This blog article will attempt to provide a checklist of sorts for persons having difficulties getting a newly acquired ball python hatchling to feed. I'm not going to re-write what I've already written in previous blogs so I'll simply make reference to those blog articles as they're needed throughout the text. This article makes the presumption that your ball python is a healthy captive born and bred hatchling that has been feeding effortlessly before you received it and is from a respectable ball python breeder such as RCReptiles.com and the like.
The first thing you should do when you receive a new ball python is give it an adequate amount of time to acclimate and settle in to its new home. Your home is a new environment to your ball python with many scents that it may not be accustomed to. This new transition into your home will likely cause it stress just as it would to a small child that advances from kindergarten to elementary school. New faces, a new school and new classmates will probably cause some anxiety to the child. The same principal applies to your new ball python. You'll need to give it some time by itself without bothering or handling it so it can settle in. Refer to the following blog article which goes into greater detail on properly acclimating your ball python.
After you've allowed your ball python some time to acclimate and settle in, you can then offer it a meal. Sometimes ball pythons will feed immediately when offered a meal and sometimes they won't. If your ball python doesn't feed when you offer it a meal then you need to take a step back - figuratively speaking of course - and try to figure out exactly why it's not feeding. This process is similar to flicking a switch on a lamp to illuminate the room you're in only to find out the lamp isn't working. Is the bulb blown? Is the lamp plugged in? Is the switch broke? Is both the bulb blown and the lamp unplugged? When trying to figure out why your ball python isn't feeding, you have to first remove all variables one at a time in order to try and figure out the underlying cause of why your ball python is not feeding.
1. Are you handling the ball python for long periods of time each day causing it stress? If so, cut down on the handling or stop handling it until it starts feeding again.
2. Is the cage/tank set at optimum conditions? Check both the hot and cold spots and make sure they're both at their acceptable levels. Check the humidity gauge and make sure it's optimal as well. Make sure you have all the necessary ingredients that make up a suitable environment.
3. Is the cage/tank in a high traffic area of your home and is the hide placement adequate? Refer to the Proper Hide Placement for Ball Pythons article for tips on how to properly place hides for maximum results.
4. Are you offering it frozen thawed? If so, double check your feeding strategy by referring to the article entitled Feeding F/T (Frozen Thawed) Food Items. Since we're trying to remove variables, I would suggest offering your ball python a live hopper mouse in a small tight shoe-box sized container to see if it feeds or place the ball python in a small brown lunch-bag along with the mouse (and a piece of food for the mouse), seal the bag completely and check on it in a few minutes. Again, we're trying to remove variables in an effort to figure out why it's not feeding so offering live in this context is perfectly reasonable and recommended.
5. Perhaps the ball python needs more time to settle in and acclimate? If you've performed the steps outlined above and it's still not feeding, it's very possible that it's not ready to feed yet and simply needs more time to settle in. I would contact the breeder and inform them of the situation and try offering it a live hopper mouse twice a week as outlined in #4 above until it begins feeding.
We as humans in an ideal situation consume food pretty much each day for the most part. Not only that, we tend to eat several times a day. Our diet differs drastically from that of a ball python whereas adult ball pythons can go months without feeding on a voluntary fast and hatchlings can go more than a month or so with no adverse affects. I would recommend trying the steps outlined above and bring the breeder into the picture if you're crossing the 2-week period with no success.
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