Vote for BP.Net for the 2013 Forum of the Year! Click here for more info.

» Site Navigation

» Home
 > FAQ

» Online Users: 2,083

1 members and 2,082 guests
Most users ever online was 6,337, 01-24-2020 at 04:30 AM.

» Today's Birthdays

» Stats

Members: 74,623
Threads: 248,289
Posts: 2,567,248
Top Poster: JLC (31,651)
Welcome to our newest member, Crawl8099
Results 1 to 9 of 9
  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    09-14-2012
    Posts
    170
    Thanks
    82
    Thanked 46 Times in 28 Posts

    Can I help him get up to size and weight?

    I bought a ball python (not my first one) over a year ago, but he was really insecure no matter what I did for him. The breeder said he was pissy. But he's also particular about the size of the rat he eats and overall very stubborn. I tried a bunch of things to get him to calm down and feel secure.

    Anyway, this has caused issues with his growing ability as he's constantly refused food for much of the first year though he'd eat on and off again given the "correct" conditions. Honestly, don't know how he stayed alive under that.

    He's smaller than he should be and hasn't grown as much as he should.

    I solved his feeding and security issues, and he's now regularly eating.

    My question is, should I feed him more often for his size, or switch to an adult schedule? He's willing to eat more often now that he's finally calmed down and isn't on edge anymore. i.e. stick to a baby feeding schedule, or switch to an adult one.

  2. #2
    Bogertophis's Avatar
    Join Date
    04-28-2018
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    19,874
    Thanks
    27,667
    Thanked 19,240 Times in 11,556 Posts
    That's hard to answer since we don't have the facts (his actual size & weight, & that of his prey), and how often you're actually feeding him- we only have your general observations.

    It's best NOT to overfeed a snake (or any other creature) because they only pack on excess weight (fat) that can be unhealthy (cause fatty liver disease, etc). Snakes are healthier when allowed to grow slowly, as they do in the wild, where meals are a lot harder to come by & a lot more work to catch. Remember that our pets are less active than they'd be in the wild. Also- male BPs tend to eat more regularly when their prey is on the small side: in adult BPs, the females may take up to a medium sized rat, whereas the males do much better (& feed regularly for most) when not fed anything larger than a small rat (or adult mouse).

    It sounds to me like your snake is already trying to tell you something- ie. when he's had enough. But with any young snake, it's also true that you need to gradually upsize their meals, & you can do that in one of 2 ways: by feeding slightly larger prey, or with meals that are slightly closer together. Be careful about doing the latter though- your snake still needs enough time to fully digest each meal (otherwise they can regurgitate the whole mess, & set things backwards), so it's best not to feed more often than once every 7 days- and that only applies to the smaller prey your snake is eating now- when they're adults, larger prey can take longer to fully digest. You get a better feeding response anyway when the snake is actually hungry.

    Much of the problem is our own human perception of what our snake should look like. It's pretty common for keepers to want to see faster growth in their snakes- but snakes grow slowly. Young snakes tend to not look "filled out" because every time they grow just a bit, that includes a bit of length, so their girth never seems to catch up. You need to be patient. Snakes are also individuals- some naturally want to eat more than others.

    Now, after all that- if you care to fill in the information gaps, we can better advise you. Keep in mind that pushing a hesitant "insecure" snake like this to eat more can simply backfire. At least he's now feeding- some snakes can really be frustrating for a while, but most outgrow it.
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 09-26-2023 at 01:26 PM.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    09-14-2012
    Posts
    170
    Thanks
    82
    Thanked 46 Times in 28 Posts
    I tried to offer to him on a once-a-week schedule the first year--which was what the breeder said. But he was snippy, and would hiss every time I put my hand in his enclosure and then ignore the prey item. As in full body hiss. Got to the point I thought he would never eat when I got him, because it was over a week of settling down (He took over a month and still was acting insecure by hissing and trying to strike at me--I didn't try to take him out for a while to see if he'd settle down.) and he wouldn't eat. I tried live prey, but if the prey item was too big, he wouldn't eat it. I tried much smaller prey items, but he wouldn't take them and ignored them, so I ended up trying to convert him to frozen-thawed, but he was much more stubborn than the other snakes about frozen-thawed. I had to go back and get him live rats (like the breeder gave him) a few times. It had to be exactly to the size he wanted it--not too big, not too small. The other ball pythons I bought that year didn't care.

