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  1. #1
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    New ball python not eating / not loosing weight and acting strange

    Hello !

    I bought a really shy 4yo male albino ball phyton 5 months ago .

    According to his feeding records he used to eat every month ish

    I bought him with the setup he was in and with a bag of pray he used to eat

    He didnt eat since i got him , i tried cold / warm / brained / different size / different pray but nothing worked , he was just trying to get away from it and wasnt interested at all
    (week between each attempt to feed )

    I thought he might have respiratory infection for some reason as apparently thats really common and can cause them to stop eating so i checked but no signs , no bubbles around his mouth no wheezing , checked his mouth for excessive saliva but nothing .

    He has always been shy just hiding all the time with his head out / still exploring during the night . Suddenly hes out an about during the day sometimes , exploring way more then he used to and its like hes trying to find his way out .

    He weight the same he used to 8 months ago around 1200g , recently has lost around 70g but he did shed recently and been to the toilet twice so might have something to do with that .
    Shed was just fine in 2 pieces so not bad at all i think . It was first shed since i got him.

    Not sure what else to try but its been a while now so im getting a bit desperate

    Also additional question , would sick ball phyton still shed ?

    Thanks all

  2. #2
    BPnet Veteran Homebody's Avatar
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    Re: New ball phyton not eating / not loosing weight and acting strange

    1. Relax. Your snake isn't going to die from starvation. Going long periods of time without eating is their superpower.
    2. Good news! It's probably your fault. So, you can fix it. Most issues with snake are due to husbandry. This forum has a very good care guide for ball pythons that you should review (https://ball-pythons.net/forums/show...ius)-Caresheet). It even has a section specifically devoted to trouble shooting feeding issues.
    3. If you post pics of your snake and your enclosure. We can help you troubleshoot. This thread will show you how to post pics (https://ball-pythons.net/forums/show...-Post-Pictures).
    4. The bad news is that, if it's not your husbandry, then your snake is sick and will need to see a vet. If you do not already have one, this site will help you find a qualified vet in your area (https://usark.us4.list-manage.com/tr...4&e=3b027cc1fe).
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 06-26-2024 at 08:59 AM. Reason: tried to put in spacing, oh well
    1.0 Normal Children's Python (2022 - present)
    1.0 Normal Ball Python (2019 - 2021)

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  4. #3
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    MarkJeyFry- What are the temperatures (highest & lowest) in his enclosure? What is the humidity? What type of enclosure? Kind & # of hides? (pics really help us see what might be wrong)

    When you got him, did you allow him a week or two to settle in, with no handling? How much do you handle him now?

    Are you offering his prey the SAME way & the same KIND as he was raised on? Frozen-thawed (f/t), fresh-killed (f/k) or live? Mice, rats, ASFs, or other? (they all smell & presumably taste very different- please note I haven't personally tried any )

    You mention he's really shy- most snakes are- so how busy is your household? Is his home in a quiet room? Other pets around? Kids? Noise & vibration level near him? (they feel vibrations from loud music & door slams, etc. & it does stress them some).

    You mention he has lost weight, so obviously you're handling some him to get a weight. How often do you weigh him? (that too is stressful!)

    What time of day do you feed him? What's he doing when you offer him food? (is he in a hide or cruising his enclosure when you offer)

    Where do you feed him? Do you feed him in his regular home, or move to another container to feed? (They do NOT like to "go out to eat". Always feed them where they live. The handling to move them adds stress & is distracting, when they need to be at their bravest to tackle their prey. Even when you're feeding dead prey, they're going through the motions as if it's live- they think they're making a kill, & trust me, live rodents pose a danger to snakes.)

    With adult BPs, sometimes a fast is "normal" even though it drives us crazy. But bear in mind we're not seeing your snake, so we have no way to know his true body condition- as to whether he's too thin or well-fed in general.

    With male BPs especially (they generally don't eat as much or get as large as female BPs since it's the females that reproduce & need extra food for that) if you feed them larger prey, they're more likely to go on long fasts- basically because they don't need to eat as much as you're trying to feed them. So exactly what have you been feeding him? Adult males of normal size do best on small rats or 1 or 2 mice per meal. Many make the mistake of trying to feed them medium or larger rats, which is just too much food, & results in the snake going on long frustrating fasts.

    The other strong possibility is that you're not feeding him correctly- some snakes will take food from tongs, others want to be drop-fed in privacy. Night works best, & usually when they're in a hide- BPs are ambush predators, not active hunters.

    Also- how are you thawing his prey??? Very important to do this the right way so it's not spoiled by the time he gets it. (Thaw in cool water, & only after it's soft throughout, use very warm water for a few minutes to warm it up.) Never thaw by leaving out on the countertop... the inside stays cold a long time, while the outside spoils- your snake can smell that, & says "YUCK!"

