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Thread: Getting ball python to eat frozen rats?

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    Default Getting ball python to eat frozen rats?

    So, I got a brand new foster ball python. I have lots of experience with corn/hognose snakes but this is my first BP. I was told by the rescue that he ONLY eats live, and he is full-grown.

    I let him settle in, and he's had two relatively successful feedings on small/medium live rats. However, I desperately want to switch him to frozen/thawed for my own convenience and for his safety.

    I have read a lot about switching them over, and I understand the general concept of thawing out the rat and using the tongs to make them appear alive and encourage the snake to bite.

    But I'd like to hear from someone who has real experience switching from live to frozen. From what I know he eats like clockwork every week, and while I hate to mess up a good thing I really don't agree with feeding live unless 100% necessary. I've never had to switch anything from live to frozen before, all my snakes have come to me perfectly willing to eat frozen, live, whatever I've thrown at them. I know that BP are notoriously pickier than corns or hognoses, though.

    I was planning to feed him live a few more times just to bulk him up in case the switching causes him to fast, but he got a small bite from his rat today so I'd like to start switching him now.

    Tips? Suggestions? Youtube videos?

    Thanks so much!
    May you take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.

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    Honestly my approach would be to start with fresh killed rats on tongs. Once he takes that for a few weeks, try frozen. The main key is to not give in. If he won't take F/K or F/T for 3 months, don't feed him anything else. He'll eat when he's ready.

    Of course, if he starts losing weight and has no interest whatsoever after 6+ months, you'll just have to feed him live.
    Nicole

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    We have around 40 or so ball pythons. Other than balls I have gotten as hatchlings / neonates, I've not had any luck switching older ones to live. This seems to be the experience of other ball python breeders I have spoken to as well.

    Best of luck! ~

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    Thank you for the advice everybody! I will try some suggestions next feeding.

    It is discouraging to hear that it might not be possible to switch. I just am not a fan of feeding live. His bite from the other day is very, very minor, but I have seen what can happen with live feedings. I know to NEVER leave the prey item in with the snake, and to observe until it's killed/ eaten, but I would be very upset if something where to happen to my new foster.

    I figure it's worth a shot, right? He is young and healthy and has no trouble catching the rats, but it still makes me nervous.
    May you take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Whimsy View Post
    Thank you for the advice everybody! I will try some suggestions next feeding.

    It is discouraging to hear that it might not be possible to switch. I just am not a fan of feeding live. His bite from the other day is very, very minor, but I have seen what can happen with live feedings. I know to NEVER leave the prey item in with the snake, and to observe until it's killed/ eaten, but I would be very upset if something where to happen to my new foster.

    I figure it's worth a shot, right? He is young and healthy and has no trouble catching the rats, but it still makes me nervous.
    Yeah, I feel bad for saying it. Believe me I wish mine would take F/T [ if nothing else, it'd save me a 2 hour drive to pick up live rats every week! ]

    Have you considered pre-killing / or stunning the rats? If you have the stomach for it, the rats often do death throws that tempts the balls enough to eat them, but without getting hurt. He might be more inclined to take that then f/t. ~

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    If I had to, I would have the stomach to kill a rat that was hurting the snake. But I really don't have the stomach to pre-kill or stun the rat every single week. Plus, I would worry that he wouldn't eat the rat (like if he was about to shed and I didn't know), and then a life would be wasted if since he won't eat the dead rat next week, and I don't have any snakes large enough to eat the rat if he refused it.

    What is you preferred method of stunning/ pre-killing? I could probably try it once.

    Hopefully my foster gets adopted soon. If he were my snake permanently, I wouldn't mind fasting him for 3 months if that's what it took to get him to switch, but my job as a foster mom is to keep him fat and healthy for adoption. It just won't due to have him covered in scars, though.
    May you take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.

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    Here's a few of the methods I have tried with my own snakes, some have worked with some BPs, others have not. I do still have adults that will not take anything but live, but I have switched a couple over to f/t as adults. So, sometimes you can, sometimes you can't.

    (These are on f/t rats)
    Braining (split the skull to expose the brain)
    Heating the head to a higher temperature than the body
    Feeding a small live rat (not a full meal) then setting a f/t rat in the tub while the snake is eating

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    ive had luck in the past by feed two smaller meals. one live one FT..... usually right after its eating the live on it should take the ft... after 3-4 feedings like this just offer Ft.... it has worked for me

    but balls can be picky esp an older one being picky on live.... good luck!

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    My two switched easy the previous owner said they only ate live ... on the scheduled feeding day I tried them on frozen thawed and one ate and the other refused to eat them so I waited a week until the next scheduled day gave them an extra bit of heating on the heads of the thawed ones and they both took them straight away
    Gargoyle Gecko 3.1.2, Pygmy Mice (lots)
    Darren http://www.iherp.com/pennhillszoo

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