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Hatchling Ball Pythons Care Tips

Updated on January 26, 2011

Hatchling ball pythons must be housed in their own separate cages. Failure to house them separately may result in some or all of them refusing to feed. There have also been rare instances of cannibalism among hatchling ball pythons. They will need to be provided with a hot spot that runs between 80 and 85°F (26.7 and 29.4°C) and with a water dish. In about 10 days, they will have their first shed and can be offered their first meal, a fuzzy mouse. If you have access to pinky rats, these may also be tried. Once in a while, there will be a stubborn hatchling that will not eat. Provide this one with a hide box and try offering it a slightly smaller or different food item. If all efforts fail and it has been a couple of weeks, it may become necessary for you to assist-feed this hatchling.

Assist-feeding is not force-feeding. It is done with a smaller food item than what the hatchling would normally eat. The rodent is euthanized and gently pressed against the nose of the ball python where the tongue comes out. Once the hatchling has opened its mouth, carefully place the nose of the rodent in the back of the snake's mouth as far as you can. Carefully close the jaws of the hatchling over the rodent and carefully put the snake down. Try not to disturb the hatchling. Nine times out of ten, the baby ball python will eat the food item. Gently pick it up and place it back into its cage. When feeding day comes around next, offer the baby ball python its usual fare; if the snake refuses, you may assist-feed it again. Usually, you will not need to assist-feed a ball python hatchling more than a few times before it will begin to readily eat on its own.

Different stimuli are required to elicit a feeding response in a ball python: heat, move­ment, and scent. Keep this in mind when switching your ball python over to pre-killed or thawed rodents. Once the hatchling has developed or demonstrated an aggressive feeding response, it is time to switch it over to pre-killed or thawed rodents. Using a pair of 18-inch (45.7-cm) hemostats, present the dead food item to the hatchling ball python. You may have to "wiggle" the food some to simulate movement. If you are using thawed rodents, make sure the food is completely thawed and warm enough to elicit a feeding response. Generally a "warm enough" thawed rodent is one that feels warm to your touch, not hot. Often, if the thawed rodent is too cold or too hot the ball python will not recognize it as an acceptable food item and no feeding response will be seen.

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