You know ball pythons eat mice, but how many is enough? How frequently do you need to feed your pet? Figuring out the ideal meal for your pet can be confusing and even difficult at times!
So can I feed my ball python more than one mouse? The frequency and amount you should feed your ball python depends on its age and size. Generally, only snakes that weigh more than 500 grams should eat more than one mouse in a sitting.
Read on to find out exactly how many mice or rats your ball python should eat for each meal, as well as how often it needs to eat. We’ll teach you a couple of different ways to choose correctly sized prey as well. You’ll also want to check out our feeding tips and advice on how to prepare frozen prey!
How Many Mice Should My Ball Python Eat?
The numbers given below are a general guide and should be adjusted as needed for each individual ball python. Each snake’s needs can be a little different, so be sure to take the time to get to know your ball python and their eating habits.
We’ve included rats as well as mice below. Both are suitable for ball pythons. Generally, ball pythons eat smaller and more frequent meals when they’re younger and progress to larger meals that are spaced further apart as they grow.
The First Few Meals
Ball python breeders may be curious about how big baby ball pythons’ first few meals should be. The first five to seven times you feed a baby ball python, they can eat one pinky rat that weighs 8 to 12 grams, or they can have one hopper mouse. Babies should be fed every five days.
Less Than 200 Grams
If you have a juvenile ball python that weighs in at less than 200 grams, you should feed them on a weekly basis. Ball pythons that are less than 200 grams can eat a 13 to 19 gram rat fuzzy or a small mouse.
200 to 350 Grams
A ball python that weighs 200 to 350 grams should eat every week to 10 days, depending on your pet’s individual needs and habits. Meals for a ball python of this size can include a rat pup that weighs 20 to 30 grams or an adult mouse.
350 to 500 Grams
If your pet weighs 350 to 500 grams, you should feed it every 10 to 14 days. At this size, a ball python can eat a weaned rat that weighs 31 to 45 grams, or a jumbo mouse.
500 to 1500 Grams
A ball python that weighs in at 500 to 1500 grams needs to eat once every two to three weeks. Again, this will vary by individual. A full-grown ball python of this size can eat one 46 to 79 gram small rat. As an alternative, once your ball python weighs at least 500 grams, you can begin to offer it two or three adult mice.
Over 1500 Grams
A large ball python of over 1500 grams will only need to eat every month or two, but you can feed it larger meals. A medium rat of 80 to 150 grams, two small rats, or four to five adult mice will be sufficient for your pet’s nutritional needs.
How Else Can I Determine the Right Size of Mouse for My Ball Python?
In general, prey should weigh about 10 to 15% of your pet’s body weight. But aside from going by your ball python’s weight, you can choose prey that has a similar or slightly smaller circumference than your pet does at its largest point. If you feed your ball python prey that is wider than it is, there’s a risk that your pet won’t be able to digest it properly.
Should I Feed My Ball Python Live or Frozen Prey?
It’s recommended to always feed your ball python frozen prey. This is because live prey can actually injure your pet! Mice and rats have been known to bite and scratch ball pythons, sometimes so badly that the wound becomes infected and can even be fatal.
In addition, freezing the prey kills any dangerous bacteria and parasites that it may have. With live prey, there’s more of a chance of transmitting salmonella and other bacteria that can cause health problems.
However, if you do choose to offer your pet live prey, make sure not to leave your ball python unattended. This way you can jump in and ensure that your ball python remains safe while “hunting” its prey.
How Do I Prepare Frozen Prey?
An important rule to remember is never to use a microwave to thaw out frozen prey. Its fur can burn, or it can even explode! If you can, you should avoid preparing your ball python’s meals in the same place where you prepare your own. Either way, it’s essential to thoroughly sanitize the area after preparing the frozen prey.
The easiest way to thaw out your frozen prey is to put it in the refrigerator the night before you plan to feed your ball python. Then, about half an hour before feeding, put the prey into a Ziploc bag and put it in warm water so it can warm up.
The prey’s temperature needs to be close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Ball pythons pinpoint the location of their prey using its body heat and scent, so if the prey isn’t warm enough, feeding time might not go very successfully.
An important thing to note is that you should never handle your ball python directly after feeding. Your pet needs time to digest in peace, and handling can cause regurgitation or other problems with digestion.
You should give your ball python several hours at the very least before handling. Ideally, allow your pet to relax and digest without bothering it for an entire day.
What if My Ball Python Refuses to Eat?
This is usually not a cause for worry! Ball pythons in captivity are known for going on “hunger strikes.” Remember that in their natural habitat, an adult ball python typically only eats 10 times each year.
Ball pythons can go months without food while staying completely healthy. Refusal to eat is especially common in the colder winter months, when ball pythons would become more dormant in the outdoors.
Other reasons your ball python may not be eating are:
- It’s getting ready to shed
- The temperature is too hot or too cold in its vivarium
- It’s feeling stressed
You should only be concerned about your ball python not eating if it loses more than 10% of its overall body weight, or if it shows symptoms of illness or otherwise isn’t acting like its normal self. Otherwise, continue offering your ball python food on its normal schedule and wait for it to resume eating.
How Do I Know if I’m Feeding My Ball Python Too Much?
Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if your ball python is getting enough to eat, or if you’re overfeeding it. You’ll be able to tell if your pet is overweight by taking a close look at its scales. If they appear to be stretched out even while your ball python is in a resting position, your pet is overweight. In addition, if you can see skin in between your pet’s scales, it’s overweight.
Luckily, helping an overweight ball python to lose weight is a pretty easy task. You can either switch to smaller prey for a period of time, until your pet reaches a healthier weight. Or you can choose to wait a couple of extra weeks before feeding your ball python again.
How Much Water Do Ball Pythons Need?
It’s very important to provide your ball python with a large, heavy water bowl that doesn’t tip over easily. Not only will your ball python drink the water to stay hydrated, but your water bowl helps maintain humidity in the vivarium. It’s also a great place for your pet to soak and take in even more hydration.
Make sure to wash the water bowl and provide fresh water on a daily basis. If you skip out on washing the bowl, bacteria can build up and cause many different kinds of health issues for your pet. The water also needs to be chlorine-free, as this chemical can be harmful to ball pythons.
Ball pythons shouldn’t eat more than one mouse unless they weigh at least 500 grams. As ball pythons grow, they eat larger meals with less frequency. Babies and juveniles eat more often, but they consume smaller meals.
Frozen prey is always recommended over live prey. But if you do feed your ball python live prey, make sure to supervise during feeding time. If your pet refuses to eat, it’s typically nothing to worry about.
Do make sure to always provide plenty of fresh, chlorine-free water for your ball python. Sticking to this feeding guide will satisfy your ball python’s nutritional needs and keep it healthy!