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  1. #1
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    Eating/Feeding troubles

    Hello all! First post but not new to the forum.
    I got my pied ball last January, he hatched September of 2018. This is my first ball python and I've learned so much in a year. One thing I've had problems with on and off is feeding. I feed frozen/thawed. The first 3 months (Jan-Mar) were problem-free. As soon as a rat entered the enclosure it was game over, always. Perfect strike and coil, immediately followed by eating the rat in less than 10 minutes. In April came the first feeding strike. I would wiggle the rat, he'd come smell it and go back to his hide. I would leave the rat in his enclosure overnight and it would still be there in the morning. This went on for a month, before then he ate again.
    We were back on track in May-mid November. Highest weight being 550g. He has been off feed since the first week of December and is losing weight rather quickly. I don't have a current weight but I'm starting to be able to see his spine and he is noticeably getting thin.
    He seems to be afraid of bigger prey so I've been stuck feeding him 50-60g rats. He immediately backs away from larger prey. I've been feeding every 5 days since he's only eating smaller meals.
    Currently, I'm waiting for my T8 from AP cages. The tank he is in now is small for his size.
    Husbandry has always been spot on. Humidity 60%, hot hide 90F, cold hide and ambient temp 75F.
    I had a stool sample done in November and everything came back normal.

    Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
    What can I do differently?
    Thanks for the help everyone

  2. #2
    Registered User Lord Sorril's Avatar
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    Re: Eating/Feeding troubles

    If you are feeding every 5 days a ball python at 550 grams-refusals are guaranteed. Around 600 grams is when a lot of male ball pythons will slow down feeding/growth. They hit the 'Wall' as some people say. Some females will slow down at this point too--while others rocket to 'full size'.

    I would only offer food once every 7-10 days. Watching the scale and measuring weight is also not a good measurement of body condition for a ball python. After feeding every 5 days for months the snake may have enough nutrients to grow and shed several times before requiring another meal.

    In addition you mention that the cage is a bit small, and the cold side is 75F. Thermal gradient and small cage = Stress. The snake has difficulty choosing the temperature it desires (too hot vs. too cold). If your cage is small then you would want the ambient temperature of the entire enclosure to be ideal: 78-80F. When you get your T8 you will have the option to re-establish the thermal gradient effectively.
    *.* TNTC

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  4. #3
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    @Lord Sorrill, thanks for the help, I tried a mouse and he struck right away

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    dr del (01-18-2020)

  6. #4
    Registered User Lord Sorril's Avatar
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    Re: Eating/Feeding troubles

    You are welcome!

    Don't be a stranger. We love photos of ball pythons.
    *.* TNTC

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    I might only asking because I am trying to learn.....Is it normal if he had his last meal the first week of December for him to be losing weight rapidly? 4-5 weeks seems like a short time from what I have read for them to show effects of not eating.

  8. #6
    BPnet Senior Member EL-Ziggy's Avatar
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    Re: Eating/Feeding troubles

    I agree with scaling back the feeding frequency to every 7-10 days. A small 50-60g mouse is the perfect feeder size for a 550g BP. I usually move them to mediums when they're between 800-1000g.
    2.2 Carpet Pythons, 1.1 Bullsnakes
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  9. #7
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    If no parasites were found in the stool sample. I don't think he can be losing weight that fast. I've looked at some of mine and thought " wow you are getting chunky " only to have them poop and return to their slender selves. Also with feeding every 5 days you wouldn't have much of a chance of seeing him completely empty like he is now. Which may be have skewed your image of him. Post a few pictures I'm sure people here could give their opinions on his condition.

  10. #8
    Registered User Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Re: Eating/Feeding troubles

    Quote Originally Posted by PiedBallDad View Post
    ...
    He seems to be afraid of bigger prey so I've been stuck feeding him 50-60g rats. He immediately backs away from larger prey....
    Ya think? Besides feeding too often, & less than ideal enclosure issues, he has probably been nipped when wrestling rats of increasing size. Sure, maybe just a pinch so far & little or no blood that you noticed, or maybe you thought the blood belonged to the rat, eh? But this is why it's a good idea to get snakes eating pre-killed prey, either frozen thawed (f/t) or fresh-killed (you do it for him). Sooner or later, snakes do get bit by live prey, & sometimes with serious damage. Nothing we can do about that for wild snakes, but our pets? They can get ugly scars (most of us keep snakes partly for their beauty), they can get permanent injuries (ask an exotic vet that's practiced for a while how many cases of snakes being blinded by rats, difficult infections & even fatal injuries they've seen) or infections that are hard (& costly) to treat.

    Rats are intelligent & when they get larger, they are formidable opponents...I hope you get your snake switched, we can help w/ suggestions on how to do that. Over the years I've also noticed that most snakes become better pets (more relaxed & less likely to bite us accidentally) when not fed live rodents for a while, because they can relax -no longer having to do battle. Don't worry, most still pounce on their food instinctively anyway, it just doesn't fight back.
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 01-14-2020 at 12:30 PM.
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    Re: Eating/Feeding troubles

    I thought he was feeding f/t he did mention wiggling the rat in front of his bp and leaving it in the enclosure overnight. So i hope its f/t or atleast pre killed.
    Bogertophis is right 4/5 of my snakes eat f/t and the one who only eats live has been bit and scratched. I once misplaced my tongs during a feeding, saw she got a bad grab on a rat so I grabbed the rats head with my bare hands and took a bad bite to the bone. I get anxiety every feeding with her and even though shes over 2000g grams I won't give her a rat bigger than 60 grams. Hoping to get her switched after laying.

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  13. #10
    Registered User Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Re: Eating/Feeding troubles

    Quote Originally Posted by MattEvans View Post
    I thought he was feeding f/t he did mention wiggling the rat in front of his bp and leaving it in the enclosure overnight. So i hope its f/t or atleast pre killed.
    Bogertophis is right 4/5 of my snakes eat f/t and the one who only eats live has been bit and scratched. I once misplaced my tongs during a feeding, saw she got a bad grab on a rat so I grabbed the rats head with my bare hands and took a bad bite to the bone. I get anxiety every feeding with her and even though shes over 2000g grams I won't give her a rat bigger than 60 grams. Hoping to get her switched after laying.
    You may be right? I hope so, I guess I focused on where he said "As soon as a rat entered the enclosure "-? (my bad) Either way, the instinctive fear of a large rat makes perfect sense.

    OP, sorry to "nag" if you're only feeding f/t, & thumbs up.
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 01-14-2020 at 01:36 PM.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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