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  1. #1
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    Does Hatchling Need Intervention?

    Hello there, before I tell about my case, I have indeed read the sticky on feeding hatchlings! I fixed the inconsistencies, and although I know it can take more than one try once everything is in order, I am concerned for my baby's health.

    Alright, so, I purchased two baby ball pythons at a reptile show in late January of this year. These are my first hatchlings, though I have two adults at the moment, one of which was a juvenile when I got her. They both seemed nice and healthy: skittish but good temperaments, clear eyes and nose, all that stuff. Was told their sexes, that they had both shed (the male actually had a little left on his tail that he later wriggled out of), and that both were on live hopper mice. I brought them home, put them in six quart tubs with a water dish, hide (that they don't use) and paper towels, which I later switch out.

    The female immediately began eating, pooping, and peeing once a week and went from 115 grams to 129 grams in about a month. She did refuse two meals recently and dropped back to 115 but I imagine the weight was perhaps poop, then. She ate her most recent meal though!

    The little male on the other hand has been a problem child. He clocked in at 60 grams and from their first offered meal on February third, he did not his first meal until February 24th, where I bought him a fuzzy and left it in his tub. He ate it right at the twenty-four hour mark. I didn't feel good about leaving a live mouse in there with him, but did read that they can't hurt him at that age, hopefully that is true!! He then ate another on March third, much faster that time but I still had to leave him with it, and he has not eaten since.

    Like I said, I read the sticky on hatchling feeding, and I went over my care on March thirteenth. I switched them over to cocoa fiber, checked their heat (it sticks between 85-92 degrees farenheit directly on the heatmat), and the ambient humidity in my house is 50-58% as well as the ambient temp not dropping below 68 degrees. I did not even open their tub from then to tonight and plan not to weigh them or clean their tubs until they eat several times for me.

    Tonight, I snuck into my room, turned off the lights, left the mice in a box in front of the rack, and came back a while later. I sat on the floor off to the side and dangled the mice in front of them but ended up placing them in there and watching because they did not react. The female ate after I left the mouse with her for a few minutes, and the male simply curled into a tight, stressed out ball. I put the mouse back into the box after many minutes and silently waited in the dark to see when he would uncurl because I thought I might try dangling it again once more before giving up. But he never did. So I dispatched the mouse and left it in the tub. I then left the room with the lights still off. Hopefully he will eat it, but I haven't had luck leaving pre-killed with him before. He's a bit of a strange one, easily frightened as one would expect but also very determined to explore. I don't let him slither out anymore, but if he notices me in front of the rack he will come up and surf like his life depends on it. He never does this when "alone" though, instead rests right on his heat, so I know he's not feeling hot. I also took him as a freebie with the female, as the breeder seemed interested in getting me into breeding in the future and these two can make Onyx babies down the line, but now I can't help but be concerned that maybe he was stubborn for him too and that's why he made such a deal? I don't want to assume the worst at all, I just worry. I have his business card but am a little trepidatious to contact due to that.

    Is it time to get a vet involved? My exotic vet I bring my pets to only costs fifty bucks for a visit and she's mentioned a medicine that can stimulate their hunger when my girl went off feeding in the past but it ended up she was just full of poo, lol. I imagine taking a hatchling to the vet would be the total opposite of all the measures I've taken to make them comfortable but he only weighed 60 grams still on March seventh and is starting to look a little skinny, I'm very worried about him.

    Here is the timline:
    January 28: arrived home
    February 3: female ate weaned mouse, male refused
    February 7: female pooped
    February 9: female 115 grams, male 61 grams
    February 10: female ate weaned mouse, male refused
    February 14: female 120 grams, pooped and peed, male 57 grams, peed
    February 17: female ate weaned mouse, pooped
    February 20: female 121 grams, pooped, male 57 grams, peed
    February 24: female ate weaned mouse, male ate fuzzy mouse
    February 28: female 129 grams, pooped and peed, male 60 grams
    March 2: female refused, pooped, male ate fuzzy mouse
    March 7: female 115 grams, pooped and peed, male 60 grams, pooped and peed
    March 9: both refused food
    March 15: switched paper towels for coco fiber
    March 23: female ate hopper mouse, male yet to be determined

    I know I've put a lot in this post but I'm pretty at a loss of what to do... If he was an adult I'd just give him time but he's so small I'm not sure it's safe.

    I know people ask this stuff all the time, but please, offer any guidance you may have!

  2. #2
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    I would maybe try a super fresh pinky rat first. Like as quick as you can get it from mom and see if that works. Or, try a hopper for the male first. Weirdly sometimes the hoppers are a little more interesting to them even if they're acting shy than a fuzzy rolling around.
    I've also had some luck with a fussy eater when switching the bedding to aspen shavings for a little bit, but they can dehydrate very quickly if you're not careful.

    If the hides have a lot of space under them you can try putting some crumpled paper or moss under it to make the fit a bit tighter too. maybe he'd feel more cozy

    If you're still having trouble with him I would maybe consider a vet to look him over. Since he's already eaten it's not a great idea to assist feed as it will definitely be more stressful and could turn him off even more.

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  4. #3
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    Re: Does Hatchling Need Intervention?

    Okay! A hopper is what I gave tonight and he seemed totally stressed out by it, but at least not terrified like he's reacted a couple times. Honestly it seems the more it moves the more scared by it he is, but if it doesn't move at all (pre-killed) it's of no interest :/ Maybe the pinky rat would work!

    With aspen shavings, do I just make sure to keep his water topped up? To make sure he won't dehydrate.

    And hmm I did try to bury the hide into the substrate but it seems he was pushing it around in there. I could definitely try some moss, I've got some spagnum squared away somewhere!

    If he doesn't eat this pre-killed and I take it out, should I wait the whole week until I try again? I don't want him getting in the habit of refusing (which he already is) but it also freaks me out to wait so long when he's not getting any food in him...

  5. #4
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    Re: Does Hatchling Need Intervention?

    Even very young snakes can go for months without food as long as they’re healthy so I wouldn’t worry about one or two missed meals. I actually think you may be offering food too often for finicky eaters. I’d try spacing out their feedings to every 2 weeks and see if they become more consistent with their eating patterns. They could also still be setting into their new home so be patient.
    3.0 Carpet Pythons, 1.1 Bullsnakes
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  7. #5
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    Re: Does Hatchling Need Intervention?

    Okay! They both seem completely healthy except for the little male is starting to look a little skinny...not overly so, but his spine is a bit more pronounced than when I first got him. You don't think it's dangerous to wait even longer when he hasn't been eating? It would make me nervous but I'd certainly be willing to do so! The female just ate another weaned tonight even though she was a little stressed out by the mouse, so I'm very happy for her!
    Last edited by Python_Liqueur; 03-30-2024 at 08:26 PM.

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