Whats the best food prey for ball pythons in order of nutrition

Whats the best food prey for ball pythons in order.
I know a lot will say african soft furred rats are best (maybe you wont), but also what about mice vs rats and other prey items, chicks, gerbils etc?


Short version: I feed rats for ease of breeding and procurement. Occassionally mice when needed for mousers or fussy runty babies. lol.

the TL:DR version…


So… here’s the dirty downside to knowing everything about nutrition and such.
Animals need to be tested on.
For example, knowing how a prescription diet for dogs will work before being able to sell it as such requires invasive testing like multiple blood tests, biopsy samples or bone marrow testing or in the past at least sometimes require euthanizing the animal to fully examine possible effects on organs. I don’t know how far that testing goes nowadays with everything that’s been built up as veterinary knowledge.

We all know the general diet of BPs in the wild consists of rodents and birds. Because of testing done previously, RodentPro has an amazing table of information here: Nutrient Composition

We know from keeping them in captivity for so long that they will easily tolerate a rodent only diet. We also know they can be picky… =_=;
Without having a whole study done with routine medical inspections and testing over a very large group… we’ll never know the perfect diet standard. The best we can do is mimic the wild diet. Which outside of africa, most of us tend to lean towards the general mouse and rats. Sometimes gerbils or ASFs. Some include chicks.

But the other thing to keep in mind is also, observation of the animal. If the animal is too thin or overweight? Things need to be addressed. Is there a parasite? Are they eating too much?


Thanks that’s really useful, but
Sorry I don’t know the latin or even if its there. what about ASF rats VS rats?


Doesn’t look to be present on the table here. Not sure the reasoning, but the only rats included are Norwegian rats. Assuming this is just due to using some of the more common feeder style animals, but I could be wrong. I’m not sure how the list was decided on or came up with.


I’ve seen some other info floating around the web before… but that’s just the one that I know of and am able to drag out without more digging.


A little off topic, but I was surprised that a adult chicken had less protein and more fat then rats! Sorry just blew my mind!
Your question is very good, and I don’t know exactly the best per prey item. I agree with @armiyana about feeding rats and mice for the same exact reasons. I will say fresh whole prey items are the way to go,(can be frozen thawed as long as fresh high quality of course) they have all the bones and organs and should be nutrient rich, and I would if I could say a variety of different prey would be nutritionally best.it would cover all the bases even better! I can’t though because of how picky ball pythons are, some will do different prey types or switch between them but many won’t. With ball pythons rats should be perfect, and you don’t have to worry about the higher fat content that retired breeder rats have because they are too big for ball pythons.


Ok here is an undereducated comment from someone who pretty much knows the basics, which you seem to be asking a basic question.

Rats are supposed to be more nutritious than mice for BPs, more protein than mice and maybe less fat?

Anyhoo, in answer to your specific question: ASF rats versus just plain ole rats: imho if a BP is introduced to a ASF rat it may turn away from regular rats and visa versa. ASF rats are I think more expensive? and sometimes not as easy to find?

So I would stick with: Drum Roll Please!!!

  RATS!  😄😎🐍👍😊

I breed rats, mice, and ASF’s and feed each to my collection. The most efficient to raise as feeders are standard rats as they grow much faster and larger than mice or ASF’s. I use ASF’s and mice primarily as alternatives to get picky feeders eating again.

I’ve only produced one ball python thus far that will only eat ASF. His muscle structure and general growth seems better. Weekly feedings of properly sized ASF’s seems to have led to a leaner and stronger ball python. But that observation is highly anecdotal being that it is only one animal.

I’ve had a feeder rat customer report to me that since they started buying ASF’s their ball pythons are growing and breeding better. They claimed it’s not simply a matter of them eating more consistently but that they thrive better on ASF’s.

I personally don’t mind feeding my personal collection that I don’t intend to sell anytime soon ASF’s but babies I plan on letting go I prefer to be on standard rats. This is due to the fact that ASF’s are more difficult to find (illegal in some states!) and more expensive.


That’s pretty interesting and does make some sense since asf are one of the natural prey items for them in the wild. You are also right about trying to get them on rats or mice if you are selling them. Asfs are not illegal in my area but so hard to find and expensive if you do most buyers(including myself) won’t buy asf eaters. What’s more is there can be a stigma on feeding asfs. People think once you give a ball python 1 asf they will never want to eat anything else again and refuse anything but asfs. We know that is not true, but that stigma is out there. People need to keep this in mind too if thinking of selling.


I have found the same (anecdotally) But I was hoping for some imperial evidence. Some people have told me ASF rats have a higher protein to fat ratio so and are better. (Gavin at balls2u) Burgers meat vs stake to make the point. I kind of took that on faith as its also their natural food but was hoping for some evidence to back it up or not here.

I tend to only use Asfs for my breeder females (that will take them) As I am not going to sell them, or if so a breeder should be able to deal with it. (some wont take them some wont take anything else) . Its more expensive and a bit harder to get hold of, but I think its worth it and I don’t have to worry about a hatchling buyers issues with getting ASF as they are breeder adults.
I get your point about Hatchlings, all mine are on normal fuzzy rats from the start, easier for the buyer to get hold of and maybe better for a faster growing hatchling (again anecdotally). As for mice, they seem not to have much in them and again, last thing I want for a hatchling is for them to become a mouser only.
All mine start on normal fussy rats if possible.
One point I will make, for rare occasions of assist feeding a hatching to get them started- due to the smaller size needed, pink rats are hard to assist feed and can explode, so I use ASF rats of similar size.
More bone and muscle and less floppy and water.

Also I know variety is good, but ball pythons can become habit forming. Worse than a mouser is a chick only feeder with my limited knowledge. (also it stinks coming out)