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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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    • profile image

      stephanie 3 years ago

      I am new at this and this ball python will be my first snake I've ever had in my whole entire I had a question, if I have a BABY python am I allowed to put it on my hand and walk outside with it

    • profile image

      Niko 3 years ago

      I am disgusted by so many of these dumb questions and answers. First off: I would not feed your snake anything except mice or rats. Secondly: frozen is the best and I strongly recommend it. It's easiest, safest, and cheapest. I recommend leaving it in the tank simply because you CANNOT touch a snake after its eaten. Thaw out the frozen mouse/rat in warm water not too hot, WASH YOUR HANDS or you may get bit because you smell like food, put the snake in the open so he has room, hold the mouse by the tail WITH TONSILS or you may get bit, wiggle it and when he strikes let go. If your snake isn't interested in any way try again a couple of days later and pour a little chicken broth on the mouse it'll get them to eat. Don't feed when the snake is shedding, don't touch the snake, they are partially blind and extra defensive and you may get bit. When its shedding just mist the terrarium well and keep water in the water bowl, humidity is most important at this phase. Don't feed live but if you're the asshole who just likes it because its fun SLAP THE MOUSE OR RAT ON YOUR KNEE it will paralyze him but still make him twitch and breathe so he doesn't harm your snake. Even if you watch the mouse like the article says and the mouse attacks your snake and you take either one of them out YOU WILL GET BIT. Let's not be stupid people. Oh and ball pythons cannot kill anyone over 5 I'd say. And they're very sweet and gentle if you get bit its a humans fault probably yours, the breeder, or previous owner. I work at Petsmart and breed ball pythons

    • profile image

      Allison 3 years ago

      Pythons are great and for people that would like to have one these are great tips!

    • profile image

      bella 4 years ago

      is there anything else to feed a ball python with but mice and rats??

    • profile image

      Isaac 4 years ago

      Duhhhh. Im Dumb. I like pie.

    • profile image

      isaac 5 years ago

      y is it bad to feed if the snake is sheeding

    • profile image

      Destiny 5 years ago

      like the article said if the snake do not eat the mice or rat to 5-10 mins take out the mice or is about to eat do you leave in or not?

    • profile image

      Dennis 5 years ago

      yes they can eat chickens and rabbits and frogs but always try to feed them things that you can get all year, because if the snake only likes one of the things you may have a hard time to get him to eat any thing else and he might stop eatting.

      It is best to get your snake use to a feeder box .. put the rat in first then the snake that way when you put him down into the box he knows the food is there and he jumps onto it. If you put the snake in first he thinks food is coming and sometimes he will bite you. So always remember food first and then the Snake.

    • profile image

      Yo MAMA 5 years ago

      can ball pythons eat adult chickens???

    • profile image

      Ian 5 years ago

      Hello may I get an answer. hola

    • profile image

      Ian hostettler 5 years ago

      Lol who is 10 and is american and is poor?

    • profile image

      Ian 5 years ago


      Im an expert.

    • profile image

      Ian 5 years ago

      Is there an expert to talk to?

      I need 1.

    • profile image

      Ian 5 years ago

      I baught mine for free anyways. :p

    • profile image

      Ian 5 years ago

      I'm 10. And I have one. There eavil. lol. I got bit.

    • profile image

      Mongoose 5 years ago

      i have had my ball python for at least 5 yrs i have wanted to feed her a lil chicken but always stayed with the medium rat from the pet shop or i actually put a couple smaller mice in with her she has ate mice or rats for many yrs my friend gave her to me and he had her for 10yrs before her name is ekans about 4an half feet long. i carry her around my neck is that dangerous like is she capable of strangling me? i have gone as far as letting her kiss my face how dangerous is that?

    • profile image

      akdis 6 years ago

      bad bad bad very bad

    • profile image

      bryden rosss 6 years ago

      can u feed ball pythons frozen chicken liver

    • profile image 6 years ago

      looking to sell my snake ,she big and cant keep it, makew me an offer.north bergen nj. snake is big.

    • profile image

      michaelhiltams 6 years ago

      hi there linda it took me ages to find it i think this is the web address

      and some info , they have a wealth of knowledge ,just say I put you on

    • profile image

      Meeeeeeeee 6 years ago

      I breed gerbils, an feed my two 3 foot long ball pythons and feed them the babies... -'_'- :}

    • profile image

      snakeboy101 6 years ago

      what is the bad part ball python that is 4 feet long. i just learned about him and he hasn't been handled as much as as want because i want one that is very nice social. he is also about 4 years old so i am looking for a answer.

    • profile image

      kakup 6 years ago

      can i shoot it with my nerf gan

    • profile image

      joe 6 years ago

      i like snaces

    • profile image

      erhfa/lkgh 6 years ago

      how long can a ball pythons get?and do they bite?

    • profile image

      Chris 6 years ago

      I hate feeding it gerbils and rodents...Gerbils ar 2 awsome

    • profile image

      Mtr 6 years ago


    • profile image

      azizul 6 years ago

      give ur snake eat hamster

    • profile image

      kevin 6 years ago

      can the sanke eat frogs

    • profile image

      rklein86 6 years ago

      Ball pythons can eat rats that are as big as round that they are . Mine is 5 ft and I've been feeding her large rats.

