How Often To Feed Ball Pythons

Do you need to know more about your ball python’s diet?

Are you wondering if you’re feeding your pet often enough?

New owners struggle with this part of a ball python’s diet because they don’t believe it to be true.

But regardless of your feelings, the answer for how often to feed ball pythons stays the same.

Adult ball pythons should be fed every 10-14 days. They need to eat one appropriately-sized meal (usually a large mouse or rat) per feeding. Baby ball pythons eat every 5-7 days.

Look ahead for more details on the answer to this question and others.

how often to feed ball python

How Often To Feed A Ball Python

Adult Ball Pythons

The answer is simple but still shocking for many new owners: adult ball pythons need to eat every 10-14 days.

It’s hard for many of us to wrap our heads around because it’s so much unlike almost any other pet you may own.

But this feeding frequency is quite common with snakes.

They don’t need a lot of energy to function, and therefore, don’t need to eat a lot.

When they swallow their food, it takes them 1-2 days to fully digest the meal, and then they have enough to function on for weeks afterward.

Many people would accept this if the snake ate a lot at this one meal, but this isn’t the case either.

Ball pythons also only eat one prey item during this single meal every 10-14 days.

This is just the way their digestive systems have evolved to work.

The important part as an owner is to make sure the prey item is appropriately-sized.

Too small, and the snake won’t get enough nutrition and become malnourished.

Too large, and the python may choke or regurgitate its meal.

So what’s the right size of food for a ball python?

The general rule is this:

The food should be no larger than, but close to the size of the python’s body at mid-length.

This is important to remember, as we mentioned above.

Some snakes are OK to go up to 1.5 times the size of their bodies, but this isn’t the case with ball pythons. It’s better to play it on the safe side.

The prey items need to be either a large mouse or rat.

Rats are generally considered better as they are more in line with what the python eats in the wild.

Rats also come in larger sizes and are more likely to satisfy the larger ball pythons.

However, large mice are more readily available as they are used as a staple food for many pets.

Learn more about what to feed a ball python.

Baby Ball Pythons

Even baby ball pythons don’t eat often.

The typical time frame for feeding a baby is every 5-7 days.

Don’t be surprised if they learn towards the 7-day mark early on in their development.

With baby ball pythons, you must make sure the size of the food is smaller than the body’s size at mid-length.

This may seem difficult to meet as ball pythons are born quite small.

The common choice for baby ball python food is pinky mice.

These are newborn mice who haven’t grown out all their fur yet.

These will often meet the size requirement and are readily available through online and in-person pet retailers.

Learn more about what to feed baby ball pythons.

Ball Python Shedding

You may be wondering why there’s a section on ball python shedding in an article about their diets.

Shedding impacts diet in a big way.

Younger ball pythons frequently shed (some as often as a week or more) as they grow faster than in adulthood.

Adult ball pythons shed less frequently (every 3-6 weeks), but they still do it often.

How does this affect the diet?

During a shed, ball pythons won’t eat at all!

It would be best if you waited until they’re done.

Many times, you’ll go to feed your pet, and it refuses to eat.

This is when you look for signs of shedding, which are:

  • White skin
  • Glassy eyes
  • Cranky personality

When you see this, wait.

If your ball python doesn’t end up eating for 16 days, it’s OK.

If your baby python ends up going to 10 days, it’s OK.

Watch for signs of shedding and be patient. It will typically finish shedding within 48 hours.

Don’t hurry along the process by bathing, spraying, or rubbing the snake.

This may cause injury. 

How Long Do Ball Pythons Go Without Eating?

This is an area of small debate for ball python owners.

The best answer is 2-3 days beyond their normal feeding timeline.

This means up to 17 days for adults and 10 days for babies.

However, ball pythons can technically go into a state of brumation.

Brumation is like hibernation when the temperatures drop in their native habitat.

During this time, ball pythons move less and drink less.

This can last for months (up to 3-4 at times).

During brumation, they’ll eat almost nothing.

This is the answer some pet places will give.

However, unlike many snakes and reptiles, the ball python’s natural habitat isn’t prone to such temperature drops.

They don’t even need to go into brumation.

This means there is no need for them to last so long without eating.

If you notice your ball python stretching beyond the 17-day mark for eating, call the vet for advice.

While it may just be brumation, this isn’t a norm for the ball python, and it may be an illness.

Baby and juvenile ball pythons will never go into brumation.

They need to eat at least once every two weeks.

These stages are from birth to 1.5 years.

Check out what to do if your ball python won’t eat.

Conclusion

We hope you found the information on how often to feed ball pythons helpful.

10-14 days is a long time, but this is normal for these animals.

Watch for signs of a shed to extend the timeline, but also be on the lookout for signs of illness.

Keeping a vigilant eye on your pet and sticking to the recommendations is best for giving your ball python a long and happy life.