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  1. #1
    Registered User Awesomethepossum's Avatar
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    Switching to rats?

    I finally have my 3 month old ball python eating regularly for me. He currently weighs 153g, and will take a hopper. However, I barely ever see a lump on him after he eats, and dont want to feed him less than what he needs. He had a rocky start when it came to eating for me.

    I bought a batch of fuzzy rats, but he refuses to eat them. Is there a good strategy to get him to switch over? I've tried chicken broth, and leaving the f/t in overnight with no luck. If not, I also bought some adult mice, but if rats are better I'd rather give him those.

  2. #2
    Registered User pretends2bnormal's Avatar
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    Re: Switching to rats?

    Adult mice are fine to feed, the only issue is when it becomes multiple mice vs 1 rat and the cost goes up. Nutritionally either way is fine. (I crunched numbers a while back on the nutrition off the study from rodent pro's website, they're not significantly or concerning different if you feed enough mice to weigh the same as the rat they should be taking.)

    Switching to rats is cheaper, but many young BPs are intimidated by rats, either size/shape or smell there's no telling what is really spooking them. Best bet would be to thaw one of each together in a baggie to scent the rat lik a mouse and offer the rat. (Or "borrow" stinky mouse bedding from a pet store.. either one works.)

    I wouldn't feed both that are thawed since it would be too much at once so you may waste a few in the process even if he takes it and at his size, I would probably not force it personally by skipping meals until he accepts a rat (which I'd do for ones approaching 250-300g where they are outgrowing adult mice). If he refuses a rat scented like a mouse, you can offer the mouse with some rat scent on it. Even that slight scenting may get him familiar enough in a few weeks to take the mouse-scented rat after a few tries assuming he will take the mouse that has the rat scent.

    No harm in feeding the adult mice though until he's a bit bigger and has the weight so you can skip 2 or 3 meals if/when he refuses the rat. (At that point I'd give a mouse to keep him from losing weight then repeat a few more weeks until he takes the rat.)

    Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

  3. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to pretends2bnormal For This Useful Post:

    Awesomethepossum (08-14-2019),Craiga 01453 (08-14-2019)

  4. #3
    Registered User Awesomethepossum's Avatar
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    Re: Switching to rats?

    Quote Originally Posted by pretends2bnormal View Post
    Adult mice are fine to feed, the only issue is when it becomes multiple mice vs 1 rat and the cost goes up. Nutritionally either way is fine. (I crunched numbers a while back on the nutrition off the study from rodent pro's website, they're not significantly or concerning different if you feed enough mice to weigh the same as the rat they should be taking.)

    Switching to rats is cheaper, but many young BPs are intimidated by rats, either size/shape or smell there's no telling what is really spooking them. Best bet would be to thaw one of each together in a baggie to scent the rat lik a mouse and offer the rat. (Or "borrow" stinky mouse bedding from a pet store.. either one works.)

    I wouldn't feed both that are thawed since it would be too much at once so you may waste a few in the process even if he takes it and at his size, I would probably not force it personally by skipping meals until he accepts a rat (which I'd do for ones approaching 250-300g where they are outgrowing adult mice). If he refuses a rat scented like a mouse, you can offer the mouse with some rat scent on it. Even that slight scenting may get him familiar enough in a few weeks to take the mouse-scented rat after a few tries assuming he will take the mouse that has the rat scent.

    No harm in feeding the adult mice though until he's a bit bigger and has the weight so you can skip 2 or 3 meals if/when he refuses the rat. (At that point I'd give a mouse to keep him from losing weight then repeat a few more weeks until he takes the rat.)

    Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
    I had bought a bag of hoppers and fuzzy rats when I got him...I didnt know any better at the time. The rats I offer aren't too much bigger, but he'll only take the hoppers if I leave him alone in the tank with them. And yeah, I agree that it isn't worth missing meals over.

    I've never had a baby ball python before, but I just want to make sure I'm doing best by him nutrition-wise. Prey size, and so forth. So he can grow at a good rate. Because I'm sure one hopper once a week isnt enough right now.

