Ball Not Eating *Help*

Discussion in 'Ball Pythons' started by Amanumis, Jun 4, 2013.

  1. Amanumis

    Amanumis New Member

    I picked up a Bumblebee Ball *my avatar pic* at the Repticon Memphis show, back on May 18, got him home, and set up in his new enclosure, and let him be for about a week.
    The first time I got him out, after getting him home, was to attempt to feed him. (only 2 days being here)
    I've now tried 3 times (about once a week) and he still hasn't eaten, or even shown interest in the prey item. (small/med f/t mouse)
    Temp/humidity seem to be staying in the correct ranges.
    He is very active (mostly at night) looking healthy, and holding his weight at about 350g (weighed when I got him home, and again tonight when he didn't eat) This makes me a little less worried, but I feel that it's always best to ask/learn when I feel the least bit worried

    What is the likely hood that he is just fasting due to the move?

    The breeder told me that he feeds f/t, live, and fresh killed. I'm only using f/t

    Should I try a live, or fresh killed?
    Should I just let him keep rejecting food, unless he starts loosing too much weight?

    *He's about 8 months old*

    JEFFREH Administrator

    How do you go about thawing your rodents and offering them? And are you aware of what kind of rodent the previous owner was feeding (mice v. rats)?

    Here's a strategy that worked for me:

    Ask for some rat or mouse bedding from the pet store store that has been used (currently has rodents in it, is soiled, etc), and take it home with you.

    To start your thawing process, begin thawing overnight in a bag in the fridge. Then, roll the rat around in the used bedding, and place the rat in an open bag or container at room temperature with the bedding for about an hour. Do this room-temp thawing in the snake's room... this will help to not only saturate the f/t rodent with some live/fresh smells, but it will also allow the smell of the both the used bedding and rat to permeate into the room and begin to get the snake into "feed mode" by priming it with smell.

    Next, warm the rodent and finish thawing in your typical way - but make sure the rodent stays dry. It should always be offered warm and dry... Some keepers thaw in hot water directly with success, but I've found that ball pythons in particular are more sensitive to the smell of their prey and will sometimes turn down a dampened rodent.

    Be sure you are offering with tongs and do not handle the rodent with bare hands prior to feeding or thawing.

    He is likely fasting due to to the move, but it wouldn't hurt to take some extra precautions to ensure he is comfortable. Make sure he has a hide and if he's in a translucent container or aquaria you may wish to cover the side and back with dark paper or something that can make him feel more secure.

    If the above tactic does not work after a couple of tries, give a freshly killed rodent a try. When doing this, I would still employ the strategy of placing the rodent in the snake room for a period of time before killing it and offering it as a meal to allow the smell to excite the snake.
    supernova likes this.
  3. Amanumis

    Amanumis New Member

    I typically just take them right out of the freezer, and drop them in some warm water, then after a few minutes, I'll bring the water temp up so as to get the rodent temp "warm enough"

    The breeder said that he used mice, rats, and something else, that I can't remember.

    Why do you put it in the fridge over night? Is there some advantage to thawing them, before warming them?

    Something I find strange.. I weighed him again tonight, He is putting on weight. How can this be, if he isn't eating anything.
    He also looks as if he may be soon to shed. (not that I really think that has anything to do with it)

    JEFFREH Administrator

    There really isn't an advantage to thawing overnight per se, it just makes multi-tasking and the overall process a little easier for me. It allows the rodents to be completely thawed by the time you are about to heat them... reducing the time it takes to add a heat signature and allowing them to thaw evenly. I've noticed if you thaw too quickly (particularly if you place the rodent belly-down on heat tape or something similar) the rodent is more likely to rupture after being constricted.

    Give the above method a try and try offering a dry rodent. I used to thaw in water and once I switched to thawing them in a bag in water or in a bag on some heat tape for a bit (so the rodent remains dry) I noticed an increased feeding response across the board. Every snake is different, but I think offering them dry better preserves an appetizing odor. The two most important factors to ball python feedings are A) smell and B) heat signature.

