How often should i feed baby ball python

What Ball Pythons Eat, How Often to Feed Them, and What to Do If Your Ball Python Won’t Eat

Written by WebMD Editorial Contributors

Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on July 07, 2021

In this Article

  • Ball Python Diet
  • Common Concerns Feeding Ball Pythons

Ball pythons are excellent pets for people who like snakes. They’re relatively low-maintenance, they’re small, and they’re clean. But they have dietary needs that are very different from a cat or dog. As a new ball python owner you’ll need to know what to feed your snake, how often to feed it, and what to do if it won’t eat. 

Ball Python Diet

Their feeding needs vary depending on their size, and you don’t need to feed them every day. 

What ball pythons eat. In general, the youngest, smallest ones eat small frozen feeder mice or rats. Larger ball pythons typically eat larger mice or rats. 

Selecting prey for a ball python. As a general rule, you should select a rodent that is 1 to 1. 25 times the size of the midsection of your snake. Smaller prey is fine, but avoid getting food that’s too large. 

Live prey vs. pre-killed. Snakes are predators, and in the wild they’re used to catching their own food. Your pet snake, though, will be fine with fresh pre-killed or even frozen rodents (you’ll need to thaw them first.) It’s safer not to feed your snake live prey. Live rodents will be scared and can bite your snake. Even small rodent bites can cause infection that will make your snake sick. Pet snakes are easily trained to eat dead prey.

How often to feed a ball python. You don't need to feed a ball python every day. Generally, smaller or younger ball pythons need to eatevery five days, while larger ones usually eat once every week or two. As they get older you feed them more at one time so they don’t need as many feedings. 

Cost of feeding a ball python. The annual cost of feeding a ball python can range between $100 to $150.  

Common Concerns Feeding Ball Pythons

Ball pythons are picky eaters. And if your snake is new, know that snakes — and especially ball pythons — are sometimes too stressed to eat in their new home environment for weeks or even months. If your ball python won’t eat, understanding why can help you know how to encourage your snake to eat again.

Reasons your ball python might not eat.  There are several reasons why they might not eat when you do give them their food, including:

  • Their habitat may be too hot or too cold.
  • Their habitat may be too large.
  • They may not recognize the food you’ve given them.
  • They may be getting ready to shed.
  • It’s breeding season.
  • They’re stressed.
  • They’re ill.

Maintain a comfortable temperature, avoid disturbances, and watch for signs of shedding and illnesses. If your ball python isn’t hungry, they won’t eat. You can remove the food and try again later. 

How to encourage your ball python to eat. There are a few things that you can try if your ball python won’t eat:

  • Make sure you’re feeding the snake the same food as it was eating before it came to you.  
  • Thaw and warm frozen food.
  • Try cutting pre-killed prey open. 
  • Adjust the temperature in the enclosure.
  • Clean the habitat. 

What to do if your ball python still won’t eat. Schedule an appointment with a vet. Your vet can give your snake a thorough examination to determine if it has parasites or another health-related problem. They can also prescribe a treatment to help resolve the issue.

How Often To Feed Ball Pythons (Feeding Chart Guide)

A nutritious diet is vital for the growth and overall health of a ball python.

Because of a ball python’s slow digestive system, the reptile does not need to eat every day.

Knowing when to feed your ball python may be confusing, especially for first-time snake owners.

Feeding your python too often will lead to obesity, while not feeding it enough may cause the animal to starve.

So, how often do you need to feed your ball python?

A hatchling ball python will need to eat once every five days. Juvenile ball pythons should be fed every 7-14 days. Adult ball pythons will start eating one meal every 10-14 days and gradually increase the time between feedings as they age.

As a ball python ages, growth and metabolism slows down, along with appetite.

Keep reading to learn more about how often to feed your ball python, including a handy feeding chart based on the reptile’s age and weight.

We will also compare live and frozen prey and list the most common reasons for a ball python to stop eating.

Table of Contents

How Often To Feed A Ball Python

Adult Ball Pythons

The answer is simple but shocking for many new owners: adult ball pythons need to eat every 10-14 days.

It’s hard for many of us to wrap our heads around because it’s so much unlike almost any other pet you may own.

But this feeding schedule is quite common with snakes.

They don’t need a lot of energy to function, and therefore, don’t need to eat a lot.

When they swallow their food, it takes them 1-2 days to fully digest the meal, and then they have enough to function on for weeks afterward.

Many people would accept this if the snake ate a lot at this one meal, but this isn’t the case either.