    • profile image

      hisbabygurl11 7 years ago

      Can ball pythons eat the berries called snake berries?? She is used to live mice but we can not find any at the pet stores just yet they only have frozen and she will not eat that so what other foods can she eat??

    • profile image

      foxxy 7 years ago

      do they eat spides and things like that

      an are they well behave and easliy tammed

    • profile image

      Winston 7 years ago

      Julianne they are attracted to the mice by both heat and movement. and the one that can't afford to feed there snake my advise is find someone that either can afford to feed it or maybe since frozan mice don't cost that much (petsmart and petco) about $12 for six of them. maybe you can borrow the money or just maybe you can go to petsmart or petco and see if the can give you one that they feed there stock

    • profile image

      Greg 7 years ago

      Just feed my royal snake a mouse ithought was too big , but mork is so trooper,,, didn't think he could eat it but he's working on it,,, tried to breed the mice but feed ing time came to soon

    • profile image

      DB 7 years ago

      My ball python is about 34" long now. She is eating 2 adult mice a week, and usually kills them immediately when I put them in front of her. Is she ready for 1 small the ones at Petco? I just want to make sure as I have heard sometimes they can try to swallow a rodent that is too big........

    • profile image

      chase  7 years ago

      my ball python is a very healthy one but he isn't eating and i am starting to get a little woried...

      he eats frozen and thawed mice.

      that's what i should feed him right

    • profile image

      Lindsey 7 years ago

      it is soo funny some of the questions people ask on here. you ball python will eat rats or mice, most people pefer rats because as your python grows a mouse will be be to small. most experts say to start your python on rats asap. as for frozen or live i don't think it really matters, if your feeding it live watch it because you don't want the rat to hurt your snake. also ive heard if you feed it live it is harder to switch to frozen. ive also heard of pople feeding them rats that have just been killed to were their bodys are still warm and sometimes twich.

    • profile image

      jcmiller 7 years ago

      do baby ball pythons like to eat goldfish or pinky mice?

    • profile image

      adam 8 years ago

      will ball pythons eat farm raised chicken eggs and store bought

    • profile image

      wiper 8 years ago

      When I first got my ball she wouldn't eat either but apparently the person that I got it from was only feeding her female mice. Now she won't touch a male mouse. I feed live

    • profile image

      jade 8 years ago

      well my snake does not eat any mice i give her and she did not eat i don't know wath to do.the mise i got her she got to close to...

    • profile image

      julianne 8 years ago

      I am in the fourth grade and need to get the answer to one of my homework sheets. Are balled pythons attracted to their prey by color, shape, heat or movement? Thanks:)

    • profile image

      matt 8 years ago

      ball pythons are very good starter snake but can be picky keep that in mind if you get a cb you should be ok if you get a wild c you will have some problums but should be ok as for feeding the snake in its home i do it iv never been bit or struck at altho my snakes are well tamed this dosent mean it wont ever happen ball pythons are shy eaters to begin with putting them in a sep box to feed may prov un wanted feeding at night is always better but over all ball pythons are good starter snakes hardly ever bit and are easly tamed but if you do get a nip its something you did wrong so never blame the snake

    • profile image

      savannah 8 years ago

      im thinking of getting a snake do you think the ball python would be a good choice?

    • profile image

      Ebru & Ilker 8 years ago

      my snae ate a piece3 of plastic what shall i do?

    • profile image

      helen 8 years ago

      what if my snake was eating a mouse but some of her shed got attached to the mouses foot and she ate it as well?

    • profile image

      meow 8 years ago


    • profile image

      chefpmg 8 years ago

      ya what should i do if i don't have any money to feed my snake and how long can they go with out eating and other then mamals do they eat any insects

    • profile image

      lmuhghj 8 years ago

      no because it will attack you by mistake

    • profile image

      jason bradley 8 years ago

      do you think that you should take your snake out of his home to eat or just leave him in there to it i really don't know but i feed my snake in his home will that be ok

    • profile image

      mimi 8 years ago

      can ball pythons eat chicken or fish? I am thinking in getting one but I don't want to feed it mice or rats.

      any suggestions?????

    • profile image

      Tracey Babcock 9 years ago

      Can you feed a ball python an egg at room tempature? a small to med size. MY boy is about 3 1/2 ft long and eats up to two mice a week.

    • jimcrowthers profile image

      jimcrowthers 10 years ago from Port Charlotte

      Great hub, snake care!

      I've "owned" a snake as a child, and made the mistake of leaving a live rodent in the cage. I made many mistakes with this poor snake, and it subsequently died. Children should not try to care for these creatures unless they've been given a good education in how to raise them (because I honestly wanted the thing to be healthy, happy, and, foremost, to live!) Unfortunately, too many mothers don't want to have anything to do with the snake their child brings home, but they tolerate its existence (since they know boys will be boys, and they choose their battles). Fathers are usually apathetic to the whole thing, and don't care as long as the mother doesn't raise a stink. Children are also restricted by their budget, and will always try to take the cheap way out.

      Thanks for the advice!


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