Are you tired of only feeding your ball python mice?
Or maybe your ball python still shows signs of hunger after its feedings?
If so, you’re probably asking, “What can I feed my ball python besides mice?”
In this article, we’re going to uncover several other feeder options to offer your ball python.
We’ll also explore a few other common questions pet owners have about feeding ball pythons.
Let’s get started.
Ball pythons primarily eat a diet of mice and rats, although they will sometimes enjoy eating other feeder prey like chicks, hamsters, gerbils, and guinea pigs.
How Often Should I Feed My Ball Python
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to determining how often to feed your ball python.
Instead, the answer depends on your snake’s age and size compared to the size and type of feeders you offer.
A good rule of thumb is to feed your baby ball python every five to seven days for the first six or seven months of its life.
After about seven months, reduce its feeding to once every seven to 10 days.
This feeding schedule will last for the next couple of years until your snake reaches adulthood (around two or three years of age).
Once it reaches adulthood, you may once more reduce its feedings to every 10 to 21 days.
When to Feed Baby Ball Pythons
Let’s briefly explore when to feed your baby ball python before we go into the topic of what to feed your ball python.
When a ball python hatches from its egg, it can live off the nutrients from the absorbed yolk for the first few weeks.
It’s important to let your baby ball python shed its skin (usually, this happens within the first five to seven days) before trying to feed it.
Once it sheds completely, give it the first feeding.
You can learn more about shedding in our post on how often do ball pythons shed.
Baby ball pythons are not always eager to eat since they may still be full from the yolk nutrients.
They may also have a hard time getting used to feeding on prey, so be patient and don’t be alarmed if they don’t eat right away.
Offer them food every five to six days and monitor them closely to see if they’ve eaten.
If your baby ball python hasn’t eaten anything after three weeks to a month, you may need to take it to the vet to see if something else is wrong.
And if you purchased your hatchling from a breeder or pet store, contact them to find out what their feeding routine was and if your ball python had ever eaten before coming to your home.
What to Feed a Baby Ball Python
For the first few months of their lives, baby ball pythons are typically offered fuzzy, pink, or hopper mice.
It’s important to stay away from adult mice or larger rodents during the early years of a ball python’s life for a few reasons.
First, ball pythons swallow their prey whole, so baby ball pythons can’t physically handle eating anything wider than their midsection.
Second, baby rodents (like pinky mice or rat pups) are newborns, offering good amounts of protein and even calcium since their bellies are full of their mother’s milk.
Third, if you offer your baby ball python a large or adult-sized rodent feeder, it may get injured by the feeder.
Since baby ball pythons are smaller and are less proficient at striking and killing their prey, it’s best to offer them small feeders to reduce the risk of scratching or biting.
So what should you feed your baby ball python?
Go for small rodents like pinky mice, fuzzy mice, hoppers, rat pups, fluffs, and weaner rats.
During the first few months of your ball python’s life, try to stick with the small mice feeders before moving on to baby rats and other rodents.
Learn more about feeding baby ball pythons in our other post dedicated to babies.
What Size Food Should You Feed a Ball Python
Ball pythons swallow their prey whole, meaning if the prey is too large for their stomach or mouth, they won’t be able to eat it.
With this in mind, make sure the feeder prey you offer is as wide as the broadest part of the snake’s midsection.
This should ensure no problems arise with the feeder size.
What do Ball Pythons Eat in the Wild
Ball pythons, native to western Africa, eat whatever prey animals are available and consumable.
Their diets consist primarily of rodents like gerbils, striped mice, African soft-furred mice, and jerboas in the wild.
They may also eat birds (especially male ball pythons since they spend most of their time up in the trees), shrews, and lizards.
In short, any animal the ball python can overpower and swallow is a fair game for dinner.
What Can I Feed My Ball Python Besides Mice
As we already discussed, ball pythons should only be fed small mice (like pinkies and fuzzies) or tiny rat pups during the first few months of its life.
After the first few months have passed, however, venture into other feeder categories.
The majority of your ball python’s diet will consist of adult mice and rats, but offering some level of variety is usually a good idea.
Other feeder options you may want to offer include chicks, quail, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, and multimammate mice.
Feeder prey is offered either live or pre-killed, but most people prefer to stay away from living prey.
Not only is it more humane to pre-kill the prey before offering it to your snake, but it also protects your snake from getting injured.
Feeders like mice and rats have been known to bite and chew on snakes in self-defense and aggression, so opt for pre-killed prey if you want to protect your snake from possible injury.
However, if you choose to offer live prey to your snake, never leave your snake unattended with live prey in its enclosure.
Many people purchase frozen feeders and thaw them out before giving them to their ball python.
If you go the frozen feeder route, you will need to ensure the feeder is warm (or at least room temperature) before feeding it to your snake.
Why? Since ball pythons are cold-blooded reptiles, their bodies can’t warm up cold food, meaning if they eat a cold meal, their internal temperature drops to freezing.
You should warm-up cold feeders by placing them in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes before offering them to your snake.
How Much Should I Feed My Ball Python
It’s typically best to offer only one item of prey per feeding session.
If your ball python still appears to be hungry, you probably need to consider giving it food more frequently or increasing the size of its feeders.
While the feeder animal should not be larger than your ball python’s midsection, it should also not be much smaller than the width of your snake’s midsection.
This ensures your snake’s meal is large enough to satisfy it until its next feeding.
As your ball python grows and matures, you will need to change and adjust its feeder animals accordingly.
Here is a tentative guide on how much to feed your ball python throughout its life stages:
Hatchling or First 3-5 Meals
At this stage, you’ll want to stick with small rodents like pinkie (newborn) mice or rats, or hopper mice.
Offer one to your hatchling ball python every five to six days.
Baby Ball Python Less Than 200 Grams
At this stage, your baby ball python can handle a small mouse, rat fuzzy, or another small rodent.
Just make sure its width is no bigger than the width of your snake’s midsection.
Offer feeders every seven days.
Juvenile Ball Pythons Around 200 to 350 Grams
Once they’ve reached the 200 to 350-gram mark, your ball python should now be able to eat rat pups or an adult mouse.
At this point, you’ll want to offer food every seven to 10 days.
Ball Pythons Around 350 to 500 Grams
When your ball python grows as large as 350 to 500 grams, it’s time to graduate it to weaned rats and jumbo mice.
At this stage, you’ll most likely only need to feed it every 10 to 14 days.
Adult Ball Pythons 500 to 1200 Grams
If your ball python continues to grow and reaches above 500 grams, you’ll need to start feeding it a diet primarily consisting of small rats as mice will no longer be large enough to satisfy its nutritional needs.
Only offer food about every 14 days.
Adult Ball Python 1200 to 1800 Grams
Ball pythons of this size should be fed primarily medium-sized rats.
Always make sure the rat is not too large to safely fit inside your snake’s belly (no wider than the width of your ball python’s midsection).
Again, stick to a feeding schedule of about every 14 days.
With all this talk about size, you might want to check out our post on the ball python growth timeline.
If you’ve been asking the question, “What can I feed my ball python besides mice?” we hope this article gave you a few helpful ideas!
Remember to make sure the feeder isn’t wider than your snake’s midsection, and follow the guidelines we laid out for when and how often you should offer your snake food.