Ball pythons also only eat one prey item during this single meal every 10-14 days.

This is just the way their digestive systems have evolved to work.

The important part as an owner is to make sure the prey item is appropriately-sized.

Too small, and the snake won’t get enough nutrition and will become malnourished.

Too large, and the python may choke or regurgitate its meal.

So what’s the right size of food for a ball python?

The general rule is this:

The food should be no larger than, but close to, the size of the python’s body at mid-length.

This is important to remember, as we mentioned above.

Some snakes are OK to go up to 1.5 times the size of their bodies, but this isn’t the case with ball pythons. So it’s better to play it on the safe side.

The prey items need to be either a large mouse or rat.

Rats are generally considered better as they align with what the python eats in the wild.

Rats also come in larger sizes and are more likely to satisfy the larger ball pythons.

However, large mice are more readily available as they are a staple food for many pets.

Baby Ball Pythons

Even baby ball pythons don’t eat often.

Learn more about ball pythons going without eating in our dedicated article here.

The typical feeding schedule for a baby is every 5-7 days.

Don’t be surprised if they learn towards the 7-day mark early on in their development.

With baby ball pythons, you must make sure the size of the food is smaller than the body’s size at mid-length.

This may seem difficult to meet as ball pythons are born relatively small.

The common choice for baby ball python food is pinky mice.

These are newborn mice who haven’t grown out all their fur yet.

These will often meet the size requirement and are readily available through online and in-person pet retailers.

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How Often To Feed Ball Python Chart

The following feeding schedule chart gives you a handy reference for how often and how much to feed a ball python based on its age and weight.

As a general rule, do not feed your ball python any prey which is larger than the snake’s midsection.

Ball Python’s AgeBall Python’s WeightAmount of PreyFeeding Frequency
Hatchling50-100 grams1 small mouse or pinky rat (8-12 grams)Every 5 days
3 months120-200 grams1 small mouse or fuzzy rat (13-19 grams)Every 7 days
6 months300-370 grams1 adult mouse or rat pup (20-30 grams)Every 7-10 days
1 year500-900 grams1-3 adult mice, or 1 small rat (45-80 grams)Every 10-14 days
1 ½ years700-1500 grams3-5 adult mice, 1 medium rat, or 2 small rats (80-150 grams)Every 10-14 days
3 years1200-1800 grams4-5 adult mice, 1 medium rat, or 2 small rats (90-150 grams)Every 14-21 days
5+ years1800-2300 grams4-5 adult mice, 1 medium rat, or 2 small rats (90-150 grams)Every 21-50 days

Live Prey vs.

Frozen Prey

In the wild, ball pythons enjoy various prey, such as rats, mice, and birds.

Males spend more time in trees, eating more birds than the ground-dwelling females, who eat more mammals.

In captivity, feeding your ball python live mice or rats has a couple of issues.

Obtaining live mice and rats is more difficult than finding them frozen, but it is less convenient.

If your snake is not hungry at feeding time, you will have to take care of the live prey and keep it healthy until your python is ready to eat.

Never feed your ball python any live-caught mice or rats, as they may be infested with parasites or carry diseases.

Another issue with live prey is the risk of injury to your python.

Live rats or mice have been known to bite pythons to defend themselves, often causing a great deal of injury to the snake.

Frozen prey is not only safer for feeding to your ball python, but it is also easier to store and more economical.

You will easily find frozen mice or rats of all sizes at your local pet supply store.

Before feeding your ball python, be sure to thaw frozen prey for 5-8 hours, depending on the size.

Remove any uneaten prey after twelve hours.

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Common Reasons a Ball Python May Refuse to Eat

There are several reasons a ball python may refuse to eat, no matter what you do.

The most common reasons for a ball python’s lack of appetite include:

  • Poor enclosure conditions
  • Inability to recognize its food
  • Breeding season
  • Being stressed or sick
  • The shedding process

Most of these issues are easily remedied, but stress or sickness requires veterinary care for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Here is our more detailed post on why ball pythons won’t eat if you’re having a significant issue with your snake refusing food.

Improper Enclosure Conditions

The temperature, humidity, and size of the ball python’s enclosure all play a role in your pet snake’s appetite.

If the temperature is too low, the ball python’s metabolism will slow down, and the snake will lose its appetite.

Improper humidity, either too high or too low, will also affect a snake’s appetite as well as the shedding process.

It is important to maintain the proper temperature and humidity in your python’s enclosure at all times.

