Whenever we bring home a new pet the first concern that we have is about feeding them. Thankfully, ball pythons in that regard are not very demanding. I’m sure that you already know that mice are the standard feed for ball pythons and now you may raise a question, how many mice should I feed my ball python?
You should provide for your python depending on the stage of life it’s in and the mice’s size. It’s safer to feed it only one mouse of the correct size per feeding. Adults need to be fed adult rats once every 14 to 15 days, while hatchlings need to be fed pinkies every 5-7 days.
Feeding multiple mice to your python at one go might be risky. There may not be any problems with it right away, but it’s unnecessary to make them go through that. You’ll learn more about it once you’ve read the whole article, along with a useful few pointers.
How Many Mice Should My Ball Python Eat?
To be on the safer side, it’s best to feed your snake one mouse per feeding. If you’re a beginner, your inexperience might do more harm than good to your snake.
Feeding multiple mice might not be an issue for the most part. However, it could lead to some health and weight complications. So, it’s better not to go for multiple feeding options. Also, don’t try to compensate if they ever skip their meals without consulting a certified vet. Feed them only one proper sized mouse whenever you do.
What Size of Mice Should I Feed?
The size of the mouse depends on the size of your snake. Oversized feed can actually harm your ball python. The correct way to determine the mouse’s size is to compare its girth with the snake’s midsection. The girth of the mice should be around the same as the girth of the midsection of your ball python.
As mentioned before, the size also depends on the stage of life your snake is in. Here’s a small guide to picking the perfectly sized feed for your ball python –
- Pinky (0.5 to 1 inch) – 1 to 2 days old
- Hopper (1.5 to 3 inches) – 2 to 3 weeks
- Adult or rats (4 to 6 inches) – Over 30 days.
How Frequently Should I Feed My Ball Python?
An adult snake will typically feed once every couple of weeks. Hatchlings on the other hand must be fed once every five to six days because it’s growing.
If your snake is a hatchling, don’t handle the first feeding yourself. Wait for the first shed to happen before you feed it. Shedding will take five to seven days after it hatches. Remember to reduce the feeding to once every ten days after seven months.
Juvenile pythons (around 200 to 350 grams) are still in a growth phase but it’s slower than hatchlings. So, feed them weekly or every 5-6 days. Once an adult, you can feed them once every fourteen days.
Your snake may not want to eat regularly every week. If that happens, you can wait a little longer the next you feed it. You should also pay attention to its weight. If the tail of the snake gradually tapers at the end, it’s within a stable weight. However, if there’s an abrupt change in width, you should take more time in between the feedings.
Another way to tell if it’s becoming overweight is to look at the scales. If it seems stretched despite the snake being relaxed, then it’s headed towards obesity. You can provide smaller mice to your snake, and hopefully, this will prevent any issue with obesity.
How Do I Feed My Ball Python?
Frozen mouse, is what I mostly recommend for feeding ball pythons. It is also what I personally do. Take them out of the freezer and thaw them. Then use a reptile feeding tong to move the thawed mouse around and attract the python’s attention.
You can also feed them live mice if you are not comfortable with hand feeding. As recommended earlier, feed one mouse per feeding. It may become difficult for your snake to catch and eat more than one mouse at a time.
However, please make sure that the prey doesn’t injure your snake while it tries to fight for its life. These rodents will try their best to champion your snake. So, take necessary precautions while feeding live prey.
I personally don’t recommend it for both the dangers and moral implications. But if you are interested then there’s definitely nothing wrong with that if you take the necessary precautions.
I would also suggest that you have a separate tank for feeding. Furthermore, while they’re digesting, I don’t recommend handling them. You might risk them feeling restless and agitated. This might, in turn, cause them to vomit or lash out at you.
For a more detailed guide on how to feed snakes please check out my Ball Python Feeding Guide. I’ve tried to cover everything about feeding them there.
Frozen or Live Mice?
As discussed earlier, frozen mice are the most suitable option when it comes to feeding ball pythons or any sort of medium sized snakes for the matter.
Frozen mice will be safer and parasite-free. Providing freshly killed mice can be a challenging task as you’d have to keep a fresh supply and breed them along with your snake.
And finally, live mice might hurt your snake. So, this isn’t a viable option for hatchlings. But you can do this efficiently when your snake becomes an adult.
Why Is My Snake Not Eating and What Should I Do?
At times, your snake may not eat for several days at a stretch. If that happens, you should consider that it could indicate different things such as shedding, digestive difficulty, the temperature of the environment it’s in etc.
A python closing in on its shedding period may refuse to eat for a while. This is a natural occurrence, so my advice would be to wait during this period. You can try to feed it after it’s done shedding.
You can also try adjusting the humidity and temperature of the cage or tank that it’s in. Without a proper temperature your ball pythons may be suffering from overheating or freezing. For that it may be reluctant to eat.
Invest in a good thermometer to check the temperature and humidity level in your python terrarium. I personally use the ThermoPro TP49. It’s LED display makes it easy to get the readings and it lasts 18 – 24 months with a AAA battery.
For other factors like digestive difficulties, you should be consulting with the professionals for guidance.
I hope this article gave you some insight on how many mice you should feed your python. As you can see, whatever the size or age of your ball python might be that number is always one. It is only the size that you need to be concerned about.
Many time new pet owners beat themselves up about this. They want to give their snakes the best care possible. If that is you, I hope now you know what to do regarding feeding your pet ball python.