    I own other BPs and never had this issue before. It's only him. My oldest snake never cared about prey size that much, if it's a rat pup she'll eat it.

    This meant a few months of him not eating sometimes as I struggled to try to get the right size and get him to eat ('cause only eats live and the pet store didn't always have the size he wanted which had to be exact.). I named him Adonis because of how picky he is. I tried to change the size of his hides too. Basically psychological issues led him to feeling stressed all the time and not eating, even though I didn't do anything to further that.

    So in all of that time, he's only about double his baby size. The other snakes I bought in the same time frame are now taking small rats easily. He's only up to about weaned (3.5" - 4.5"). He refuses small rats (4.5" - 6.0"). It's his way or nothing. When he switched from rat pups to weaned, he stopped taking rat pups completely. --;; And it took me a while to figure out I had to size up to get him to eat again rather than him hunger striking. He half the size of the male that wasn't so insecure and pissy I bought at the same time.

    I also bought a female at the same time period, after him, and she's 3 times his size. She also begs for food and I have to ignore her. She's only refused twice.

    So should I keep him to a once a week schedule, or switch him to every two weeks like the other adult ball pythons? He's back to eating regularly and isn't showing the signs of stress he had in his first year. (I don't handle him that often since he's really sensitive).

    I'm not taking him out to weigh him because he ate yesterday and he needs time to digest.

  4. #4
    BPnet Veteran
    Join Date
    06-07-2018
    Posts
    932
    Thanks
    1,145
    Thanked 1,709 Times in 759 Posts
    Images: 7
    What kind of caging setup do you have for him? If he's still that stressed out whenever you approach him.... it may be time to re-evaluate his housing.
    I have one girl who I absolutely cannot keep in an open front housing of any type. Even with hide boxes. She will strike at everything and anything and sound exactly like your little man's actions. She is.... a tubdweller. 100%. She doesn't even like having a hide in there and just pushes it towards the front. But she's eating well...and while still defensive about handling, is not nearly as defensive right off the bat. She was already a yearling when I purchased her. And she grew like a weed once I figured out her caging preferences

  5. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Armiyana For This Useful Post:

    Bogertophis (09-26-2023),GoldSheep (09-26-2023)

  6. #5
    Bogertophis's Avatar
    Join Date
    04-28-2018
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    19,874
    Thanks
    27,667
    Thanked 19,240 Times in 11,556 Posts

    Re: Can I help him get up to size and weight?

    Quote Originally Posted by GoldSheep View Post
    I tried to offer to him on a once-a-week schedule the first year--which was what the breeder said. But he was snippy, and would hiss every time I put my hand in his enclosure and then ignore the prey item. As in full body hiss. Got to the point I thought he would never eat when I got him, because it was over a week of settling down (He took over a month and still was acting insecure by hissing and trying to strike at me--I didn't try to take him out for a while to see if he'd settle down.) and he wouldn't eat. I tried live prey, but if the prey item was too big, he wouldn't eat it. I tried much smaller prey items, but he wouldn't take them and ignored them, so I ended up trying to convert him to frozen-thawed, but he was much more stubborn than the other snakes about frozen-thawed. I had to go back and get him live rats (like the breeder gave him) a few times. It had to be exactly to the size he wanted it--not too big, not too small. The other ball pythons I bought that year didn't care.

    I own other BPs and never had this issue before. It's only him. My oldest snake never cared about prey size that much, if it's a rat pup she'll eat it.

    This meant a few months of him not eating sometimes as I struggled to try to get the right size and get him to eat ('cause only eats live and the pet store didn't always have the size he wanted which had to be exact.). I named him Adonis because of how picky he is. I tried to change the size of his hides too. Basically psychological issues led him to feeling stressed all the time and not eating, even though I didn't do anything to further that.