A ball python’s enclosure needs a temperature gradient with the cool side measuring between 75-82° degrees Fahrenheit (28° C) and a warm basking area with temperatures ranging from 87-90° degrees Fahrenheit (32° C).

A very large enclosure may disrupt your python’s appetite as well.

Ball pythons are very shy reptiles, and a large enclosure will cause them to feel unsafe and become stressed.

For a baby ball python, a 10-gallon tank will work well. Adults will do well in a 30-40 gallon enclosure size.

The Ball Python Does Not Recognize Its Food

If a pet ball python is used to being fed live prey, it may not recognize frozen prey as food.

Likewise, a python that is usually provided with frozen prey may be afraid of a live rodent.

Many a snake keeper feeds their snake frozen prey, as it is much safer for the reptile.

To help your python make the transition from live to frozen prey, a few steps need to be taken to make the process easier.

Always thaw frozen rats or mice for 5-8 hours, depending on how large they are.

Once the prey is fully thawed, place it in a sealed plastic bag in a bowl of warm water.

Warm the prey until it’s warmer than room temp.

Thawing and warming the prey make it more palatable for the snake.

If your python still does not seem interested in the pre-killed prey, cut the mouse or rat open to expose the blood and internal organs.

The scent of the prey’s blood will entice the snake to eat.

It is Breeding Season

Breeding season for ball pythons usually happens between September through November, although captive pythons may breed any time of year.

A python may start eating less before mating because of the lower temperature requirements during the breeding process.

A female ball python will refuse to eat when she begins ovulating, but she will resume her appetite after laying the eggs.

The Ball Python is Stressed or Sick

Loss of appetite is one of the most common signs of stress or sickness in a ball python.

If you have just brought your python home or moved it into a new habitat, the snake will likely become stressed and refuse to eat.

Allow the animal to acclimate to its new surroundings before attempting to feed it again.

Illnesses such as an upper respiratory infection or parasite infestation will also cause a ball python to stop eating.

Monitor your snake’s behavior for any signs of sickness such as discharge from the eyes or nares, lethargy, weight loss, or diarrhea.

If you suspect your ball python is ill or if the animal has not eaten in more than four weeks, seek veterinary care right away for proper care and treatment.

The Ball Python Is Shedding

Shedding impacts diet in a big way.

Younger ball pythons frequently shed (some as often as a week or more) as they grow faster than in adulthood.

Adult ball pythons shed less frequently (every 3-6 weeks), but they still do it often.

If you want to learn more, check out our answer to how often ball pythons shed.

How does this affect the diet?

During a shed, ball pythons won’t eat at all!

It would be best if you waited until they’re done.

Many times, you’ll go to feed your pet, and it refuses to eat.

This is when you look for signs of shedding, which are:

  • White skin
  • Glassy eyes
  • Cranky personality

When you see this, wait.

If your ball python doesn’t end up eating for 16 days, it’s OK.

If your baby python ends up going to 10 days, it’s OK.

Watch for signs of shedding and be patient. It will typically finish shedding within 48 hours.

Don’t hurry along the process by bathing, spraying, or rubbing the snake.

This may cause injury. 

How Long Do Ball Pythons Go Without Eating?

This is an area of small debate for ball python owners.

The best answer is 2-3 days beyond their normal feeding timeline.

This means up to 17 days for adults and 10 days for babies.

However, ball pythons can technically go into a state of brumation.

Brumation is like hibernation when the temperatures drop in their native habitat.

During this time, ball pythons move less and drink less.

This can last for months (up to 3-4 at times).

During brumation, they’ll eat almost nothing.

This is the answer some pet places will give.

However, unlike many snakes and reptiles, the ball python’s natural habitat isn’t prone to such temperature drops.

They don’t even need to go into brumation.

This means there is no need for them to last so long without eating.

Call the vet for advice if you notice your ball python stretching beyond the 17-day mark for eating.

While it may just be brumation, this isn’t a norm for the ball python, and it may be an illness.

Baby and juvenile ball pythons will never go into brumation.

They need to eat at least once every two weeks.

These stages are from birth to 1.5 years.


We hope you found the information on how often to feed ball pythons helpful.

10-14 days is a long time, but this is normal for these animals.

Watch for signs of a shed to extend the timeline and be on the lookout for signs of illness.

Keeping a vigilant eye on your pet and sticking to the recommendations is best for giving your ball python a long and happy life.

Commonly Asked Questions

Will a baby ball python starve itself?

