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  1. #1
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    Baby BP strikes, constricts, but drops frozen thawed.

    Hi. I have a baby male ball python. He's a little over 5 months old now and he's 156 grams. He was about 149 grams when I got him from the breeder a little over a month ago.
    He's been on a diet of live pup rats, and ate a weaned rat once with the breeder. When I got him, I left him alone for a week before attempting to feed him F/T for the first time. He smelled the mouse, poked his head out of his hide and struck it instantly. 30 minutes later, he dropped it. I left it in the tub overnight and he didn't eat it.

    Next time I tried to feed F/T was a week later. This time was my bad, I opened his tub while he was out roaming and he got spooked. Didn't strike it. I left it overnight again and he didn't take it.

    About a week later, we finally drove to get some live rats. He ate a live weaned rat, then a week later ate a live crawler rat. The weaned rat was a bit big but he didn't have any problems.

    Now, it's been 8 days since he had the crawler rat and I decided to try F/T again. Same issue. He struck and coiled the mouse, then dropped it. He did this three times tonight. Dropped it every time.

    I have no idea what the problem is. I THINK it's because the prey is cooling off too quickly.. but I have no idea how to control that. Or maybe he just doesn't like mice. I unfortunately don't have any frozen rats atm since my nearest pet store is almost 2 hours away. Same reason why I don't have easy access to live atm.

    Here's what I do when feeding:
    I thaw the rodent in the fridge over the course of the day. I make sure it's thawed out by feeling the tummy, and at about 8-9 PM I put it in a cup of hot tap water and let it warm up. Then I hang it in front of my heater til it's about 100-105 degrees. The rodent is dry btw. I dangle it in front of his hide (zombie dance scares him) and when he strikes it I'll pull on the tail to make it seem like the mouse is struggling. Then I shut all of my lights off and leave the room for about 30 mins to an hour. I feel like I'm doing everything I possibly can right with F/T but he still keeps dropping it.

    I don't mind feeding live but like I said I don't have close access to it atm. I am moving in about 3-4 weeks to a big city so I can get live whenever I need it then, but for now I'd really like to get him to eat F/T. He went almost a month without eating (he didn't eat for a week before I got him since he was in pre-shed) and since he's so young I'm real concerned about getting him to eat regularly.

    He has hides on both sides of his tub, and fake plants as well. The warm side is 88 and the cool side is 80. Humidity is 60-65%. Like I said he slammed down the live without any issues and his behavior has been great so I don't believe it's a husbandry issue. He is due to shed soon though, I believe. The scales on his belly are looking pretty pink.

    Has anyone else had this problem? I'm just really frustrated :/ He seems like he really wants to eat but there's just something putting him off about the F/T.
    Last edited by cuteaspied; 05-11-2021 at 01:47 AM.

  2. #2
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    If he was raised on rats, understand that mice do smell (& presumably) taste different. That's probably a big part of this- you seem to be switching back & forth?

    Also the temperature- so between the different scent & prey that quickly cools to an UN-lifelike temperature, that's likely what is wrong, though your method of prepping & offering f/t sounds okay to me.

    An oncoming shed would also be likely to make him hesitant to eat- usually best to wait to feed when you see signs of any snake being in shed.

    I can tell you for sure that MANY others have similar feeding issues- BPs aren't the easiest snakes to feed, unfortunately. You just have to keep at it- you've only had him for a month- be patient.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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  4. #3
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    Re: Baby BP strikes, constricts, but drops frozen thawed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bogertophis View Post
    If he was raised on rats, understand that mice do smell (& presumably) taste different. That's probably a big part of this- you seem to be switching back & forth?

    Also the temperature- so between the different scent & prey that quickly cools to an UN-lifelike temperature, that's likely what is wrong, though your method of prepping & offering f/t sounds okay to me.

    An oncoming shed would also be likely to make him hesitant to eat- usually best to wait to feed when you see signs of any snake being in shed.

    I can tell you for sure that MANY others have similar feeding issues- BPs aren't the easiest snakes to feed, unfortunately. You just have to keep at it- you've only had him for a month- be patient.
    I understand. I have some of the rat bedding that I actually used to try and scent the mouse tonight to make it smell like a rat. I would definitely prefer to feed only rats but I don't have any of them right now, only mice. I know, I made a mistake there and I'm kicking myself for it. I'll be able to get rats in a couple weeks. I'm just worried about him going without eating for long periods of time since he's still a baby. Will he be okay if he ends up not eating for a few weeks yet at his current size?

  5. #4
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    Re: Baby BP strikes, constricts, but drops frozen thawed.

    Quote Originally Posted by cuteaspied View Post
    I understand. I have some of the rat bedding that I actually used to try and scent the mouse tonight to make it smell like a rat. I would definitely prefer to feed only rats but I don't have any of them right now, only mice. I know, I made a mistake there and I'm kicking myself for it. I'll be able to get rats in a couple weeks. I'm just worried about him going without eating for long periods of time since he's still a baby. Will he be okay if he ends up not eating for a few weeks yet at his current size?
    That's a good thing to try (scenting w/ used rat bedding). For a young snake, it's better they keep eating, but he should survive just fine if he misses a couple weeks. Maybe being hungrier will help him change his mind about mice. Many BPs prefer mice, but mostly it's just what they're most familiar with from the start.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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  7. #5
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    I serve my feeders wet. Maybe that will keep more heat.

