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  1. #1
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    Only eaten about 3 times in 5 months

    Hey all,

    My ball python (I think two months old when I got him in August, measuring 135g when measured in September) was eating live baby rats for the first several
    weeks until I had a failed feeding where the baby rat was too old and I think bit the python. The rat got away (and is now my pet) and I didnít see any marks or injury after but shortly after the python had a stuck shed that may have been from the bite.

    I transitioned to frozen/thawed (this would be about October now) and was not succeeding. Someone DMíed me the hair dryer method (let it thaw at room temperature for a couple hours, use a hair dryer to heat it up, offer it to the snake, blast it with the hair dryer every few minutes). I got a success the first time and then since then I think Iíve only had success about two more times.

    She entered into another shed a couple months ago so I left her alone for a little while. And a month ago I offered the rat with the above method and left it in the tank and accidentally left it overnight and she ended up eating it over night. I tried that again last night (after many attempts to feed in real time) and didnít take the rat this time.

    im thinking that sheís been spooked from the bite and is now very timid. She will tongue the air and peak out from her hide and get within an inch or so of the rat, seems interested, but doesnít take. A few times will even leave her hide out the back and go to the other side.

    Habitat wise I think the only think that is lacking if Iíve been slacking on keeping the humidity right but Iím recommitting to spraying everyday.

    the size rats I am using are Ďsmallí and definitely within her size limits. Should I try live again? Perhaps pinkies and if she takes to that then do multiple ones? What about trying mice? I know they arenít the preferred nutrition but early on I fed her mice and sheíd take down two (one presented at a time).

    I know ball pythons are notorious for not eating for a while but sheís young and it seems like this is a result of a learned fear and I fear that fear might be stronger than the urge to eat.

  2. #2
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    Iíve also tried braining. Didnít help and the times she has taken it I havenít brained

  3. #3
    Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Young snakes need food! Yours is not eating enough & feeding is "JOB #1" right now, so yes, I'd personally go back to live if needed, but maybe try live mice instead- ONLY with eyes closed, so it won't be large enough, but should give your snake some essential nutrition along with much needed confidence to eat.

    Note: mice & rats with eyes closed do NOT bite back in self defense. Do NOT use "pinkies"- you want fuzzies- w/ eyes closed- or rat pups with EYES CLOSED! But since your snake was likely bit by a rat- she may never want them again- that's on you now, & she may need to eat mice (or other prey) for life.

    Most BPs started on mice are started with hopper mice as the right meal size- they're young but larger with eyes open- they WILL bite back. Don't risk that right now, but consider that if your snake likes (accepts) mice of any size ("fuzzy"), that may be your ticket to feeding her. I would regard a live fuzzy mouse as an "appetizer"- & if she takes one or several, she may go on to accept pre-killed mice (either f/t warmed mice or f/k- fresh killed) of a more appropriate size. She might even take a f/t small rat pup after taking a live mouse fuzzy successfully, if you do this right. > >

    Have the f/t rodent thawed & ready to go. When a snake eats one small live thing, they're often pumped up enough to grab the next thing offered right after they swallow the first thing. Keep it low-key though- don't jiggle it too vigorously- that scares many snakes- & keep any motion subtle & see if you can train her using fuzzy mice to just get her eating- okay? (For best results feed in evening hours- dim light- don't move around a lot, that distracts a snake from eating.)

    Good luck! Most likely, your snake will NOT want rats again- & right now, she needs to EAT to survive. So don't risk feeding any rats now, not until she's eating for a long time on mice & has a good body weight. Then & only then, if you want to risk a steady feeder* to try rats again, that's up to you. (*assuming you get her going on mice now).

