Tips to get hatchlings eating?

Hey y’all. This is my second year breeding, and I’m encountering a bit of a problem. I had no trouble getting any of my hatchlings last year to take food right off the bat, but my first clutch this year was only two animals and I am absolutely stuck, neither of them have taken their first meal. Any help is welcome.

They hatched on June 17th, and shed on June 27th. Two days after their first shed I offered mouse hoppers (live) - neither took. Five days later, I offered hoppers again - neither took. Seven days later (figured I’d let them get hungry) I offered mouse fuzzies. Neither took. So then a couple of days ago I offered small rat fuzzies - and again, neither took. All of these were live feeders, and I’m at a loss for anything left to try. Both hatchlings are alert and pay attention to the feeders - tongue flicking and striking - but they only defensive strike and will not wrap, even if their teeth get snagged a bit. They just pull away. I’ve tried:

  • live mouse hopper
  • live mouse fuzzy
  • live rat fuzzy
    In terms of environmental and situational things, I’ve tried:
  • tong feeding
  • leaving the prey in overnight
  • scenting with fresh bedding
  • dot of vanilla on the back of the rat’s neck
  • environmental change (adding bedding and hides for security)

All feeds have taken place at night. They are in 6qt hatchling bins with a water dish. Started with nothing else, but after the first two refusals, I worried they were too anxious and switched them from paper towels to reptichip and gave them both a hide and some leaf cover, figuring maybe a change and more security would stimulate appetite. Didn’t make a difference. The temperature in the baby rack fluctuates between 90-91 for a hotspot, ambient temp in mid-80s. I haven’t handled them at all since shed except to weigh them earlier this week.

I’m at a loss. I just want to make sure there’s nothing obvious I’m missing. Any tips are welcome. I would really love to not have to assist feed these guys, but they’ve already lost a few grams from when I weighed them initially right after shed, so I am a little concerned.


Your temps may be a little high, but that is only an observation. I don’t think that is your issue. I would continue on the path of trying live, but I would stick with small mouse hoppers. You want them animated, but not aggressively so. Do not handle or bother them in any way between attempts unless it is necessary, like cleaning or giving water. If they don’t start to eat by the time it has been 6 weeks since they shed, then you should probably assist feed, them even if you would rather not. Best of luck.


I always have the greatest success with hatchlings doing early morning feeds. Think 4:30-5:30 am. Keep the room dark and get yourself a headlamp with a red filter. Make sure the light is not tilted down so that it doesn’t shine directly into the tub when you open it. Open the tub slowly and if you are trying F/T make sure that the rodent is warm.

Oh, and just my .02 on the substrate change. I have tried season after season switching from paper towel to no substrate to aspen to carefresh to reptichip. I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no substrate that encourages feeding better than another. Whatever you can keep clean and helps you maintain humidity is just fine.


I’m by no means very experienced, but, last season I had a problem feeder. What substrate did they hatch on? I put all mine on reptichip once they hatched. This problem feeder finally took food when I switched him back to paper towel which is what they all hatched on initially.

Edit: missed where you switched them to reptichip. I think I’d try paper towel again, but hard to say. I also had to go to fuzzy mice because I think the hopper mice scared this little guy. Good luck!

1 Like

Thank y’all for the input, I really appreciate it. Hatchlings are on reptichip right now and have been left completely alone for the last 4 days. I’m getting a couple of live ASF hoppers from a friend and will try feeding them very early tomorrow morning, around 4:30-5ish. Fingers crossed they take!


Keep us updated!

Unfortunately, ASFs were not a success. Hatchlings seemed very animatedly interested in them (lots of tongue flicking and investigating) but the exact same issue as before with defensive striking but no wrapping. I think I may just have to assist feed them.

Keep offering mouse hoppers, try putting a little vanilla flavoring on its head not much. Then just crack open the tub enough to put the mouse hopper inside and shut it. Leave it in there for a while. Don’t let them see you.
Use all resources before force feeding.
Use as Last resort.
I ran across this while doing research.
I’m no expert. Worth a try.