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What Do Ball Pythons Like to Eat? | VenomousSnake

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What Do Ball Pythons Like to Eat? These magnificent serpents, known for their mesmerizing patterns and gentle demeanor, have distinct dietary needs that both captivate and intrigue reptile enthusiasts. Within the realm of ball python cuisine, a world of delectable options awaits, showcasing the intricate interplay between predator and prey.

Join us on a culinary exploration as we unveil the tantalizing delights that entice the taste buds of these remarkable constrictors. Prepare to immerse yourself in a world where meals become a captivating ritual, and the secrets of ball python gastronomy unfold in vivid detail.

What Do Ball Pythons Like to Eat?

What Do Ball Pythons Like to Eat?

Ball pythons have a diverse diet that primarily consists of small mammals: 

  • Rodents: Striped mice, gerbils, jerboas and soft-furred African mice.
  • Birds: Search in Italian Journal of Zoology found that male ball pythons spend more time in trees. Thus, males prey on birds much more frequently than females, who will mainly eat rodents and land mammals.
  • Small mammals: Mostly shrews, but any mammal that the ball python can overwhelm will end up being a meal.
  • Lizards. Ball pythons can eat smaller reptiles.

These warm-blooded prey items provide the necessary nutrients for their sustenance. In addition to rodents, ball pythons in the wild may also consume birds and small reptiles, showcasing their versatility as hunters. In captivity, responsible owners ensure a varied diet by offering appropriately sized rodents based on the snake’s size and age.

Feeding time for ball pythons is a remarkable display of their hunting instincts, as they patiently wait for the perfect opportunity to strike and then employ their unique ability to stretch their jaws to consume prey items larger than their own head size. By providing a suitable diet, we can ensure the health and vitality of these fascinating serpents.

Explore more: What Do Green Tree Pythons Eat?

How Often Do Ball Pythons Eat?

How Often Do Ball Pythons Eat?

Ball pythons typically eat about once every 1 to 2 weeks. The frequency of their meals can vary depending on factors such as their age, size, metabolism, and overall health. Juvenile ball pythons, which are smaller and growing rapidly, may eat more frequently, usually every 5 to 7 days.

Adult ball pythons, on the other hand, tend to eat less often, with intervals of 10 to 14 days between meals. It’s important to establish a consistent feeding schedule and monitor the snake’s body condition to ensure they are receiving proper nutrition. Adjustments to the feeding frequency may be necessary based on the individual snake’s needs.

Consulting with a reptile veterinarian or experienced reptile keeper can provide further guidance on maintaining a suitable feeding routine for your ball python.

Read more: How Long Can Corn Snakes Go Without Eating?

How to feed a ball python

Feeding a ball python is quite simple. This guide uses rats as feeders, but other feed animals can easily be substituted.

Prepare the Food

Purchase appropriately sized frozen/thawed rodents, such as mice or rats, that are suitable for your ball python’s size. Thaw the prey item thoroughly, ensuring it reaches room temperature.

Secure Feeding Enclosure

Place your ball python in a separate enclosure specifically designated for feeding. This helps prevent any substrate ingestion and associates the area with mealtime.

Offer the Prey

Using tongs or feeding forceps, present the thawed rodent to your ball python. Gently wiggle the prey to mimic movement, triggering the snake’s hunting response.

Allow Natural Feeding Behavior

Once your ball python strikes and grasps the prey, let it constrict and consume the rodent at its own pace. Avoid unnecessary disturbances during this process.


After your ball python has finished its meal, return it to its regular enclosure. It’s advisable to wait at least 48 hours before handling to allow for proper digestion.

Schedule and Portion Sizes for Ball Pythons

Proper feeding is crucial for the health and well-being of ball pythons. Establishing a feeding schedule and providing appropriate portion sizes is essential to ensure they receive the necessary nutrients without overfeeding. Here’s a general guide for the schedule and portion sizes for ball pythons:

Feeding Schedule:

  • Hatchlings (0-6 months): Feed every 5 to 7 days.
  • Juveniles (6 months to 2 years): Feed every 7 to 10 days.
  • Adults (2 years and older): Feed every 10 to 14 days.

It’s important to note that individual ball pythons may have slightly different feeding requirements, so it’s best to observe their behavior and adjust the schedule if needed. Some individuals may prefer longer intervals between feedings.

Portion Sizes: The size of the prey should be appropriate for the size and age of your ball python. Ideally, the prey item should be about the same width as the thickest part of the snake’s body. The following guidelines can help determine suitable prey sizes:

  • Hatchlings (up to 6 months old): Start with appropriately-sized pinky mice (5-10 grams) and gradually increase the prey size as the snake grows.
  • Juveniles (6 months to 2 years): Offer fuzzy mice (10-20 grams) or appropriately-sized rat pups.
  • Subadults (2 to 3 years): Feed adult mice (20-40 grams) or small rats.
  • Adults (3 years and older): Offer larger rats or multi-rat meals, depending on the size of the snake.

Always remember to thaw frozen prey items thoroughly and warm them to approximately 100°F (37.8°C) before offering them to your ball python. Using tongs or forceps, present the prey item to the snake and allow it to strike and constrict its food naturally.

