Are you concerned because your ball python is not eating?
Have you given your ball python a meal, but it isn’t interested in eating?
If you are worried your ball python is losing too much weight because of a lack of appetite you might wonder:
How do I force feed a ball python?
If your snake hasn’t eaten and is losing weight, force-feeding is an option by either forcing solid food, such as a pinkie, down the throat of your snake or look into tube feeding.
While we don’t recommend force-feeding as the first option you should try, it is something to do to help get nutrients into your snake’s system.
Keep reading as we break down how to force-feed your ball python.
How To Force Feed A Ball Python
Force-feeding is just one option to pursue if your snake is not eating, and there are two options for forcing the food into your snake’s system.
Force-feeding is done by either physically forcing solid food down the throat of your ball python, or by moving liquid food into their stomach by a tube feeding.
Force Feeding Using Solid Food
If you decide to force-feed a ball python using solid food, you will need to prepare a small pre-killed pinkie and cut off its head.
While you hold the pinkie with a pair of tweezers, hold the snake behind the head gently and firmly and push a pinkie against the snake’s mouth, forcing it to open its mouth and down its throat.
The snake may start swallowing the food on its own, but otherwise, use a rod to push the food down.
If the snake does not start swallowing the food, use a thin steel or plastic rod, and gently push it down the ball python’s throat.
Once the food is past the snake’s neck massage the pinkie towards the stomach with your fingers.
The stomach of the ball python is located about a third of the way down the body.
Once the pinkie has been swallowed, leave the snake in a warm dark cage as it digests the food.
With tube feeding, use a plastic syringe with three milliliters to five-milliliter capacity and attach a soft rubber or silicone tube to it.
Using liquidated cat food or even a beaten egg with calcium and vitamin powder, lubricate the tube with water.
Hold the snakes head and open the mouth by pressing on its jaw at either side, then push the tube down the throat of your ball python.
Once you have emptied the syringe’s contents, keep the snake’s mouth closed as a way to stop the ball python from regurgitating the food.
Lastly, return the snake to their cage, make sure they have a dark side to escape, and ensure the cage is at the appropriate temperature.
What To Try Before Force Feeding
If your snake is not eating, it is best to try to figure out what might be causing the problem before you try to force-feed it.
Force-feeding your snake is painful and stressful to your snake and should never be done if your snake is dehydrated.
The problem could be environmental, an underlying health issue, or a less scary and natural reason.
The temperature and humidity levels in their enclosure is a major reason your snake is not eating.
Because snakes are cold-blooded and use external temperatures to aid with their bodily functions, like digestion, keeping the heat and humidity in the tank at ideal levels is vital.
If the temperature is too cold, your ball python will not be interested in eating anything you attempt to give it.
You might also worry your snake is sick or has some parasite.
Snakes are susceptible to developing parasites and other diseases, especially when they are not eating and getting much-needed nutrients.
If you believe your snake has developed some sickness, it is best to contact an experienced veterinarian.
They will be able to tell you if your snake has a parasite or some other disease, you will need help curing.
Be sure to find a veterinarian who is experienced with reptiles so your ball snake will be able to get the best care possible.
Your ball python might also be experiencing a lack of appetite for another less unsettling reason.
When snakes are about to shed their skin, they do not eat much, if at all.
This is a deeply ingrained instinct picked up from in the wild.
During this time of shedding their skin, the snake’s vision will be impaired, and in the wild, the ball python does not hunt for fear of becoming someone else’s prey.
You are sure to notice a change in their eating habits if they are getting ready to shed.
The snake might also not eat if they aren’t hungry.
Combat this by getting your snake on a feeding schedule and sticking to it.
There are many tips and tricks to try if you are the owner of a picky eater, so be sure to try those before you attempt to force-feed your ball snake.
From the color of the mice to trying new feeders, there are many things to try to get your snake to eat naturally.
Force-feeding your ball python should be a last resort, after checking on their environment and trying different feeders.
If you do attempt to force-feed your snake, you will be able to decide whether force-feeding solid food or tube feeding will be the better option for you and your ball python.
If you are in doubt, contact the veterinarian to make sure your snake doesn’t have any underlying health issues.