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  1. #1
    Registered User Ian C's Avatar
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    Quick Question on Feeder Size

    Hello everyone,

    I have a question on feeder size for my ball python.

    The last time I bought frozen feeders, the average weight per rat was about 100g (just under 1/4 lb, or about 3.5 oz). They also appeared a bit smaller than the thickest part of her body, which I've heard is a good estimate for sizing. She was eating them just fine, but appeared to still be hungry after eating as she stayed in hunting mode for a couple of days.

    When I bought new feeders yesterday, I asked my supplier to go the next size up. These are now 200g each (just under 1/2 lb or about 7 oz). I'm surprised at how big these look. They are about the same size as the thickest part of her body now, if not slightly larger. She's around 2.5 feet long and is a great eater though.

    I'm a little nervous feeding her this size as she's going to have to really stretch her jaws and throat to accommodate this, and I certainly don't want to hurt her.

    Am I right to be worried, or am I overthinking it and underestimating her capacity for rat size?

    Thanks, Ian

  2. #2
    Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Snakes typically stay in "feed mode" for anywhere from hours to even a day or a couple days after they eat. Just like when WE eat fast & we don't realize we're full & keep going (got dessert?), snakes are the same way- they stay ready to eat more, even when they are full. You need to know that- your snake isn't starving even though it acts like it is for a while after eating.

    I'm not in the habit of weighing feeders, nor do I currently keep any BPs (though I have in the past), but from what you said, these new ratsicles are too big & I'd leave them in the freezer for a while & for now, I'd get more of the size she was eating successfully.

    Understand that snakes don't need to eat on an exact schedule- they sure don't in the wild. So if you think the prey is a little too small, you might feed the next meal in a week rather than in 10 days...for example. See? And if you feed a larger meal, allow a longer time for your snake to digest, before offering another meal.

    I wouldn't rush to double the size of her meals- that's a pretty major size-up, & the last thing you want is for her to regurgitate her meal, because if that happens, you'll need to wait even longer (about 3 weeks) before you can feed anything again. After a regurge, snakes need time to replenish their digestive enzymes, otherwise, they'll regurgitate again, causing dehydration, & if this continues, they can even die from this. Regurgitation is also dangerous because they can aspirate into their lung- again, that's a serious health issue that's best avoided.

    So if 100 g. isn't "big enough", feed the same thing a day or 2 sooner. (never less than a week though- they cannot digest that fast)
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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  4. #3
    Bogertophis's Avatar
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    BTW, it's also better (healthier for the snake) to slightly UNDER-feed a snake than to slightly OVER-feed one. And it's what happens most routinely in the wild.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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  6. #4
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    I think the other questions are how old is your snake? How much do they weigh? Do you have a photo where we can see how her body condition is?

    If she's older than 2, she may be trying to pound down extra calories for breeding prep. Even when not introduced to a male, they will still go through a cycle and possibly ovulate.

    A general rule of thumb is to look into a meal size that is around 10% of their body weight.
    The other is to feed the same or slightly larger than the widest point of a BP's body.
    They're not 100%, but generally do well in getting you started on good meal sizes. Then from there it's a combination of monitoring the body condition and adjusting feed schedule to make sure they're maintaining a good look.

    Bogertophis gives some good advice too. We do tend to see a lot of overweight BPs. And doubling in size that quickly is a little much. If the size does look to be about where she needs to be, I would try to find some around the 150g range to feed for a couple weeks before jumping to 100g. Just to avoid a regurge

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  8. #5
    Registered User Ian C's Avatar
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    Re: Quick Question on Feeder Size

    Quote Originally Posted by Armiyana View Post
    I think the other questions are how old is your snake? How much do they weigh? Do you have a photo where we can see how her body condition is?

    If she's older than 2, she may be trying to pound down extra calories for breeding prep. Even when not introduced to a male, they will still go through a cycle and possibly ovulate.

    A general rule of thumb is to look into a meal size that is around 10% of their body weight.
    The other is to feed the same or slightly larger than the widest point of a BP's body.
    They're not 100%, but generally do well in getting you started on good meal sizes. Then from there it's a combination of monitoring the body condition and adjusting feed schedule to make sure they're maintaining a good look.

    Bogertophis gives some good advice too. We do tend to see a lot of overweight BPs. And doubling in size that quickly is a little much. If the size does look to be about where she needs to be, I would try to find some around the 150g range to feed for a couple weeks before jumping to 100g. Just to avoid a regurge
    She's a year old. Not 100% on her weight, she wouldn't sit still long enough for me to weigh her tonight.

