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  1. #1
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    Ball Python problem feeder

    I had always wanted a large snake so eventually I ended up at Reptile Rescue in Richmond BC Canada to see what was available because a baby snake was $150 at the time so with acceptable tank etc it was going to be a lot more than I had available at the time. Time was 2015. My good luck was that they were overflowing with Ball Pythons and I got a 4ft for $20. I was overjoyed and brought my precious home.

    I was told that she was a "problem feeder" and it was difficult to get her to take a frozen thawed rat. Well I tried that and then thought that since snakes do not eat something they have not killed normally I got some small live rats. After some hesitation she started taking them. Problem was that if she did not eat for a while the rats would get too big for her. Everyone that supposedly "knows" these things told me they would only eat South African rats but that turned out to be untrue. She would eat them but they zoom around enough to freak her out. Regular rats were better but she could be fussy too.

    So I thought since snakes eat pretty much whatever is moving past them that will fit down their mouths I got some mice. Well, THAT went well. After a bit of initial confusion she dove in. She is now a little over 5ft long and turns out she prefers to eat once a year, not every week like everyone has told me. That said last year about this time she ate 34mice a couple of days apart over a few weeks and then stopped eating until now. As of a couple of weeks ago she has begun feeding again and has so far taken a dozen and will likely take at least that many more. She is thick and healthy all the time.

    I was also told that live feeding was dangerous for them and they could get hurt. Well THAT was another untruth. I drop a mouse in front of her hide and it is doing well if it gets 3 steps before its wrapped up. Damn she is FAST. Blink and you missed it. So far she has taken well over 60 mice and there is NO time for them to bite or scratch her. Now when she is hungry when I come close to the tank she will come right out of her hide and put her nose right up to the crack in the front doors and wait for me to drop in a mouse. I never thought that reptiles were much in the way of learners but she is VERY clear she wants food.

    I have her in a 40gal double door glass tank with a screened lid and she seems to be quite comfortable and is ok with being handled occasionally. I call her a "her" because she is apparently a fair bit longer than a male would be. After she stops eating for a while I put a 9in dog dish in her cage because she likes to soak sometime and I think that has to do with loosening up her skin to shed which she does several times a year these days. A friend named her Monty before I figured out she might be a she. Monty Python is alive and well. Full natural colours and I really dig the purple sheen she throws off when her skin is fresh.
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 06-18-2022 at 04:18 PM. Reason: fixed typo & added spacing to make it easier to read

  2. #2
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    I'm glad that you worked things out and that it seems to be working for you.

    Some of the things that YOU feel are untrue are actually well known for horrific injuries. If you had left a rat in there and your snake was in a fast... What do you think the rat would look to eat? If you leave hungry mice and rats around they will resort to cannibalism. In a cage with a snake that won't eat them? They can injure your snake.

    I saw a milksnake who had it's tongue bitten off and numerous scars due to being left for a weekend with a live mouse in the cage.

    My own ball python, a male who is 5 feet and 2600 grams was a live only feeder for many years. There have been times where he has been bit while wrapped. Thankfully never badly, but I am always there to watch when any snake is live fed to see where the bite can be and treat if necessary


    You have been extremely lucky. Yes, only eating ASF rats is usually only when imported or when started on them... But some of your other discoveries listed here can cause a lot of harm in someone else's care.
    Last edited by Armiyana; 06-18-2022 at 06:26 PM.

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  4. #3
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    Re: Ball Python problem feeder

    Quote Originally Posted by bogie View Post
    ...

    I was also told that live feeding was dangerous for them and they could get hurt. Well THAT was another untruth....
    Nope, it's quite true. I'm not saying a snake will get hurt every time, but sooner or later, the "odds" catch up with them. What do you think happens when snakes get older? They, like every other creature, slow down, & their chance of injuries increase. In the wild, where no one's watching, & no one's there to provide medical care, they get bit & that turns into an infection that can ultimately kill them. Slowly & painfully. This happens to pets too, & since snakes are very stoic, minor bites often go unnoticed until an infection is quite serious.

    Some snakes are naturally better at making kills than others, just like some kids are better at playing baseball. But ANY snake can slip now & then when their grip isn't quite right, & rodents squirm- a snake can get seriously injured by any live rodent. And rodents carry plenty of germs. Preventing the pain of injuries & infections is the right thing to do for the pets we love- but if you insist on finding out the hard way, sooner or later you'll discover how expensive good vet care is for your snake. Don't say no one told you. And treating infections can require many painful injections to your snake also- that can affect their trust in you- their attitude.

    Another thing that happens after snakes are fed live & get bit, is that they may refuse to eat their usual prey- either rodents of the same kind, or even the same color, from then on. That can become very inconvenient.

    Most of us think our snakes are beautiful creatures, & that scars detract from that. But if you talk to any exotic animal veterinarian, they can fill you in on the horror stories of snakes they've had to treat & tried to save. Snakes have had their eyes & heads chewed into after being left with a hungry rat, or their tails chewed off, & some have even been chewed down to the bone, to their spine- requiring euthanasia. All because their owners thought it was easier or cooler to feed live prey.

