Feeding Tips for PythonsPythons 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;
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.
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!
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;
- Do not handle a baby python until it is eating reliably. The stress of handling is a common cause of feeding issues in baby pythons.
- Put it into the smallest cage you can (even as small as a Chinese takeaway container if necessary). Make sure this cage is heated ‘conductively’ (floor heating), that the animal has a small thermal gradient (a hot and cold end), a water dish and somewhere simple to hide in up the warm end of the cage.
- Put it in the dark, either by placing it and its cage in a low traffic room of the house, or under a cardboard box etc.
- Attempt feeding only after dark (say 8pm) as nocturnal feeding is the norm for baby pythons.
- Use a pair of tweezers to offer food, don’t hold onto the mouse/rat in your hands.
- If the python defecates in its cage, leave some of the faeces in the cage. This leaves the python’s scent around him, making him more comfortable.
- If things don’t improve within about 3 weeks, contact us
DoLittle Farm doesn’t recommend you attempt force feeding, but if it is necessary, we suggest you contact us before attempting to do so.