Dealing with Feeding Problems in Ball Pythons: A Comprehensive Guide

Dealing with Feeding Problems in Ball Pythons: A Comprehensive Guide




Bringing home a new ball python can be an exciting yet challenging experience, especially when it comes to feeding. Dealing with feeding problems in Ball Pythons can be a frustrating problem during their transition to a new environment. In this guide, we'll address some frequently asked questions regarding feeding issues in ball pythons and provide expert advice on how to overcome them.


Timing is Key: When to Feed Your New Ball Python

After receiving your ball python, it's crucial to allow them a brief period of adjustment in their new habitat, but only a few hours are necessary before you attempt your first feeding. Contrary to popular belief you can often start things off right by attempting to feed immediately after your new baby arrives during that first evening.  Remember, for your new arrival everything has changed.  This complete change in surroundings can trigger a fear response in your new baby snake.  When a ball python eats, they are very vulnerable to predation so they become hesitant to eat when they are afraid.  The philosophy behind this method is that your new baby ball python has not been able to become stressed yet.  Therefore, we recommend attempting your first feeding on the first evening after arrival.  This will actually help with the acclimation period by reenforcing to the ball python that eating is safe.  If you can get this first feeding successfully done in the first day, it will reduce stress, allowing your snake to become more comfortable in its new surroundings.


Choosing the Right Diet for Your Ball Python

Selecting the appropriate food for your ball python is essential to ensure successful feedings. For baby ball pythons, live rat fuzzies are recommended, although mouse hoppers can also be offered. It's advisable to start with live rat fuzzies for the first few feedings, as they closely resemble the snake's previous diet. If live is not available in your area, frozen thawed is acceptable even on the first feeding.   Dangle the prey in front of your snake for a maximum of 45 seconds.  If the snake does not take it then just leave the thawed rat in their enclosure overnight on the warm side.  Many times the fuzzy will be gone in the morning.  If it is not consumed it is important to dispose of the rat.  Never refreeze or reuse prey items that have been left out overnight.  Pinky baby mice or rats are generally too small for ball pythons and may not stimulate their feeding response effectively.  A pinky mouse or rat has no fur and very little smell.  Baby ball pythons are perfectly able to consume a fuzzy rat on their first meal.  Your baby ball python will have already consumed multiple successful meals by the time it reaches you so it will be quite accustomed to the size of fuzzy rat or small adult mouse.


First Feeding Failure: What to Do

It's not uncommon for a ball python to refuse its first meal after a significant change in environment. If your snake rejects the prey item, remove the prey from the enclosure and wait for five days before attempting another feeding. Avoid the temptation to offer food daily, as this can worsen the situation. Remember that ball pythons are typically not shipped until they have eaten at least three meals, ensuring they are feeding well before reaching your care.  Because of this your new baby ball python should have plenty of reserves to carry it through a couple of weeks with no food.  Please send a message to our staff to notify them that your snake has refused to eat.  It is important to start a record of communication with us.  Most of the time we will suggest moving to the next steps in this guide.


Overcoming Persistent Feeding Problems

If your ball python refuses a second feeding, follow these steps meticulously to encourage successful feedings:  Here is a step by step guide to solving most feeding problems.


  1. Offer Food at Night:Turn off all lights in the room during the night, creating a truly dark environment. This step is crucial, as ball pythons are nocturnal and respond better to feeding stimuli in darkness but a dark room is not enough.  You must do this at night.
  2. Introducing the Prey Item:Place a live rat fuzzy in the enclosure at night and immediately leave the room. Give your snake space and time to interact with the prey item undisturbed.  If you are feeding a rat fuzzy then leave the prey in overnight.  You ball python may come out to hunt several hours later in the still of the night.    
  3. Be Patient about Observation:Resist the urge to watch through the glass. Allow your ball python to explore and "hunt" the prey item overnight without any interference.  Watching a ball python eat can be one of the most interesting aspects about keeping a ball python but now is not the time.  There will be plenty of time to observe your ball python eating after he has acclimated enough to start feeding regularly.  Glaring through the glass will only exacerbate the problem.  Leave the room. 
  4. Checking for Success:In the morning, look to see if the rat fuzzy is gone. Most times you will check in the morning to find that your ball python now has a nice lump.  If it has been consumed, you're on the right track. If not, do not worry.  Your ball python will come around.  Remove it and wait another five days before trying again.  Attempting feeding too often can dull the stimuli that a prey item has for the snake.
  5. Alternate Prey:After refusing the rat fuzzy left in over night, we suggest offering a live mouse hopper with small pieces of dog food placed in the enclosure to give the mouse something to eat. Mice will often start eating a shy snake quickly after determining that the snake is not a threat.  Given the choice between dog food and a snake, the mouse will always choose the dog food.  Ensure your snake's safety by not leaving this prey item overnight, and check within an hour for consumption.


Seeking Professional Advice: 

If problems persist, reach out to our experts once more for personalized assistance. They can offer tailored recommendations or suggest an exchange if necessary.  When you buy a ball python from Wilbanks you are not alone.  Our staff are professionals at solving any ball python issue.  Use this resource.  Send us a text or click the chat button.  Professional help is only a click away.



Feeding problems in ball pythons can be managed with patience, knowledge, and a strategic approach. Remember that every snake is unique, and some may require more time to adjust than others. By following the steps outlined in this guide and seeking expert advice when needed, you can provide the best care for your ball python and ensure its overall well-being.


At Wilbanks we offer high quality feeder rodents.  

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