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Get Your Owner's Guide For Ball Pythons And Help Your Special Friend Live its Best Life.

What Size Mouse To Feed Ball Pythons Based On Snake Girth

Are you concerned about feeding your ball python correctly?

Do you worry about feeding them the right food?

If feeding your ball python is giving you anxiety, but you have settled on feeding the animal mice, you might wonder:

What size mouse do I feed my ball python?

Ball pythons do best when fed mice no bigger than their body’s diameter at the widest point.

Anything larger and the snake will not eat it or could become injured, choke, or die.

Feeding your ball python does not need to be a difficult task, and the availability of mice, live or frozen, makes their dinner easily accessible for you.

Keep reading for more information on feeding your ball python the right-sized mouse.

what size mouse to feed ball python

What Size Mouse To Feed Ball Python

When feeding your snake, it is crucial to provide them with a mouse of the proper size.

Feed your ball python a mouse no larger than the diameter of their body at the widest point.

The snake will eat varying sizes of mice, depending on their size.

When they are hatchlings and still young, you are better off feeding them pinkies or fuzzies to accommodate the snake’s smaller size.

feeding a pinkie to a baby ball python

Pinkies are the youngest and smallest feeder mice, getting their name because they have no fur and appear pink.

They are no older than five days old.

Feeder mice called fuzzies are slightly older and larger than pinkies, aged anywhere from five days old to two weeks.

As your snake ages, you will be able to move up on the feeder mice ladder, but always keep in mind the snake’s size before feeding.

The table below can help determine what size mouse your ball python should eat.

Ball Python Age
(in months)
Ball Python Weight
(in grams)
Prey Type and Size
Hatchling50 – 100Hopper mouse/pinky rat
(8-12 g)
3120 – 200 Small mouse/fuzzy rat
(13-19 g)
6300 – 370 Adult mouse/rat pup
(20-30 g)
12500 – 900 1 to 3 adult mice/1 small rat
(45-80 g)
18700 – 15003-5 adult mice/1 medium rat/2 small rats
(80-150 g)
361200 – 18004-5 adult mice, 1 medium rat, 2 small rats
(90-150 g)
60+1800 – 23004-5 adult mice, 1 medium rat, 2 small rats
(90-150 g)

What Happens If The Prey Is Too Large

Introducing prey any larger than the diameter of the body can cause problems for your snake and you.

The snake might not even attempt to eat the large mouse, but if it does, it can result in regurgitation, which is painful for the snake.

ball python not eating a large mouse

You might also have issues with choking if the too large rodent gets stuck in the mouth or esophagus.

It is better to feed the snake too small of rodents than too large.

Keep in mind, if the feeder is too small, the snake might not get the proper nutrition and might need to be fed more often.

How To Measure The Widest Part Of A Snakes Body

Are you finding it hard to figure out the widest part of the snake’s body?

If you are having trouble getting the snake to sit still or can’t maneuver the tape measure, there is a simple solution.

Take a piece of string and fit it around the snake’s body.

Then measure the string without having to have the snake hold still.

Then, take the string with you to the pet shop to measure it against some of the feeders they have on hand.

What Size Rat To Feed Ball Python

If you’re considering adding some variety to your ball python’s diet, consider feeding them rats, but again, size is essential.

Use the same rule of thumb you use for mice when you are looking at feeding them rats.

A rat should be no larger than the size of the largest part of your snake’s body diameter.

measuring a fuzzy rat for a ball python

Smaller, young rats are usually about the equivalent in size to older, larger mice, so once your snake is large enough to eat those, introduce rats.

Rats also have a similar scale to mice for different feeders, like pinkies and fuzzies.

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Live Prey Vs. Frozen

Choose whether you want to feed your ball python live prey or frozen.

There are pros and cons to each, but you will need to see what your snake is used to and what it prefers.

Snakes coming from reputable breeders are usually trained from the beginning to eat either live or frozen prey, but some are only fed one thing.

It would be best to ask what they have been fed in the past before bringing your new ball python home.

Some snakes will lean into their instincts and want live prey, but live prey will present some challenges.

These mice or rats will be fighting for their lives and can cause injuries to your snake when it bites or scratches.

Frozen prey is a good alternative if your snake accepts it.

You will need to thaw the rodent before feeding it to your snake, but do not use the microwave or boil them.

heating frozen mice for ball python

Make them a little more appealing by taking tongs and wiggling the animal in front of your snake.

This movement imitates the movements of a live mouse, and your snake is more inclined to eat.

A little trial and error and some experimentation, and you will know what works best for you and your ball python.

How Often Do I Feed My Ball Python

Once it reaches adulthood, a ball python will eat approximately every 10 to 14 days, and you should also maintain a regular feeding schedule.

When the snake is still young, it should be fed more often, approximately every five to six days, but once a week.

Let’s get into a little more detail.

Hatchling

Baby pythons grow quickly, so they will need to be fed more often than adults.

A female baby python will grow up to a foot long within a year. Males, on the other hand, get 8 inches longer each year.

To keep up with your python’s growth spurts, offer them food every five days and progress to a new feeder mouse size as they grow. 

3 Months Old

Juvenile pythons (any age under one year old) are still growing in full force. Feed them a little mouse or a fluffy rat each week to help them grow.

Adjust the size of their food as they grow.

6 Months Old

A 6-month-old python has a bigger appetite, and they will want to eat every 7-10 days.

You can adjust their food from a rat pup to a grown mouse or even give them two feeder mice at once.

Remember not to overfeed your python. Too much weight on a young snake’s body can cause problems with their skeletal structure or even regurgitation.

1 Year Old

This is the age when you’ll start observing size differences in female and male pythons. Females outgrow the males, so you’ll have to adjust the size of their prey accordingly. 

Smaller male pythons can chow down on 1-3 adult mice, while the females might fancy a rat.

ball python eating a mouse

3 Years Old

By the time they hit three, ball pythons start slowing down in the growth department. It’s also when male pythons reach maturity.

Now, you can feed them every two to three weeks and bump up the prey size a bit. 

Feeding your adult snake juvenile-sized food can lead to weight gain and potential health issues.

5 Years Old

5 is when ball pythons (males and females) reach maturity. They’ll still grow a little over the years, though. 

There’s no need to switch up their diet. Most adults are good with one medium rat, two small ones, or 4-5 full-size mice every three to seven weeks.

You can refer to the table below for a guide on how often to feed your ball python at various stages in their life.

Ball Python Age
(in months)
Feeding Frequency
HatchlingEvery five days
3Once every week
6Every 7-10 days
12Every 10-14 days
18Every 10-14 days
36Every 14-21 days
60+Every 21-50 days

Your snake will let you know if they are not hungry by not eating the food you place in the cage.

If your snake continues not to be interested in food, be sure to check with a veterinarian who specializes in reptiles.

They will assess if the animal has developed any health issues reducing their appetite.

Also, please keep in mind snakes also are not big eaters around the time they shed.

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Conclusion

Feeding your snake is an important aspect of ownership, and knowing the proper size is key to avoiding any digestive problems for your snake.

Remember to measure and do not feed your snake anything larger than the diameter of your snake at its largest point.

Hopefully, now you can feed your snake with confidence.

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