It is common for ball pythons to go through fasting periods where they refuse to eat in the wild.

These fasting periods usually last for up to a month.

While fasting for this length of time is not harmful to an adult ball python, a baby python might end up starving itself.

If your baby ball python is refusing to eat for more than two weeks, seek veterinary care right away to diagnose the cause and get proper treatment.

Is my ball python still hungry?

When a ball python is hungry, it will start to display specific behaviors.

A hungry python will become more active, often spending more time in the front of its enclosure and becoming more focused on your movements as you come near.

The python will also flick its tongue more often.

If your ball python exhibits any of these behaviors after being fed, you may need to increase the amount of food you offer to the reptile.

Do ball pythons need water?

Your ball python needs a dish of fresh, clean water available at all times. 

Ball pythons like to soak in water to stay hydrated and help them shed, so be sure the water dish is big enough for them to curl up in.

Check the water throughout the day, and change it when it is dirty.

You may need to change the water several times per day to accommodate the snake’s soaking habits.

what is important to know what to feed, recommendations

Published: 08/27/2020 Reading time: 5 min. 10807


The snake as a pet is a growing phenomenon. These beautiful animals attract with elegance and unpretentiousness. Royal pythons are especially in demand. It is believed that this snake is suitable for beginners: it is not very active, rather unpretentious and non-aggressive. The size of the royal (or ball python) is 1–1.5 m, it has a thick muscular body, an elegant triangular head - this is a very beautiful snake. nine0003


  1. What should be the content of the python
  2. What and how to feed a snake
  3. Reptilife for python health

What should be the contents of a python

The snake does not need constant daily care, but in order for the reptile to be healthy and live a long time, you need to create suitable conditions for it:

  • spacious terrarium. The dimensions depend on the dimensions of the python: it should be comfortable to be inside; nine0012
  • volumetric drinking bowl-pool. Snakes do not just drink from water containers, they also swim there, so there should be a lot of water, and the drinker itself should be well fixed;
  • temperature regime. In the coldest corner, the temperature should be at least 26 ° C, in the warmest - up to 32-36 ° C. The background temperature comfortable for a python is about 28 °C. The optimum humidity is 80-90%.

What and how to feed a snake

Python is a predator. During the hunt, he strangles and swallows the victim whole. It can digest what it eats for several days or several weeks, depending on the size of the object. At home, the snake should be fed with food that is as close as possible to its natural prey. nine0003

  • As a rule, owners of snakes buy food mice or rats, frozen or alive, in pet stores. Some pythons do not perceive an already dead mouse, since there is no thermal radiation from it. To make the food more attractive, it must be warmed in water to a temperature of 40 degrees;
  • The first meal after the first lace shedding is very important. A young python cannot starve for a long time, and it must be fed. So get ready to be flexible in your choice of food items and offer your python mice, rat pups, or even young gerbils. In the most extreme case, force-feeding is used, but only under the supervision of an experienced specialist; nine0012
  • frozen rodents are much more convenient as food, but require snake habituation. Be sure to check if the carcass is completely defrosted;
  • frequency of meals depends on age. The interval between feedings of cubs should be 4-5 days, for an adult python - from 1 to 3 weeks. Keep in mind that pet snakes are prone to obesity, so adjust your meals according to your pet's condition. Female pythons tend to be more voracious and larger;
  • nine0011 sometimes the snake refuses to eat. This is normal if the hunger strike does not last too long, although it is royal pythons that can starve for no reason for up to six months. The python also does not eat well during the molting period, when the temperature drops, if there are stress factors in its environment. If the pet does not eat for too long, has become inactive and drowsy, has lost weight and lost weight, contact a specialist;
  • Live rodents, especially rats and hamsters, can chew on a python. Therefore, if the snake is not interested in prey, it is better to postpone feeding for a day or two and remove the rat from the terrarium. nine0012

Reptilife for python health

To maintain the snake's health, provide it with the necessary vitamins and microelements, including during active growth or molting, the Reptilife Powder vitamin and mineral complex will help. The feed supplement was created specifically for reptiles, taking into account their needs, it contains vitamins A, K3, C, D, E, vitamins of group B. It will allow you to cope with beriberi, normalize metabolism, and recover from illness. It is convenient to use the supplement when the python has already switched to eating thawed food. It is enough to slightly moisten the carcass of a rodent and roll in vitamin powder. nine0003

Author: AVZ

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Royal python - description, care, feeding, keeping and breeding at home


2020-03-23 ​​

Consider the python more closely? Let's talk about its origin, features and content at home.

