How To Get A Ball Python To Eat

Are you curious about how to properly feed your ball python?

Do you have a ball python who won’t eat?

When you are worried your ball python isn’t eating properly, you might wonder:

How do I get a ball python to eat?

Ball pythons are picky eaters, but with some trial and error, you will be successful. Ensure the food is the appropriate size, live and frozen, experiment with prey color, create a feeding schedule, and try hand feeding, but if you still notice a problem, contact a veterinarian to have your animal checked out.

Read on for more detailed information on how to get your ball python to eat, and what might be stopping them from doing so.

how to get a ball python to eat

How To Get A Ball Python To Eat

Ball pythons are not known to be the best eaters.

They are often picky, and it can take some trial and error on your part to get the animal to eat.

Here we will break down some of the best tips and tricks to getting your ball python to eat.

Appropriate Sized Food

When feeding your snake, one of the most important tips is to make sure the food is the appropriate size for your pet.

If the prey is too large, your ball python might not even attempt to eat it, because they realize the dangers coming along with eating something too big.

If your snake were to eat something too large, it could choke or regurgitate the prey, a painful process.

Besides causing damage, having the wrong size prey could cause death to your animal.

Too small of prey won’t allow your ball python to get proper nutrition.

Choose prey measuring roughly the size of the diameter of your snake’s body.

Live Vs. Frozen Prey

Frozen prey is not available for ball pythons in the wild, and the desire for live prey does feel the most natural for your pet, even if they have spent their whole life in captivity.

Hatchlings raised by reputable breeders will be trained from the beginning to eat both frozen or live prey, but sometimes they are not trained properly or want what feels natural.

If you are attempting to feed your snake frozen prey and they aren’t biting, try a live mouse or rat to see if it makes a difference.

The live rodent might appeal to the animal’s instinct.

Going the frozen route is a perfectly good alternative to live rodents, be sure you let it thaw first.

Do not attempt to defrost in a microwave or by boiling, just let it warm up naturally.

Hand Feeding

If you are unable to get or don’t want to have live prey in your home, try hand-feeding with the frozen prey.

Some people might be squeamish about live prey, or you might be concerned the live prey will harm your animal.

There is the chance your snake could be scratched or otherwise harmed by the rodents as they fight, quite literally, for their lives.

If your snake is not interested in frozen prey, placed in their tank, you might try hand feeding them.

This is done using long tongs, clamps, or forceps.

Doing so will prevent the snake from associating your hands with food and help avoid a potential accidental bite to you.

Wiggle the frozen rodent with the tongs to mimic movements of a live animal.

This plays on a ball python instincts, and your snake will likely be more interested in the prey if it is moving rather than just sitting there in the cage.

Color Of The Prey

This might sound surprising, but the rodent’s color can make a difference for feeding your ball python.

When you go to a local pet store or even buy from a feeder supply company, odds are the mice or rats are going to be white.

In the wild, the snake will never see a white mouse, so some won’t be interested in eating these feeders.

If you are having trouble getting your snake to eat these, try to find a brown or multicolored rodent to see if the color of the prey is causing your snake to shy away from eating.

Creating A Feeding Schedule

Creating and sticking to a feeding schedule is a great way to help get your ball python to eat.

If the snake is already eating on a specific schedule before you bring your new pet home, if possible, ask the breeder or pet shop what the schedule is.

If so, stick to the schedule they are already on, but if not, try to make your own schedule and stick to it.

This will help you keep track of their feeding habits.

If the feeds are too close together, your snake might not be interested in eating so soon, and too far apart is not a good way to keep your pet healthy.

The average ball python will eat once every one to two weeks, except when they are preparing to shed.

Because they don’t hunt in the wild when they are preparing to shed, the instinct of your snake will be not to eat as well.

When your snake is about to shed, delay the feeding until this is complete.

When Nothing Works

Above all, remember a lack of appetite could be a result of a health issue, so it is important to find a veterinarian who specializes in reptiles.

If you try everything and your ball python still won’t eat, definitely contact your vet to have the animal checked out.

It could be your snake has developed some disease or parasite along the way and needs medical attention.

A vet will help you discover if there is a serious health issue you will need to address.


Getting your snake to eat is a challenge until you find the right combination of tricks and prey.

Learning your snake’s preferences and making sure you have the right size prey is a great start to getting your ball python to eat.

We hope you now have some new tactics to try if you’re the owner of a picky ball python.

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