When first acquiring a ball python, it’s a good idea to see if you can find out what his diet has been and maintain it, at least for a while. Many captive-bred ball pythons are already established on a mice or rat diet and will be most comfortable continuing with the same.
Ball pythons should generally be fed once a week. The amount of food they are fed depends on the size of each individual snake. For example, if your snake eats mice and is 2 or 3 feet long, he should be given 2 or 3 mice per feeding. Do not handle your ball python for 24 hours after a feeding, as you will run the risk of causing him to regurgitate food that he has not yet fully digested.
All snakes should be willing to accept live prey, as this is the form of food that is most natural for them. Monitor the feeding situation closely, however, as live prey can injure your ball python. If he does not eat within one hour of the food’s introduction, remove the prey from the cage and try again in a few days.
Pre-killed prey is often considered to be the more humane type of food. Pre-killed prey is frozen and must be thawed to room temperature before feeding it to your ball python. Some snakes are unwilling to accept frozen prey, but they may possibly be enticed if you hold the prey with a pair of tongs (never with your hand!) and gently wiggle it in front of them. Once he is interested, a snake will generally strike at frozen prey and go through all the motions of killing it before actually eating it.
Ball pythons vary in their eating habits and tendencies. Every ball python is an individual when it comes to how often he’ll be hungry, and what foods he’ll eat. Some ball pythons are very picky eaters, while others will eat just about anything you offer them. Get to know your snake and his eating preferences, and you will have a much better chance of raising a healthy snake that will live many years.
For more information, read Quick & Easy Ball Python Care (T.F.H. Publications, Inc.).