how do i get my ball python to eat?

i bought a 15yr old female ball python three weeks ago off of a friend on facebook. she was a breeder for 14 years and fed live mice before my friend got her. my friend got her to eat frozen and i would like to keep her on that diet because i have a 2 yr old daughter and i want to keep her as docile as possible, but i havent got her to eat since i got her.


first time posting link to pics hope i did it right

They usually take some time to get used to new surroundings before eating.

You read up on how you should be taking care of it/feeding it right?

we should really bring back the Herperground.  That was a great subforum.

Ive had ball pythons for a while and my friend has had them for over 15 years.

They can go months without eating and be fine. They are very finicky eaters.

They wont eat when shedding or about to shed. They wont eat if stressed. They usually wont eat white rats or mice. (usually) They wont eat if they dont like the temperature in the enclosure. They need a hot spot and a cooler spot.
around 85 degreese F on the hot side and 77 degrees or so on the cool side.

(i just keep my house at 76 degrees and have a reptile heating pad under her house.

which bring me to her house. she needs a cave she can fully get her body into. While she is in there never mess with her. That way she feels she has a safe spot where noone can fuck with her.

if you just got her then it will probably be a month before she gets adjusted and will eat. Do not handle her for about a week so she gets fully calm. Then ease into handling her. Only about 10 minutes at a time for the first week. Then 15 minutes. The max you really want to do is half an hour generally although I sometimes keep mine out for like an hour.

After a month has passed try feeding her again.

Do not try feeding her everyday hoping she will eat. That will teach her that there is tons of food available and there is no need to eat because there will be more the next day.

Balls can be finicky. I have bred many python species over the years. I have seen some that only eat whites, some won't eat frozen and only eat fresh killed.

I have also seen when I switch food suppliers that they won't eat it. I have seen many ball pythons refuse arctic mice from petco and petsmart.

If she was a breeder, she shouldn't be refusing food unless stressed like said above. Most breeders have amazing feeding responses.

If she is not losing weight and goes a few weeks without eating, don't worry.

If she starts wheezing or losing weight you may want bump temps up and make sure humidity isn't too high. Phone Post 3.0

Thacommish - 
PTM2020 - 


we should really bring back the Herperground.  That was a great subforum.


Jesus id hate to see the WFA posts there, pics PLEASE NO


nah it was fine for the many years it was around.  then it just disappeared, prolly due to inactivity.  it was a good forum though.

Unleash the fury!


He's tasty Mitch!

Jhay -


They usually take some time to get used to new surroundings before eating.



You read up on how you should be taking care of it/feeding it right?

Yes I read on ball python care for a couple years before I got Jenna. Phone Post 3.0

xDOMINANTGENEx - Balls can be finicky. I have bred many python species over the years. I have seen some that only eat whites, some won't eat frozen and only eat fresh killed.

I have also seen when I switch food suppliers that they won't eat it. I have seen many ball pythons refuse arctic mice from petco and petsmart.

If she was a breeder, she shouldn't be refusing food unless stressed like said above. Most breeders have amazing feeding responses.

If she is not losing weight and goes a few weeks without eating, don't worry.

If she starts wheezing or losing weight you may want bump temps up and make sure humidity isn't too high. Phone Post 3.0
She's in good health and took a shit last week. She only ate twice while my friend had her, they were feeding her two adult mice at a time, and I want to try to get her on a bi-weekly feeding schedule so that I don't have to guess when she's hungry Phone Post 3.0

tunaburn - Ive had ball pythons for a while and my friend has had them for over 15 years.

They can go months without eating and be fine. They are very finicky eaters.

They wont eat when shedding or about to shed. They wont eat if stressed. They usually wont eat white rats or mice. (usually) They wont eat if they dont like the temperature in the enclosure. They need a hot spot and a cooler spot.
around 85 degreese F on the hot side and 77 degrees or so on the cool side.

(i just keep my house at 76 degrees and have a reptile heating pad under her house.

which bring me to her house. she needs a cave she can fully get her body into. While she is in there never mess with her. That way she feels she has a safe spot where noone can fuck with her.

if you just got her then it will probably be a month before she gets adjusted and will eat. Do not handle her for about a week so she gets fully calm. Then ease into handling her. Only about 10 minutes at a time for the first week. Then 15 minutes. The max you really want to do is half an hour generally although I sometimes keep mine out for like an hour.

After a month has passed try feeding her again.

Do not try feeding her everyday hoping she will eat. That will teach her that there is tons of food available and there is no need to eat because there will be more the next day.
She had freshly shed just before I bought her. I've been trying to feed her once a week so I'll give her a couple weeks and see what she does after that. Thanks for the advice VU Phone Post 3.0

Another thing most big females eat small rats. Especially if breeders. Phone Post 3.0

I'll try that, I got her a mouse but she's 5ft long and about 7 or 8" around at her widest point. Phone Post 3.0

Ball pythons are a bit more problematic for most people because they are not as simple as other snakes for people to understand. Even though the pet trade is filled with BP's most die or languish for a long time because keepers do not take the time to understand them. It is not as simple as 1-2-3.

