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Zac Won't Eat Rats...

Discussion in 'Ball Pythons' started by alliperry7, Jul 14, 2014.

  1. alliperry7

    alliperry7 Member

    Hello there,

    I haven't posted in a while because Zac has been doing so well! I'm only slightly concerned about his eating habits.

    He was eating f/t rats and then for some reason just went off them. Every time I offered (when he was out "hunting" and otherwise hungry) he would act very interested, then sniff the rat and go back to his hide. This happened for weeks so I started offering the adult mice that he'd previously outgrown. He didn't hesitate once and would gobble them up eating 2 or 3 in a sitting and searching for more. I tried scenting the rat with the mice or offering a mouse first and then offering the rat but the same thing happened every time. He'd be interested, smell it, and then not take it. I tried switching brands with no luck.

    He's about 1 and 1/2 now and last time I weighed him was just under 1000 grams. He's def growing and otherwise completely healthy. I know balls are usually picky eaters but I'm not sure why he'd go from taking rats to having NO interest in them even when he's hungry. I hate having to throw out the rats I buy so I've been steadily feeding him adult mice but they're so puny and he swallows them in under 3 minutes. What advice do you have for me? If I continue feeding him mice, how many/how often should I be feeding?

    Right now he's taking 2 every 5-7 days. I'm thinking he either needs more or more often because after swallowing the second, he's always left hunting for more and when I go to feed him, I barely get them into the enclosure before he snaps and grabs them.

    I don't want to be underfeeding him!!

    Any help is appreciated!

    Thanks, Alli
  2. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Have you changed your rodent supplier? Perhaps the new rats have a different smell.
    Try feeding the mouse and while it is swallowing the mouse, using tongs and just follow the rat in behind the mouse as it goes down. That's the way I have always switched from live to F/t on new snakes that were being difficult
  3. CryHavoc17

    CryHavoc17 Elite Member

    Some balls are just darn stubborn to get permanently off of mice. Since they have a srong feeding response to mice, much more so then rats, its actually pretty common for them to not want to get back on rats after going off of food. You can always try to wait him out a bit. If you let him get hungry enough he may break. Ive also had success in the past by using a feeding container to condition a snake into food mode. It can be a challenging process for anyone, but there are plenty of tricks you can try. It may be that he is just going to be hit and miss on rats though
  4. Darkbird

    Darkbird Elite Member

    This is the only downside to keeping balls, the occasional picky feeders. You'll need to be feeding a lot of mice if you can't get it back on rats. It wouldn't surprise me if it was taking 5-6 at a time. I have 2 or 3 that are ASF feeders, and take 3 at a time, and ASFs tend to be about twice the size of a mouse. Couple other thing to possibly try, get a rat that is the same size or just a bit larger than the mouse. Thaw in the same container, rub them together quite vigorously to make sure the scent is as strong as possible, then feed the mouse followed by the rat. If that works, keep repeating the process while slowly decreasing the scent of mouse, and you'll end up feeding the rat but no mouse, and hopefully get to where no scent is required. I used this method to get a wild caught female to start eating, only I used ASFs instead of mice. The other option is more a test of wills. You simply stop offering mice, wait a few weeks, then offer a rat again. If it refuses, wait a few more weeks. This is where a digital kitchen scale comes in handy, as you need to monitor for any significant weight loss. Eventually it should eat again, but it could take a good long while. I'm currently doing this with an albino female, I've tried to jumpstart her a couple times with ASFs, but she's being stubborn. Since I breed both rats and ASFs, I have even rubbed a rat around in dirty ASF bedding, and had that work. Those are all the ways I can think of at the moment.

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