Reasons For Loss Of Appetite In Ball Pythons

 Reasons For Loss Of Appetite In Ball Pythons

Why Is My Ball Python Not Eating?


There are multiple reasons why your ball python may not be eating. One likely reason is that they are stressed. They could also be picky eaters. Another potential issue is that they are adjusting to a new enclosure. 

Ball Python Diet


Ball pythons eat mice or small rodents. They can eat them live or frozen. The size of the rodent will depend on the size of your ball python. Ball pythons should be given food that is as wide as the widest part of your snake. 


If the food is too large, your snake will struggle to ingest it or it can become caught in its throat. Your snake might not even attempt to eat a rodent that is too large.


Young ball pythons need to eat once a week. As they become adults they can eat once every 10-14 days. Some snakes may want to take longer breaks between each feeding which is normal. 



Ball pythons can suffer from obesity from overfeeding. Their bodies should slowly taper towards their tails. If there is an abrupt size difference between their bodies and tails, then they are overweight. Give it more time between feedings if you see a noticeable size difference between their bodies and tail. 

What Can Cause Stress in Ball Pythons?


Stress is one of the main reasons why your ball python is not eating. One thing that can stress out your snake is being put in a new enclosure. Being placed in a new cage or moved around into different cages often will make your snake lose their appetite. They need to feel safe and comfortable in their environment before they feel safe enough to eat. 


Another snake lurking in the cage may also be another reason. Avoid housing your snakes together. If you do house more than one snake in an enclosure, there needs to be a lot more space and extra hides provided. The competition for food can be stressful for snakes sharing the same cage. 


Being handled too often is another reason for stress in ball pythons. We love them for their awesome temperaments, but the truth is that they do not enjoy being handled multiple times a day. It is also a rule of thumb that you should not handle your snake at least 24 hours after they have eaten. They can regurgitate their food if they are removed from their cage right after eating. 



Parasites can cause illnesses in snakes and prevent them from gaining enough weight. Snakes are at a huge risk for getting parasites if they are fed rodents caught in the wild. Store-bought feeders have a significantly lower chance of carrying parasites to your snake. 


If you notice that your snake is looking ill and not gaining weight, they should be taken to the vet for a checkup. 

Enclosure Conditions


The enclosure needs to have the proper humidity and temperature for your snake to want to eat. Temperatures that are too low will cause your snake’s metabolism to slow down and they won’t want to eat. 


The cooler side of the enclosure needs to be between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. The side with the heat lamp should be up to 92 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Feeder Preference


Snakes can have a preference for their food. Some snakes do not want to eat frozen-thawed food at all. They may prefer eating live food that they can hunt. Food preference depends on your snake and their personality. If they won’t touch the thawed food, you need to continue feeding them live rodents. 


The smell or temperature of the food may also be unappealing to your snake. Snakes want to eat warm rodents. There is a possibility that the frozen rodents are not being thawed enough. Frozen feeding is a lot more appealing than live feeding for snake owners. To get the frozen food to be more appealing to your snake you have to get it warm enough. 


One of the best methods to thawing a rodent is to place it in a plastic bag and submerge it into warm water that is above room temperature. Boiling water is going to be way too hot to use for thawing the food. You may have to change out the water a couple of times. Use tongs to poke the thawed food to see how much more it needs to thaw. If the food is very stiff then it needs more time submerged in the hot water.  


Once the rodent is completely thawed, it should be acceptable enough for your snake. They will enjoy that warm meal. 

Shedding Cycle


Shedding is an extremely uncomfortable time for snakes. Humans slowly shed their skin and we don’t even notice. Snakes have to shed their whole bodies at the same time. This causes them a lot of discomfort and irritability. 


Look to see if they are looking dull in color or even if their eyes look dull. This is a sign that they are bout to shed. Your ball python should start to feel hungry again shortly after they finish shedding. 

Avoid Stressing Yourself Out


You care about your snake enough to research why they won’t eat. A pet that won’t eat is incredibly stressful as well. Remember to relax and offer them their food a couple of times a day until they try to eat. We don’t recommend that you spend several hours trying to force your snake to eat because you will become stressed and so will they. When you have live food, feeding can be a little bit more difficult than with frozen feedings because you have to keep the mice alive. If you know that your snake is picky or does not eat every 14 days, have a little enclosure for the live food.


Be patient and eventually your snake will show interest in eating. Going to seek veterinary care is always an option to get some peace of mind. 

Wrapping Up


Stress, parasites, enclosure conditions, and feeder preference have a huge impact on your snake’s appetite. If you are still having concerns about your snake not eating, you should seek veterinary help. 

Jade Messieh

Proud bearded dragon, tortoise, crested gecko, and green tree python mom. I've always been passionate about animals and hope to help other reptile & amphibian enthusiasts along their journey!

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