    Also- are you offering his prey WARM, & I mean very warm, so he thinks it's alive. This is a big deal for BPs- they rely on their heat sensing pits to respond & eat. Many find it helpful to even use a blow-dryer to give the thawed prey that "finishing touch"...& by that, I don't mean a nice hairstyle. Offer right away, while it's still very warm- & seems alive.

    What does his stool look like? I'd imagine you haven't gotten much, since he's not eating, but that's a good thing for a vet to check, since internal parasites can cause illness & even death in snakes if left untreated. Has he ever been fed live rodents? (snakes catch "worms" from live prey) He probably has been at some time in his life, since he's now 4 years old & hasn't always been your snake, so this is something to consider also. If fixing husbandry issues don't work, a vet check is in order. https://members.arav.org/search/custom.asp?id=3661

    BTW, is this your first snake? And yes, sick snakes may still shed- that's how snakes "heal". How often has he been shedding?
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 06-26-2024 at 01:47 PM.
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    Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

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  6. #4
    BPnet Royalty Gio's Avatar
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    I agree with the responses you've been given and I will also add more.

    This behavior is normal for the species.

    In EVERY publication regarding Royal Pythons and their habits you will see the author mention the frustrations people go through when their animal goes off food.

    Baring any illness, which nobody here can determine or serious husbandry issues, this is normal.

    A thread search on this board will bring up hundreds of questions/posts about this very subject.

    I have rarely seen illness as the factor for food refusal on this board. It is always a possibility, however in the 12 plus years I've been a member of here, illness is most often NOT the reason the snake ceased eating. When it is, the signs present themselves, and judging by what has been stated illness does not appear to be the culprit.

    Your snake is 4 years old and established. It is very likely at an age where it will feed when it wants to disregarding any of your thoughts or stresses.

    You are one of a great many that has hit this roadblock. I have been through it here. I broke down years back and switched to live feeding. The initial result of trying that strategy was decent but later on the refusals started up and then I had a live rat to feed to another snake that I didn't want to feed.

    A friend of mine, with far more knowledge of the herp world than I have told me to "wait it out".

    I followed that advice and found it to be spot on. 7 and sometimes more months would go by before our Royal took food. When she was is in the mode, I feed her until she isn't and I have learned her behaviors and know when she's going to shut down.

    When she was ready, she was very ready! She didn't need live prey, she just needed to be ready to take food period. The snake will be 13 years old at the end of July and she's in excellent condition. She self regulates her feeding schedule far better than I can do for her.

    Knowing your animal takes some time and studying the species is always an ongoing learning experience.

    My advice is to wait it out unless there are signs of illness or a noticeable drop in weight and body composition.

    Unfortunately, as thrilling as it is to own snakes, they, especially Royals, are not typically social, exciting or entertaining.
    Last edited by Gio; 06-26-2024 at 02:23 PM.

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    Re: New ball python not eating / not loosing weight and acting strange

    Hi,
    Thank you for commenting !

    I wasnt sure how to take the picture so you can see the body condition properly so put my hand in there for comparison not sure if that will do the trick ..




    There is some fake plants missing that are usually there .
    His plastic hide is covering the red area . Hottest the heat mat could be is 32.2 and the lowest is slightly below 31 but there is a 20 second timer on thermostat so it shoots up to over 31 quick.








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  10. #6
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    Re: New ball python not eating / not loosing weight and acting strange

    Hey!
    thanks for commenting

    Yes i have left him alone for 10 days before tried to feed him for a first time with no handling and i dont really handle him apart from when i weigh him once a month or checking if the temps are ok with heat gun but i dont really pick up for that and thats once a week.


    The seller gave me some rats he was on before so i tried those but it didnt work .
    They were medium rats but after couple failed attempt i tried rats i feed my other royals with , different sizes etc . also tried ASF
    Checked his records and he was fed an hamster with pierced brain before also , gave it a go but no luck

    I live in apartment by myself so the place is empty for majority of the day , its not noisy at all, the only thing that could bother them possibly is TV but there are quite far away from that and i barely spend 2 hrs per day in that room anyways .

    I put the rats in zip lock bag and put in water until they are soft ( checking with glove ) but i will try to just chuck them i the water as you mentioned

    always tried to feed him when he was in his hide never outside of his enclosure and usually around 9pm when it gets dark but he just ignores it and im feeding of the tongs i tried by the tail or mid body .

    Before i offer i dunk them in warm water and they dry with paper towel so they are not that wet and offer right away while its still warm . I did leave it in front of his hide couple times like i do with my other male that only drop feeds but nothing . He just sits there looking at it and then start browsing around ignoring it he is aware of them tho he do check them out .

