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Thread: BP not Eating

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  1. #1
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    BP not Eating

    This is my 1st(maybe last) BP, i have had her for 5 weeks and she has not eaten once. I have researched a lot over the past 2 weeks, i have tried frozen mice and rats and live rats too, recommended by Wilbanks, and still nothing. She has striked at me 2 times when i have walked by her tank, thats it, she has shown no interest anytime i have tried to feed her. I have held her only once as not trying to stress her, as soon as i touch her, she shakes for a second. Something is not right, should i take her to the Vet? I am becoming stressed with worry, this isn't what i expected, i guess i can try live feeding again, if that don work i think i will look for a place to donate her too, I clearly have failed so far, any suggestions? Thx

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    Bogertophis's Avatar
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    First off, for us to diagnose what's going on, it would help to see photos of your set-up, or at the very least, a complete description of her home, including temperatures, humidity, hides, type & SIZE of enclosure (tank means glass, right?), substrate, t-stat & type(s) of heat supplied? etc. It's all relevant.

    I'm glad you haven't been handling her, that's a "no-no" until they're feeding- preferably at least 3 times at normal intervals, because eating is the most important thing, & the stress of handling can make a snake refuse food, to their detriment. (It doesn't count if they refuse food because they're in a shedding cycle, btw- that's a time most snakes normally refuse food, & not to worry.)

    This might help: https://ball-pythons.net/forums/show...-Post-Pictures

    Also, have you read thru this one? I know you're still finding your way around here-
    https://ball-pythons.net/forums/show...-hatchling-101

    If your BP is being kept in a glass tank, the problem is very likely to be stress from a lack of "security"- most snakes are quite shy, especially when young, as many things in nature actually prey ON them. Many here prefer to use tubs for young BPs, but tanks can be made to work IF you get all the husbandry issues right- ie. make it feel secure enough for your BP to feel safe.

    The right temperatures are also essential- if it's too cool, your snake will not eat, but if it's too hot, your snake can be injured or worse- so a thermostat on your heat source(s) is ESSENTIAL. BPs are fairly passive "ambush predators", not aggressive & active hunters of prey. It also matters a great deal HOW* you offer them prey, whether live or f/t (frozen-thawed) or f/k (fresh-killed). *We have a lot more tips about that. They're also more nocturnal, so you want to offer prey in the evenings- not under bright lighting either. And use feeding tongs- not your hands. When they do grab prey, they aim for the biggest heat signature, even if it's you, lol.


    And please don't give up...I know how frustrating this can be...but it's just a matter of knowing more about your choice of snake. We can help.

    (Is this your first snake of any kind?)
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 04-13-2021 at 08:57 PM.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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    BPnet Senior Member dakski's Avatar
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    Re: BP not Eating

    Age and weight would be helpful as well.

    If an older and established BP, getting them feeding is less of an immediate concern. If a young BP - time is ticking and you need to get him/her eating ASAP.

    Please provide the above and what Bogertophis asked for and we should be able to help you.

    If you are not handling the snake, then likely husbandry is the issue. Part of husbandry would include where the tank is located and type of tank. If it's glass and in a higher traffic area, that's an issue right there.

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    Re: BP not Eating

    Details about Tank, 20 gal top opening tank, sides and back covered, Tank is in far back bedroom, no traffic except me. Cage set up, 1 large half log hide in middle with fake plant vines, large water dish in cool end. Average temperature in hot end between 85-90 degrees, humidity averages between 35-50%. Floor covered with Loose Coconut fiber on bottom with Natural Cypress Mulch on top. Light brown Terrarium Moss in corners and sides. For water i use Ice Mountain bottled. As for snake, Black Pastel female from Wilbanks reptiles, weight at purchase, 250g. Thx

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    Re: BP not Eating

    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas S View Post
    Details about Tank, 20 gal top opening tank, sides and back covered, Tank is in far back bedroom, no traffic except me. Cage set up, 1 large half log hide in middle with fake plant vines, large water dish in cool end. Average temperature in hot end between 85-90 degrees, humidity averages between 35-50%. Floor covered with Loose Coconut fiber on bottom with Natural Cypress Mulch on top. Light brown Terrarium Moss in corners and sides. For water i use Ice Mountain bottled. As for snake, Black Pastel female from Wilbanks reptiles, weight at purchase, 250g. Thx
    Half log 'hides' are not adequate hides at all- they're nice cage furniture, but they don't offer what your BP needs- a real sense of security. Just as an example [ie. NOT a brand endorsement, though these are just fine, but similar ones available at beanfarm.com & other sources too] you want something like this: https://www.reptilebasics.com/medium-hide-box

    They come in different sizes- pick the size your snake will fit fairly snugly into- BPs in the wild live in rock piles & such- they like to feel some "back pressure"- they want only one doorway that's JUST big enough for them to go thru after a meal is preferred.

