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  1. #1
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    Help getting snakes to eat

    Hello,


    I need some advice for trying to get some adult ball pythons I recently acquired eating.


    I have been keeping ball pythons for several years now and recently I have been breeding ball pythons. A few months ago, I decided to upgrade and acquired five adult proven breeder ball pythons to add to my collection (2 males, 3 females). One of them ate the first time I attempted to feed and that was it. None of the others have eaten.


    I use a temperature gun to measure my hot spot which is 91-92 depending which tub is measured, I heat the snake room and the ambient inside the snake tubs reads 78-79. All of my snakes are kept in rack systems and I have kept the conditions constant over the years I have kept ball pythons and never had any problems until recently. Also I keep all my snakes on cypress mulch, humidity in minimum 50% at all times, I lightly mist if I see a snake is going into shed. Shedding is rarely a problem for all my snakes, they usually shed in one piece. I use heat cable and a thermostat for one of my snake racks. The other is heat tape with a thermostat. I never handle a snake that isnít eating unless itís necessary to quickly weigh them or clean.


    All of the snakes in my collection are currently eating except the five adults I recently acquired. Over the years I have purchased many baby/small ball pythons which have all started eating within in a month of being acquired, most within a couple weeks. I seem to be having trouble with these adult snakes for some reason. I am fully aware it is around the time ball pythons are looking to breed and some stop eating during the breeding season. All of the snakes were eating at the breederís facility and I do believe at least some of them should be eating, leading to me think something must be wrong.


    The breeder I got the snakes from feeds live rats so I only offer live rats to these snakes. I breed rats and make my own frozen rats, some of my other animals eat frozen/thawed. I always feed at night 8-9 PM, sometimes later. I have tried feeding in the dark with only a dim light on across the room with no success. I also did try an adult mouse with the smallest snake with no success. I have gone through what I usually do when I canít get a snake eating and nothing has worked (I have changed bedding, offered smaller sized rats, among other trials).


    When I put the rat in the tub, most of the time the new snakes will hiss and quickly hide there head. I allow the well fed rat to stay with the snake for 25 minutes and then remove the rat if not eaten. I do supervise live feedings, but I am never sitting there staring because I know this will stress the snakes out. Since they hiss at the rat and quickly hide I am thinking they are stressed from something but I am not sure. At this time every snake in my collection is eating weekly except the five adults I recently acquired.


    This leads into my first question, are adult ball pythons trickier to acclimate and get eating than babies? It seems this way because every snake I have ever purchased until now was a baby or under 1 years old and they all started eating fast. Then when I get adult proven breeders I canít see to get them eating. Is it because they lived 2-3+ years of their lives in another breederís conditions that now a sudden change throws them off? Is this why baby snakes start eating sooner, because they were only with the breeder a couple months or less before adjusting to a new home? If this may be the case any help on what to do is appreciated.


    The only other reason I can think of is my snake room is on the second story, above a garage. For anyone who may never experienced this, old garage door openers creates vibrations on the floor directly above it. My snake room is directly above it and every time the garage opens the room floor vibrates for 15-25 seconds. I am not even sure if this will/does stress the snakes out. I am fully aware snakes Ďhearí and are sensitive to vibrations but the reason I never thought this was a problem was because all my other snakes are eating. But then I remember all my other snakes were acquired as babies so I thought maybe baby snakes adjust quicker/easier than adults that have been kept constant for years then suddenly move. Do you think the vibrations would really be causing all five adult snakes to not eat? The garage door typically opens roughly 6 times a day. Will the snakes adjust and become used to the vibrations eventually? Also, for how loud/how much the room vibrates, it is hard to describe, I would say if you were sleeping on a bed in the room and the garage door opened, most people would wake up.


    What is strange is that one of the five did eat the very first time I offered rats and all the rest did seem very interested (tracking rat around). But now they simply hiss and hide when the rat enters. I am at a loss of the reason because all my other ball pythons are currently eating so I believe my husbandry is accurate. I have kept ball pythons for several years and recently began breeding ball pythons. All the ball pythons I hatched in 2019 are excellent eaters. If it is the vibrations stressing my new adult snakes, this may make since because all my hatchling snakes were used to the vibrations by being here their whole lives while the adults may have never experienced this.


    Have you ever noticed when acquiring adults, do they tend to be harder/take longer to acclimate? Is there any other reason my new snakes are not eating? I have dealt with problem feeders in the past, but all have resumed feeding within 2 months. I do not believe there is anything wrong with the five snakes, they were purchased from reputable breeders and I believe them all to be healthy. I do weigh and track weights.


    I know better than to panic with ball pythons that are not eating, but because all five of the new ones are not eating I am definitely worried. Only one has eaten and it was the first time I tried feeding. The reason I am worried however is because the snakes hiss and hide from the rat leading me to believe they are stressed from something. Normally when I do have a snake simply skip a single feeding, they still act interested in the rat but simply decide not to strike.