    Ive got other 3 that are fine but that might be because 2 of them are females
    The other male i got only eats when rat is left over night . He has a bit funny schedule as he skips for 4 months ish bu then takes like 5 in row but maintaining his weight well .

    I feel like giving him another go or two and if nothing will work ill get him checked by Vet .

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  12. #7
    BPnet Royalty Gio's Avatar
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    Re: New ball python not eating / not loosing weight and acting strange

    Quote Originally Posted by RoyalPhyton View Post
    Hi,
    Thank you for commenting !

    I wasnt sure how to take the picture so you can see the body condition properly so put my hand in there for comparison not sure if that will do the trick ..




    There is some fake plants missing that are usually there .
    His plastic hide is covering the red area . Hottest the heat mat could be is 32.2 and the lowest is slightly below 31 but there is a 20 second timer on thermostat so it shoots up to over 31 quick.







    That snake looks very good to me with plenty of girth and good tone to the body.

    I would not try feeding the snake anytime soon as a matter-of-fact wait until he is sticking his head out of the hide some night. You will be able to tell the universal look that a snake has when it is ready to eat.

    Ours is a female and she goes off food all of the time. She was on a roll January February, and March. She has not eaten since 7 March and she is staying deep in her hide when she starts peeking out more frequently. I will know if she is ready to start up again then she will take a meal every three or four weeks and then shut down again.

    Definitely a good call to see a vet if you are that concerned and nobody on this board can really give you medical advice without seeing the animal in person

    All of that said I don’t think you have anything to worry about ��


    Did you change your user name? I thought I was responding to the OP but maybe I still am?
    Last edited by Gio; 06-26-2024 at 05:46 PM.

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  14. #8
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    I agree with Gio's post #7 - He's not "skinny" & I'd still guess the size of the rats (mediums for a male are a lot of food) are part of the issue. BPs can be very frustrating pets because for them, fasting is just what they're designed to do to survive in the wild. Larger meals (for many owners) seem to promote refusals (fasting until they're hungry again).

    One other thing- (without seeing the hide you're using)- we suggest giving all snakes at least 2 hides, one with heat & one cooler, because a snake will choose a sense of security over the right temperature, so if they only have one hide, that's not ideal for their natural need for thermoregulation. BPs especially are nervous when out in the open, & maybe that's why he's so restless??? He wants to be on the cooler side, but there's nowhere to hide to feel safe.

    What are the lowest temps. in his home? (And in yours) In a colder climate or if you keep your home or room on the chilly side, even with a warm hide on one end, the other side of that enclosure might still be too cool, which tells a snake to fast (so they don't get stuck in winter with undigested food in their GI tract- they can die from that in the wild). IF that is the case (?), you might need a larger UTH or a second heat source. Just something you need to check. The "cool side" is hopefully not below 78*F (25.5*C). See?

    Also- BPs prefer a snug fitting hide- something with only one doorway that's not oversized, a ceiling that's not too high & the overall size not much bigger than they are- so they can feel some "back pressure" when inside. In the wild, they jam into old termite mounds & other tight places where they feel secure from predators, so try to duplicate* that for him. (*no termites needed- ) And I'd not rush to see a vet- give him plenty of time with proper hides available, smaller food, & double check those temps. I'm strongly suspecting 'husbandry' is all you need to tweak for this guy, & most vets don't get into that, they're all about the medical side of things.

    Pretty snake, btw.

    And yes, what's with using 2 names here???
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 06-26-2024 at 07:28 PM.
    Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
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  16. #9
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    Pretty much agree with everyone here on recommendations.
    He does have a good body condition. I wouldn't worry too much unless he starts dropping more weight quickly.

    Also going to add some of my own personal experience with a couple of shy males...
    If he does seem interested, like tongue flicks and trying to sniff the rodent out but shying back into the hide when you wiggle it, it might help to just leave it overnight.
    You still want to warm it back up the way mentioned above. Get it toasty like a live rat. But if he's still not 100% just leave it outside of his hide's door. Check on him first thing in the morning to get rid of it though if he didn't go for it after all. Sometimes we're the problem and once we're gone they know what to do. After that first meal he might have the confidence to just go for the next one.

    I've had 2 males come into my possession that were shy guys who insisted on being left alone like that before they started eating normally...Although I did get them after breeding season. Hormones could be why this boy is being a bit fussy right now. One of mine has only just started eating again this last week.

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  18. #10
    rhac wrangler mlededee's Avatar
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    Exclamation

    Hello RoyalPhyton/MarkJeyFry.

    We allow each user to the forum to have only one account. I can merge your two accounts into one if you will kindly let me know which username you would like to retain.

    Thanks!
    - Emily


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