PANTERIC pet store

107023, Russia, Moscow, m. Semenovskaya, st. Malaya Semenovskaya, 28, building 13

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The royal python has long won the love of terrariumists. Despite its length and heavy weight, the snake impresses with its calm disposition, ease of maintenance and beauty. With proper care, such a pet will live 20-30 years. Let's take a closer look at the species, talk about its origin, features and content at home. nine0003

This reptile belongs to the genus of true pythons. Scientists note that the snake has not gone through the full path of evolution - this is evidenced by the presence of two light and rudimentary hind limbs. The ancestors of the predator were mosasaurs and giant lizards.

In the photo of the royal python, you will immediately notice its main features. The first is a pronounced large flattened head. The second is the characteristic coloration. Contrasting spots go all over the body of the snake, the color is beautiful and memorable, however, there are morphs in which the pattern is changed, has the form of stripes or is completely absent. The lower part of the individual is usually pale, without a pattern. nine0003

Females are usually larger than males. In its form, the python is one of the smallest - its length rarely exceeds one and a half meters.

There are especially many such snakes in Africa, large populations are found on the territory of Senegal, Mali and Chad. Reptiles are very fond of heat and humidity. They can often be found near water bodies.

The king python spends a lot of time in its burrow, where it sleeps and lays its eggs. It is not uncommon to see reptiles near people's homes. Interestingly, people usually do not resist such a neighborhood, because the snake does a good job of exterminating small rodents. nine0003

Keeping a royal python at home must be accompanied by proper feeding. This reptile is carnivorous. Mice, rats, quails or chickens are fed. For domestic snakes, food should be stored frozen, and served only brought to room temperature or even better slightly warmed up on a lamp or battery, as they react to heat.

The feeding mode is selected individually. It is directly affected by the age, weight of the royal python, conditions of detention. Young animals can eat 1-2 per week, older ones - 1 time per 1-2 weeks. nine0003

In winter and during the rutting period, the snake may refuse food for several weeks. Do not worry, because in nature the reptile behaves the same way.

It is very important not to overfeed the snake. One of the potential problems of keeping at home is pet obesity.

The reptile loves to swim and moves quickly in the water. On land, it is not so agile, although it can crawl through trees, climb into hollows and nests created by other animals. She leads a predominantly terrestrial lifestyle. nine0003

Pythons are solitary. They can form a pair only for a short period to continue the family during the mating season. The inhabitant of the terrarium becomes active at night, sleeps more often during the day.

The snake tolerates the neighborhood with a person very well. She does not attack children, does not bite, unless she considers that you are a mortal danger.

The conditions for keeping the royal python should be as close to natural as possible. There are some important tips for setting up a terrarium:

  • The place must be spacious. It is best if it is horizontal. The optimal terrarium size for an adult is 90×45×45 cm. For a male, you can take a smaller terrarium — 60×4 5×45 cm. You can immediately purchase a large terrarium, as reptiles grow quite quickly. It makes no sense to buy a small one only for the first six months.
  • The terrarium must be ventilated and have secure doors so that your pet does not run away, royal pythons are very curious.
  • nine0011 A woody substrate, such as Rain Forest or Forest Bark, is poured onto the bottom. You should not use coconut substrate or shavings, as it is designed for high humidity, which the python does not need, and in the dry state it is very dusty, clogging the snake's airways.
  • It is important that there are 1-2 shelters in the terrarium: in warm and cold corners. So the python will be able to choose a comfortable temperature for him.
  • Be sure to provide a small pool of water for the reptile to drink from. He must be stable. nine0012
  • Avoid excessive moisture. Increase humidity during your pet's shedding season.

Several temperature zones are created inside the terrarium. Heating is regulated depending on the time of day. General recommendations:

  • The temperature in the warm zone should be between 33 and 38 degrees.
  • In the cold - 24-26 degrees.
  • Heating can be left on at night, but no additional heating means should be installed without the recommendation of a specialist. nine0012

The terrarium uses fluorescent lamps. For a reptile, a combination of day and night mode is important. The day lasts about 12 hours, in summer it can reach up to 14. Our experts will help you choose the lamps for the correct change of light modes.

Our company supplies baby and adult king pythons. Our pythons have been bred in captivity for several generations. We will help you choose everything you need to equip the place of detention, provide high-quality feed, answer all questions about care, hygiene, organization of reproduction, and treatment.

Learn more