    I have also been doing a lot of research and double checking my temps and other environmental factors but I canít come up with a reason as to why they are not eating.


    I would also like to add the five adults weíre not acquired form the same breeder or at the same time. One of them has not eaten for 5 months and is the one I am worried about. This is one the I have tried a mouse with. I also did have hides in with this one but as soon as I put the the rat in, the rat just goes into the hide and the snake canít find it. I began removing his hide a bit before feeding time but then I realized this probably stresses the snake. I have since moved this one to a smaller size tub so he feels more secure. Although he hasnít eaten.


    The other four snakes have not eaten for two months, but I am still worried for all five.


    The breeders I got the snakes from typically do not use hides because they kept in appropriately sized tubs. I typically do not use hides with my snakes except for some small ones I move into larger tubs. This has worked for me with all my previous snakes.


    Another kinda unrelated question I had is for those who feed live rats and use snake hides, when you simply drop the rat in, if the snake doesnít quickly grab it do your rats just run for the hide causing the snake to not find it? Is it okay to remove the snake hide before feeding so the rat can not hide? Normally this is not a problem if the snake is hungry and grabs the rat fast for me, but for my five that arenít eating the rat just runs into the hide for the snakes I have tried hides with. Will the snake go into to hide to eat? If you do remove the hide before feeding how much before do you? Should I remove it an hour before? A minute before?


    Sorry if this is really confusing, Iíll try to sum it up. 5 adult snakes I recently purchased (several months ago) are not eating while all my other adult snakes and the hatchlings I hatched this year are eating perfectly.


    Any help is appreciated, thank you.

  2. #2
    BPnet Lifer Zincubus's Avatar
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    Re: Help getting snakes to eat

    Just to put your mind at rest ... one of my Royals started feeding just a couple of weeks ago after FIFTEEN months !!!

    I just left two thawed day old chicks in the viv one evening and he took them both ... eating chicks for the foreseeable future now


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk




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    Future Generation (11-14-2019)

  4. #3
    Registered User Moose84's Avatar
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    Re: Help getting snakes to eat

    This is a long post. I will try and answer a few questions.

    Do sub-adults and adults take longer to acclimate?

    1,000% yes. And for this reason I have stopped purchasing them. Everyone wants the quick breed by acquiring adults. Understand they donít get rid of these animals for no reason. Not to say they arenít healthy but understand they have been kept in a different environment for a LONG TIME and even subtle changes will affect them.

    Snake is hissing at prey..

    Dead giveaway they wonít eat. They are stressed out and will continue to fast.

    Advice:

    your keeping of the animals differs from the original owner. Probably your ambient temperatures. I will tell you that a completely controlled environment temps etc makes a HUGE difference. I would call that breeder(s) and replicate the conditions as best you can. Unfortunately you got them from a bunch of different breeders so that might be slightly difficult.

    A lot of breeders keep ASF on hand. ASF is typically what they go to after rats and mice wonít work. I will also tell you that BPís not eating live mice is odd. Knock on wood that has always been my go to for stubborn eaters.

    good luck.

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  6. #4
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    Re: Help getting snakes to eat

    Thanks so much for taking the time to read and reply Moose84,

    This is exactly what I was looking for. I will definitely be following your advice and contact the breeders. Also I think itís safe to say Iíll stick to purchasing babies in the future.

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  8. #5
    Registered User Moose84's Avatar
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    Re: Help getting snakes to eat

    Quote Originally Posted by Future Generation View Post
    Thanks so much for taking the time to read and reply Moose84,

    This is exactly what I was looking for. I will definitely be following your advice and contact the breeders. Also I think itís safe to say Iíll stick to purchasing babies in the future.

    Requires a year or so of patience but I have just had better luck that way. Patience pays in this hobby. Hahaha.

  9. #6
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    On the snakes not taking live. Have you tried fresh gassed/killed yet? Do the zombie dance with it so the snakes know it's there, then just leave it. This would be feeding at night.

    On none eating snakes it's:

    Leave them alone for 7 days.
    Offer a smaller sized prey.
    Never fails ASF. Smelly males work best for some reason. (Check Craigs list an other forums for them. If you post a general location we might be able to hook you up.)

    My ASF breed way better then my rats. If I didn't have Boas I wouldn't have rats or rabbits.

    Good luck!

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    Future Generation (11-17-2019)

  11. #7
    Telling it like it is! Stewart_Reptiles's Avatar
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    Adults take much longer to adjust to their new environment even if you emulate the old one as close as you can which you should and therefore it would be a good idea to contact the breeder in that regard.

    It's not unusual for adult to take 3 to 12 months to get back feeding.

    All you can do is make sure your husbandry is optimal , offer the same type prey than previously offered, and most importantly be patient.
    Deborah Stewart

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    dr del (11-18-2019),Future Generation (11-18-2019),Moose84 (11-18-2019)

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