Ball Pythons and especially females will go off food for long periods of time-for months sometimes. This is normal and expected. They should not be force fed or messed with in anyway because this is natural for them.

2nd-When they do want to eat you should feed them as often as they want and as much as they want. They will go on long fasts again afterwards and you don't want to feed once per week or any routine. Let the snake tell you how much and how often it want to eat.

Also since this is a 15 years old female (as I assume she must be at least 2000 grams plus ,probably above 2500 is she is healthy and has had proper care). She should be full.

Thirdly -feeding live rodents will not make your BP more agreessive. Females only get aggressive after they lay eggs as they will defend the eggs they wrap around and incubate within their coils. Most snakes don't do this and just lay the eggs and leave.



A diet on small mice can get expensive. It is also no where near enough of a meal if that is what you think feeding a 15 year old female is about. That is why most Ball python breeders feed rats. Also they (the balls) tend to switch from rats to mice sometimes) so you should offer rats and then mice when it does not want to feed.

Lastly Ball pythons are not like other snakes as they want to be predators for their food and not eat dead carrion like other snakes.. I am speaking about their ethology.

They are different snake predators and Ball Pythons are designed to survive under conditions not met in captivity. For instance, they want to grab a rodent as it is running past them. Not one that comes up directly to their face and sniffs the snakes nose. Thei will make the ball pyton turn away.. Watch when they eat and you will see what I mean.

So feed live and she will most likely eat (unless she is on her fast) and remember that you should feed A LOT when she does eat before it shuts down again (see the weights I posted previously for an adult female) and goes on her fasting period. I am not going into explaining why they fast here but it is not because they are fat. You can't compare BP or any reptiles to us or mammals.

If you watch a Ball pythons eat in captivity you will see they don't grab a live rat when a rat sniffs and gets in its face. They want to grab the rat while it running past them. It is not natural to be cooped up in a plastic box with a rat. It goes against what these survivors are designed for.

These are not pets like dogs, cats or even birds. These reptiles are always seeking the best temps and humidity. They want cooler temps to conserve calories. Then after they eat they need heat to digest their bolus. After they digest they will choose cooler temsps gain to concerve calories. Everything they do is for survival. When you put them in a box with a water bowl and a hide you take away everything they want to do.

So bottom line is don't listen to most BP' people. They read a couple pet shop books and think the recipes is 84F and feed twice a week. You should keep them in a container with BOTTOM heat on one end (never bulbs, heat lamps ect as that dehydrates snakes) and give them a range of temps to choose from. Also provide humidity. If you live in a arid part of the country then provide a humid box. BP's don't really drink water in the wild they just choose proper humid place (they live in holes and termite mounds) and they need CHOICES of variable temsp and humidity to choose from.

Feed often when they eat so they can get through that spell when they go off feed for a while.

I think yours is probably not wanting FT even though the previous owner said it ate that. Maybe it did, but sparingly. BP's need live rats and feeding frozen , well, they don't always eat Frozen thawed. They are not like other snakes and colubrids that eat frozen thawed rodents every time they are offered. They also won't grab a rat that sticks it nose in it face. They will grab it as it is running past them. They go on hunger strikes a couple times per year. They are different from other snakes and you need to learn and listen to what the snake is telling you by first offering choices and then watch what they do.

We (you) will never be able to emulate in a plastic box what the snakes are designed to do in the wild. The best we can do is try to give the choices outlined above. Feed rats and when they refuse feed mice. And feed them when they do want to eat (that means feed one rodent after thet other until it stops) then offer again in 3-4 days. This will get them through their fasting period.



another thing about feeding rats. BP's do not want to eat large rats. The rats must be fairly small as the rodents they feed on in Africa don't get that big. So most will turn away a large rat. Feed medium rats and feed often.

Don't forget to have undertank heaet on one end to offer temp gradients and DO NOT USE lamps, light bulbs, above heating elements like heat lamps or coils. Snake in general will dry out and get very dehydrated.

It is not normal for a BP and most snakes to drink water. They hydrate from the environment as they move about choosing humid, cold, heat ect ect ect. Mostly they spnd their lives in a hold that goes down and has different humid levels and they monitor themselves.

Basically these snakes are great at feeding and surviving without OUR help in the wild. If a BP (or any snake) does not eat it is not the snakes fault but always the keeper. I never owned a snake that refused food and died of starvation. But unfortunately that is how most die in captivity. From people not understand how these snakes operate and their ethology. Give choices in temps, humidty, food and let the snake teach you what it wants. Then you can start to understand them better.

http://i.imgur.com/4BKtJRi.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/rdqQHr9.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/7akj0N3.jpg Phone Post 3.0

Couldn't a rat hurt a ball python? Phone Post 3.0

Just shake your dick at it Phone Post 3.0

mynameisMud - Couldn't a rat hurt a ball python? Phone Post 3.0

Yes a live rat most certainly will chew up and even kill a BP. If you leave it in the cage. But why would you want to leave a live rat in the cage if the BP has not eaten it in 20 minutes or so?



A little common sense has to be used here. If the snake does not want the rat in then take it out after 30 minutes or less. If you feed at night and check in the morning, them dump some rat food in the cage so the rat will have something to nibble on.

again , common sense!