All animals need to eat.
But some eat far less than others.
Snakes are incredibly efficient. They only need a small amount of energy.
As a result, they can go a long time without food.
How long can a ball python go without eating?
Quite long, though it is still nowhere near some other snake species.
Keep reading to learn just how long a ball python can go without food. We will also go over reasons a ball python may stop eating and what you can do to get your snake to eat again.
Table of Contents
- 1 How Long Can Ball Pythons Go Without Eating?
- 1.1 How Often Do Ball Pythons Need To Eat?
- 1.2 5 Reasons Your Snake Is Not Eating
- 1.3 What Can I Do To Make My Ball Python Eat?
- 1.4 Can I Feed My Ball Python Two Days In A Row?
- 1.5 How Long Can I Leave A Dead Mouse In My Snake’s Cage?
- 2 How Long Can A Ball Python Go Without Food: Final Thoughts
How Long Can Ball Pythons Go Without Eating?
Adult ball pythons can go without food for almost 6 months. That may seem like a long time, but some species of snakes can go without eating for up to two years!
Ball pythons tend to be picky eaters. Mice are not a normal part of a wild-caught ball python’s diet, so it may not feed for months or until its preferred food is made available.
Captive-bred juvenile ball pythons usually eat at least once every 1 to 2 weeks, while adult ball pythons eat once every 2 to 4 weeks.
How Often Do Ball Pythons Need To Eat?
How often your ball python eats will depend on where it came from. Snakes that were caught in the wild may have a hard time adjusting to a diet of mice or rats. They could refuse food for long periods of time.
Wild Caught Ball Pythons
Wild-caught ball pythons tend to be picky eaters. They may not prefer the fuzzies, pinkies, or frozen rats you feed them. Consequently, they could go for weeks or even months without eating. Tyr enticing your snake with some gerbil to get it to eat. Gerbils are one of this snake’s favorite foods.
Captive-Bred Ball Pythons
If you have bought your ball python from a pet shop or a breeder, it will be a much better eater. However, it may still skip a meal from time to time.
- Young ball pythons or juveniles will eat a mouse once every seven to ten days.
- Adult ball pythons will eat a large rat once every two or four weeks.
5 Reasons Your Snake Is Not Eating
Here are some common reasons your snake is not eating. Depending on the cause, your snake may eventually start eating again. If not, definitely talk to your vet.
Shedding Or Molting
If your snake is about to shed or is already going through a shed, it may not eat. During shedding, your ball python will refuse food and it is best not to force-feed it. The entire shedding process can take about two weeks to complete.
Remember that adult ball pythons shed every 6 weeks, whereas younger ones may shed more frequently. Your snake should start eating once all of its skin is sloughed off.
Once a ball python reaches sexual maturity, it will reduce the number of meals it eats and may go longer between meals. Most ball pythons reach sexual maturity around 2 years of age, although that is a rough estimate. They may eat only once every 4 to 6 weeks.
Regular Seasonal Fasting
All ball pythons go on prolonged seasonal fasts every year. It would be exceedingly rare for a ball python to not do that. They generally refuse to eat in the winter.
This seasonal fasting typically lasts between December and March in the northern hemisphere. Most ball pythons start eating again, once the winter is over.
You could try adjusting the temperature and humidity levels in your pet’s enclosure if that occurs. Keep the cold end a little colder. This could get your pet to expend more energy, which may get it to eat.
Worry not: most ball pythons can handle these starvation periods. As long as your snake is not losing weight drastically, it should be fine.
Stress is one of the main causes of a lack of appetite in ball pythons. Improper cage environments (incorrect husbandry), an overcrowded or small cage, inadequate hiding areas, too much heat, cold, or humidity, excess handling, excess traffic around the cage, etc., can stress your ball Python out.
By fixing these issues, your pet will start eating again. These are things you want to fix anyway. They are all part of good ball python care. If you are not sure if your snake is feeling stressed, look for these signs of a stressed ball python.
Illnesses such as parasites, respiratory or viral infections, dehydration, etc. can also cause your ball python to stop eating. Take your pet to an exotic vet. Once these issues are resolved, your snake will start eating again.
What Can I Do To Make My Ball Python Eat?
Here are some ways to handle your ball python’s non-eating phase. Remember, in some cases (like during shedding), not eating is perfectly normal and you actually shouldn’t do anything.
Do not panic if your ball python has not eaten for a couple of weeks. It could be seasonal fasting, molting, etc. Remember: even if you maintain the same environment in your snake’s cage all year round, it will still go through seasonal changes like breeding, brumation, etc.
Offer Enticing Meals
As mentioned above, ball pythons can be quite picky and may refuse mice, since that isn’t the food they prefer in the wild. Try offering some recently dead shrews, rodents, amphibians, or birds.
Chicks, gerbils, guinea pigs, hamsters, etc. also make for some nice variety. You can also rub some gerbil litter on dead mice. That smell may entice your snake to eat.
Make Sure Meals Are The Appropriate Size And Temperature
Offer thawed meals of the right size to your python based on its size and age. Warming the food can make it smell more appetizing and could entice your python to eat.
Cold rodents are often turn-offs and can keep your python from eating. To thaw a frozen mouse, place the mouse in a bag and place the bag in hot water. Ensure that the insides of the mouse are completely thawed before offering it to your pet.
Ensure Proper Cage Environment
Triple-check your snake’s cage parameters and adjust the temperature to 78° to 80° F with a basking area of 90° F. Provide adequate hiding areas. These are very important for your snake to de-stress.
Leave Your Snake Alone When It Eats
Snakes do not like an audience when they eat. Try leaving the food in the cage and giving your snake some privacy. If it hasn’t eaten it the next morning, remove the food and try again after a week.
Offer Live Or Freshly-Killed Food
After a week, try offering your snake some freshly killed or live food. Snakes like to play with their meals sometimes and live prey can entice it to move. If offering live meals is not possible, move the food around using a pair of tongs. This could trick your snake into thinking it is alive.
If you choose to offer a live rodent, please supervise the feeding. You do not want the rodent to injure your snake. If your snake still doesn’t eat, remove the live rodent from the cage right away.
Treat Underlying Health Issues
If, despite implementing the above tips, your snake still hasn’t eaten for months, seek medical help. It could be that it is in ill health.
Can I Feed My Ball Python Two Days In A Row?
You should not feed a ball python two days in a row. A younger will usually only eat once a week. As your snake grows and becomes an adult, you could reduce the number of feedings to once every two or three weeks. Just make sure to offer larger prey than you’d feed your juvenile.
How Long Can I Leave A Dead Mouse In My Snake’s Cage?
You can leave a dead mouse in your python’s cage overnight. In the morning, if it is still not gone, you should discard it.
Leaving the dead mouse in the warm cage any longer will cause its body to decompose. It will give off a foul smell and also invite microbes and germs. These can harm your snake’s health, so please avoid leaving dead mice in your snake’s cage longer than necessary.
How Long Can A Ball Python Go Without Food: Final Thoughts
Ball pythons can easily go several months without eating. If yours has not eaten in a few weeks, there is probably nothing to worry about. It is normal for them to sometimes refuse food.
However, it could also indicate a medical issue. Go through our list of reasons a ball python may stop eating to see which one is the case for your snake. If it is a normal occurrence, don’t worry about it.
But if you suspect there may be something wrong, if you can’t figure out the reason, or if it has been a much longer time without food than normal, you should contact your vet. Even if nothing ends up being wrong, it is always better to be safe rather than sorry.