If you own a ball python, you surely want to give it the best nutritious meals possible. Their main diet consists of rodents and small mice. But you may be wondering if you can mix it up a bit. What about fish? They are high in protein and we generally know fish as being a healthy food. So, can ball pythons eat fish?
Ball pythons can eat fish. But you should not make it a staple in their diet. In fact, you should only feed your python fish only once a month, if you want to. And you cannot feed just about any fish. Only fish that do not have any thiamine enzymes are safe for your python.
Even then, your python will not really miss eating fish. Their main diet is mostly rodents and rats. Baby pythons are likely to eat small mice too!
Can Ball Pythons Eat Fish?
Yes, they can eat fish. However, that does not mean that it should be their main diet. In fact, fish should be given to them very rarely.
In the wild, most ball pythons live in grasslands. They have little access to fish there. But some pythons who live near bodies might have access to fish. But they do not eat them regularly at all.
If you decide to give them fish, make sure you give them fish very rarely. Sticking to their natural diets like rodents and mice is the best thing to do.
Some owners have even reported that their snakes leave fish altogether when given to eat. No matter how it was prepared. One reason for this is that fish are cold-blooded. Snakes like ball pythons prefer warm-blooded prey. That is simply how they evolved to be.
As I mentioned before, they most likely would not have access to fish all that often in the wild. Ball pythons like to hunt their prey. So, warm-blooded animals are the best for their diet.
Feeding Fish to a Ball Python
Okay, having said that there are still some ways you can feed fish to your ball python. But, again, I would like to reiterate the fact that this should not be a regular thing. Not at all. Otherwise, you might cause health problems for your pet.
You might think you are doing them a favor by offering a varied diet. In reality though, they might choose to starve rather than eat something they do not like. And fish could be one of them.
How Often Should You Feed Fish to Your Python?
I recommend feeding fish only once a month. Yes, it should be that rare. Even then if you see your python is not enjoying it or does not want to eat it, then stop. You should not force your snake to eat what they do not like.
It is best to give them their natural diet. They love live warm-blooded prey. And that is the best for them. You do not want a starving snake, now do you?
What Kind of Fish Should You Feed?
Even if you feed them fish once a month, there are limitations on the type of fish they can eat. Some fish have enzymes that can be harmful to your snake. These enzymes can cause Vitamin B1 deficiency.
With enough time, thiamine or Vitamin B1 deficiency can cause nervous system problems and other illnesses. Your snake can even die due to this. Only feed fishes like salmon, guppies, trout, or platies. Basically, fish that have no thiaminase enzyme. Or have only very little of it.
Avoid fishes like rosy reds, minnows, goldfish, mackerel, or whitebait at all costs. Then again, if you see that your snake does not want to eat any kind of fish, then no need to feed them fish whatsoever.
Another thing you might want to look out for is getting the wrong fish. If you are buying fish from the store to feed your python, there is always the chance of the storekeeper giving you the wrong kind of fish. And you might unknowingly feed the wrong kind of fish to your ball python.
Creating a Proper Diet Plan for Your Ball Python
If you want your ball python to be healthy and thrive, then creating a proper diet plan is important. You do not need to worry about varying their diet all that much. Unlike us, they do not get bored of eating a handful of things all the time.
So, you should only feed your python what they are used to and things they would have naturally found in the wild.
Baby Ball Pythons
One thing you should always remember is that their food will depend on their age. Younger snakes cannot swallow large foods. You can stick with small mice for baby ball pythons.
A good rule of thumb to go by is not to feed your snake anything bigger than its head. Newborn hatchlings can be fed small mice as well.
Adult Ball Pythons
For full-grown ball pythons, you can feed them larger rodents and also rats. But if you had a snake from when it was a baby, you might see that the transition could be a bit difficult. They might not want to eat rats as they grow up.
That is why you need to get them used to rats and rodents. Start feeding them rat pups as early as possible. Also, remember never to gut their meals. They need to eat full animals to get the essential nutrients for their health and growth.
So, can ball pythons eat fish? Yes, they can. But you should not feed them fish too often. Foregoing it completely can be better. Remember it is very important to give your snake food that it would eat in nature. And that is mostly rats and rodents.