Why Won’t Your Ball Python Eat? (With Feeding Tips)

It can be quite alarming when your pet ball python suddenly refuses to eat. Of course, in that case the first thing people naturally think is that their python is sick. Even though that can be a cause, there are many natural reasons why your ball python might refuse to eat as well.

There are several reasons behind your ball python’s refusal of eating. Starting from health-related issues to surroundings, many factors can play part in this refusal. Such as- time of the year, caging condition, food preference, handling, the surrounding temperature, etc.

So, to understand the specific reason behind your ball python’s negligence towards food, you’ll need to go through this full article and try to understand and match the reasons with your ball python’s condition. So, keep reading to find out why your ball python won’t eat.

why wont my ball python eat

Why Won’t Your Ball Python Eat?

As mentioned earlier, there are several reasons why a ball python may be refusing to eat. You’ll have to keep in mind that every snake is different and their reasons for not eating may also vary.

So, let’s talk about the reasons that are most common and play a part in stopping your pet snake from eating. Once you go through the reasons, I believe you’ll be able to understand your ball python’s situation more accurately.


When you have a ball python as your pet, you’ll have to make sure that you are providing him with sufficient heat 24/7. The ideal temperature of the basking area of your ball python should be 88-to-92-degree Fahrenheit. Also, the temperature in the cage must not be lower than 75 degrees Fahrenheit because this may cause your ball python problems in digesting.

Low temperature causes their metabolism and body to slow down resulting in issues during digestion. It is a proven fact that ball pythons need high temperatures for their smooth digestion process. If they face digestion problems, they tend to stop eating as a survival instinct. Because undigested food can rot inside their body and make them sick.

thermopro tp50 digital hygrometer (2)

The solution to this problem can be achieved by using a light bulb or heating pad during the day time to maintain the specific temperature. I will also suggest you use a thermostat with any heating element you’ll be using to maintain the temperature and to make sure that the temperature doesn’t get too high.

You can use a device such as the ThermoPro TP50 to easily monitor and maintain the proper temperature in your ball pythons terrarium.


Stress is one of the most basic reasons behind your ball python’s lost appetite. It can be caused by various reasons. Such as-

Being Surrounded by Loud noises: As you know, ball pythons, or any snake, don’t have ears of their own but they can surely feel vibrations or surrounding loud noises, which makes them stressed.

Not having Access to Multiple Hides: You should know that your ball python needs more than one hide in his cage to feel comfortable. One hide should be on the cool side of the cage and one should be on the warm side. And it is even considered to be more ideal if you can provide him with more hides.

Variety in feeds: if you don’t provide your ball python with the same type of meal, he will be able to differentiate and this difference in smell and size will make him stressed and will result in losing his appetite.

Too Much Handling: Snakes usually get stressed when they are handled frequently. So, it is important to make sure that you are not overdoing it and you should minimize handling your ball python during the time he’s not eating.

These reasons can cause stress for your ball python and may cause them to stop eating. So, make sure to avoid stressing out your snake.

Shedding Time

When Do Ball Pythons Shed for The First Time

If your ball python is shedding, he will not have the appetite to eat his meals. This is a common reason behind their negligence towards eating. It is also very easy to differentiate this reason among the others as it is visible.

Because during this time you’ll notice that they’ll have milky eyes with an ashy presence in their skin. And they will not start eating until they have gotten their molted skin off.

Knowing when your ball python sheds can help avoid unnecessary panic attacks on your part. So, I’d advise you to read my article on how often ball pythons shed

Messy Cage

One rare thing that you will see is that ball pythons are drawn toward cleanliness. Without their cage being clean they don’t feel homely. This may be another reason behind your ball python’s lost appetite.

Therefore, to make sure the cage of your ball python is cleaned properly every weak. Because they tend to defecate once a week and it should immediately be cleaned for their comfort.


A reason behind your ball python refusing to eat maybe because of health complications that he may be having. If you notice anything like discolored scales, oral or nasal discharge, diarrhea, clicking or wheezing sound while breathing, etc. then your snake is probably sick. Make sure to take the python to a veterinarian in that case.

But if your ball python doesn’t have any visible symptoms then you should consider other reasons behind his lost appetite.

In another article “Signs of Ball Python Dying” I’ve discussed the signs and symptoms of some diseases of ball pythons that commonly occur in captivity. 

Changed Season

We have all heard about hibernation, but do you know about brumation? This is the period of time when your ball python becomes inactive and also starts to refuse food for a few months. After this specific period, you’ll notice that some ball pythons start fasting again as the breeding season approaches, whereas some ball pythons take fewer meals.

But in captivity if proper temperatures are maintained then there is no chance of brumation to occur. So, if the temperatures are fine but your snake still shows signs of slow movement and laziness then you might need to get your python check.

How to Encourage Your Ball Python To Eat?

Now that we have talked about all the reasons, let’s talk about the solutions as well. Because there are several things you can do to make sure your ball python gets his appetite back. Firstly, if you have just gotten your ball python make sure you know what kind of prey your pet was fed before. Because even a slight change in prey type can kill your ball python’s appetite.

Since we are on the topic of prey, it is also important to make sure that the prey you are feeding your ball python is warmer than the surrounding temperature. Because otherwise, he won’t feel the desire to eat it as per his nature. You can help your ball python gain appetite by wiggling his food in front of him.

ball python feeding tips

If it still doesn’t work you can help him simply by cutting the prey, because the smell of blood will lure him towards his meal. Another trick that has proven to be very helpful. That is soaking the pre-killed prey into a warm chicken broth as it will increase the smell and will attract your ball python more.

Sometimes your ball python may also avoid eating due to distraction. So, you can also make sure to cover his food bowl with some kind of cloth to stop him from getting distracted. Another way of making sure that he doesn’t get distracted is by feeding him during the night time with the lights off. I suggest you not to take your ball python out of their cage to feed them, as it makes them uncomfortable.

Remember if your ball python is not eating due to the previously mentioned natural causes then do not try to force it to feed. They have evolved to go on for long periods of time without eating. So, let your python grow his appetite back before trying to feed him.  


So now you know the reasons why your ball python won’t eat. As you can see, if your ball python stops eating it necessarily doesn’t mean that it is sick. Various natural causes can cause loss of appetite. So, check for them before you run your python to the vet.

I hope this article was of help to you to find what you were looking for. Wishing you and your ball python good health. Farewell.