You can feed your domesticated Ball Python with frozen mice. They don’t eat veggies so don’t give them vegetables or fruits. They will always like all kinds of rodents.
Ball pythons are carnivorous, so their diet consists of:
- Small birds
- Small chicks
Do not feed them often because Ball Pythons take more time to digest their food and to gain energy. Overfeeding can lead to obesity, and this will shorten their lifespan.
Feeding frequency of Ball Pythons
It all depends on the size and age of your Ball Python. Young Ball Pythons (birth to 7th month) have to be fed once a week. After the 7th month, you can feed them once every 10 days.
After 2 years they would have fully grown, and by then, it would be alright to you feed them once every 2 weeks.
Diet of Hatchlings
Hatchlings can survive a week without food after hatching because they gain energy from the absorbed yolk. You have to feed them only after their first shed.
They may take a week to undergo their first shedding process and after that, you can feed them. Note that hatchlings are quite aggressive and might refuse to eat.
They haven’t adapted to the prey and to the feeding. So give them some time to adapt, and it is also okay if they don’t eat for a week. Once you offer them food, monitor them closely to see whether they are eating or not.
If 2 weeks have passed and they don’t eat, then contact your hatchling’s breeder (if you acquired one from) and ask them about their previous feeding routine and the kind of food they were feeding the hatchling. If they say they haven’t fed the Hatchling, then have yours taken to a veterinarian.
Diet of Baby Ball Python
You have to feed a baby Ball Python once a week. Don’t give them live prey or adult rodents; they will get hurt if you give them live prey and they won’t be able to swallow adult rodents.
Baby pall pythons require enough amount of calcium and protein so you have to feed them pinky mice, fuzzy mice, or hopper mice. Follow this routine for 7 months.
Diet of Adult Ball Pythons
For Ball Pythons aging above 7 months, you can try to feed them small-sized rodents. Always remember that whatever you feed them, the size of the food should not be wider than the mid-belly section of the ball python regardless of their age.
After a year, you can try to give them live food so that they will learn to hunt their prey. After releasing their live prey to them, do NOT handle them, but closely monitor to see if they are wounded or not.
Feeding amount of a Ball Python
Regardless of their age, don’t give them a variety of food per day. Though they will most likely love all kinds of rodents, stick to one for a period of time.
Rodents are their primary food. Whatever you feed them the size of the food should not exceed the width of the Ball Python’s mouth and mid-belly section.
- For baby Ball Pythons (under 7 months) the food should not exceed 200 grams.
- After the 7th month, you can give them 350 grams of the food.
- After a year you can give them 300 – 500 grams of food once every 2 weeks.
- For fully grown Ball Pythons, you can give them 500 – 1200 grams of food once every 15 to 20 days.
Food other than rodents
It isn’t recommended to feed Ball Pythons anything other than rodents. But sometimes they will get bored of rodents and won’t eat. If that time comes, you can feed them a different food – like fish (e.g. guppies, platies, trout, salmon), chicken, small snakes, lizards, and birds.
Rodents are the healthiest meal for the Ball Pythons. They provide all the vitamins and calcium one may require. You may occasionally feed them food other than rodents, as mentioned, but, always feed them inside their vivarium.
Hunger Strikes of Ball Pythons
Ball Pythons will often do Hunger Strikes during the winter month. They can survive without eating for 6 months. Whenever they don’t eat for more than a month, make sure whether they are affected by any disease or not.
Whenever they are sick, the first symptom is the loss of appetite. Once you have them checked with the veterinarian and you’ve figured out what’s wrong and treat it, they will start to eat. If they do not, then you have to wait for another couple of weeks and then feed them.
Force-feeding Ball Pythons
Ball pythons often do hunger strikes during the winter season and/or refuse to eat when they are stressed or bored. They can live without eating for months but they will start to lose weight and eventually get infected by diseases. To avoid that, we have to force-feed them.
When your Ball Python is not eating for more than 2 weeks, it is best to analyze the problems before force-feeding them.
Whenever your Ball Python stops eating check the vivarium parameters and maintain them. This is the major reason why your pet feels so stressed and doesn’t eat anything.
