So over the winter, my1.5 year old female refused to eat. At first I figured it was just the usual winter hunger strike(since she did that last year) and that it would fade as spring came around. Unfortunately no such luck. After about 6 months of not eating and a loss of about 200g (950g to 750g, but I think the 950 was a "full" weight) I began to worry.
The problem is that as soon as I put the mouse or rat(she was eating rats for a few months, decided to try mice again out of desperation) in the tank, she would immediately try to get out of the tank. If she didn't try to leave, she would just ignore the mouse, even curling up with it in some cases. It's like she doesn't consider them food anymore.
I mentioned this to the guy at petco(who I trust since he actually owns a few BPs himself) and he suggested gerbils saying "I've never once seen a BP on a hunger strike that would pass up a Gerbil" and sure enough within seconds of putting it in the tanks, she would strike and eat.
Problem is, I don't go to that PetCo any more(I changed jobs and it's about 1.5 hours away now) and the other ones around here consider gerbils "companion pets" not feeders. Not to mention the $10-11 price tag... it's not exactly something I want to do long term.
Unfortunately it seems nothing I do will get her to consider mice or rats as food again. I've even gone so far as to let a mosue live with a group of gerbils hoping to scent it, put the gerbils in to prescent the tank, and then put the mouse in(after removing the gerbils). She looks around like she's hungry, but she refuses to eat the mouse.
Any thoughts? Her temps and humidity are fine(I use two heat pads with seperate thermostats to keep both sides perfect and a digital hydrometer to track humidity) and if it was something like that, I'd assume she wouldn't eat the gerbils either.
Seems you’re in the midst of discovering why I do not recommend offering gerbils to ball pythons. Gerbils are like crack for BPs. Once you get one going on gerbils, it can be impossible to get them off.
I hate to say it, but your PETCO friend did you no favors. There is a very good chance that your snake would have broken its fast in its own time. Now you have two problems.
My advice is three fold:
1) Stop feeding gerbils.
2) Use the tough love approach to getting her back on mice or better yet, rats.
3) If the snake is going to starve its self to death, start breeding gerbils.
I can site two cases where someone who fed gerbils now has a breeding colony because their snakes simply will not eat anything else.
Thomas "Slim" Whitman
Never Met A Ball Python I Didn't Like
Sorry you are going through this! I've had my share of picky feeders and it is no fun. MAYBE you could located an ASF breeder? I don't like these little, suicidal devils either, but I think they are better than gerbils.
Success! Last night she finally ate her first mouse since last october! She's had 3 gerbils in the time since then so I'm still a little worried because she's not eating enough, but hopefully this is a good sign of things to come!