Monitor your snake’s body condition closely. If you notice significant weight gain or loss, you may need to adjust the portion sizes or feeding frequency accordingly. A healthy ball python should have a slightly tapered, muscular body without obvious signs of excess fat or visible ribs.

Important Reminders:

  • Feed juvenile ball pythons smaller prey items appropriate for their size, gradually increasing the size as they grow.
  • Avoid handling your ball python for at least 48 hours before and after feeding to minimize stress and prevent regurgitation.
  • Maintain proper hygiene by thoroughly cleaning feeding equipment and any surfaces that come into contact with the rodent or snake.

Why won’t ball python eat?

There can be many reasons why, other than being fussy, a snake won’t eat. Being a shy animal, stress is the main reason a snake will refuse food. Consider the following as reasons why your ball python isn’t eating:

  • Environmental stressors: External factors, such as loud noise, can stress the snake. Reposition the enclosure or remove stressors from the room. Even a mild air freshener can irritate a snake.
  • Envelope parameters: If the enclosure is too large, this will make it feel more vulnerable due to the risk of predation.
  • Feed animal: The snake may prefer a different food animal, such as a mouse or chick. Might even prefer eat live food above frozen-thawed.
  • Feeding time and frequency: If your snake isn’t hungry it won’t eat. Consider the the age of your snake and how long it takes to digest food. For example, rats take longer to digest than mice.
  • Illness or injury: A snake will probably not eat if it is sick or injured. Constipation it can also make a snake out of food.
  • Shedding: A royal python feels most vulnerable while in the shed. He won’t eat until he’s poured.
  • Farm: It is normal for snakes to shy away from food during the breeding season. The breeding season runs from mid-September to mid-November.

Second Zoology, a ball python can lower its metabolic rat

How long can a ball python go without eating?

A ball python can survive without eating for several weeks to a few months, depending on factors like age and health. Juvenile ball pythons have higher metabolic rates and may require more frequent meals.

However, extended fasting is not ideal for their well-being and can lead to weight loss and health issues. If your ball python goes without eating for an unusually long time or shows distress, consult a reptile veterinarian. Factors like stress and environmental changes can affect their appetite. Monitor their behavior and consult an expert if needed.

Feeding a picky python

Ball pythons have a reputation for being difficult to feed. This is largely a misconception carried over from before ball pythons were widely bred in captivity. 20 years ago, many ball python pets were actually caught in the wild.

Naturally, a wild-caught snake would be anxious and refuse food. In the present day where ball pythons are bred in captivity and widely available, we can see that ball pythons are generally good eaters.

Of course, there are some residues, which means that the saying “ball pythons are picky eaters” still holds some truth to it. There are a few methods you can try to encourage him to eat:

  • Change the feeding time: Try offering food at different times to find your snake’s favorite dinner time. Dimmed lights can also help.
  • Container feeding: Seal the python in a round container with food can encourage the snake to eat. Place the feeder animal within the inner wall of the container. Seal the snake inside and cover the container with a towel. Leave it for 10 minutes.
  • Warm up the feeder animal: A ball python hunts using the heat sensitive pits on its face. Heating the frozen-thawed feeder can make the food more attractive to the snake.
  • Perfume food: Perfuming frozen and thawed feeders with live food may do the trick. Rub the thawed rodent on a live rodent.
  • Live feed: Some snakes will only eat live food. When feeding live mice or rats to your snake, be sure to supervise. If the snake doesn’t eat within 15 minutes, remove the rodent.
  • Braining the feeder: Exposure of brain matter can entice the snake to eat. Brain matter has a strong, unique odor that can trigger a food response.

A ball python he won’t eat eggs or vegetables. They will eat small mammals, rodents and birds in the wild. In captivity, ball pythons will mostly eat rodents. You don’t need to provide your snake with a varied diet.


What do ball pythons like to eat?

Ball pythons primarily eat small rodents, such as mice and rats. These can be purchased frozen or live, depending on the snake’s feeding preferences.

Can ball pythons eat other types of food?

While small rodents are the main staple of a ball python’s diet, they can also consume other prey items like chicks, quails, and gerbils. However, rodents should still make up the majority of their diet.

Do ball pythons eat insects or fish?

Ball pythons are not typically known to eat insects or fish. They are primarily carnivorous and prefer consuming small mammals, especially rodents.


In conclusion, the culinary preferences of ball pythons offer a mesmerizing glimpse into the intricate dynamics of the natural world. From their slithering movements to their calculated strikes, these serpents are captivating creatures that have mastered the art of survival through their choice of prey.

Understanding what ball pythons like to eat not only deepens our appreciation for their unique characteristics but also provides insights into their ecological role as efficient predators. To delve further into the captivating world of reptiles and explore the diverse wonders of venomous creatures, we invite you to read more on our Venomous blog.

Discover the astonishing adaptations, the captivating behaviors, and the fascinating interconnections that shape the lives of these extraordinary animals. Journey with us as we unravel the secrets of the animal kingdom and unlock the mysteries that lie within.