It is common that your pet won’t eat much during the winter season. They take a long time to digest the food. Maintain a warm temperature in the vivarium during the winter season. The warmth helps the ball python digests food.
If there is nothing wrong with those parameters, then your Ball python is stressed. Take them to a veterinarian before force-feeding. It is important to check with the veterinarian because not knowing if their previous meal isn’t digested will cause food to rot inside the ball python’s body.
This is a dangerous situation in which your pet may lose its life. When the Ball Pythons are about to shed their skin, they won’t be eating until the shedding process is finished, so do not force-feed in this situation.
Always stick to the feeding schedule. They won’t eat food when they are not hungry, or because they’re bored of the same type of food.
When to Force-feed
Force-feeding should always be your last option because it isn’t advisable. When your Ball python starts to drastically lose weight, it will be better if you analyze all the causes before force-feeding and consult a veterinarian regarding it.
When they don’t eat for more than 2 – 3 weeks they start to lose weight and won’t gain nutrients without having their food. In this condition, they can be easily prone to parasitic infections. Consult the veterinarian immediately. If they suggest force-feeding, you can proceed with doing so.
How to force-feed?
Never force-feed a dehydrated ball python. Before force-feeding, checks whether they have wrinkles on their body and if they have to soak in the water for 30 minutes in a large tub and with a closed lid.
For force-feeding, you may use a pre-killed pinkie with its head removed. Gently hold their head from the back and push the pinkie in your pet’s mouth. They will start to swallow the food, but if they don’t, you have to gently push the food inside their body using a clean sanitized thin rod made of plastic.
Once the food is past their neck, gently massage on their neck until the food moves down to their belly. After that don’t handle your pet and leave them inside their vivarium. Maintain the required temperature inside their vivarium so that it helps them digest their food.
There is also another method to force-feed your pet and it’s called tube feeding. You have to use a 3mm or 5mm syringe which is attached to the soft rubber or silicone tube. Gently hold your ball python’s mouth from the back and push the tube till it reaches their throat.
In the syringe, you can pour eggs supplemented with some vitamin or calcium powder and inject them into their throat until the syringe is empty. Before this, you have to lubricate the tube and syringe with water so that the liquefied food will pass down the throat gently. In this method, always use liquefied food.
Once the syringe is empty don’t immediately take the tube out. Hold their mouth closed for 5 minutes so that they won’t throw up their food. After this, leave them alone in their cage because they would have been stressed in this process and will most likely seek a hiding spot.
Make sure that you have a hiding spot in their vivarium and maintain the cage temperature so that they eventually become calm and start to digest their food.
Do they require supplements?
No, they do not. Ball Pythons get most of the required vitamins and calcium from the rodents themselves.
Obesity in Ball pythons
Overfeeding Ball Pythons lead to obesity, and their lifespan reduces when they do; so stick to a regular feeding time. I recommend you feed them at night since they are nocturnal.
Ball pythons like to play in the water and live near a water source. Always keep water in a large bowl so they can drink and soak as required. If you have a younger Ball Python, you can keep a smaller bowl so they can get out the bowl easily. Regularly change the water twice a day.
Can we provide Tap water for Ball python to drink?
No, you do NOT use tap water. Tap water may contain high chlorine content which will affect your pet’s organs. Always use clean, filtered, or spring water.
How long can Ball Python survive without water?
Ball Pythons can survive 12 days without water and their health won’t be affected. Past 12 days dehydration kicks in and is usually characterized by:
- Loss of Appetite
- Skin folds or wrinkles (visible along the sides or around the neck)
- Dry tongue and inner mouth
- Cracked or dented eye caps
- Rapid weight loss
- Stuck shed around eyes, tail, and nose
Ball Pythons are beautiful pets and require low maintenance. They don’t require constant attention, but monitoring during feeding is needed. Always remember, the loss of appetite is the first symptom of any kind of sickness in Ball Pythons.
Force-feeding should always be your last choice for feeding your Ball Python because it causes a lot of stress for your pet. Maintain a feeding schedule for your Ball python and always feed them at night. Give them colorful rodents instead of the white mice because they will get bored of seeing the same colored food again and again.
Maintain the cage temperature and humidity levels. If you maintain those properly then most of the problems with your pet will not be there. Before force-feeding, consult a veterinarian.