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  1. #1
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    A little insight on what to do if snake won't eat

    Hello,
    Can I get some tips/info/advice for a snake that is not eating?
    I got two BPs in June. The male ate 5+ times already. The female ate only once, a week after bringing her home. She has been offered a mouse everytime the male has. She will look interested. Guard it, even seem to get upset after it is in her enclosure for a long time when we remove it. But she isn't eating. Is there anything we can do to try to encourage her to start readily eating? I have heard some BPs can be picky, but like I said she did eat one time. We didn't change size color or anything with the mouse. It was a thawed small adult. She is still really active and sometimes looks like she is hunting.
    Last edited by JJpeep; 07-29-2021 at 10:44 AM.

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    Registered User Hugsplox's Avatar
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    Re: A little insight on what to do if snake won't eat

    How old is the female? It may be that a small adult mouse is too little/big for her so she's not going for it. It would also help us give you some guidance if you could share some info about your set up and how you prepare the feeder.

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    First question has to be: how much are you handling this snake? Good rule to follow: NO handling until a snake eats at least 3 meals for you at normal intervals, without any refusals (unless in shed cycle, then don't expect them to eat & don't even offer, just wait until they're done shedding).

    Everybody that buys a pet snake can't wait to hold them, but remember that the only thing in the wild that normally picks them up is a PREDATOR that's about to EAT THEM! So needless to say, fear tends to ruin their appetite for food. You must always let them "be a snake first". Eating is Job #1.

    Another thing: how often are you offering food to this snake? If they refuse a meal, don't offer again for a week, as offering too frequently just stresses them into refusing. If they refuse after a week a few times, then wait 2 weeks before offering again. Also make SURE their enclosure isn't in a busy location, with too much activity & vibrations or other pets (dogs & cats) nearby that might be intimidating them. New snakes need privacy & time to "settle in"- some just need less than others, just like all humans aren't the same either.

    Feed at night- that's when BPs hunt in the wild.

    Understand they're ambush-predators- so if your BP is cruising the cage, it's unlikely they'll eat. Best to offer when they're peeking out of their hide in the evening- that's their idea of "hunting".

    BPs rely on their heat-sensing pits to find prey. This is crucial for most of them, that if you feed f/t (or even freshly pre-killed) rodents, they are very warm when you offer them. Many find success using a blow-dryer to give dead prey some life-like warmth so the BP will "recognize it" as if live prey.

    Some snakes are shyer than others- dim the lights in the room when you feed, & try to be as invisible as you can manage. Use feeding tongs, don't over-do the motion (when you wiggle the prey to get the BP to strike), and it might even help to cover the snake's "view" by covering the enclosure with a towel or tape up paper temporarily so she's not distracted by you nearby.

    Understand that BPs are predators, yes, but they are vulnerable when eating to predators that want to eat THEM. If they feel too exposed, they won't eat. That also brings us to your set-up: right temperatures? enough hides & the right types? etc. We cannot offer suggestions to improve what we can't see.
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 07-29-2021 at 01:02 PM.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
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    First of all. Thanks for responding. Every little bit helps. I will get all the information you need to give me more suggestions.
    We only handled her on time, (for me to take pics of her) since being home. She isn't in a shed cycle. She is a juvenile. The breeder we bought her from said fuzzy mice then in the next few weeks adults. I got them both very small adults and she at that one no problem the first time. The other mice were same size or smaller. We aren't offering too often because if not wanting to stress her out. It is funny you mentioned location of the enclosures. We just moved both snakes in a quieter area which is also a little warmer in the house.
    I'll get more information to you later on. Thanks for the responses so far.

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    She is in a smaller neodesha cage for now. With two hides. One is an over turned flower pot and a cut in half log. She has a humid hide with sphagnum moss. Her substrate is just paper towels right now. The tank is usually at about 80-85. Like I said in the above post we just moved both snakes to a quieter area of the house. Both snakes are really active and like to ball up under the over turned flower pots when they aren't wandering around the enclosures. No handling except for last weekend just to take some photos. Other than that we have had them since father's day with handle just once.

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    Re: A little insight on what to do if snake won't eat

    Quote Originally Posted by JJpeep View Post
    She is in a smaller neodesha cage for now. With two hides. One is an over turned flower pot and a cut in half log. She has a humid hide with sphagnum moss. Her substrate is just paper towels right now. The tank is usually at about 80-85. Like I said in the above post we just moved both snakes to a quieter area of the house. Both snakes are really active and like to ball up under the over turned flower pots when they aren't wandering around the enclosures. No handling except for last weekend just to take some photos. Other than that we have had them since father's day with handle just once.

    Okay, I'd improve the hides, first of all. BPs feel insecure in hides that are too high (as I suspect your flower pot is), or in hides that are open-ended (pretty much useless for a "sense of security"- nice cage decor, but tree bark tunnels are NOT "hides"). In nature, they prefer places they can squeeze into- places that offer "back pressure" (a snug feeling so they know predators can't sneak up on them) so you want to give them hides with only one doorway that's not over-sized, that have a low ceiling & one that they will just fit into so they feel snug & safe.

    There's a good reason why this type of hide is so popular: https://www.reptilebasics.com/images...mbs/mdhide.jpg But I'm not trying to endorse a specific brand here, just showing you what is optimal. (they make all sizes too: https://www.reptilebasics.com/hide-boxes ) You'll see many fancy 'hides' around for higher prices that may look cool to you, but still won't make your snake happy. Happy snakes EAT...nervous ones don't. These type of hides are a fairly heavy plastic- easy to clean/sanitize. (If you get hides that have room for a snake to "grow into", you can make them seem smaller for the time being by stuffing in some paper towels, etc.)

