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  1. #1
    Registered User Awesomethepossum's Avatar
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    Ball python feeding behavior- quirk or concern?

    I got this hatchling ball python in early December. Breeder says he was a slow starter- he was a little over 100g when I got him. I switched him over to f/t rats after getting him, and he's gained about 100g since that time.

    Maybe it's just a wierd quirk or just something I haven't really seen before, but I've never had him strike his feeder. When I offer the rat, he slowly swings his neck around it and wraps. Only after it's "dead" does he put his mouth on it. This happens even if I use tongs to give the rat a "struggling response".

    I keep him in a 16qt tub. Other than that, the set up is the same as my other two ball pythons. Basking temp is between 88-91, cool side is at 77. Humidity is around 70%. Reptichip for bedding, two snug hides on each side, and a water dish. I also have a small blanket over the top to provide extra security. I feed him every 5-7 days.

    Is that kind of feeding response normal (normal being relative)? I usually have to hold the feeder vertical to his neck, then he wraps it as shown, and just...plops there. Is he just lazy, or is there something I can do to improve on my end?

    This picture was during his feeding last week (Jan 6th) as an example. However, on this occasion he actually dropped the feeder after this process and ignored it when offered again. Didn't take this week either, so I'm thinking of doing a complete clean of his tub and trying again next week.

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  2. #2
    BPnet Senior Member EL-Ziggy's Avatar
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    Re: Ball python feeding behavior- quirk or concern?

    Some snakes just don't have a very strong food response. As long as they're eating and healthy I wouldn't be concerned at all.
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  4. #3
    Registered User Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Agree with El-Ziggy...either that or he just isn't that hungry & you'd find that out if you went longer between meals, however with a young BP I wouldn't take a
    chance of messing up a steady feeder. In the snakes I've raised, there are a few that appear to learn quickly that they don't have to expend the energy to kill a
    rodent that's always D.O.A. -yet they've gone on to be vigorous adults. Here only time will tell...I suppose there's a tiny chance that there is something else at
    work (something physical like soreness, injury, or weak muscle development etc) but personally I'd just wait a see, especially with as challenging as it is to treat
    snakes, and as stressful as vet visits can be...it's liable to put him off eating. He could also be "one of the ones that wouldn't have made it in the wild" just due
    to being too passive.

    Watch & wait...the breeder did even say he "was a slow starter", so this all fits with that. At least the breeder was up-front about it, & there's a little risk when
    you get a snake described that way. I do know he's in good hands with you...
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 01-16-2020 at 12:50 PM.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
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  6. #4
    Registered User Awesomethepossum's Avatar
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    Re: Ball python feeding behavior- quirk or concern?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bogertophis View Post
    Agree with El-Ziggy...either that or he just isn't that hungry & you'd find that out if you went longer between meals, however with a young BP I wouldn't take a
    chance of messing up a steady feeder. In the snakes I've raised, there are a few that appear to learn quickly that they don't have to expend the energy to kill a
    rodent that's always D.O.A. -yet they've gone on to be vigorous adults. Here only time will tell...I suppose there's a tiny chance that there is something else at
    work (something physical like soreness, injury, or weak muscle development etc) but personally I'd just wait a see, especially with as challenging as it is to treat
    snakes, and as stressful as vet visits can be...it's liable to put him off eating. He could also be "one of the ones that wouldn't have made it in the wild" just due
    to being too passive.

    Watch & wait...the breeder did even say he "was a slow starter", so this all fits with that. At least the breeder was up-front about it, & there's a little risk when
    you get a snake described that way. I do know he's in good hands with you...
    That's kind of you to say, thank you.

    No, she was very honest in that he was essentially the runt of the clutch. Started small, had to be assist-fed his first meal, but didn't refuse any after that (he was on live when I got him). Not until I switched him to f/t, but then he was eating regularly. He just takes food very strangely. Not a fearful or skittish snake by any means, but is extremely mellow.

    I was curious as to whether or not that behaviour indicated anything I need me concerned with, or if I needed to make changes on my end. I got worried because of his history, and because he dropped and ignored his last meal and this week's meal as well. I'm just used to consistent eaters now that I've moved them all to tubs.

    I haven't handled him since the refusal, this was taken a couple of weeks prior.

    Do you think a clean of the tub would be a kolick-starter, or should I wait a bit longer before offering again?

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    Last edited by Awesomethepossum; 01-16-2020 at 02:46 PM.

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    I heard that they will use their bodies to pin a rodent against a tunnel or burrow wall while already engaged in coiling another. So i don't think its to strange and if he's eating f/t I wouldn't worry about him not biting.