    Not sure how he's putting on weight unless he hasn't defecated and is drinking a lot of water; although that may be a stretch of a speculation. As long as he's not actually losing weight I wouldn't be concerned.

    I should also add that some ball pythons will go through a bit of a fasting phase. My collection has never been very large, but I've reared about a dozen BP's and noticed that particularly in the 600-800g range a few females that were otherwise powerhouse eaters fasted for weeks and had 0 interest in food. Ball pythons get a notorious rap for being 'picky feeders'... each individual is unique. You get some that will never miss a meal and can readily switch between mice/softfurs/rats or F/T and live, and others that refuse to eat anything but a select prey item. Their actual interest in feeding can vary as well... I had a male bee that would only eat for me every other week or so and grew fairly slow (granted, he had some mild wobble that may or may not have affected feeding). I remember picking him up at the same weight as a female pastave and by the time he was 300g she was up to 650. The moral of the story is each one is unique - provide the best care and most stress-free environment possible and employ feeding tricks to encourage eating and the snake will decide the rest ; )

    If you start noticing some weight loss and/or the above strategy (offer dry, get soiled rodent bedding, thaw so smell can permeate room, do not handle with bare hands, etc) doesn't work after a few tries; go ahead an pick up a live rat and offer if freshly killed.
  5. Amanumis

    Amanumis New Member

    I forgot to say, that I do bag the mice/rats when I'm thawing them, so they stay dry

    I'm pretty sure he drinks plenty.

    He did poo right after I got him, but nothing other than the white crud, since then
  6. Meghan J

    Meghan J New Member

    What I have done in the past when my snake wouldn't eat, was make sure you don't handle the snake the day you are doing to feed. If the snake doesn't seem interested in the thawed mouse/rat leave him for at least 7 - 10 days before trying again. If after a few times of trying that and nothing happens try getting a live mouse to see if he is interested. Only leave the mouse in the cage for 2 - 3 hours, any longer and the mouse could injure your snake. Also don't always be too alarmed, as long as the snake is holding a healthy body weight, males usually don't eat a lot during mating season.

    Hope that was helpful :)
  7. Amanumis

    Amanumis New Member

    UPDATE:I tried just about everything I could, to get him to eat a frozen/thawed mouse, yet he never seemed very interested.
    I finally broke down and gave him a live mouse today, after again trying a frozen/thawed, and he immediately showed interest, and struck soon after having the mouse (live) offered.
    I'm so happy he finally ate.
    I was really hoping not to need to feed live, but I'd rather feed live, than have him not eat.

    Thanks to everyone who had advice for me.
  8. Amanumis

    Amanumis New Member

    Forgot to mention, he has only lost 8 grams, and has stayed hydrated,
    so I'm not worried about health issues, as he seems to be doing fine.
  9. Tim3skimo

    Tim3skimo New Member

    YES some snakes prefer live food! Maybe he will eat dead food again, but if not, then stick with live food because atleast he is eating. Happy that he is eating :)
    I know reptiles, like leopard geckos - 99% of Leos eat only live insects.

    JEFFREH Administrator

    He may still come around with time - I would have ultimately done the same in your shoes. The next battle will be trying to feed a live rat to try and break the mousing preference.

    Maybe with the next feed, try offering the rodent freshly killed. Over time, we can work with him and sort of "wean" him into taking F/T rats. I would still recommend scenting the room and the rodent prior to feeding when you do go to F/T again.

    Ball pythons sometimes like to give their keepers headaches ; )
  11. Amanumis

    Amanumis New Member

    At this point in time, I'm just happy that he has finally eaten something.
    My room stays scented now, due to my new pet rat. (It was going to end up as food for one of my red tails, but my little sister fell in love with it LoL)

    At any rate, I'm going to try again, sometime soon, to get my ball on f/t, but for now, I just want him to put the 10g that he lost back on, so I'll probably keep with live until then.

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