A ball python refusing to eat can be concerning for many reptile owners. Here's what to do if your snake refuses to eat. First, you should know what can cause them to lose their appetite.
A lack of appetite can be influenced or caused by:
- Food type
- Feeding consistency
Since pythons are cold-blooded, they rely on the conditions of their environment to reach a comfortable temperature. Ball pythons need both a cold and hot side of their enclosure. The hot side should be between 85° and 95°F. The cold side should be between 70° and 80°F. The humidity of the cage should be between 40 and 70%.
It is also important to make sure your snake has the appropriate substrate to maintain the humidity. A mixture of coconut fiber and sphagnum moss will help to retain the humidity in the enclosure.
Sometimes ball pythons can be picky eaters. These snakes tend to develop eating habits, and changes can disrupt their appetite. For example, if your snake has been eating one type of food for a long period and you suddenly introduce a new food, your snake may not be willing to eat it. Transitions in diet should be introduced slowly. A couple of other reasons your snake may not accept its food are:
- The food is too large. Don't feed your snake anything larger than the widest portion of its body.
- Frozen mice or rats are not fully thawed. Since snakes are cold-blooded, eating a cold rat or mouse will lower its body temperature and possibly make him or her uncomfortable.
Are you feeding your snake at appropriate intervals? Baby pythons can eat twice a week, while adults should wait a week or two between feedings. Overfeeding your snake can lead to obesity and loss of appetite.
Just like people, if a snake is stressed it can lose its appetite. Stress can be caused by:
- Lack of hiding places. Although it may be tempting to have your snake out in plain view, this can cause significant stress for the animal. They need plenty of hiding places to feel safe. A reptile cave or log can provide your snake with this security.
- Overhandling. Overhandling a snake when it is not used to it can cause stress. If a python has been stressed by handling, the best approach is to allow the snake to relax by not handling it for a week.
- Day/Night cycle. Your python should have a light on a 12-hour cycle. This means light for 12 hours and dark for 12 hours. If this isn't followed, the snake can become stressed.
Sometimes the reason for a python's lack of appetite can be an illness. If none of the above steps helped your python, it's best to have it checked out by a vet.
Contact us if you have further questions!