Adult Ball Pythons

First things:

Firstly, you need to understand that most snakes will eat when they are happy and hungry. Snakes are not robots and unlike mammals they don’t always feed on demand. It’s very common for all snakes, particularly ball pythons to fast and go without food by simply stopping to feed for a while. This is natural and needs to be expected.
Ball pythons in particular can often be described as binge feeders. That is they will eat well for weeks or several months, then they will stop feeding. If you have not experienced this before, it can cause a lot of concern.
Another very important point in feeding ball pythons is there is not a one size fits all approach. Snakes, like people are individuals and have slightly particular feeding habits. If you have more than one snake, it’s important to understand their individual feeding preferences, behaviors and habits. So if your snake is not feeding, don’t stress. Force or assist feeding should always be a last resort.
As has been mentioned, ball pythons can go without food for weeks or months at a time. This has given them a reputation as picky eaters. In some cases this can be true. If however, all the environmental factors are correct, they are then mostly doing what many ball python do, binge feeding and fasting.

Reasons why ball pythons don’t eat:

As already pointed out, ball pythons can and will stop feeding at some point during the year. Missing several meals is not a problem. Ball pythons stop feeding for a variety of reasons.
In general the main reasons are due to:
  • the environment being either too cold or too hot
  • being disturbed or stressed
  • not recognizing the food they are being offered (or can’t find the food)
  • cages size could be wrong
  • the snake could be wanting to breed or could be gravid
  • they could be going into shed
  • the snake could be ill
  • they are simply not hungry
Any one or a number of these reasons is enough to cause a ball python to skip one or more meals or even to go into an extended fast.

Temperature: too cold or too hot:

Ball pythons occur naturally in West and Central Africa. Their average day time temperature across their natural habit averages around 86 degrees F (30 degrees C). Nighttime will see a drop of several degrees.
In captivity is important to replicate these temperatures. Ball pythons do very well with an ambient temperature of 82 – 84F (27 – 28C) and with a hot spot of 86 -88F (30-32C). A common problem with captive ball pythons is that they are kept too cold. The hot spot may be fine, however if the ambient cage temperature is below 78F (25C) it’s too cold and will affect their feeding habits. Likewise a cage can be too hot. Ball pythons are not a desert species. If your snake is always sitting inthe cool part of the cage, it’s a good indication the cage is too hot.

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