Most ball python owners include mice and rats in their snakes’ diets, but you may be wondering if there are some other kinds of prey you can add into the mix. One common animal ball python owners consider feeding their pets is a frog.
So can my ball python eat frogs? The answer is that although your snake can eat frogs, it’s definitely not recommended. Ball pythons much prefer warm-blooded rodents and will occasionally eat small birds as well.
Read on to find out more about whether or not you should feed your ball python frogs, as well as some general diet guidelines and feeding tips. The more you know, the better you’ll be able to provide your snake with a healthy and nutritious diet!
Ball Pythons and Frogs
While ball pythons are certainly capable of eating frogs, they most likely won’t have a lot of interest in them. Ball pythons have labial pits that help them to sense the body heat of their prey, and because frogs are cold-blooded, it’s probable that your snake won’t recognize them as a food source.
Ball pythons prefer rodents and will occasionally eat birds, but frogs aren’t part of their natural diet. Aside from being cold-blooded, frogs also have a very different scent from rodents that your snake won’t be familiar with.
Additionally, frogs are often carriers of parasites that can easily be passed to your ball python and cause serious health issues. This is especially true if you capture a frog outdoors rather than breeding your own or purchasing cage-raised frogs from a pet store.
What Should I Feed My Ball Python?
While all snakes are carnivores, the diet of each species varies. Ball pythons tend to prefer rodents. In the wild, they’ll occasionally eat small birds if they can’t find any other prey. Most ball python owners feed their snakes mice and rats.
Can I Feed My Ball Python Anything Besides Mice and Rats?
There are a couple other animals that your ball python might enjoy eating! Chicks and quail chicks are two of the most highly recommended. Offering your snake a variety of prey options helps to ensure that they meet their nutritional needs.
Keep in mind that ball pythons are considered obligate carnivores. This means that they need to eat whole animals in order to get the proper nutrition.
Feeding Frequency and Size of Prey
Depending on the age and size of your ball python, the size of prey and frequency that you feed them will vary.
Ball pythons eat more infrequently as they grow older, but hatchlings need to eat about once every five days. For their first five meals or so, you can feed them one hopper mouse or one pinky rat.
Ball Pythons Under 200 Grams
If your ball python is past the hatchling stage but still weighs in under 200 grams, you’ll want to feed it once a week. A rat fuzzy or small mouse is sufficient for each meal.
Ball Pythons Between 200-350 Grams
Once your ball python has gotten a little larger and gained some weight, you can begin to spread out feedings a bit more. Anywhere from seven to 10 days is enough. Snakes of this size can eat one small mouse or rat pup.
Ball Pythons Between 350-500 Grams
When your pet has reached this weight, you’ll only need to feed it every 10 to 14 days. Each meal should consist of one weaned rat or jumbo mouse.
Ball Pythons Between 500-1500 Grams
Snakes of this size need to be fed every two to three weeks. They can eat one small rat or two to three adult mice per meal.
Ball Pythons Over 1500 Grams
Large ball pythons only need to eat once every month or two, and they can consume one medium rat, two small rats, or four to five adult mice in one sitting.
Where Can I Buy Frozen Rodents?
Never feed your ball python any animals you found outside! Buying frozen rodents is the best way to make sure that your snake isn’t consuming an animal that carries parasites or other diseases.
You can purchase frozen rodents from local breeders, at reptile expos, online, or at your local pet store. However, many ball python experts warn others to stay away from large pet store chains because their rodents often suffer from salmonella outbreaks. Instead, shop from a small local pet store.
If you choose to buy frozen rodents online, it’s wise to buy in bulk. This is because shipping costs can be very expensive; since the rodents are frozen, one-day shipping is the only option for them to stay fresh. Buying in bulk will save you money, especially compared to purchasing only a rat or two every couple of weeks.
How to Prepare Frozen Prey
Never toss frozen prey into your ball python’s tank before thawing it out first! Snakes are attracted to warm-blooded prey, so it’s very important to warm up the body temperature of your frozen rodents before feeding time.
There are two common methods for thawing out frozen prey: the refrigerator and cold water. Most professional collectors choose to use the refrigerator, but it does require you to plan ahead of time and takes a bit longer than using cold water.
The night before you plan to feed your ball python, place the frozen rodent (or rodents, depending on your snake’s size) in the refrigerator. By the next day they will be thawed out and will simply need to be warmed up before offering them to your pet.
If you forget to put them in the refrigerator the night before, a general timeline for mice to thaw is about two hours, while a rat can take up to five.
Thawing in the refrigerator is a good choice because the cold temperatures keep bacteria from growing. Simply taking the frozen rodents out of the freezer and letting them sit at room temperature will create a breeding ground for bacteria, which you definitely want to avoid.
If you’re looking for a faster way to thaw out your snake’s prey, cold water is a good choice. However, it does take a bit more effort. Put your frozen rodent(s) into a tightly sealed plastic bag and place them into a bucket of cold water for half an hour. Then dump and replace the water. This method can thaw out an adult rat in about one hour.
Do make sure that the bag you use does not leak or have any holes in it! This can let in harmful bacteria that can make your ball python sick.
After thawing, you’ll need to warm the frozen rodents to about 98 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This way your ball python will recognize them as a food source due to their body heat. You’ll need a bucket of warm (but not hot) water and a leak-proof plastic bag. Place the prey into the bag and the bag into the water. Wait about 10 to 20 minutes before feeding them to your snake.
General Feeding Tips
Here are a few additional tips and reminders to help you out with the feeding process!
- It’s not recommended to feed your ball python live prey. But if you do decide to, never leave your snake unattended with another animal! Although your pet is considered the predator, mice and rats have been known to injure ball pythons, sometimes even fatally.
- Don’t defrost frozen prey in the same area that you prepare your food! If there’s no way to avoid this, you’ll need to very thoroughly disinfect the area before and after defrosting.
- Avoid using a microwave to defrost frozen prey! It’s much safer to use the refrigerator or cold water methods.
- Some experts recommend feeding your ball python in a different tank than it lives in so that it doesn’t begin to associate your hand with feeding. If your pet tends to nip at your hand, keeping a separate feeding tank is a good idea so that it can learn the difference between handling and feeding.
- If you’re purchasing prey online and aren’t sure what size is best for your ball python, aim for rodents that weigh about 10-15% of your snake’s weight.
While your ball python can eat a frog, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will eat a frog. Instead, it’s best to stick to the typical diet of mice and rats, although you can mix in chicks or quail chicks for some variety.
Make sure to feed your snake based on its size; this will allow you to figure out how often to feed it and what size rodents are best for it. Always make sure to thaw and warm up frozen prey properly before offering it to your pet! Following these guidelines is sure to get your ball python the nutrition it needs.