining has helped with some of my other pickier snakes.


That might be indeed the problem. What I do when I change from mice to rats is simply scenting the rat with mouse smell. I always defrost my mice and rats in a plastic bag in warm water. First week I defrost a rat with the mouse and then feed the mouse. If that goes well next week I defrost a mouse and rat together and than feed the rat. If it doesn’t work immediately and the snake doesn’t eat the rat I later on feed the mouse and week after I try the rat again. Once they take the scented rat they usually don’t have problems with the rats anymore. I worked till now for all of them except one. I have a champagne girl I bought at the age of 1,5 year old. She was only was used to live mice. I managed to change her to frozen mice but the change to rats is not going that easy. She still refuses them, but she is also more nervous than the other snakes so last week I moved to a smaller tub. I hope this will help.

Size indeed can be a reason too. My super mojave girl is also scared of to her too big rats. She strangles them, tries to eat the rat and gives up after just a little try and never tries eating it again. She then lies next to the rat and keeps looking at me like she is trying to tell me something. I mostly give her a smaller rat later on, and I know it sounds nonsence but she just jumps up like a total happy snake and almost jumps out of the terrarium to catch it. That one she eats in top speed. Sometimes it’s just a matter of trial and error. But I might be easier for me because I have several snakes so the leftovers I give to an other snake and as final resort we still have a boa girl who is very happy to take the rat or mouse.


Ball pythons have a tendency to prefer mice to rats, so if he was eating mice for a while, he might have gotten “hooked” on them. I agree with @meerkatlyndz that scenting could helm. Try buying a mouse and defrosting it in a zip lock back along with the rat you are going to try to feed your python. This will get the mouse’s scent on the rat. If that doesn’t seem to be working, you may have to switch back to mice for a little while and gradually work on moving him back over to rats, using scenting and/or chain feeding. Chain feeding is a method in which you offer your snake a mouse that is about half the size of a normal meal, and observe the snake as it swallows. When the mouse is almost gone, put a rat (also about half the size of a normal meal) into the snakes mouth headfirst, and it will get swallowed too. That can help get your python used to eating rats again. Hope some of this was helpful.


How warm is the food item? 100F is not a bad place to start.

If you’re using the water method to defrost them and they are not dry they will cool very quickly and the snake will “lose” it. After they coil and drop it does it look like they’re searching for it? You can rewarm and present it again.

Accidentally feeding mice isn’t a big deal but it does turn into a problem if you have an adult snake that has imprinted on mice (a mouser). A mouser will generally not even strike a rat. The tips from the users above are all great.


I had same problem with my ball, and @asura is on point to this.
I also offered rat “nose to nose” so it takes it from head right away. Hope u can get your snake eating.


Little update: Yesterday was his feeding day so I scented the rat and twenty minutes later reheated and re offered, it worked like a charm and I found the rat gone by morning! Thank y’all for the help!! :slight_smile:


So glad that worked for you!

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