Feeding is the most popular topic in ball python management. This is something I know for a fact. It’s the first thing that people ask me when they send me emails. What should I feed my ball Python? What is the recommended amount of food it should eat? What do I do if it refuses to eat?
Here’s what I have learned from caring for over a dozen snakes over the years:
A baby can be fed once every 5 to 7 days and an adult once every 7 to 10 days. The snake will choose when and how often it wants to eat. It may also refuse food once in a while. The schedule is an excellent guideline.
One rodent should be served per meal. The meal should be approximately the same size as the snake’s largest part (mid-body), or slightly larger.
Ball pythons are known for being picky eaters when kept in captivity. This reputation is partially deserved, according to my experience. Most cases of pet refusal to eat are due to poor habitat conditions. You must provide ideal conditions for your pet to eat regularly.
Ball pythons love warmth and darkness. When setting up your habitat, it is important to ensure that your environment has the right temperatures and provides shelter for your snake.
It’s something I already mentioned, but it’s important to reiterate it. Give your pet hiding places inside the cage. These snakes are known to spend a lot of time in hiding burrows that have been dug by other animals in the wild. They should be able to do this in captivity.
A thermal gradient is a temperature difference between one side and the other. This allows the snake’s thermo-regulation to take place, with the snake moving from one side of the cage to the next as necessary. I recommend temperatures between 80 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit for the colder side, and between 92 to 96 degrees for the warmer side. Over the years, this range has been very effective for me.
Temperatures have physiologically been linked to appetite and feeding response. The snake will not eat if the temperature is too hot or cold. Other health issues may also be caused by the snake. Get the temperature right from the beginning.
There are many methods to keep a snake alive in captivity. The rodent can be dropped into the cage and the ball python moved into a separate container. Or you can offer the snake a meal using a pair of long tongs. To find the best method for you, you may need to try all three.
Tongs are a great way to tempt reluctant eaters. A pair of long stainless steel tongs can be purchased from reptile supply sites for $30. You can make prey appear alive by wriggling a frozen/thawed mouse/rat on a pair or tongs. This will stimulate a stronger feeding response.
Be careful ball python care guide when feeding live rodents. Avoid this feeding method altogether. If you don’t kill your ball python immediately, a live mouse or rat could seriously injure it. I recommend offering frozen/thawed prey or freshly killed rodents. If you offer live prey, make sure to be vigilant. Never leave your snakes unattended in their cages.