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What do Ball Pythons Eat?

Updated on May 17, 2008

Feeding Ball Pythins - the Art!

There is not a lot of mystery in what ball pythons eat. Like all constrictors they are carnivores, and like most small constrictors, they eat rodents or other small animals. The most popular food choices for ball pythons are mice and rats (depending on the size of the snake.) Larger snakes will eat medium to large rats or even small chickens.

Ok so, now that the mystery (not) of what they eat is out, there are actually a few things to know about the actual feeding techniques and habits of ball pythons.

Frozen Mice and rats for Snakes

You have a choice between feeding live or frozen. If you choose frozen, which is highly recommend for safety and convince reasons, be sure to buy them from a reputable source. Frozen mice should be allowed to thaw (not heated) before they are offered. Since the mice or rats are obviously not going to move to attract the snake, many people use feeding tongs to hold or wave the mouse in front of the snake to entice it to strike.

Feeding live Rats to Your Python

You can feed live prey to your snake, however you need to be very careful doing this. If you decide to feed live prey, never leave the prey in with your snake unsupervised. A mouse or rat can easily bite and eat through your snake if the snake does not kill it. It is not uncommon for the prey to attack the predator.

If your pet snake does not eat within 5-10 minutes, remove the live prey and try again later. Also note that once you start a snake on live food, sometimes it is difficult to go back to frozen so keep that in mind.

If you have comments or questions on this, feel free to ask below in the comments box.

How Often Should You feed Your Snake

How often you feed your snake varies with its age, the environmental temperature, reproductive state, the size of the prey, and the activity level of the snake.

Younger snakes are fed more often - once or twice a week; large snakes may be fed once every 1-2 weeks. Generally you do not want to feed a mouse or rat that is larger than the snakes girth.

In the winter, or if the environmental temperature is low, the snake will eat less or maybe not at all for several weeks.

Females incubating a clutch of eggs will normally not eat until the eggs hatch.

Snakes who are in the process of ecdysis (shedding) will generally not eat. In fact, if you feed live, feeding during shed is very dangerous as the snake is not able to see as well and generally not hungry, so live prey can attack and injure your snake.

Ball Pythons can be prone to obesity, so do not overfeed. Feed your Ball Python during the evening or at dusk.

Picture of Ball Python

Extra Tips on Feeding Ball Pythons

  1. Vary the feeding schedule - Don't always feed on the exact same schedule. IF you generally feed every 10 days, feed it every 13 days once in a while. This simulates nature as snakes don't eat on an exact schedule in the wild.
  2. Take your snake out of its normal enclosure for feeding. Plastic tubs or a feeding tank are good for this.
  3. Do not feed live unless you know what you are doing and are prepared to stick with it. Ball Pythons can be very picky eaters and tough to transition back to frozen.
  4. Do not feed the female if she is pregnant.
  5. Do not feed while in shed.
  6. Never leave live prey with your snake without supervision.


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