    I don't know if 153g is good at this point, but I know feedings are crucial at this stage. And if it isnt, I'd like to play some catch-up.. I just heard that its it's better to switch to rats at a younger age, but what you've said reassures me a bit. If needed, I'll wait until hes a bit bigger, but I'll definitely try what you've suggested regardless.
    Last edited by Awesomethepossum; 08-14-2019 at 08:56 PM.

  5. #4
    Registered User pretends2bnormal's Avatar
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    Re: Switching to rats?

    Quote Originally Posted by Awesomethepossum View Post
    I had bought a bag of hoppers and fuzzy rats when I got him...I didnt know any better at the time. The rats I offer aren't too much bigger, but he'll only take the hoppers if I leave him alone in the tank with them. And yeah, I agree that it isn't worth missing meals over.

    I've never had a baby ball python before, but I just want to make sure I'm doing best by him nutrition-wise. Prey size, and so forth. So he can grow at a good rate. Because I'm sure one hopper once a week isnt enough right now.

    I don't know if 153g is good at this point, but I know feedings are crucial at this stage. And if it isnt, I'd like to play some catch-up.. I just heard that its it's better to switch to rats at a younger age, but what you've said reassures me a bit. If needed, I'll wait until hes a bit bigger, but I'll definitely try what you've suggested regardless.
    It's not always that they're actually a lot bigger, but they are a stockier built rodent than mice for the same weight size which can seem larger from his perspective.

    I've not had a BP drop feed for me, so I don't know if it is harder to get those to switch. All of mine strike off tongs for me.

    As far as his size goes, they all grow at different rates genetically and some feed better than others or the owner feeds slightly larger prey than another and results in a bigger snake. As long as his body condition looks good, I wouldn't stress a out his weight much.

    I generally aim to feed 10% of body weight until they're at their adult prey size (small rat for males, med rat for females), so you could feed about 15g. For me that's usually a weaned or small mouse depending on vendor.

    Refusing a few meals isn't be end of the world, though; keep in mind that they wouldn't be eating this frequently and consistently in the wild and that's the frequency they evolved to grow with and handle well.

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  6. #5
    Registered User Awesomethepossum's Avatar
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    Re: Switching to rats?

    Quote Originally Posted by pretends2bnormal View Post
    It's not always that they're actually a lot bigger, but they are a stockier built rodent than mice for the same weight size which can seem larger from his perspective.

    I've not had a BP drop feed for me, so I don't know if it is harder to get those to switch. All of mine strike off tongs for me.

    As far as his size goes, they all grow at different rates genetically and some feed better than others or the owner feeds slightly larger prey than another and results in a bigger snake. As long as his body condition looks good, I wouldn't stress a out his weight much.

    I generally aim to feed 10% of body weight until they're at their adult prey size (small rat for males, med rat for females), so you could feed about 15g. For me that's usually a weaned or small mouse depending on vendor.

    Refusing a few meals isn't be end of the world, though; keep in mind that they wouldn't be eating this frequently and consistently in the wild and that's the frequency they evolved to grow with and handle well.

    Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
    It's funny, because Dante was supposedly an aggressive feeder according to his breeder. The one occasion I saw him actually take a f/t for myself, he daintily picked it off the ground and dragged it back into his hide to eat it. I've never seen such behavior before.

    But yes, while the breeder was surprised to hear this, he refuses to acknowledge the prey item if offered with tongs. He waits until I cover his tank and leave the room. Don't know if that'll ever change, but whatever works *shrug* . And I just checked- the hoppers are about 11-12g.

    Just making sure I'm doing right on my end. I know of someone that has an adult ball python, which is supposedly female of about 4 years, that's around 3 feet long. Seemed wierd to me, but my understanding was also that the snake wasn't fed adequately, and that this could have been the cause. But who knows.
    Last edited by Awesomethepossum; 08-14-2019 at 10:48 PM.

