What Are the Best Tips for Feeding a Ball Python?

Ball pythons are generally picky eaters.
Rats can be fed to pythons.
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  • Written By: Kaiser Castro
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2014
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Ball pythons tend to be picky eaters, with some not eating for weeks and sometimes months on end when newly introduced to an environment. The debate over live food or feeding a ball python frozen food tends to be up for constant debate. These feeding methods, however, are all viable options. It will boil down to the snake, and its eating habits, as live food should be encouraged for snakes that are healthy, and frozen or freeze-dried food reserved for snakes that are sick or molting.

Live food tends to exercise the ball python's instinct to hunt. Some will readily eat live prey put into their cages, while some snakes will need some coaxing. Live food tends to offer a more complete nutritional value to the snake's diet, with the snake keeper being able to offer various small mammals to it. A baby ball python will usually do well with pinkies, while larger ball pythons can do quick work of adult rodents. Do not introduce a large rat to a small python, however; when feeding a ball python, always try to err on the side of caution and select smaller-sized food.


Offering frozen food is another viable option when it comes to feeding a ball python. Even though frozen or freeze-dried food may not stimulate the snakes predatory instincts, the caretaker can offer some stimuli by hiding the frozen animals in structures inside of the cage. Frozen food is also a good option for snakes that are too sick or tired to hunt, being especially beneficial for those that are molting.

Feeding a ball python during the day can be accomplished by simulating the night hours. Most pythons are nocturnal in nature, with them usually hunting and consuming their food in the night. If the caretaker needs to feed the ball python during the day for whatever reason, then the snake’s predatory instincts can be triggered by putting a blanket over the cage for a couple of hours during feeding time to simulate night hours.

Some caretakers will notice that most pet stores sell pinkies that are pale white in color. Ball pythons in the wild, however, do not typically experience albino rodents while hunting. Substituting the pinkies for colored rodents like gerbils or brown mice will give the snake more of the feel of a hunt. Alternatively, white mice can be rubbed onto a stored, refrigerated gerbil to transfer some of the gerbil’s scent to help to increase the consumption of the pinkies.


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