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It's Been 5 WEEKS! My Ball Python WON'T EAT! Advice?

Discussion in 'Ball Pythons' started by lindenxtree, Dec 21, 2011.

  1. lindenxtree

    lindenxtree Member

    I got my female baby ball python a month ago.
    She has been to a herp vet, is super healthy, extremely active & never shows signs of aggression or anxiety.
    She's rarely in her hide, she's usually basking or wandering her tank.
    She is a perfect little girl, but she WON'T EAT.
    The breeder was feeding her once a week, frozen rats, pup size.
    I have tried everything the breeder & vet have told me (their advice has been vague & unhelpful, mostly to make sure the rat is warm, to feed her at night by dangling it in front of her head & to not handle her the day before feeding).
    I've looked online & haven't found much else, other than much debate over feeding in or out of the tank (I've tried both).
    She just acts curious towards the rat, starts tasting & investigates it, but then she just moves on.
    I am uncomfortable feeding her live rats this young because she is still so small & live rats fight back enough to do damage to a baby ball.
    Both the breeder & the vet said not to panic yet, but she is only 4 months old & hasn't eaten in almost 5 weeks!
    Any advice?
    Thank you in advance for your time, everyone. :(
     
  2. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Actually they are right. As screwy as it sounds to us,...4 weeks is nothing to them. In fact adult BPs will routinely fast for 5-6 months during the winter. But yours is too young for that.
    Have you been handling the snake? If so stop until it feeds.
    Give us the rundown on exactly how you are housing it. Temperatures, humidity, tank size, etc.
    A photo of the tank as well as the snake would be helpful.
     
  3. lindenxtree

    lindenxtree Member

    That is reassuring. Thank you, Merlin. It seems like so long, to have not eaten for a quarter of your life!

    She is in a 20 gallon tank. Left to right, she has a hide, fresh water & a branch for basking. The bedding is aspen.
    Her hide is on the left/cooler side, which I keep at 80°F (27°C) during the day. Water in the middle. Her basking area is on the right/hotter side of the tank, kept at 90°F (32°C) during the day.
    When I switch to the red bulb for the evening, the cooler side is at 75°F (24°F) & the basking area is at 86°F (30°C).
    The humidity is kept between 45-55% at all times.

    I have tried to handle her as little as possible, I have only picked her up to take her to the vet in her carrier & on the one occasion I tried feeding her out of her tank.

    I was thinking the pup size might be a bit too big, despite what the breeder said. Should I try pinkies?

    Anyway, here is her tank. I couldn't get it to upload with the "Insert Image" function:
    http://i38.photobucket.com/albums/e130/x_porcelain_doll_x/tank.jpg

    Again, thanks a million!
     
  4. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Yes their feeding habits do take some getting used to. My male generally goes off feed in November and doesn't eat a thing until around March or April.
    Pinkies are too small for that snake and many times they will just ignore things that are too small. What you want is something about as big around or slightly larger than the snake's body at the widest point. Don't judge it based on that tiny head.

    Has the snake shed while you have had it? In the time frame we are talking about, it should be due for one if it hasn't and they usually won't feed aproaching a shed cycle. And your description of the way it is acting toward the feeder sounds a lot like that behavior.

    Now a few suggestions.
    You are going to need some different thermometers. The stick on strips are completely useless. They were designed around an aquarium full of water, which is basicly a solid mass. In an air filled terrarium, it measures the temperature of the glass wall of the tank, not the air in the tank. Think touching an outside window in winter. THAT is not the temperature in your house. And the analog guages are notoriously innaccurate. Get you a good digital with a remote probe. About 12 dollars at your local Lowes or Home Depot. The probe allows you to check the temps down wher the snake actually is.

    You might also look into a smaller hide. BP's are shy snakes and like their hides to be snug, touching the sides on at least 3 sides.
    When you feed are you feeding in the evening or the middle of the day?
    These guys are nocturnal and the early evening is their chosen time to hunt.
    The prey does need to be wam. BP's have pits on their lips that are heat sensing organs. Those and the sense of smell are their primary hunting tools. You may have to take a blow dryer or something to make the rat good and warm for the snake to notice it.

    As long as the snake is active and is not visibly losing weight, there is no reason to panic.
     

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