    So in all of that time, he's only about double his baby size. The other snakes I bought in the same time frame are now taking small rats easily. He's only up to about weaned (3.5" - 4.5"). He refuses small rats (4.5" - 6.0"). It's his way or nothing. When he switched from rat pups to weaned, he stopped taking rat pups completely. --;; And it took me a while to figure out I had to size up to get him to eat again rather than him hunger striking. He half the size of the male that wasn't so insecure and pissy I bought at the same time.

    I also bought a female at the same time period, after him, and she's 3 times his size. She also begs for food and I have to ignore her. She's only refused twice.

    So should I keep him to a once a week schedule, or switch him to every two weeks like the other adult ball pythons? He's back to eating regularly and isn't showing the signs of stress he had in his first year. (I don't handle him that often since he's really sensitive).

    I'm not taking him out to weigh him because he ate yesterday and he needs time to digest.
    My thoughts- in order of your comments above:

    Feeding young BPs once a week is typical- but you should be using long feeding tongs -not putting your warm & wiggling hand in there- because to a snake with heat sensing pits, your hand & arm registers as a potential predator nearby. So no wonder he reacted as he did- many snakes don't, or some will chase you instead, but that's how your snake sees things, so you'll have to take that into account. Also BPs usually respond best when fed at night- keeping the room light low, with minimal activity from you.

    Not feeding a new snake for the first week or two is normal, to allow them to de-stress. We also HIGHLY recommend not handling a snake until after it's feeding easily for you, at least 3 times for best results. That's because handling instinctively scares a snake- in nature, the only thing that picks them up is a predator, about to eat them. This particular snake is on the sensitive side- you've perhaps gotten lucky with others in the past.

    New snakes should always be fed the same way & with same kind & size of prey as they were previously- when you kept trying new things that added stress he didn't need. Try to imagine being in your snake's place- his whole world changed when you got him- that alone freaks snakes out, because in the wild, they survive by learning their way around. How would you feel if you woke up one day & recognized nothing? By the way, I've had about 10 BPs in the past- I know some are much more fussy than others, & most female snakes just eat more anyway- they have to, for breeding.

    I wouldn't keep weighing this snake, either, since you know he's easily stressed. By now you must certainly know a healthy BP when you see one? But since we're not seeing him, I have no idea if he's eating enough or not- so I can't answer whether you should feed him weekly or every other week. Personally, I'd probably lean towards feeding him every 10 days, from the size of rat you said he's eating- and based on the fact that from your description, he's hardly "adult" size.

    One other IMPORTANT thing might be going on to keep him from gaining weight: he could be sharing his meals with intestinal parasites- "worms"- Have you had your vet check his stools, ever? Since you're feeding live rodents, he can easily get worms from them- and that can also affect his personality & attitude too.

    I also agree with Armiyana's post- that his housing might need some improvements to suit his personality. Again, we're not seeing your set-up, so?
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 09-26-2023 at 06:56 PM.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

  7. The Following User Says Thank You to Bogertophis For This Useful Post:

    Armiyana (09-26-2023)

  8. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    09-14-2012
    Posts
    170
    Thanks
    82
    Thanked 46 Times in 28 Posts

    Re: Can I help him get up to size and weight?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bogertophis View Post
    My thoughts- in order of your comments above:

    Feeding young BPs once a week is typical- but you should be using long feeding tongs -not putting your warm & wiggling hand in there- because to a snake with heat sensing pits, your hand & arm registers as a potential predator nearby. So no wonder he reacted as he did- many snakes don't, or some will chase you instead, but that's how your snake sees things, so you'll have to take that into account. Also BPs usually respond best when fed at night- keeping the room light low, with minimal activity from you.

    Not feeding a new snake for the first week or two is normal, to allow them to de-stress. We also HIGHLY recommend not handling a snake until after it's feeding easily for you, at least 3 times for best results. That's because handling instinctively scares a snake- in nature, the only thing that picks them up is a predator, about to eat them. This particular snake is on the sensitive side- you've perhaps gotten lucky with others in the past.