    I also feed in the dark using a green LED headlight.

    In the past when switching from mice to rats I would thaw them together. I feel this really mixed the scent and helped in the switch. I've always had good luck doing that. Not that you are equipped to do that right now.

    Does that pet store not carry frozen rats so you can buy a few at some point? Instead of having to get live.
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    Re: Baby BP strikes, constricts, but drops frozen thawed.

    Quote Originally Posted by KMG View Post
    I serve my feeders wet. Maybe that will keep more heat.

    I also feed in the dark using a green LED headlight.

    In the past when switching from mice to rats I would thaw them together. I feel this really mixed the scent and helped in the switch. I've always had good luck doing that. Not that you are equipped to do that right now.

    Does that pet store not carry frozen rats so you can buy a few at some point? Instead of having to get live.
    I didn't think about that. Next time I'll try warming it up in hot water without a bag, maybe that will help keep it warmer for longer. I just figured it's more natural if the rodent is dry but I have heard some BPs will only eat if the prey is wet. It's crazy! Thanks for the response

    And the pet store does carry frozen rats, at least I'm pretty sure they do, but I forgot to ask them where they had them. Again, kicking myself for that. They had a ton of awesome animals and I got distracted looking around lol!

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    Re: Baby BP strikes, constricts, but drops frozen thawed.

    Quote Originally Posted by cuteaspied View Post
    I didn't think about that. Next time I'll try warming it up in hot water without a bag, maybe that will help keep it warmer for longer. I just figured it's more natural if the rodent is dry but I have heard some BPs will only eat if the prey is wet. It's crazy! Thanks for the response

    And the pet store does carry frozen rats, at least I'm pretty sure they do, but I forgot to ask them where they had them. Again, kicking myself for that. They had a ton of awesome animals and I got distracted looking around lol!

    FYI, I never thaw rodents in plastic bags- always just directly in cool water first, until soft throughout, then in very warm water (depending on what I'm feeding- most of my snakes couldn't care less if the prey is warm, lol). I blot them off on paper towels, but they're damp when served. The water will reduce some of the rodent scent, which most snakes will adapt to & some even prefer. But yes, water immersion is the most efficient way to change the temperature of something, whether thawing initially, or warming it up after.

    In your case, if your snake prefers rats but you only have mice, & you thaw a mouse in water, the rat-scent you transfer with used rat-bedding may be more effective, & get the mouse accepted.

    I understand getting "distracted" in a pet store, but do look for frozen rats of the right size- that would probably be best anyway, as when your BP grows up, it's easier to feed just one item (rat of appropriate size) than needing to give multiple mice because one is too small for a "meal".
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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  12. #8
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    I put all my feeders in a tub and put water hot from the tap in it to thaw. This is feeders from Small to XXL rats. Once thawed I change the water out again using hot from the tap. I then take the entire tub with rats and water in my snake room and feed straight from the tub.
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  14. #9
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    Re: Baby BP strikes, constricts, but drops frozen thawed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bogertophis View Post
    FYI, I never thaw rodents in plastic bags- always just directly in cool water first, until soft throughout, then in very warm water (depending on what I'm feeding- most of my snakes couldn't care less if the prey is warm, lol). I blot them off on paper towels, but they're damp when served. The water will reduce some of the rodent scent, which most snakes will adapt to & some even prefer. But yes, water immersion is the most efficient way to change the temperature of something, whether thawing initially, or warming it up after.

    In your case, if your snake prefers rats but you only have mice, & you thaw a mouse in water, the rat-scent you transfer with used rat-bedding may be more effective, & get the mouse accepted.

    I understand getting "distracted" in a pet store, but do look for frozen rats of the right size- that would probably be best anyway, as when your BP grows up, it's easier to feed just one item (rat of appropriate size) than needing to give multiple mice because one is too small for a "meal".
    I'll definitely try this next time then, thanks!

    And I want to feed only rats but unfortunately I got the mice before I even got the BP. I didn't realize there was a "better" option between the two when I got them, which was my bad. The breeder said he could eat rats OR mice, so I assumed either one was okay. But when I got his feeding log he had never actually eaten a mouse before so..

    I just want to get at least one more meal in him before we move, and again mice are all we have. I'll try a frozen mouse again in about 5 days warming it up in hot water without a bag and see if that helps keep the heat Once we move it'll be rats from here on out.

    Quote Originally Posted by KMG View Post
    I put all my feeders in a tub and put water hot from the tap in it to thaw. This is feeders from Small to XXL rats. Once thawed I change the water out again using hot from the tap. I then take the entire tub with rats and water in my snake room and feed straight from the tub.
    Thanks for the info! I'm going to try this method next time. I hope it'll work.
    Last edited by cuteaspied; 05-13-2021 at 12:43 AM.

  15. #10
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    Nothing to worry about feeding mice. Many do when their snake needs smaller feeders..... Moving to rats once the snake needs a larger prey item. You can only feed mice so long before some snake require much more food. My big Blood Python for instance, she eats XL to XXL rats. They're around a pound each. Do you know how many mice that would be? Lol!
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