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  1. #1
    Registered User epickiwii's Avatar
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    Feeding Safety (Size, Rat vs Mouse, etc for Adult BP)

    Hi everyone! I'm a new snake owner and I'm getting a 6 year old Ball Python from my friend who can no longer care for him. He is 4.5 feet long and is a winter faster, but otherwise reliable eater, but she's been feeding him live medium rats. After doing my research, I'm noticing that feeding is a HUGE controversial topic so I'm looking at all my options. I would love to transition him to F/T, because I'm pretty sure he has some scarring on his back and don't really want to risk him getting into a fight with another rat. The other reason is because rats are very hard to come by in my town (f/t are available, just no live).

    Problem is he has been eating live his whole life, and I know BPs are notorious picky eaters. My husband is also pro-live as his ball pythons he's had in the past all ate live (he's on team "enrichment", but is open to the safety of not feeding live rats)

    So here's the question, is it safer to feed large mice? Do the pose less risk to the snake (obviously they would not be unsupervised and removed if the snake is uninterested). Would large mice give them the nutrition a rat would if they were getting the same grams over time? (i.e. two large mice instead of one medium rat). Has anyone fed multiple live rodents to a single snake for "one feeding", does it happen in the same day? Same hour? Or do you wait a couple of days? Obviously I wouldn't just drop two mice in the housing. I'm just trying to come up with a backup plan if this frozen rat plan totally doesn't go over well.

    I don't usually see topics that go into this detail, as most people either know they feed live or f/t, and normally feeding two mice is a transition to feeding rats, so I'm just not sure what I should go forward with.

  2. #2
    BPnet Veteran JRLongton's Avatar
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    You're going to need to feed a lot of mice to equal one rat! Two large mice, hell two giant mice, aren't the size of a small rat. You'd be feeding three or even four exceptionally big mice per meal. Sounds like a headache to me.

    Try a frozen rat. You can buy one, just one, at big box pets stores, like PetCo or Pet smart. They're expensive like that, but to try as an experiment, it may be worth it.
    Last edited by JRLongton; 03-25-2019 at 01:55 PM.

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  4. #3
    Registered User Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Nutritionally, a ball python can live on mice, there's very little difference in nutrition between adult rats & adult mice (though some will argue this); as already
    noted, the main difference is the size, and most BPs won't eat several mice at one sitting...they'll stop after just one. Not always, but it can be an issue.

    Also: as far as feeding multiple rodents as one meal: they MUST be fed shortly after each other; once a snake's digestive process gets going (say after the first
    hour at the MOST), adding another prey item will often just get you a regurgitation of both items...a total loss, & negative impact on the snake, since then you
    cannot feed again for several weeks while they replenish their digestive enzymes. If you feed again too soon, you'll get another regurge...& snakes can & have
    died from the resulting dehydration etc. after repeated regurges.

    I would agree that mice are "safer" than rats when taken live: either one can & will bite back in self-defense, but rats are FAR stronger & FAR more intelligent.
    IF you end up feeding "multiple live mice", the best way to do it would be one at a time, & at least a week in between...but there's no way to know if your BP
    will "agree to this arrangement" no matter how much sense it makes to us...

    Another IMPORTANT issue: BPs tend to be finicky eaters & many want EITHER mice OR rats & balk if you change up. Not all, but lets say you offer him mice
    for safety...he may then refuse the rat, live or dead. Just won't know until you try, but BPs are some of the more challenging snakes to feed because they are often very "opinionated".

    What I'd personally do: Since rats are what he's eating & they are hard to come by 'live' where you are, I'd do my best to transition him to f/t rats. You "might" be
    able to just offer him a f/t one if it's defrosted & then really warmed up (many here use a blow-dryer) & properly offered (ie. @ evening/night, when snake is in
    ambush-mode- ie. peeking out of hide, waiting for prey to happen by, and IF you use feeding tongs- or BBQ tongs to hold rat- and wiggle it just slightly to simulate
    a live rat, & once the snake grabs it, slightly tug a bit more on the tail before releasing your grip to make sure the snake feels like it's doing battle as usual; then
    be very still- hold your breath- & don't distract the snake while he swallows it...& HOPE.) Make sure when you offer this f/t rat that he's a little past due for feeding-
    ie. that he's really HUNGRY & not going into shed.

    If this doesn't work, you might be able to use a live mouse as an "appetizer", then "chain-feeding" a f/t rat...but try the above first, no guarantee. Good luck!!!
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 03-25-2019 at 02:25 PM.

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  6. #4
    Registered User WhompingWillow's Avatar
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    Re: Feeding Safety (Size, Rat vs Mouse, etc for Adult BP)

    I agree that feeding multiple mice per meal (especially live) would be a hassle.

    With an adult BP that is generally healthy (ie, a good weight, no underlying medical issues) - don't be concerned if he does not go for a F/T rat right away. It may take several weeks for him to be interested. Maybe even a couple of months. As long as he seems healthy and is not losing too much weight, waiting for hunger to win out in an established snake isn't a bad strategy.

    The most important thing in getting a snake to accept F/T is to make sure your husbandry is on point (proper temperature gradient, the snake feels secure with two identical hides, etc.) You want the rodent to be warm. So after you thaw it out, you'll either want to heat it up with a hair dryer or run it under hot water for a few seconds. You'll get to know the snake's personality after having it for a while. Can you approach it directly with the rat on tongs? Do you have to do the zombie rat dance? Do you have to leave the rat in the cage and cover the cage in order for it to eat?

    Best of luck!
    BALL PYTHONS: 1.0 Pied/Clark, 1.0 Pastel Vanilla Super Stripe/Sunny, 0.1 Dragon Fly/Buffy, 0.1 Pastel Vanilla Yellow Belly/Cher, 0.1 BEL (Mojave Lesser)/Arya, 0.0.1 Normal/Norm, 0.1 Cinnamon Enchi/Peaches, 1.0 Cinnamon Calico/Yoshi, 0.1 Pewter Het Dreamsicle/Ariel
    BOAS: 0.1 Dumeril's/Memphis, 0.1 BCL/Artemis, 1.0 BCO/Grimm, 0.1 Suriname BCC/Rhubarb
    CORN SNAKES: 0.0.1/Mushu
    MORELIA: 0.1 Bredli/Zelda, 0.1 Granite IJ/Bridget, 0.1 Caramel Diamond Jungle/Pixie

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  8. #5
    Telling it like it is! Deborah's Avatar
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    Food wise gram per gram is all the same, now feeding wise feeding 1 rat versus multiple mice will be easier on you and your BP, young rats are also less aggressive than adult mice.

    If you have a adult male it will not require more than a small 65/75 grams rat weekly, there is no need for medium rats if you have a male. If you want an animal to feed with consistency and year round, smaller is better.

    Regardless of what you feed there are keys to proper live feeding, and yes it can be done safely if done properly.

    1/ Established a routine same day every week.
    2/ Pre-scent the room have the feeder near the enclosure 2 hours before feeding.
    3/ Feed and water your feeder if you buy them from a third party.
    4/ Do not stress or stun the feeder, gently drop it in the enclosure.
    5/ Remove within 5 to 10 min if not eaten.

    Now if you want to switch to F/T it will require tough love which might mean months without offering food, I recommend to thaw at room temp near the enclosure and warm up with a hair dryer and instead of dandling the prey, grab it from behind the neck and move it around the enclosure as if it was alive.

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