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  10. #6
    Registered User Bogertophis's Avatar
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    As long as you don't clean the tub right before offering food again, it should be ok...I'd be inclined to guide him into a little closed (dark) box while he waits- ie. keep
    things low-key.

    I've seen rosy boas pin rodents against the wall...even f/t ones that I've jiggled. My rosy (I only have one now) is fed f/t but is a slow-eater...I often feed late evening
    & don't feel like waiting up longer, so since mine usually takes 2 small adult mice, I get her to grab one, then as she's working on it, I'll tickle her mid-section with the
    other f/t mouse & she'll "hold" (press) that one too, & finish both eventually.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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  12. #7
    Registered User Awesomethepossum's Avatar
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    Re: Ball python feeding behavior- quirk or concern?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bogertophis View Post
    As long as you don't clean the tub right before offering food again, it should be ok...I'd be inclined to guide him into a little closed (dark) box while he waits- ie. keep
    things low-key.

    I've seen rosy boas pin rodents against the wall...even f/t ones that I've jiggled. My rosy (I only have one now) is fed f/t but is a slow-eater...I often feed late evening
    & don't feel like waiting up longer, so since mine usually takes 2 small adult mice, I get her to grab one, then as she's working on it, I'll tickle her mid-section with the
    other f/t mouse & she'll "hold" (press) that one too, & finish both eventually.
    How funny. Well it's good to know that it isn't uncommon. I enjoy how unique each individual is.

    My pied is my fastest, most accurate eater. My crystal...is an enthusiastic, clumsy dumpster. And my sand boa will literally just start consuming the rodent if it's placed in front of her face. This one here, he does his half-hearted constriction, then drags/thrashes it around the tub.

    He's still pretty active/restless-I haven't seen him settle into a hide in days. If he isn't moving, he's out and lounging with his head on his hide, as my others do when waiting for food.

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  14. #8
    Registered User Bogertophis's Avatar
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    I consider all snakes to be individuals too, I think that's the least we can do. I've seen too many differences among siblings to think otherwise, & then when you
    add in their experience of life, it's no different than the rest of us- a blend of "nature & nurture". I had a rat snake that learned & remembered (and obviously
    enjoyed) threading herself thru the belt loops on my jeans... Silly sneks! I think it's just like human kids in kindergarten, actually...the more things they are exposed
    to & the more successful experiences they have, the smarter they get & if wild, the better they survive. Climbing things is a challenge at first, but most get better at it
    with practice. Incidentally, this is why it's so dangerous & harmful to suddenly feed live rodents to a snake that's been eating only pre-killed (f/t or fresh), many learn to
    skip constriction & just eat. It would be nice if snakes could talk & tell us why they do some things the way they do, but for now, it's for us to figure out, whether the
    quirk is just that, if it's learned behavior, or if it means there's a problem. They make us pay attention.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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  16. #9
    Registered User Awesomethepossum's Avatar
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    Re: Ball python feeding behavior- quirk or concern?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bogertophis View Post
    I consider all snakes to be individuals too, I think that's the least we can do. I've seen too many differences among siblings to think otherwise, & then when you
    add in their experience of life, it's no different than the rest of us- a blend of "nature & nurture". I had a rat snake that learned & remembered (and obviously
    enjoyed) threading herself thru the belt loops on my jeans... Silly sneks! I think it's just like human kids in kindergarten, actually...the more things they are exposed
    to & the more successful experiences they have, the smarter they get & if wild, the better they survive. Climbing things is a challenge at first, but most get better at it
    with practice. Incidentally, this is why it's so dangerous & harmful to suddenly feed live rodents to a snake that's been eating only pre-killed (f/t or fresh), many learn to
    skip constriction & just eat. It would be nice if snakes could talk & tell us why they do some things the way they do, but for now, it's for us to figure out, whether the
    quirk is just that, if it's learned behavior, or if it means there's a problem. They make us pay attention.
    Making me get gray hairs

    But, time will tell. He's down to 197g today, but I also did a deeper check of his tub and found a giant turd in a corner crevice (on the opposite side of the tub). Maybe that's why he was active Don't know if that's a thing or not, but I wouldn't blame him for losing his appetite over that. I'll just wait and see.


    I know BPs are often referred to as the "pet rocks" of the snake world, but you can find so much diversity among individuals. So if that's the case, it really makes me wonder about other species.

    That in mind, I'm thinking of getting a BRB eventually (maybe an ackie monitor too, but that's not a snake ). I actually went to a local petstore that had one the other day and I asked to hold it. I knew it was coming-the little guy sat in my hand and bit the crap out of me. So feisty.

    They're a lot more complex than most give them credit for. Wouldn't have it any other way.

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