    I had watched a video tonight of how to select a feeder size on a channel I'm sure most of you are familiar with - Snake Discovery. She had a suggestion to take a piece of paper, lay the snake on it, and quickly take a pencil and trace the outline of her widest point, then a rat can be placed on that and compared. Turns out the rats we bought are just slightly bigger than the outline we drew. Pretty crude measurement, but easier than holding it right next to her body (especially when she's clearly hungry).

    Here's a couple of pictures of her tonight. She wouldn't cooperate with stretching her out, so it's all wrapped around my wrist. Last time I measured her though, she was just shy of 30 inches long. I think she looks healthy, but you guys will be able to tell better.





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    A bit hard to tell, but it looks like she could be a little on the leaner side? Although I have the feeling the bit that is sticking out to me is more at her tail. It still is a bit hard to judge when they're wrapped like that.
    She's not skinny where I would worry about changing things up too much. If she gets any skinnier then maybe consider doing 7 days for a bit. At a year old she may be hitting a bit of a growth spurt.
    See what the others have to say though as well!
    Last edited by Armiyana; 04-11-2024 at 01:54 AM.

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  12. #7
    Registered User mistergreen's Avatar
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    Re: Quick Question on Feeder Size

    There is also somewhere on this goodforuma posting about digesting times for BP's. Its a good read and I feel a good feeding guideline to follow as well. Surfing around andmaybe doing a search for digestion may find it.

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  14. #8
    Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Re: Quick Question on Feeder Size

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian C View Post
    She's a year old. Not 100% on her weight, she wouldn't sit still long enough for me to weigh her tonight.

    I had watched a video tonight of how to select a feeder size on a channel I'm sure most of you are familiar with - Snake Discovery. She had a suggestion to take a piece of paper, lay the snake on it, and quickly take a pencil and trace the outline of her widest point, then a rat can be placed on that and compared. Turns out the rats we bought are just slightly bigger than the outline we drew. Pretty crude measurement, but easier than holding it right next to her body (especially when she's clearly hungry).

    Here's a couple of pictures of her tonight. She wouldn't cooperate with stretching her out, so it's all wrapped around my wrist. Last time I measured her though, she was just shy of 30 inches long. I think she looks healthy, but you guys will be able to tell better.





    While that's not the best snake pose for judging her weight, she doesn't look at all underfed to me. Just saying. And that's without knowing how often you've been feeding her. She's a lovely snake too, by the way, & looks very healthy to me too.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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  16. #9
    BPnet Veteran Malum Argenteum's Avatar
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    Re: Quick Question on Feeder Size

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian C View Post
    she wouldn't sit still long enough for me to weigh her tonight.
    If you put her into a snake bag (cloth bag -- pillow case works well) or into a plastic container (small storage tub), weighing is much easier.

    Interestingly, studies on snake (python) digestion seem to tend to use meals of 25% snake mass (source, source). I think that's silly big, but it shows that such a meal is within a normal range (and wild snakes -- which ours are not, and shouldn't be treated as such -- are known to eat some truly gigantic prey items). I personally would lean toward increasing meal frequency a bit, and/or hunting up some rats that are just a little larger than the 100g ones. I agree that a regurge is to be avoided.

    I do have more than a couple snakes (not BPs) that act hungry all the time and would eat themselves into a very early death if allowed. I have no problem with moderating their intake based on body conformation and what I think is a decently small prey item, and they can just think they're hungry (which can be an artifact of captivity, at least in some species). I tend to feed my snakes when they tell me they're hungry, unless and until that becomes apparently harmful and then I take over the scheduling.

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  18. #10
    Registered User Nutriaitch's Avatar
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    Re: Quick Question on Feeder Size

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian C View Post
    Hello everyone,

    I have a question on feeder size for my ball python.

    The last time I bought frozen feeders, the average weight per rat was about 100g (just under 1/4 lb, or about 3.5 oz). They also appeared a bit smaller than the thickest part of her body, which I've heard is a good estimate for sizing. She was eating them just fine, but appeared to still be hungry after eating as she stayed in hunting mode for a couple of days.

    When I bought new feeders yesterday, I asked my supplier to go the next size up. These are now 200g each (just under 1/2 lb or about 7 oz). I'm surprised at how big these look. They are about the same size as the thickest part of her body now, if not slightly larger. She's around 2.5 feet long and is a great eater though.

    I'm a little nervous feeding her this size as she's going to have to really stretch her jaws and throat to accommodate this, and I certainly don't want to hurt her.

    Am I right to be worried, or am I overthinking it and underestimating her capacity for rat size?

    Thanks, Ian

    are those weights for the rats correct?
    I admittedly have never checked the actual weights of feeders, but knowing that my 20" BP weighs around 130g, a 200g rat sounds like it would be freaking massive!

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