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  1. #1
    Registered User arpowell's Avatar
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    How to help BP stop trying to eat sideways?

    So, this isn't a huge deal at all, but I was wondering if you all had any tips for what I might be able to do to help my ball python get her food down head first.

    She's on appropriately sized f/t mice (she weighs 165g and is on small mice) and is a really fantastic eater, she has a crazy good food response. But no matter how I present the mouse to her, she almost always tries to eat it sideways. After I just watched her try to eat it for 45 minutes, starting out sideways, drop it, lose it, find it again, try to eat it by the front leg, drop it again, and finally get it down tail-first, I just wish I knew something that could make this process easier for her!

    I never intervene while feeding (unless she totally loses it, in which case I'll warm it back up and re-offer and that usually does the trick), so I won't reach in and try to reposition it for her, but she's been really bad for trying to eat sideways the entire time I've had her. I've tried dangling the mouse by the tail and holding it by the back, but neither strategy seems to help. Like I said, she's gotten to have a great feeding response, and I think she gets so excited when she realizes it's food time that she just grabs it wherever. I've also tried making the head a bit hotter than the rest of the body, and we've only had mixed success with that. I also tried pinching the nose to make it a little bloody just in case that would make it smell a bit stronger, but since she has such a good food response anyway I don't think she even noticed.

    So, do you all have any tips for how I might be able to help my poor dumb snake manage to get her food down with less than 45 minutes of effort? Like I said, it's not a big problem since she's eating so well, but I don't really like thinking of all the bacteria that mouse is picking up while it's sitting around waiting to be swallowed for so long, and I'd like to minimize her frustration if I could.

  2. #2
    Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Unfortunately, for all of us "helicopter snarents", all you can do is try to be patient while your snake either figures it out, or doesn't.

    I have known a few snakes that no matter how I offer the prey from the tongs (normally nose-first) they always go for the "other end", as if just to be "difficult" & do it "their own way".

    But, you're not alone- you have all of us as a support group, hahahaha!
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 09-13-2021 at 08:12 PM.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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  4. #3
    BPnet Lifer KMG's Avatar
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    They will figure it out.
    KMG
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  5. #4
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    Re: How to help BP stop trying to eat sideways?

    My big female sometimes eats ass first I just let her crack on with what she’s doing



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  6. #5
    Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Don't feel bad. When I kept rattlesnakes, some of them would eat the rodent sideways, forcing it to fold like a taco, & they'd still get it down just fine. I had the feeling they were showing off, as if they were doing this "just because they could"? It helps to have such a big mouth.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

  7. #6
    Registered User arpowell's Avatar
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    Haha, good to know I'm not alone with this struggle! I really wish she was more like my hognose - they're the ones with the reputation for trying to eat food sideways, and my hognose always puts his food away in 10 seconds flat.

    That's hilarious about the rattlesnakes! With my poor girl, I definitely get the impression she's just a bit derpy. She once missed the mouse completely and latched onto the side of her hide for a good few minutes before she realized it wasn't food...I might just have a dumb snake.

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  9. #7
    Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Snakes often look derpy when they struggle to eat, I quite agree. But remember they're not using their vision much, & they're not logical, so it's mostly done by feel & they often mistake other body parts for the nose. And some of them clearly never got the instructions at all, lol. You're definitely NOT "alone". Silly sneks.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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  11. #8
    BPnet Veteran Luvyna's Avatar
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    When my BP was little he also used to eat prey backwards and occasionally sideways. Like Bogertophis' rattlesnakes, he also once ate a rat folded over like a taco, and was totally fine. Ultimately, as long as they eat, there is no problem

    One thing that helped with my BP was heating up the head of the rat more than the body. I heat up my thawed rats in warm water for 15-20 mins, then replace the water and move the rat so only the head is left in the warm water for another minute or so before feeding.

    Also, for a young snake, if they can eat the prey backwards or sideways then that means you can probably up the size of the prey a bit - when the food is just big enough for them they can only eat it head first.

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  13. #9
    Registered User arpowell's Avatar
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    Re: How to help BP stop trying to eat sideways?

    Quote Originally Posted by Luvyna View Post
    One thing that helped with my BP was heating up the head of the rat more than the body. I heat up my thawed rats in warm water for 15-20 mins, then replace the water and move the rat so only the head is left in the warm water for another minute or so before feeding.

    Also, for a young snake, if they can eat the prey backwards or sideways then that means you can probably up the size of the prey a bit - when the food is just big enough for them they can only eat it head first.
    I'll try that method of heating up the head a bit more, thanks for the advice!

    The prey being too small was definitely my first thought. She's right on the edge of small/medium mouse sizes right now, and I tried moving her up to medium a few weeks ago and she refused, which is very unusual for her, so I'm going to use up the pack of smalls I have now and then we'll try to move up a size again. She's never managed to get it down sideways, but she does eat it backwards pretty frequently. I'm hoping you're right and she'll have an easier time when we move up a size!
    Last edited by arpowell; 09-13-2021 at 09:36 PM.

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    Luvyna (09-14-2021)

  15. #10
    Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Some of this just comes down to "practice makes perfect". Your snake is still in kindergarten- she has a lot to learn.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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