    Also: you need at least TWO equal hides, one on the cool side, & one on the warm side, because snakes will nearly always choose a sense of security over the proper temperature, so if their only hide is too cool for digestion, let's say, you may have a snake regurgitating their undigested dinner, or refusing to eat at all, just like yours is doing; even though heat is supplied, if they can't use it while feeling safe (in a proper hide) they're not going to thrive & digest well.

    Snakes need to thermoregulate at all times, so if they don't have an unheated hide too, they'll probably end up dehydrated & burning thru more food & losing weight, because their metabolism is determined by their temperatures, & snakes are not designed to stay at the highest temperatures all the time either. Two or more hides (the right kind) are just essential at all times.

    Also, if you have room, a third hide -a "humid hide" with damp moss etc.- is also a very helpful item to offer for good sheds & general comfort options. Your humidity is a bit too low- you want 50-60% on average, & a bit higher during shed.

    The sooner you fix the "hide" situation, the faster your snake will finally feel safe enough to settle in & eat.

    Since you're using a tank, FYI you'll need to cover* most of the screen top to cut down on air-flow- that's why the humidity is so low. If you have lots of room, putting the water bowl nearer to heat will raise the humidity a bit thru increased evaporation. The 2 hides are far more important than a large water bowl- for that matter, since snakes seldom soak, a humid hide is a better option too, with a smaller water bowl just for drinking.

    *Some people use a piece of plexi, some use foil- many things work- just anything that air can't go thru. Leave gaps, of course, for some circulation- just not the whole screen top- not for a BP, anyway. Other snakes need lots of air circulation, but BPs need the humidity more.

    You're almost "there"- you just need a few tweaks to get this right.
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 04-15-2021 at 06:53 PM.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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    Re: BP not Eating

    Ok, i will work on it...what about a different tote just for feeding? I would still have to pick up the snake before feeding in the tote. That's not good either???

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    Re: BP not Eating

    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas S View Post
    Ok, i will work on it...what about a different tote just for feeding? I would still have to pick up the snake before feeding in the tote. That's not good either???
    Nope, not if you want your snake to eat.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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    Re: BP not Eating

    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas S View Post
    Ok, i will work on it...what about a different tote just for feeding? I would still have to pick up the snake before feeding in the tote. That's not good either???
    It's best to feed snakes in their home enclosure where they feel safe and secure. Especially so for ambushing species such as ball pythons (they choose a designated spot and wait for prey to pass by instead of chasing them down). Moving them to a separate area to feed can potentially stress them out. And before you ask, no, feeding in the home enclosure doesn't cause biting, that's a misunderstood myth. As long as your hands don't smell like rodents it won't mistake you for food. You can also increase the snake's sense of ease around you further for handling by doing "tap training."

    An easy way to do this is to lightly tap its hide when you want to hold it or otherwise do things other than feeding (such as maintenance). Your snake should start to understand that, when you're going into its enclosure and do the tapping, it means it's not meal time.

    ...And Boger already answered about that in detail. My bad.
    Last edited by Snagrio; 04-15-2021 at 08:11 PM.

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    If i am going to try a small tote for feeding again. Do i put the snake in the tote and then wait a week before i try live feeding?

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    Re: BP not Eating

    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas S View Post
    If i am going to try a small tote for feeding again. Do i put the snake in the tote and then wait a week before i try live feeding?


    You're talking about feeding your snake in a 'side' container? Nope, don't do that. Shy snakes won't eat that way- not with you handling them first. The only thing that picks up a snake in the wild is a predator about to EAT them. Handling to move the snake will destroy their appetite. And a less-shy snake that's pumped up for food will be biting you, either on the way to the tote, or when you try to put them back 'home'- they can stay in "feed mode" for hours to a day or longer. Just don't do that...feed your snake IN his home where he feels safe. Put his needs front & center if you expect him to eat & thrive.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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