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  1. #1
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    Underweight rescue ball python help.



    Meet Waffles the supposedly 3 year old normal ball python I got off craigslist. The previous owner died and the new owner could not care for him/her properly so I picked it up. Apparently it hasn't eaten in about over 4 months and was stuck in a piece of decor for the last week or so. I scheduled its first vet appointment already but it wont be for about 3 weeks. I am looking for advice on how much/how often to feed it to bring it back up to the proper weight for its size.

    Age: about 3 years.
    Weight: 300 grams.
    Length: somewhere between 33" and 35".
    Sex: unknown but probably male based on size and age.
    Visible issues: underweight, possible stuck eye caps, dehydrated.
    no evidence of respiratory infection or mites

    It ate one adult mouse the day I got it home, but with it being soo thin I am worried about feeding it too large of a meal right away. I was thinking of feeding it 2 adult mice every 5 days for the next 10 - 15 days, then 1 50 gram rat every 7 days till its body condition improves. All the vet said when I called to set up my appointment was take it slow till the appointment. Does this seem like a good "take it slow" schedule or should I change it up. I plan on addressing the stuck eye caps tonight with a good soak and a wash cloth. Any recommendations on the stuck eye caps is also appreciated.

    For reference my 8 month old male is also 300 grams and is eating 30 gram rats every 7 days.

  2. #2
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    Since this hasn't gotten much traction over on this section I think I'll try moving this to the General BP section. Don't really know how to move or delete a post so it might just be up in 2 places. Maybe a MOD can help.

  3. #3
    BPnet Senior Member jmcrook's Avatar
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    Re: Underweight rescue ball python help.

    Just feed it consistently and it will add mass. A weaned rat should be a fine meal for it. No need to make an identical thread. Itís the middle of a workday and few of us have time to post


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    Re: Underweight rescue ball python help.

    Quote Originally Posted by zanic07 View Post
    I was thinking of feeding it 2 adult mice every 5 days for the next 10 - 15 days, then 1 50 gram rat every 7 days till its body condition improves. All the vet said when I called to set up my appointment was take it slow till the appointment. Does this seem like a good "take it slow" schedule or should I change it up.
    This sounds fine. The only other advice I have is to offer the feeders wet - if they are f/t then thaw them in warm water. That will help with additional hydration.

    If you don't have any Nutribac then I'd suggest getting some. It's a reptile probiotic and it helps to re-establish good gut flora after a snake has been underfed/neglected, or after being treated with antibiotics. Just dust a bit of the powder on a damp f/t feeder.

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  7. #5
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    Re: Underweight rescue ball python help.

    Quote Originally Posted by zanic07 View Post
    Since this hasn't gotten much traction over on this section I think I'll try moving this to the General BP section. Don't really know how to move or delete a post so it might just be up in 2 places. Maybe a MOD can help.
    Just saw this- I deleted the other (unanswered) thread since this one has responses.

    Also- Feeding 2 mice every 5 days* sounds like you'll be risking a regurgitation, which you really want to avoid. I'd also say feeding every 5 days for an adult snake is not "taking it slow" as your vet suggested. I wouldn't feed more often than every 7-10 days, especially when you're feeding 2 grown mice at a time, and not even feeding only one adult mouse at a time. When a snake is chronically under-fed, it takes time for their body to get up to speed- a starving snake may not have enough digestive enzymes (made from protein in the diet!) to get the job done. A regurge is the last thing this snake needs now, so I agree with your vet- "take it slow".

    (*The only time I've fed a snake every 5 days is when it's a young snake that's eating pinkies (mice or rats) because those are very easily digested.)

    Good for you to take in this snake- I hope he does well in your hands, & for doing a vet check too. Do keep us updated? Sorry we were slow this morning.
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 04-14-2021 at 07:06 PM.
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    Re: Underweight rescue ball python help.

    Quote Originally Posted by zanic07 View Post
    ...
    It ate one adult mouse the day I got it home, but with it being soo thin I am worried about feeding it too large of a meal right away. I was thinking of feeding it 2 adult mice every 5 days for the next 10 - 15 days, then 1 50 gram rat every 7 days till its body condition improves. All the vet said when I called to set up my appointment was take it slow till the appointment. Does this seem like a good "take it slow" schedule or should I change it up. I plan on addressing the stuck eye caps tonight with a good soak and a wash cloth. Any recommendations on the stuck eye caps is also appreciated.

    For reference my 8 month old male is also 300 grams and is eating 30 gram rats every 7 days.
    Welcome Waffles...

    That's a good sign that he ate an adult mouse on day one. Personally, I'd try feeding one adult mouse (not 2) every 7-10 days, while his body adjusts to eating on a regular basis. I agree w/ bcr229, to feed wet f/t if he'll accept them, & also adding a probiotic or herp. vitamins would likely help too. You really can't or shouldn't rush getting weight back on a snake like this- just be patient.

    I'd do the same things mentioned with stuck shed or eye-caps too. Don't worry about this snake "catching up", just let him gradually eat & rehydrate. Snakes like this need time & "TLC"- I bet he makes a great recovery, thanks to you. Some day you'll look back & wonder if this is the same snake.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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  11. #7
    BPnet Senior Member GoingPostal's Avatar
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    My rescue that was quite underweight gained what he needed and looks great on a very regular schedule, I offered mice for the first three feedings each a week apart, then went to appropriate sized rats every two weeks, you don't need or want to pack on weight quickly. Why are you taking it to the vet?

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    Re: Underweight rescue ball python help.

    Quote Originally Posted by GoingPostal View Post
    ...Why are you taking it to the vet?
    I just want to clarify, that while I agree that's a very responsible thing to do, unless you're seeing an issue for the vet to treat, a visit right now is probably not needed, & it might cause him stress that could cause problems with feeding that are best avoided, especially since being underweight seems to be his main problem right now. Now if you go for a long time feeding him well & he still doesn't gain weight, you'd want to have his stool checked by a vet for parasites, for example- but right now, since you're not seeing signs of an RI or other issue, I'd just hold off on a vet visit, let him relax ("settle in") & keep eating. That will help boost his natural immune system.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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    Thank you all for your responses. I it seems my original schedule may have been a little ambitious so I'll drop it back to one adult mouse treated with the Nutribac stuff every 7 days till its appointment.

    It also appears that Waffles did not actually have stuck eye caps. After its bath its eyes looked a ton clearer. What looked like cloudy lines separating the eye from the stuck shed cleaned up and I can actually see its pupils now. I tried wiping its eyes gently with a cloth anyway but could get nothing to come off and a day later the cloudy lines have still not come back. Could this have been a dehydration issue.

    As for @goingpostal question about why I'm taking it to my vet, I have a fairly good exotics vet near me that is pretty reasonably priced for their normal appointments (emergency appointments on the other hand not so much). I am also fairly new to keeping ball pythons so I am unsure of what all Illness to look out for with a rescue. I am confidant in my normal husbandry to keep them healthy and can even take care of things like an infected wound without much of an issue but I am not confidant in my abilities to diagnose much else. I also plan on having the vet show me how to either pop or probe it to determine its sex since I have had no experience doing this.

    Thanks again for all your help and advice.

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    Re: Underweight rescue ball python help.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bogertophis View Post
    Just saw this- I deleted the other (unanswered) thread since this one has responses.
    Thank you

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