    BTW, that "purple sheen" is called iridescence.
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 06-18-2022 at 07:27 PM.
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  6. #4
    BPnet Senior Member GoingPostal's Avatar
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    I would really recommend you look at your husbandry because chances are the reason your snake only eats once a year is something correctable. I also would never feed that many rodents in a feeding and it's best to wait 10-14 days in between feedings to let the snake digest. Otherwise you are really risking serious issues, regurge or all that food rotting inside before it's able to be digested. I'm not clear on why you would think live feeding can't be dangerous simply because it hasn't been dangerous to your snake yet?

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    Re: Ball Python problem feeder

    Quote Originally Posted by GoingPostal View Post
    I also would never feed that many rodents in a feeding and it's best to wait 10-14 days in between feedings to let the snake digest.
    I will disagree a little bit. I don't know exactly how many they are feeding at a time, but personally if I had a mouser female like that I wouldn't feed only 10-12 days apart. A mouse is such a small meal for a large adult female. They'll digest them a bit quicker as well.


    It would take a bit of time to figure out the exact schedule for the individual snake, but I had a smaller male who would only take rat fuzzies for a while even at 700 grams. So we did one fuzzy every 4-5 days to make sure he had some time to digest between meals. But again. It takes a while because you don't want to start throwing meals that quickly because they need to build up that stomach acid. Start on a 10 day week and every other week cut it back by one day sort of thing
    In the case of a large adult female like this I'd probably see if I could get them to eat one mouse every 3-4 days vs trying to feed multiple mice in one meal. Or at the most 2 mice every 4-5 days.

    Of course, once the snake is a good body weight, you can test and see just how much they'll maintain in body weight when spacing out food a bit.
    Last edited by Armiyana; 06-19-2022 at 04:44 PM.

  9. #6
    BPnet Senior Member GoingPostal's Avatar
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    Re: Ball Python problem feeder

    Quote Originally Posted by Armiyana View Post
    I will disagree a little bit. I don't know exactly how many they are feeding at a time, but personally if I had a mouser female like that I wouldn't feed only 10-12 days apart. A mouse is such a small meal for a large adult female. They'll digest them a bit quicker as well.
    Considering they mentioned 34 mice over the course of a few days, I think it's pretty safe to say that's too many. Even over a few weeks, that's way too many. It sounds like they are feeding a good dozen at a time and then repeating this several times over a few weeks? Some clarification would help.

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  11. #7
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    Re: Ball Python problem feeder

    Quote Originally Posted by GoingPostal View Post
    Considering they mentioned 34 mice over the course of a few days, I think it's pretty safe to say that's too many. Even over a few weeks, that's way too many. It sounds like they are feeding a good dozen at a time and then repeating this several times over a few weeks? Some clarification would help.
    Yeah, that sounds like an awful lot to me too. But years ago, when I took in a mature under-fed & much-under-weight rosy boa* from a nature museum where she was too stressed to eat (for a few years!), she actually ate 40 mice in one month, in her first month with me- BUT, many of those were fuzzy mice for easy digestion & certain appeal- she was plenty warm -for a change - so she could digest well, & she was finally able to relax in my home environment, & slowly gain some of her weight back. (*for reference, rosy boas are small desert/coastal snakes- adult females get to about 40" long)

    Still, by later that month, she was putting away adult mice- her appetite with me seemed to know no bounds for a while. So there are some exceptions, where "you just have to be there"- to know whether or not you're feeding a snake the right way, but since many people who visit our forum may be new snake-keepers, it does help to mention this is not "the usual way it's done" & would NOT normally be recommended. (And it always helps to see the actual size of the prey compared to the size of the snake.) And after the first month with me, that rosy boa was fed at more normal intervals & more normal amounts- happily she made a good recovery & lived many years with me.

    For anyone interested in rosy boas, I'll just add that it's not unusual for an adult reproductive female to eat 2 or 3 mice in one sitting in the summer months, but bear in mind that they also go off feed to brumate thru the winter. The male rosy boas don't eat as much, nor do they get quite as big as the females- they stay around 30".
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 06-19-2022 at 06:50 PM.
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  13. #8
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    Re: Ball Python problem feeder

    Quote Originally Posted by GoingPostal View Post
    Considering they mentioned 34 mice over the course of a few days, I think it's pretty safe to say that's too many. Even over a few weeks, that's way too many. It sounds like they are feeding a good dozen at a time and then repeating this several times over a few weeks? Some clarification would help.

    Quote Originally Posted by bogie
    she actually ate 40 mice in one month

    Quote Originally Posted by bogie
    34mice a couple of days apart over a few weeks


    They're not feeding 34 mice a day. It's maybe two mice 3-4 days apart for a month or so from the sound of it.

    Again, some clarification is needed, but unlikely given OP's history here
    Last edited by Armiyana; 06-19-2022 at 09:03 PM.

  14. #9
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    Also going to add that weight wise... 40 large mice is only about 6 medium size rats.

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