Are you a first-time pet parent to a ball python? Then you may have many questions on what to feed him, how often to feed, and more. You’ve come to the right place to find information on how to feed your snake!
In this article, we’ll share a ball python feeding chart, what these snakes eat, and more. Let’s get started!
Ball Python Feed Chart
Having a feeding chart is one of the best tools you can have when it comes to feeding your ball python. The chart will help you see how much your snake needs to eat by his size, age, and more.
|Snake Age||Snake Weight||Prey Size||Frequency|
|Hatchling||50-100 g||Mouse or pinky rat (8-12 g)||Every five days|
|3 months||120-200 g||Small mouse or fuzzy rat (13-19 g)||Once a week|
|6 months||300-370 g||Adult mouse or rat pup (20-30 g)||Every 7-10 days|
|1 year||500-900 g||1-3 adult mice or 1 small rat (45-80 g)||Every 10-14 days|
|1.5 years||700-1500 g||3-5 adult mice, 1 medium rat, or 2 small rats (80-150 g)||Every 10-14 days|
|3 years||1200-1800 g||4-5 adult mice, 1 medium rat, or 2 small rats (90-150 g)||Every 14-21 days|
|5 years +||1800-2300 g||4-5 adult mice, 1 medium rat, or 2 small rats (90-150 g)||Every 21-50 days|
Keep in mind this chart is for information purposes only. Your snake may have different requirements when it comes to eating. Each snake is a unique individual and may have a different metabolism. Make sure to check with the vet to see what they recommend for your snake’s size and age and follow their directions. You can use this chart as a general guide for feeding your ball python.As you can see from the chart, the size of your python determines the size of prey he should eat. To help you, even more, choose prey that’s just a little wider than the widest part of your snake’s midsection. When it comes to smaller snakes, such as hatchings, it’s best to feed them pinky mice.
What Do Ball Pythons Eat?
Wild ball pythons mainly eat rodents; however, they may also eat birds or lizards. However, in captivity, most pet parents feed their snakes rodents, such as mice or rats.
When snakes are young, you can start them off on pinky mice. This is the best for hatchlings, as they’re pretty small and aren’t large enough to deal with larger prey. As they become older, it’s possible to switch up to rats when your snake becomes an adult.
It may happen that your ball python will reject mice and rats. In that case, you may need to find other prey that your snake will accept. This may include chicks or ducks, other rodents, etc. However, if possible, try to stay with mice and rats. These are usually the most inexpensive and easier to find.
Size of Prey for Your Ball Python
Next, you’ll need to determine the size of prey that’s appropriate for your ball python. Here, it’s important to ensure your snake has enough to eat. It is possible to feed more than one prey item at a time or even feed your snake more often. You’ll need to experiment to find what works best for your snake and your schedule.
No matter, what it’s important to choose prey that is not too large. If your snake has prey that’s too large, he may simply refuse to eat. However, he may also try to eat it, which could lead him to vomit it back out. Another problem with prey that’s too large is that it can damage the snake’s digestive tract.
So, when choosing the right size prey, choose one that is 1 to 1.25 times the size of your snake’s midsection. The prey should create a bulge in the snake, which will slowly diminish over a few days.
It’s not possible to trust the labels put on rodents. These may be labeled “small, medium, and large,” however, the reality may be very different. So, always choose the prey based on its size rather than the label.
Live or Frozen-Thawed Prey?
You know, in the wild, snakes will eat live prey. However, this isn’t necessary for snakes that are captive. These snakes usually have learned to accept frozen-thawed rodents rather than live prey. Experts tend to recommend frozen-thawed rodents for the following reasons:
- Frozen-thawed rodents won’t be able to harm your snake by biting or scratching him.
- Frozen-thawed rodents are easier to store and handle (for you!).
- Frozen-thawed rodents will not suffer from being hunted and constricted.
- Frozen-thawed rodents may not transmit parasites to your snake.
Some snakes will reject frozen-thawed rodents; however, if possible, try to get your snake to accept these. If your snake refuses frozen-thawed rodents, then it will be necessary to feed him live prey. In that case, be sure to monitor your snake and the rodent. You want to intervene quickly if the rodent starts to attack your snake and bite it.
How to Prepare Frozen Prey for Your Ball Python
When using frozen-thawed rodents, then it’s best to thaw it out in the fridge the night before you’ll feed it to your pet snake. This way, the prey can slowly thaw in a temperature-controlled environment. This will keep bacteria from growing.
About 15-30 minutes before your snake’s feeding, put the prey into a BPA-free plastic bag and submerge in warm water (almost hot). The goal is to bring the prey’s body temperature up to between 98-100°F. This makes the prey more similar to live prey for your snake.
Overfeeding Your Ball Python
Sometimes it’s difficult to tell whether or not your pet snake is overweight. This is because they’re heavy-looking. However, here are some ways to see if your snake’s overweight or not:
- Obese snakes’ bodies are more circular and flattened. They also feel soft when you handle them and have fat folds (like people!) around the head and cloaca.
- Snakes at a healthy weight should be hard, with a triangular body shape when viewed from the front. They should not have a prominent spine, however.
Feeding charts are an excellent way to make sure your pet ball python is receiving the right amount of food based on his sex, size, and age. However, remember that the chart is only a guideline. Your pet snake is an individual with specific needs.
If you’re ever in doubt about how much to feed your snake or the best food for him, then be sure to consult your vet. They’ll have all the information and guidance you need to ensure your pet ball python stays happy and healthy!