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  1. #1
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    Not eating for 7 months

    Hello,

    I have a 3 years old male ball python. He stopped eating around the end of November of 2019 and haven't shown any interest in the food ever since.
    At first I thought he is not eating due to winter time since last winter he stopped eating as well for 2 months but later got back to it without problems. This time as spring came he still refused to eat. We have checked his temperatures and humidity many times. He has everything he needs with hides, warm and cool zones, fresh water.
    I used to feed him frozen rats that I warmed for him in the water, he always been good with eating them. We have tried to switch to mouse but were unsuccessful. We have waited some time before offering meals. Hasn't helped. At this point we are thinking either trying live or taking him to the vet. The problem with live is that we don't have experience with feeding live to snakes and also knowing my snake's behavior he can easily get scared and as a result more stressed. Same with the vet, i am worrying if I take him it will only worsen his appetite due to the stress going to the vet. He hasn't lost much weight since he stopped eating and he doesn't seem like having any health issues as he looks healthy. The other thing I would like to mention is that because of pandemic I got stuck outside of the country and since spring my friend is taking care of him. This a second time when he refuses food during warm months of the year when i am not around. Last time he started eating when I came back. I don't think it had anything to do with his appetite but can it be possible he refuses to eat because he is with different people at the moment? Can you suggest me what should I do as a next step? Thank you and i apreacte any of your help.

  2. #2
    Registered User Namea's Avatar
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    You need to take him to a vet. A couple of months can be normal for a ball python but that long is not. A vet can recommend whether force feeding may be necessary. Usually after one force feed they'll go back to regular feeding. Trying live is not a good option, especially with a more skittish snake.
    Some girls were horse girls growing up. I was a snake girl.

    Daughter of a herpetologist, student of the "Snake Man" Al Robbins, lover of all animals.
    Almost done with my DVM! Finally!

    I specialize in rehabilitation and work with local fish and wildlife for rehab/release of native species. For exotics I work with reptile sanctuaries to rehabilitate and rehome to either qualified private owners or humane licensed facilities. I do not believe in fatal population control.
    Please feel free to message me with any questions. I don't know everything but I can point you towards resources.
    Do not message me with images of a snake you killed to identify it. I will ignore you.

  3. #3
    BPnet Veteran Craiga 01453's Avatar
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    Re: Not eating for 7 months

    Quote Originally Posted by Namea View Post
    You need to take him to a vet. A couple of months can be normal for a ball python but that long is not. A vet can recommend whether force feeding may be necessary. Usually after one force feed they'll go back to regular feeding. Trying live is not a good option, especially with a more skittish snake.
    I completely disagree. Seven months is a long time, but I've heard of BPs going over a year. Obviously getting the snake eating sooner than later would be nice though.

    If the animal is not losing much weight there is no need for a vet visit. Snakes will not starve themselves to death.

    You DEFINITELY don't want to assist or force feed a three year old snake either. The animal already knows HOW to eat. Assist and force feeding are for hatchlings that don't yet know how to eat.

    At this point, your best bet is sticking to rats, but smaller than usual. Only offer every 3-4 weeks. Offering too often will only lead to further stress.

    Unfortunately without knowing husbandry details it's impossible to try to pinpoint what may be causing the extended food strike.

    Can you provide the following details??

    What are the enclosure temps?
    Humidity?
    How are temps and humidity measured?
    Is the snake being handled at all?
    Is the enclosure in a high traffic area in the house?
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  5. #4
    Telling it like it is! Stewart_Reptiles's Avatar
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    A healthy ball python can go a year without food without issue and you do not assist or force feed an animal that knows are to eat, adding more stress to an animal that is off food is not gonna help. Many vet with limited experience will jump the gun not understanding what can actually be done to help an animal resume feeding.

    What needs to be look at closely his your husbandry

    It is not unusual for a sexually mature 3 years old snake to go off feed now getting more details will help.

    How big is he (weight)

    What size and type prey were offered prior to going of feed.

    How big is your enclosure?

    What are your exact temps and how do you measure them?

    What type of bedding do you use.
    Deborah Stewart

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  7. #5
    BPnet Senior Member Mr. Misha's Avatar
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    I think the most important questing is, is he losing weight? As others pointed out, additional information is required to help you any further.

    With that said, one of my girls goes off feed during fall through spring months for a stretch of about 5-7 months on an annual basis since she turned around 3 years old (I've had her for about 6 years). The longest she went without eating was 9 months.

    I'd recommend not handling him until he start eating and monitor his weight on a monthly basis.
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  8. #6
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    Re: Not eating for 7 months

    Thank you,

    His cool side is at 75 while his warm side set at 90 but it showed 87.9, so we moved it to 92. His heat mat connected to thermostat controller. The humidity shows to be at 55 on the cool sie and 60 on the other end.
    His cage is 36x16x18. And currently he is on paper towels. I have tried other substrates before, but it seemed that aspen was irritating him. He was eating medium size rats before going off feed. As of his weight I will get the scale to know for sure but it seems like he hasn't lost much with since he stopped eating.

    I appreciate any help and advises.

  9. #7
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    Re: Not eating for 7 months

    Quote Originally Posted by Jess94 View Post
    He was eating medium size rats before going off feed.
    There’s a likely contributing factor in his fasting period. Very few males ever need anything more than a small rat every 7-14 days once mature. Even then, a food strike is not uncommon.

    Side note, I feel like we’ve seen this topic or similar at least 4-5 times now in under two weeks here.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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  11. #8
    BPnet Senior Member Mr. Misha's Avatar
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    Re: Not eating for 7 months

    Quote Originally Posted by jmcrook View Post
    Side note, I feel like we’ve seen this topic or similar at least 4-5 times now in under two weeks here.Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Definitely seems like a reoccurring theme lately.

    In regards to your the cool side, i'd bump that up 78-80.
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  13. #9
    Registered User Namea's Avatar
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    Re: Not eating for 7 months

    You're right, my bad. I didn't read thoroughly to see that the snake was 3 years old. I thought it said 3 months.

    A fully mature bp can go longer without eating although it's not necessarily a healthy thing to do. If the husbandry is correct a vet visit may still be necessary to determine if there's an underlying health issue that is causing the fast.
    Some girls were horse girls growing up. I was a snake girl.

    Daughter of a herpetologist, student of the "Snake Man" Al Robbins, lover of all animals.
    Almost done with my DVM! Finally!

    I specialize in rehabilitation and work with local fish and wildlife for rehab/release of native species. For exotics I work with reptile sanctuaries to rehabilitate and rehome to either qualified private owners or humane licensed facilities. I do not believe in fatal population control.
    Please feel free to message me with any questions. I don't know everything but I can point you towards resources.
    Do not message me with images of a snake you killed to identify it. I will ignore you.

  14. #10
    Anti-Thread Necro Patrol
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    I've had a snake go 13 months without eating. The important thing is the weight. If there's not much weight loss then just wait.
    - Mason

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