    New snakes should always be fed the same way & with same kind & size of prey as they were previously- when you kept trying new things that added stress he didn't need. Try to imagine being in your snake's place- his whole world changed when you got him- that alone freaks snakes out, because in the wild, they survive by learning their way around. How would you feel if you woke up one day & recognized nothing? By the way, I've had about 10 BPs in the past- I know some are much more fussy than others, & most female snakes just eat more anyway- they have to, for breeding.

    I wouldn't keep weighing this snake, either, since you know he's easily stressed. By now you must certainly know a healthy BP when you see one? But since we're not seeing him, I have no idea if he's eating enough or not- so I can't answer whether you should feed him weekly or every other week. Personally, I'd probably lean towards feeding him every 10 days, from the size of rat you said he's eating- and based on the fact that from your description, he's hardly "adult" size.

    One other IMPORTANT thing might be going on to keep him from gaining weight: he could be sharing his meals with intestinal parasites- "worms"- Have you had your vet check his stools, ever? Since you're feeding live rodents, he can easily get worms from them- and that can also affect his personality & attitude too.

    I also agree with Armiyana's post- that his housing might need some improvements to suit his personality. Again, we're not seeing your set-up, so?
    I thought I would clarify here and give a better timeline...

    The first week, didn't touch him at all. But he was so stressed out, that he would hiss if I passed him (I had him in quarantine I live by myself)

    The first week, tried to feed him, refused feed, tried to strike my hand holding the tongs, rather than the live prey item (per the breeder's suggestion 'cause needed time to transition--wanted to get him up to weight after all that refusing.)

    He repeated this for the first month. So I tried to leave him alone completely, then tried feeding him again, then he ate. I followed the 3 feeding rule, and handled him to clean his bin and move him to better accommodations. i.e. Not quarantine. But he was stressed still. Habitually went on hunger strike. The only time I entered his caging was to clean up after him. But he would freak out every time, hissing and sometimes striking. I would try to talk to him and do things I've seen other ball python keepers say to do if the snake is stressed: put calm energy into him, hold him up so he could see the lay of the land. I only wanted to clean his poo and water bowl. But he'd freak out.

    I did offer a secondary smaller hide, in addition to the one he has in the hopes he'd calm down given advice. He refused to use it. After a month, I took it out.

    I switched him to frozen thawed since he was so spotty about the live prey items. And I had plans to switch all my snakes over. Which I successfully did, but he was a long hold out on live prey items (And yes, I did try to scent the frozen-thawed too). One of the last to get it. 'cause he's picky. For a while, since he did a long hunger strike, I thought he was going to die at one point, so I'm glad he's still alive. The only reason I went back to live prey was because he was getting underweight and refusing too many prey items. That was the only condition under which he would eat, but he wanted it to be a certain size every time. But I finally got him to eat frozen-thawed. That was better for him in the long run.

    I did finally solve his stress issues. He's used to me going into his cage now to give water and clean up. He's back to eating on a regular schedule. He's not refused prey items lately. But when he wanted a larger sized prey item, he went on hunger strike again. *sighs* I figured that out, sized up the prey item, and then he's back on normal schedule. (So sensitive)

    I was instructed after 1-2 years I should switch adults to a every 2 week schedule on this very forum. Which I do with my older snakes. My biggest one which is just under 6 ft eats only every other week-ish and will refuse in between that. But he's not up to size yet and since his stress levels have normalized, finally after a lot of hard work, and he's technically an adult, I'm wondering if I should keep him on a weekly schedule until he grows to a healthy size.

    BTW, I have 9 BPs total. It's just him out of the bunch--I've raised a bunch more from babies too. I put him in a tub, similar to what his breeder put him in. The breeder reported that he was this sensitive before I got him, so I used all of the tricks to get him to not be as stressed--smaller enclosure, regular schedule, do not handle, when handling calm straight forward energy, etc. And it worked. He now greets me happily looking for food rather than super stressed out and won't eat--but he's still particular about the size of his prey items. Wrong size, snubs me. I successfully got him to frozen-thawed, so the size is exactly the same, and the routine feels the same to him.

