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Ball Pythons (continued)

(Python Regius)


Ball Python Snake

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Trick into Self-feeding

A healthy ball may be tricked into eating in a couple of different ways:

Provide a dark hidebox for it - an inverted flower pot with a hole in it, a cardboard box, half log, hollow log section, ceramic cave - whatever works. It is okay if the snake's body touches all the sides when it is inside - they feel more secure this way. Dangle killed prey (use forceps) in front of it.

Feed at night, not during the day. These are nocturnal snakes and may be uncomfortable feeding during the day.

If it takes the prey but won't eat, or won't take it, drop the mouse inside, and swathe the enclosure with towels to block the snake from seeing anybody or anything and leave it alone for 24 hours.

If gerbils are legal in your state, try feeding stunned, then killed gerbils. If it takes them, start rubbing killed mice on gerbils to scent them, and offer the mice (a killed gerbil can be used repeatedly if kept frozen and defrosted when needed for scenting). Try hamsters if you can't get gerbils.

Try multicolored or colored mice. There are no albino mice in the wild - at least, not enough for any animal to imprint on them. The prey wild balls eat are various shades of brown, so select brown or multicolored mice for feeding.

I removed the snake from the enclosure, kept him out for about half an hour or so, while he was out i placed a freshly killed mouse in the enclosere then introduced the snake back to the mouse. Within 5 minutes he had eated it (at night). I told the pet store I deal with about this method and it worked for them too. (This last was suggested by Bill Arrington.)

Parasites

Worms more than protozoans infect wild balls, so if you are going to treat prophylactically without testing, use fenbendazole (Panacur) at 10-25 mg/kg rep 3 q 2 weeks (Klingenberg) or 50-100 mg/kg rep 2 q 2 weeks (Funk, in Frye).

If you can't get a fecal for testing, a cloacal wash can be done by a vet.

The snake feeds but regurgitates the prey later...

If the ball regurgitates, wait a couple of days and try again - with smaller prey. If the ball strikes at prey that it misses and it bangs the snake on the head, the ball may become afraid of the prey. Wait several days, then offer a smaller prey item.

Make sure the enclosure is warm enough (mid 70s on cool side up to mid/hi 80s on warm side). No snake needs UVA or B, and while a week of direct sun (with shade!) or proper UVA/B lighting will help a reluctant diurnal corn snake to start feeding, it has little effect on nocturnal species.

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