  7. #6
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    Re: Switching to rats?

    Quote Originally Posted by Awesomethepossum View Post
    I finally have my 3 month old ball python eating regularly for me. He currently weighs 153g, and will take a hopper. However, I barely ever see a lump on him after he eats, and dont want to feed him less than what he needs. He had a rocky start when it came to eating for me.

    I bought a batch of fuzzy rats, but he refuses to eat them. Is there a good strategy to get him to switch over? I've tried chicken broth, and leaving the f/t in overnight with no luck. If not, I also bought some adult mice, but if rats are better I'd rather give him those.
    Glad to hear your little guy is eating.
    A trick I used not long ago was if they are eating mice is to put the mice and the rats together in the same bag ( fur against fur ) and store in the freezer for a few days at least. After the 7 days Then feed the rat fuzzy. I believe they go by smell mostly anyway and the rat will have mouse smell all over it.

    When my snake was at the 350-500 gram range I bagged many together and fed a very small mouse and a rat pup. I fed the rat pup first. I weighed the feeders to get about 40 grams weight, which is about 10 percent of the snakes body weight. They say you can go 10-15 percent.

    Now that my snake is well over 500 grams it is on small rats. When this stage came my snake would eat both so switching to 50 gram rats was easy.

  8. #7
    BPnet Veteran EL-Ziggy's Avatar
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    Re: Switching to rats?

    I'm of the opinion that given enough time all healthy snakes will eat eventually but BPs can be some of the most stubborn holdouts. I had one go a full year without eating and he was perfectly fine. Since your BP is still young there's nothing wrong with feeding mice. You'll still have plenty of time to transition to rats as your critter becomes more established. I wouldn't force the issue just yet. I would try scenting the rats 3-4 times and if he refuses I'd extend the intervals between feedings each time. After the 1st refusal wait 10 days to offer food again. Wait 2-3 weeks if he refuses a 2nd time, and a full month if he refuses a 3rd time. After 3 refusals give him a very small mouse and start the process again. He'll catch on at some point and once he starts eating rats consistently never offer another mouse. I'm glad I have snakes that will pretty much eat anything/ anytime. Even when a couple of them take winter breaks I don't worry as long as their temps are good and the animal shows no signs of sickness. The hunger always wins.
    Last edited by EL-Ziggy; 08-16-2019 at 12:50 PM.
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  9. #8
    Registered User Awesomethepossum's Avatar
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    Re: Switching to rats?

    Quote Originally Posted by EL-Ziggy View Post
    I'm of the opinion that given enough time all healthy snakes will eat eventually but BPs can be some of the most stubborn holdouts. I had one go a full year without eating and he was perfectly fine. Since your BP is still young there's nothing wrong with feeding mice. You'll still have plenty of time to transition to rats as your critter becomes more established. I wouldn't force the issue just yet. I would try scenting the rats 3-4 times and if he refuses I'd extend the intervals between feedings each time. After the 1st refusal wait 10 days to offer food again. Wait 2-3 weeks if he refuses a 2nd time, and a full month if he refuses a 3rd time. After 3 refusals give him a very small mouse and start the process again. He'll catch on at some point and once he starts eating rats consistently never offer another mouse. I'm glad I have snakes that will pretty much eat anything/ anytime. Even when a couple of them take winter breaks I don't worry as long as their temps are good and the animal shows no signs of sickness. The hunger always wins.

    I will say that even though it took over a month to get him to his point, he actually took the mouse from the tongs last night. It wasn't even my intention, he actually startled me with his intense food response-- I was getting ready to lay it in his tank as per the usual routine. Like I had said prior, the breeder said that was how he was eating for him, and I'm glad to finally be seeing it for myself. I just didnt realize it could take this long.

    All of you reassure me. I'm glad to finally be on the right track. As he gets older, I'll reintroduce rats to him.
    Last edited by Awesomethepossum; 08-16-2019 at 02:04 PM.

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