I had an idea a few months ago that I’ve been implementing into my care for my ball python for a while. This strategy has been very successful for for me so I thought I’d share it here to maybe help some people out with their picky ball pythons. For the first year or so that I had my BP, I stuck to a strict feeding schedule of every two weeks. He was always a bit of a finicky eater and I ended up wasting a lot of rats. Around this summer, I added a lot of climbing space to his enclosure, and I’ve observed that anytime he climbs up on his branches at night and just sorta stays still, that means he’s hungry and waiting for food. Now instead of feeding on a set schedule, I only feed when I observe him in this “hunting mode.” Since then, he hasn’t missed one meal. His hunting schedule is never really the same and can very widely. I noticed that especially during the winter he will go very long periods without trying to hunt. Even though this style of feeding is more unpredictable in terms of schedule, it is way more effective. So my advice if you have a picky BP is to start taking notes of how your python behaves around the time that it actually does eat. Do this a few times and then start only feeding when you observe these behaviors. It has worked absolute wonders for me and I hope it is the same for you.
Edit: As brought up by chesterhf in the comments, this should only be applied to snakes that aren’t really voracious eaters and already take longish breaks between eating. If your snake is the type that wants to eat all day every day, then steer clear cause your snake will probably become obese. For snakes like that, sticking to a schedule can be great.
While I think behaviors can definitely clue you in to when they’re hungry so you don’t waste rats, especially with a picky eater, I would caution against feeding every time they “act hungry”. I have a few that will eat whenever and whatever you offer them. They act like starving puppies constantly, and if I fed them as often as they wanted, they’d look like bloated sausages.
I also tend to not follow a strict feeding schedule, it’s loosely centered around feeding ever two weeks, sometimes a few days early, sometimes a few days later. But Pesto presses her little face against the glass begging for food 80% of the time I’m in the kitchen, and Mango will ask for food whenever she senses me feeding anyone else and Ghost is just a garbage disposal of a snake. So acting hungry as a guide can be hit or miss, especially with adult females.
While it might be a good rule of thumb to only feed when you observe those behaviors, but possibly not every time you observe those behaviors if it starts happening too frequently
Yes it works with my specific BP as he isn’t really the garbage can type, but for pythons that are a bit more ravenous it could lead to obesity.
I do this with my spider bp. It’s the only way he will eat.
I have done this with Bon Bon over the years. She eats a small rat once a month and goes into hibernation mode every December til about mid March. At the peak of summer (June and July) she will sometimes eat two rats a month. I can tell when she is ready for a rat by just watching her go into “hunt” mode.
My BP Wrenn, is about 3 years old and she has slowed up a bit with her eating. She’s actually a bit small for her age as well but still a nice size. I think I am going to offer her a meal twice a month instead of weekly because she has wasted a few rats too.
I also have an African house snake that only eats twice a month if that. He is the pickiest snake I’ve ever seen.