    That's good you've provided a humid hide too, btw- But for the regular cool & warm side hides, you want 2 identical hides (preferably) because your snake will choose the one that feels the most secure rather than the one that provides the temperature they need to digest or otherwise function. You want them to choose based on temperature need rather than security, because they'll mostly choose security over the right temperature, & if it's too cool to digest, they may end up regurgitating their meal- NOT what you want to happen.

    Clean cereal boxes with doorways cut in them would honestly be better hides than the 2 you're using (flower pot & log hide), but of course they get dirty & would require replacing, & being of lightweight cardboard, they don't feel as secure to a snake that coils up inside as one with a little more weight to it (like the plastic ones); remember they like "back pressure" to feel cozy.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
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    Okay cool. Do you suggest I work on the hides first?
    I was actually looking into getting them new enclosures. I was reading that juvenile BPs need 20L and adults need 40. Does this ring true? They are only babies right now. Since they like to feel snug and secure, what is the best type of tank in your opinions???

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    Re: A little insight on what to do if snake won't eat

    Quote Originally Posted by JJpeep View Post
    Okay cool. Do you suggest I work on the hides first?
    I was actually looking into getting them new enclosures. I was reading that juvenile BPs need 20L and adults need 40. Does this ring true? They are only babies right now. Since they like to feel snug and secure, what is the best type of tank in your opinions???
    Yes, hides & making the whole enclosure/tank feel safe & cozy (some say "cluttered") is most important. If it has glass sides (like a tank), you can also cover the outside with paper- taped on for added privacy, at least while a snake "settles in" & feeds reliably, in order to minimize their stress- otherwise, as far as they know (relying only on their instincts & poor eyesight, remember) they assume that "big monster in the room nearby" is a predator coming after them. They don't know or understand that they've hit the jackpot & now have "room service", lol. They assume the worst, until they LEARN we're safe to be with- it takes time & our patience. BPs in the wild are nocturnal ambush-predators- they hide most of the time, & don't hunt out in the open, or something else may "get" them for dinner. Likewise, the only thing in the wild that picks them up is normally a predator, & since fear is an appetite-killer, that's why you don't handle a new snake until they're feeding reliably. OK?

    Furthermore, changing enclosures right now will ADD to the stress. I would NOT do that, I'd fix the hides, add furnishings & minimize "the view". Eating is JOB #1 for a young BP, otherwise you won't even need a cage. Avoid making big changes right now- just provide the right kind of hides, maybe add some "cover" inside the enclosure (many use fake plants & vines), as well as outside (cover some or most of his "view"), & be patient.

    There is some variation on the best size, & keep in mind that most BP breeders use smaller plastic "tubs", & that even a 20L will seem huge to a hatchling BP. I'm primarily a colubrid keeper these days, though I've had experience with about 10 BPs in years past- I much prefer glass tanks for what I do, but to keep in the humidity for a BP, you'll need to cover most of the screen top on a tank for a BP, so make sure that's really your best option before you commit to that. Most experienced BP-keepers here prefer modified tubs (& "rack systems") when raising BPs, & the plastic/PVC professionally made enclosures (with minimal air-flow) for pet BPs. For reference, I'd agree that a 40 gal. is a good "size" for an adult BP in general- but that's a long way off. Keep in mind that female BPs usually attain a larger size (4-5'+) than males do (3.5-4'), but they also grow their whole lifetime (though much slower) & that can be many years. (I think the record so far is about 47 years of age, though 20-30 is more likely, & just like with humans, there's a wide range depending on genes, good luck/good care, & good health.)
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

  11. #9
    Registered User arpowell's Avatar
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    When it comes to new hides, if you have trouble finding something appropriate, it's easy to DIY hides out of plastic food storage containers. I find black plastic containers at Walmart, turn em upside down, and cut a hole in the side for the snake to enter through. You want to make sure it's made of black plastic instead of clear so the snake feels secure. They work like a charm and come in plenty of sizes so you can usually find some the perfect size for your snake and can size up easily as they grow. I think I paid something like three dollars for my snake's current hides, and they work perfectly if you can't find any good hides at your local pet stores or don't want to pay a lot for a hide they'll outgrow anyway.

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    Re: A little insight on what to do if snake won't eat

    Quote Originally Posted by arpowell View Post
    When it comes to new hides, if you have trouble finding something appropriate, it's easy to DIY hides out of plastic food storage containers. I find black plastic containers at Walmart, turn em upside down, and cut a hole in the side for the snake to enter through. You want to make sure it's made of black plastic instead of clear so the snake feels secure. They work like a charm and come in plenty of sizes so you can usually find some the perfect size for your snake and can size up easily as they grow. I think I paid something like three dollars for my snake's current hides, and they work perfectly if you can't find any good hides at your local pet stores or don't want to pay a lot for a hide they'll outgrow anyway.
    I've never seen black food containers but I'll take your word for it & sure, many things can work for "hides", as long as they meet the basic size & privacy needs of the snake. I use the semi-opaque food containers as humid hides for my snakes, & as you mentioned, I just cut a doorway into them. (Cutting them is not always easy though, some will crack.)
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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