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  1. #1
    Registered User admiralgoose95's Avatar
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    Baby Ball Python Not Adjusting?

    Hey! I apologize if this issue has already been addressed, but I've done lots of research and haven't found a solution to my problem. I've got a baby ball python (I named him Wendell!), I estimate about 3 months old, who is still defensive and doesn't seem to be adjusting. I got him from a Petsmart and I've had him about a month now and he's only eaten twice and never comes out of his hide on the cool side. I haven't weighed him because I don't want to stress him out even more. I'm not a new snake owner, I've had 2 corn snakes and a kingsnake before but this is my first ball python and I've never had feeding problems with the other snakes I've had but I do know that ball pythons are notoriously picky eaters.

    As far as his eating habits go, the woman at the store said they didn't feed him the week before because he was shedding and he needed to be fed that week so, I left him alone for a week after I got him then gave him a small mouse and he ate it immediately after putting it in his tank. Then I let him be for a few days and then handled him for like 10 minutes, he didn't bite or attack he just curled up in my hands. Then I didn't bother him until it was time to feed the next time and he refused it again (I did handle him one more time a few days after I attempted the 2nd feed), but on the third week (last week) he ate it right up, attacked and coiled and everything. This week he refused it again and seemed very defensive, his head was up in striking position and he was holding his mouth open and he did strike as I put the mouse in there but I think he was going for me and not the mouse, even after he struck at me he stayed in that position. I left it there overnight but he didn't touch it.

    The way I have been thawing the mice out is letting it thaw to room temperature and then put it in warm water to heat it up (still in the little baggie they come in). Maybe it wasn't heated up enough or something?

    His tank setup is good I think, it is a large terrarium but I've got it cluttered up with plants and hides and stuff (though he never seems to come out I always see him in the hide on the cool side) with aspen bedding. I've got the sides covered with towels so he doesn't get frightened from seeing things outside his tank. His temps are about 90F on the warm side and about 75F on the cool side, humidity stays at about 50%. I was planning on misting every day but not until he settles down and adjusts to his environment. Iíve got a heat light during the day and a CHE going at night. My thermometers are acurite digital thermometers as well.

    So all in all it's been about a month and he still seems defensive and I haven't had a regular feeding schedule with him yet. I've left him completely alone aside from changing his water for the past two weeks. Is he just taking awhile to adjust or do I need to do something else?

  2. #2
    Telling it like it is! Stewart_Reptiles's Avatar
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    His tank setup is good I think
    If it was your new snake would have no issue adjusting. Clutter does not always work and a 10 gallons max is recommended as a starter cage for an hatchling BP (even 10 gallons need to be clutter) and when all fails do this to a T until fully adjusted and than move to a 10 gallons
    Deborah Stewart

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  4. #3
    BPnet Veteran Craiga 01453's Avatar
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    You also want to stop handling.

    No handling at all until the snake has eaten 3 consecutive meals without refusal. If he rufuses again, the clock restarts.

    Your snake is obviously stressed. It could be the huge enclosure, it could be the handling. And it could be that he's a Big Box Store animal of unknown lineage. That's why it's always better to buy from a reputable breeder and not support big box stores who keep their animals in horrible conditions. is beautiful...

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  6. #4
    BPnet Senior Member EL-Ziggy's Avatar
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    Re: Baby Ball Python Not Adjusting?

    To me it sounds like he's still acclimating to the new environment. Some snakes take a few months to get comfortable. Your temps sound good. Make sure his enclosure has lots of hides and floor covering and just leave him alone for awhile aside from enclosure maintenance. You're right about the potential for BPs to be picky eaters. I'd scale back to only offering food every 2 weeks. Best wishes.
    3.2 Carpet Pythons, 1.1 Bullsnakes
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  7. #5
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    Re: Baby Ball Python Not Adjusting?

    Something I would try is, while heís in his hide, place the rat outside of the hide entrance, and completely cover the enclosure so that itís pitch black in there, and just leave the rat in there overnight, and only open it up to do daily checks and maintenance. The next day. If this means feeding a little earlier before he pops his head out of his hide then definitely do so. I find this method works for all my snakes when they are very defensive and too scared of you to even eat.

    I know people say that after several meals, only then you should handle your snake, however I found that building trust early on helps a lot with consistent meals. I had 2 juveniles who were extremely defensive. I was sitting outside of the enclosure on time, doing something else and one of them tried to strike at me through the enclosure lol. After a week of letting him settle in, I offered him food. He was in a defensive position the moment I opened the cage and striked at the rat, but didnít constrict(which is why I knew he was scared rather than hungry). So for the next 5 days I would cover his entire enclosure with a towel to darken it. About 5 or so days I offered him food but instead I left it just outside of the entrance of his hide, covered the enclosure, and left it overnight. Next thing I know the rat was gone. After leaving him for 2 days to digest I decided to handle him.

    He immediately went into his strike position the moment I opened the latches and was just staring me down. I used a hook because he was at the back corner so I couldnít really reach behind him. But I took him out and held him calmly. I waited for about 15-20 minutes before he finally relaxed and got curious. The moment he did I held him for another 2-3 min and then put him back in gently. I probably only handled him once or twice a week, and would avoid handling the day before, and the day of feeding day. The reason I did this was so that he could build some trust with me, so that next time I open the enclosure, he knows to not be afraid. I know that trust doesnít happen overnight, and he still got a bit defensive, but it was definitely getting better. This process took about 2 weeks total. But Iíve had him for about a month now and even when Iím moving about outside of his enclosure, he doesnít get defensive and continues cruising around his cage. Now when I offer food, heíll take it right away and doesnít care about me at all lol.

    I know many people will object to this and I donít blame them because there is a risk of added stress and a bunch of other factors, but Iíve found for some reason that this has been working for me, more than once.

    One thing I think is really important though is to build positive handling sessions, I wouldnít put your snake back when itís defensive or scared(balled up) because it can build bad habits and lack of trust. Once your snake is relaxed and curious, then that is the time to put them back.

  8. #6
    BPnet Senior Member redshepherd's Avatar
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    For a bit of a problem child like you have, I'd personally just make a new setup of 15qt sterilite tub, clutter it with leaves, and place 2 tiny hides in it (tiny enough for him to feel squished up inside).

    Many baby bp's may be fine going in in a large terrarium with lots of clutter, but some are particularly defensive or particularly fearful. Maybe they consider certain locations in the enclosure potentially dangerous, or too risky, and we do not see why. So the small tub setup is the most sure-fire way. It's a "remove all other factors", if you will. And then you can focus on just the feeding.

    Also note to just not handle at all until he starts eating consistently.
    Last edited by redshepherd; 07-16-2020 at 09:25 PM.

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