Switching snakes from live

I choose not to breed my own rodents, mostly because I hate rodents. Especially mice. Since I don’t breed my own, live pinky and fuzzy mice and rats are pretty hard to come by in my area and require pre-ordering, traveling into the city, and arriving on a specific weekday to pick them up. For that reason, I am doubly motivated to switch over the neonates I produce.

Everyone has talked about switching babies over to f/t. Do they not take that at all as new babies?

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Not all babies require live food at first, but some do. I always offer my babies f/t for their first meal and then offer live to the ones who didn’t eat. I do the same thing at each meal for the live feeders: offer f/t first and only feed live food if they refuse to feed on f/t.


That makes sense, I’ll have to keep that in mind. Thanks!

I’ve hatched quite a few snakes and I never get ball pythons that will take f/t for there first meal. Some more aggressive type feeders such as short tails and retics I’ve had better luck. I wish I could switch to feeding f/t but it would never be economicaly realistic when I would still have to buy live feeders for hatchlings. It’s so much easier as well always having food ready to feed. Breeding rodents is my least favorite part of maintaining my collection. But is probably the most important part.


As most others have said, hatchlings are tough. It’s also a pain to have to try to understand if it just doesn’t want f/t or if it just doesn’t want to eat at all. They all have their own little schedules you have to work around. One pops out of the egg trying to eat f/t and another just stares at you for a whole month.

Everyone usually has their own little “feed the hatchlings” rituals. I don’t use pinkies and try to find very small mice because I think the fur helps. Others probably do the opposite. Some try to avoid mice entirely so they don’t accidentally make a mouser (feeding a full sized adult female on only mice is a bad place to be).

If live is an absolute no-can-do for someone I would say they should look beyond ball pythons to other snakes. Colubrids can take a varied diet and there are commercial options like ReptiLinks that don’t look like animals at all. With some work you can get other pythons on ReptiLinks.

Edit: just for the record I’m Team f/t with currently 20 snakes all on f/t.


I hope to breed balls, and actually have one who was locked for 23 hours, and I am trying to learn about feeding the babies. I really want to feed frozen as it’s much easier for me to buy and keep on hand. I only have two female mice so I know they couldn’t keep up and my supplier is an hour away. Technically it could work but I would definitely have live on standby!

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Does not even take that much work. I have a bredli and a blackhead that transitioned to links from the first offering

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Yep. Woma (not too far from blackhead…) do fine, too.

Ball pythons you can train feed but that’s a separate topic.


I actually have a handful of balls that take links as well, no extra work required. They are just REALLY food motivated so anything warm on the end of forceps they consider food

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@john did a great post on this Changing Your Ball Python Over to a Frozen Diet

I’m gonna be in the same boat as you when it comes to babies. I am going to offer f/t from the start and just learn from there. I am sticking to rats though. Maybe I’ll luck out, ha-ha.


It’s a fun but sometimes frustrating journey. I’m not sure there’s a defacto 100% money back guaranteed “right way” but… you’ll never run out of things to try!

Some pop out like Pacman nomnomnomnomnom whether it’s a rat, reptilink, pinky, etc. Some just don’t. Some people swear by ASF scenting. Some swear by “never pinkies” (I’m kind of in that camp)… :woman_shrugging: Try it all. It’s easy to get sucked down into scenarios where you have failure to thrive or a skinny snake - sometimes that’s just what happens but it’s easy to start blaming yourself with “What if I had done something different…?” so might as well surround the room with salt and light some sage if you think that will help you. :slight_smile:

The definite things to avoid are accidentally raising mousers. I am also not a huge fan of braining and honestly do not believe it helps in any way but… :man_shrugging:

What the hell is ‘braining’ and do I want to know? :woozy_face:

Probably not but I’ll tell you, anyway.

Some people believe that pythons are zombies, I think, and the smell of brain will elicit a feeding response. You can do it with a small nail or a large hammer. If you look around you’ll see this advice for everything from hatchling ball pythons, various colubrids, boas, and more.

This was one of those ‘rituals’ that people will swear by but I’m pretty sure it emerged back when most everything was wild caught and really difficult to feed. No one knows if the animal just randomly decided that that specific day was lunch time or if the braining somehow helped but… people still try it… :woman_shrugging:

I always thought the science behind the scent of blood/flesh illicit into a feeding response to be pretty sound. I don’t see why brains specifically would be “more” desireable but there’s a huge amount of blood around the brain of any living thing so…makes sense to me.
@asura Do you doubt it because you tried it extensively and didn’t notice a difference or just general skepticism/ Is that a common opinion now that people doubt it?

I haven’t tried it yet but I only have f/t so idk if it would be as effective anyway.

Sure, that seems pretty straightforward. In the case of colubrids, etc, that would be opportunistic on carrion, etc, it definitely makes sense. But why would a ball python ever smell brains? It seems to kind of fall apart at that point.

When it comes to f/t and prekilled the prey item is already kind of banged up already so would driving a nail through it really make a huge difference?

Again, in the case of colubrids, I could completely understand how a chicken heart itself rather than a whole prey item could elicit a feeding response because it’s just viscera… but brains?

I have done it quite a few times in the past, I wouldn’t say extensively (probably in the several dozens rather than thousands), but it falls in line with what I said previously:

Depending on when you got into the hobby and what species you’ll find that some just don’t eat (especially wild caught, note the mass import mention). It happened when we were mass importing ball pythons, it happens with short tails, it happens with burmese, etc… and when they were relatively new I think people were just trying literally anything to get them to eat. But they eat when they’re damned well ready. If you brain every mouse and it eats the brained mouse you’ve got 100% rate there - but that’s obviously not science and a very skewed sample. * edit, note below

Does that make sense?

* The skewed sample is mentioned because I really do honestly believe that braining, in general, is a folk remedy akin to blowing smoke in an ear infection, etc.

I’ve started a hundreds of baby snakes, and I can say that braining works sometimes. I’ve definitely had cases where a stubborn feeder got started on brained pinkies. It is one of my go-to tricks for difficult feeders. It’s not a folk remedy. It does seem to be more effective with colubrids than with boids though.

That makes sense.

I hear ya, I think the basic predator instinct of preying on the weak if they have any of that instinct I could see the scent of blood still being a turn on.
Point taken tho

I’m just not a fan. I’m not trying to tell anyone not to do it… It’s just going to be on my “Desperate Things to Try” list all the way at the bottom under “Play Onward Christian Soldiers”. :stuck_out_tongue:

Colubrids, etc, give it a shot. Ball pythons? Stinky waste of time (for me - you do you).

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