Feeding Tips for Pythons

Pythons are predators - in the wild they hunt and kill live animals in order to eat. When feeding a python in captivity, we need to fulfill all the indicators pythons use to determine that prey is 'alive' in order for a python to feed;

Movement
Food must move in order to grab the attention of a python. Gentle wiggling either side of the pythons’ headl is usually sufficient (no need to bash the snake over the head with a mouse!!!) Small movements followed by a pause, then a slight movement away from the snake can often encourage a strike.

Vibration
Pythons detect vibration through the sensitive skin on the bottom of the jaw/mouth. This is an indicator to them that predator or prey is approaching. Gently wiggling a mouse/rat over stumps/logs/rocks, or dragging it across the cage’s substrate, are both good methods of giving a python the vibration signals, especially if the python is asleep inside a hide cave. Stereo’s blasting away with heavy bass in the same vicinity as a python can give it a negative vibration signal - it probably thinks a herd of elephants is coming!

Smell
Pythons have a fantastic sense of smell, tasting the air in ‘stereo’ using their forked tongue. Frozen Food needs to be of the highest quality, as any previous thawing/contamination/poor hygiene will be smelt by the python and he could refuse to eat (No different to you smelling that dinner is burnt and therefore not as appealing). Foreign smells that put your snake off feeding can include; grease/oil on your hands, scent from hands when preparing food, old or refrozen food, food that has not been sealed up when in the freezer (it can take on some of the smells in the freezer), a lack of scent if you have used warm water to thaw frozen rats or mice, or the presence of overpowering odours not linked to food (eg extensive use of scented disinfectant or similar in the house that day/week) Heat profile The ‘heat-sensing pits’, located along the sides of the bottom lip of pythons, is used to measure the thermal properties of prey. Cold prey won’t be eaten (too hard to digest), nor will prey that is excessively hot (might burn the throat). It is very important to thaw and heart your food items correctly (See Thawing Methods)

Reluctant feeders (Assuming the python has been a good feeder previously)
Baby pythons can be reluctant feeders (especially shortly after purchase) for a number of reasons, but usually it is stress related. They are very shy, so here are a few ideas to try; You can also try wrapping a piece of cotton around the tail of a pinkie mouse, and drag it through the cage slowly. If a strike occurs, pulling hard on the cotton will cut through the tail and come away from the pinkie. It is always advisable to check and double check the temperatures in your cage as incorrect temperatures are the primary reason why a snake won’t eat. For larger and older snakes, a reluctance to feed may be a shedding or breeding issue, or may be an incorrect temperature issue. Occasionally, pythons will go off their food if they have outgrown their current cage. A change of feed type (rats to mice or vice versa) can often encourage feeding again in older snakes. Other useful tips are contained in the FREE DoLittle Farm 'Frozen Rats & Mice' brochure available from all DoLittle Farm Outlets

Force feeding
DoLittle Farm doesn’t recommend you attempt force feeding, but if it is necessary, we suggest you contact us before attempting to do so.
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