    Rats with eyes open ARE intelligent, defensive & scary- they bite hard. I don't blame your snake one bit- a "baby" BP should never be fed a "young rat" that has it's eyes open & bites back in self defense- not if you value your pet. You're lucky she wasn't badly injured or even killed by the rat. In the wild, young snakes don't always make it- taking on prey that's too tough for their skills is one of many reasons.
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 02-25-2023 at 02:23 PM.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

  4. #4
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    Re: Only eaten about 3 times in 5 months

    Quote Originally Posted by MedicalAuthor View Post
    Habitat wise I think the only think that is lacking if Iíve been slacking on keeping the humidity right but Iím recommitting to spraying everyday.
    Usually, if your snake isn't eating, it comes down to basic husbandry. So, please post pics and a description of your current set up. Include warm side, cool side and basking temps, and humidity. Also, describe your handling practices. Thank you.
    1.0 Normal Ball Python (2019 - 2021)
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  6. #5
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    20 gallon tank. Overhead heater and under the tank heater. Main thing is moisture, which I've only recently tried to be more diligent with. Was regular in the beginning but have fallen.

    We don't handle her much. Once a month, if that. I try to let my son hold her but even if she's sitting in his lap while he's reading if she comes out of her ball position she's in strike position.


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    Re: Only eaten about 3 times in 5 months

    Why isn't the screen top covered? What's in the heat lamp (bulb, CHE, DHP)? Is the heat lamp regulated by a thermostat?
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  9. #7
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    Moonlight 60w in the lamp. Not regulated by thermostat. The under heater is. So, a little background:

    I originally just had an overhead heater and did aluminum covering. Then was suggested here that I get an under the tank heater to help with humidity. But the under the tank heater wasn't making it warm enough. So I ended up keeping the over the top as well and never put the aluminum back.

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  11. #8
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    Re: Only eaten about 3 times in 5 months

    Quote Originally Posted by MedicalAuthor View Post
    Moonlight 60w in the lamp. Not regulated by thermostat.
    O.K. I advise you to cover the screen top. This will help you retain humidity and heat. Put the heat lamp on a thermostat. Since the thermostat will turn your light on and off and that may stress your BP, I suggest you replace the bulb with a CHE or DHP. Since the heat lamp is regulating ambient temperature, I would set the thermostat to 27C. Hopefully, this will bring both your temps and humidity to the proper levels, and make your BP more inclined to feed.
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  13. #9
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    So, I got two live mice fuzzies today, eyes closed, and the python went after both of them (offered about 30 minutes apart) relatively quickly. I had a thawed small rat ready after the second feed, and the python was already poised at the hide entrance.

    He seemed to be interested in the rat for about 5 seconds and then turned away and retreated into the hide.

    My thoughts are that this is a clear indication that the snake is actively averse to the rats.

    1) Would you try live, eyes closed rats again? In case this is an issue of live versus f/t and not specifically an aversion to rats? Does anyone feed multiples of eyes closed/fuzzy rats even to grown pythons to avoid the danger that comes with live feeding?

    2) Are live, full grown mice just as dangerous? Early on, he took down two live mice back to back and seemed like it was without any fight.

    3) It seems like the logical next step may be to try f/t full grown mice to see if he takes that. If mice end up being the diet, what are the health/notable implications for what I can expect from how it will affect my python?

    And also, a small clarification above: I was trying to feed my snake really young rats, hoppers or fuzzies, and that last time got a rat that I I didn't realize was more mature. I thin this was in response to me getting a rat that seemed way too small the week before. Anyway, I have used 'small' rats since starting f/t but before that was mostly keeping to the eyes mostly closed and this last failure was the most mature.

  14. #10
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    have tried presenting the prey item and leaving it? this has worked p well with the African pythons (P. sebae, P. regius, P. anchietae) that I’ve kept - an easier way to increase/maintain humidity without decreasing air flow would be to switch to substrates which can both absorb and also retain water for longer periods of time than say cocofiber which absorbs water easily but gives it up just as quick - a good admixture is raw peat mixed with eco-earth
    Last edited by YungRasputin; 03-05-2023 at 12:02 AM.
    het for nothing but groovy

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