When and when not to assist feed?

Continuing the discussion from I have five snakes that have all stopped eating:

Very true. Husbandry is the main thing to check if any animal stops eating; this applies to snakes but also all animals.


Didnt say force (ASSIST FEED). Thank you. I know what worked for me. The amount of weight lost already means time for action not play with this or that. If they are sick or have health issues then ASSIST feeding isnt going to make things worse. Especially starting with a pinkie. If the guy has several snakes that size I would assume he knows the basics. Im sure he needs more help then checking temp and humidity. Also starting with a pinkie is just a beginning step. Its to see how the snake reacts. Im sure your lack of success is because you didnt follow the right steps. As I said it worked for me several times over.

I don’t assist feed at all if you are pushing a rodent into a snakes mouth you are forcing it they are not taking it on there own.

That are ALL not eating that screams there is a husbandry issue somewhere.


I highly suggest not assist feeding anything that’s eaten on it’s own before. No ball python that size will starve itself to death if it’s not sick. If it’s sick, that issue needs to be addressed, and then they will eat again.

When you force restrain an animal it causes stress hormones to be released into the body. Those hormones have to be processed by the animal at a net energy cost. The post prandial response in pythons is unique and complicated. It already puts stress on the body just to digest a meal, let alone adding the effects the cortisol and other stress hormones to the mix.

Most ball pythons have no problem going an entire year without food. Let us see some photos and we can try to be more helpful.


Okay, I know you’re new, but this is the kind of attitude that doesn’t help anyone. I also checked your posting history and you’ve asked for help identifying morphs and stated that this is your first year as a breeder, so maybe don’t be so confident that your advice is correct when there are people who have been in the hobby far longer all giving different advice than yours. You have to be open to listening, learning, and admitting you might not be correct.

That said, to the OP, all the others giving advice are correct. When you have a large group of animals all stop feeding at once, it’s highly likely a husbandry or health issue, and assist feeding shouldn’t be done until you’ve identified what that issue is. Assist feeding any animal should really only be done as a last resort because the stress on an already fragile system could tip them over the edge. More details are needed to give any specific advice or recommendations.


There are many reasons why ball pythons dont eat. Some have nothing to do with health. I dont claim to be an expert. I know what works for me. I learned from breeders that assist feed WHEN NEEDED. IT WORKED WELL FOR ME! Force feeding and assist feeding is not the same. Can any of you so called experts tell me what bad things will happen if you put a pinkie mouse in a non eating snakes mouth and he swallows it? Other then swallow a tiny mouse nothing bad will happen. My opinion stands because it worked for me. I dont care if someone doesnt like what I have to say or agree with me. My opinion is allowed even if it isnt your opinion. I really dont care if you agree or dont agree. Keep your info for the guy who asked. I didnt ask for you opinion.

The original post said the guy tried everything and the snakes lost 400 grams. I would say assist feeding a pinkie is a option. I get it you dont agree. You have made your point. My point is I assist fed several snakes and now they eat on their own. I was to a point, like the guy who asked the question. My temps, humidity, and conditions were all correct. The snakes were healthy. I watched videos on bigger breeders like bhb assist feeding. I tried it and it worked. End of story. Move on.

If the snakes are sick, yes take them to a vet. If the temp and humidity isnt correct yes fix that first. Yes try different foods first and see if they take something other then what is offered. If all else fails in my opinion assist feeding is an option because it has proven to work for me several times.

For a 600 gram snake? That’s going to take more energy to digest it than the animal will gain. So what exactly is the point? Literally all you will do is stress out and obviously already stressed out snake.


Cool story bro.:raised_hand_with_fingers_splayed::crazy_face::+1:

Not really a story explaining to you that restraining and force feeding a 600 gram snake a five gram pinkie the snake is going to burn more energy than it receives. I literally know not a single legit breeder that would recommend that. Literally not one person has agreed with your point.


Cool story bro :wave::grin::+1:

Right in absence of actual facts or an intelligent opinion to support your point


We did. Every response here is for the original person that asked. We weren’t sharing any of it for you, just multiple long time respected proven hobbyist correcting the poor advice from never before heard from blow hard. Enjoy your day and your overly stressed animals.


I know of a large number of keepers that keep their animals with improper care and husbandry requirements. Many people can have a full size ball python even multiple adults yet lack the knowledge of one person that has heavily researched and has been even keeping a few years. The number of animals you feed is not (and should not be) correlated with proper care and knowledge of a species. I am not saying the OP abuses his animals, not at all or even close. I am sure that that others and myself included would say that the common know that snakes NEED to be fed every week with a prey item the same size of the girth of the body is largely outdated and unsupported data. Same goes for humidity, feeding size, breeding age, and heating. Knowledge changes over time. This means just because someone on YouTube did it years ago for a very specific reason doesn’t make it correct or proper for someone now, that further evidence and observation have been done and shows the it to more harmful to the animals then helpful in any regard.