    BTW, I always feed my ball pythons at night when the automated lights go out I scheduled it to time to sundown and sunup. I only turn on the bathroom light (bathroom is nearby my animal room), which then signals to the snakes who are hungry that it's feeding time. The snakes who are interested usually come out. A few don't, but the majority do. He's become secure enough to do that now. He also no longer hisses when I pick him up to do cage cleanings. (Not changing the bedding for a year is cruel).

    I don't know why he came this level of stressed out, I've bred my snakes and produced babies, etc and none of them have ended that level of stressed. But at least he's eating back on a normal schedule.

    I'm not weighing him because he ate yesterday and handling him after he ate would make him sensitive. I've honestly not handled him that much and have't been weighing him in an effort to keep his stress levels down. But he's super sensitive.

    The preamble was to say he USED to be that way which is why he's undersized (cause and effect), but I worked really hard to try to get his stress levels down, and it worked but it still leaves me with the feeding schedule question. Keep him to a weekly schedule now he's eating normally or move him to a bi-weekly adult schedule? like my adult snakes and like this forum says to do.

  9. #7
    BPnet Veteran
    Join Date
    06-07-2018
    Posts
    932
    Thanks
    1,145
    Thanked 1,709 Times in 759 Posts
    Images: 7
    If he isn't broken at the moment.... why try to fix it?
    If you know changing things will stress him out then don't change it.

    We still don't have an idea on how large he is...just that a female is 3x his size which can be absolutely normal in BPs.
    Heck I have 3 sisters who weigh 200g, 550g and 1000g at 1 year old.

    Much of the feeding advice here is not a hard set rule. They are easy to remember guidelines. YOU know your animal best.
    I have one snake that eats once a month. Another that eats every week, but prefers mice. The important thing is that they are maintaining a proper body weight.
    Not what some chart says they should be... if he has a good lean physique, that's fine. Many BPs can be overweight, even when only eating every 14 days.

    If he's comfortable with eating once a week and isn't obese, then just let him be. If he is becoming obese, then it's time to consider those changes. But if he's doing well, that's all that matters.
    And if you want him to be bigger because of recommendations on breeding size... I would recommend against it given his temperament.the last thing you want is spicy stressed babies taking after dad.

  10. The Following User Says Thank You to Armiyana For This Useful Post:

    Bogertophis (09-26-2023)

  11. #8
    Bogertophis's Avatar
    Join Date
    04-28-2018
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    19,874
    Thanks
    27,667
    Thanked 19,240 Times in 11,556 Posts
    Agree again with Armiyana ^ ^ ^.

    BTW, I do realize that much of what you first described happened some time ago when you first got him- but I like to demystify how snakes behave not only for the you but for all others reading.

    You seem to be very bent on having a "1 or 2 week feeding schedule"- I don't understand why you'd want to feed him like an adult now yet you've indicated that (by his size) he clearly isn't one? All snakes deserve to be treated as the individuals they are- so if he spends another year in kindergarten, who really cares? Certainly not his classmates. If he's doing well being fed every week and isn't overweight then stay the course.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

  12. The Following User Says Thank You to Bogertophis For This Useful Post:

    Armiyana (09-26-2023)

  13. #9
    bcr229's Avatar
    Join Date
    03-18-2013
    Location
    Eastern WV Panhandle
    Posts
    9,477
    Thanks
    2,864
    Thanked 9,793 Times in 4,754 Posts
    Images: 34

    Re: Can I help him get up to size and weight?

    Quote Originally Posted by GoldSheep View Post
    The preamble was to say he USED to be that way which is why he's undersized (cause and effect), but I worked really hard to try to get his stress levels down, and it worked but it still leaves me with the feeding schedule question. Keep him to a weekly schedule now he's eating normally or move him to a bi-weekly adult schedule? like my adult snakes and like this forum says to do.
    Moving adult males to a two-week schedule is recommended because after two years they've typically reached their genetic size so feeding more often just makes them fat - assuming that they'll even eat. They only need enough to maintain their body condition, not to grow. Yours still has room to grow so keep feeding weekly.

  14. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to bcr229 For This Useful Post:

    Armiyana (09-27-2023),Bogertophis (09-27-2023),Homebody (09-27-2023)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v4.2.1