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Feeding Ball Pythons

Ball Pythons have become very popular snakes with both casual snake keepers and large scale breeders who make a living producing expensive colour morphs. However Ball Pythons have always been renowned as picky feeders and display unusual feeding behavior. This article discusses how to feed your Ball Python correctly.

Captive Bred vs Wild Caught

The best way to ensure your Ball Python will eat is to NEVER purchase a wild caught Ball Python. Wild caught Ball Pythons especially adults will refuse food to the point where they starve to death. Captive bred Ball Pythons should eat mice or rats with few problems. Ball Pythons sold at very cheap prices could be wild caught. Note that no colour morphs occur in the wild, so any Ball Python that is a colour or patter morph has been bred in captivity.


Ball Pythons have the horrible habit of feeding for a couple of months then refusing to eat for a several months. This seems to be normal behaviour and as long as the snake is not losing weight and is not sick you should simply wait for the snake to resume feeding. Feed your Ball Python often while it is eating to ensure a good store of extra fat in case it decides to fast.


Ball Pythons need a hot spot of 30-33 degrees Celsius to digest there food and will refuse to eat at low temperatures. Ball Pythons live in animal burrows in the wild and prefer to be kept in small dark cages with a hide box. Ball Pythons kept in large cages with no hiding spots will refuse to eat. Avoid bright daylight basking lamps use an infrared heat lamp instead.

Type and Size of Food

Avoid food which is too large. Captive bred Ball Pythons will eat normal mice and small rats. Nestling rodents may be preferred over adult rodents. Some Ball Pythons will accept quail chicks or day old chicken hatchlings instead of mice or rats. A change in food type will often get a Ball Python to start feeding after a long fast.

Before you Buy

Always make 100% sure that the Ball Python you want to buy is eating before you buy it. Ask the seller to allow you to watch the snake eat.

Live Food or Dead Food

Captive bred Ball Pythons will accept pre-killed food and should be offered pre-killed food from the first meal. Leaving a live rodent in a Ball Pythons Cage overnight can result in the mice or rat can badly injuring the snake. To avoid rodent bites always feed pre-killed food.

Feeding Methods

Ball Pythons can be offered warmed pre-killed rodents from long forceps. Wiggle the food around to mimic movement and the snake will grab the food with a violent strike. Alternatively place a pre-killed rodent in your Ball Pythons hide box overnight.It is surprising how many snakes will accept food which does not move.

Trick to Get Ball Pythons to Eat

A good trick to get Ball Pythons to eat is to stimulate a rodent nest. Get an opaque tub just big enough for your Ball Python to coil up inside. Place several mouse fuzzies or rat pups in the tub with the Ball Python. Put the tub in the Ball Pythons cage on the heat pad or under a basking light. Leave the the Ball Python in the tub with the nestling rodents overnight. The Ball Python will be surrounded by food for long period in a secure space this will cause a stronger feeding response than if you feed a single adult rodent during the day.