Assist feeding is the same way. It requires you to “place” a prey item in the mouth of a snake that will not take said item by itself. Assist feeding is still classified as force feed due to the natural overriding that happens once a snake has something in it throat and that you are by means of force opening it’s mouth to fit said prey item (at any size). As @ballornothing also explained, these animals are under stress as is, why would you add an additional stress and toll of the body of an animal in such conditions?


First I agree check health, environment, and all types of food. I never said anything to question that. The guy said he tried everything. So I offered the last resort of assist feeding. I never said cram a live rat down the throat. Taking a thawed undersized mouse is a test. If that works then move up in size. Taking and forcing a large rat down the throat is bad. I never said do that. I also never said take a sick snake and force it to eat.
I bought a sub adult snake that would not eat. Generally ( not always) older female snakes are sold because they are trouble eaters. I tried assist feeding her. It didnt work because I tried feeding a rodent she should be eating. I tried as a last resort to feed her a pinkie and she ate it. After a couple weeks of that I went to a fuzzy. She ate that. Then it got to the point where I put a medium mouse in her mouth and she would eat it. Now she takes extra large mice on her own. This process has worked for me when buying sub adult and adult snakes. Changing from live to thawed is just one reason why a snake wont eat. Going from a shoe box to a v=70 tub is another. All I can say is the process worked for me. I never rule out anything. Every other advice on the thread is check temp, check conditions, go to the vet. I agree with all of that. What do you suggest if conditions are correct and the snakes arent sick? 400 gram weight loss and the words I tried everything tells me assist feeding might work. Just a blow hards opinion.

Okay, y’know what? I’ve held my tongue enough here. You’re being aggressive for no reason. You didn’t even offer the OP an opinion, you told them they had to assist feed, which is inappropriate and dangerous. You are fully encouraging the OP to do something that is not recommended and could actually harm their animals. Balls stop eating, yeah, known thing, but five for a long enough period to drop about half their body weight? That’s a huge indicator that there is a much larger issue that needs addressing before assist feeding is even tried. If these animals are ill, the stress alone could worsen their condition. Then you got snarky, implying anyone who says assist feeding is bad also believes non-eating snakes should just starve. No one on MRC would ever tell someone to let an animal starve. This community is here to help other keepers, and the best way to do that is by being open to new ideas and not having a “one size fits all” approach. Just because something worked for you doesn’t mean it is the right advice for this specific situation, which the community agrees it’s not.

Now that said, I looked you up. You might want to be aware of this, since you’re using your business name as your username, it fully reflects on that business. Your website states that you just started keeping “in the last few years” and have already acquired over 50 types of reptiles and 5 types of parrots. That’s a blazing red flag if I’ve ever seen one. Not only that, but your website states that you “…would like to also support other local breeders to help build Floridas reptile community.” Guess what? Some of those Florida breeders are on this forum, and you’re sure as heck not supportive nor helping build community. If anything, you’re turning off the very people that could possibly want to work with you, and word travels.

You might not’ve asked my opinion, but if you want to succeed as a breeder, and want to be a welcome, accepted participant in the reptile community, I suggest you step off your high horse and heed my words and those of others. :person_shrugging:


Right here :grin:


Assist feeding works as a last resort. Stated several times. Anyone who disagrees is entitled to disagree. I guess your attempt to call me a animal horder is you trying to discredit me. :man_shrugging: I just want the guy to get his snakes eating. Assisting helped me and just maybe it will help the original poster. Maybe not maybe so.

Never once did I imply you were a hoarder, kindly don’t put words in my mouth. I’m saying that you’ve got a large quantity of animals and no direction aside you want to breed them. It’s a red flag because most breeders, especially starting out, tend to stick to only a few animals and traits because it’s easier to focus on quality and husbandry. Outwardly, it suggests you’re just breeding to breed. Also, none of this is to discredit you, your attitude is doing that. It’s to maybe, just maybe, get you to the realization that you’re newer to this than a lot of the people here, and thus instead of digging your heels in and behaving childishly, you could stand to learn from what others are saying in this thread. MRC has people who have been breeding a heck of a lot longer than you or I. There are people here who have likely forgotten more about reptile husbandry than some of us have yet learned. People with degrees in subjects that give them knowledge the average keeper may not have. Chill out, unclench, and stop being confrontational and acting like your word carries more weight. Everyone here is just trying to help the OP and you’re derailing the thread getting in everyone’s faces over semantics on bad advice and trying to prove yourself. It’s weird.

Anyways, I’ll stop replying here, I feel this thread has gotten far enough off topic.
To the OP, my apologies for my part in this. I hope you find what is causing the issue with your animals quickly.