Feeding a Ball Python

Ball pythons are carnivorous animals. In the wild, they eat a variety of animals including mice, rats, lizards, frogs, birds, and small mammals to survive.

If you want to keep a ball python as a pet, then you will have to feed it either live prey or pre-killed prey such as mice, rats, lizards, etc. The diet of ball pythons depends totally on their size. Therefore, you don't need to feed them every day. However, you do need to ensure they are fed regularly for them to stay healthy.

I recommend that you read this article if you are interested in knowing everything about feeding a ball python.

What kinds of food do ball pythons eat in captivity?

It is often observed that Pythons seem to enjoy eating rodents like mice and rats while in captivity. As well as feeding on these prey types, they also feed on a variety of prey types listed below.

  • Crickets
  • Gerbils
  • Chicks
  • Shrews
  • Guinea pigs
  • Hamsters
  • Multimammate mice
  • Rabbits
  • Jerboas
  • Mice
  • Mouse hopper
  • Pinky rat

How often should you feed a ball python?

Most pet owners are worried about how often their snakes consume food. This is because if they feed them too often or too many days after, both of these things can lead to health problems for ball pythons. For example, if you feed them every day, you will cause health problems, while if you feed them after a considerable period, they will lose weight.

There is no need for pet owners to worry about this issue. We have provided you below with a chart with the age of ball pythons and the frequency at which they should be fed.

Chart showing ball python feeding frequency with age

It is important to note that the feeding chart for your ball python depends on its size and age.

Age of ball pythonFrequency
Hatching Once in five days
3-5 months Once in seven days
6-11 months Once in ten days
1-2 years Once in fourteen days
3-4 years Once in twenty-one days
5 years and above Once in forty-five days

What is the best way to feed ball pythons?

If you're a new ball python owner, you might be concerned about how to safely feed your snake. However, you don't have to worry because, in this article, you'll find the right information to help you out.

In order to feed your ball Python safely, you will need to follow the following procedure as closely as possible.

First, choose a prey for your ball python

As the first step in the feeding process of a ball python, you must select suitable prey. This is based on different factors such as the size of the prey, the type of prey for the ball python, etc, which are described below.

Size of a prey

You must feed your ball python a prey item that is of the right size. The reason for this is that if you feed your ball python large prey items, this can block the digestive tract of the ball python. This can cause them to vomit the prey back up and also cause other health problems.

It is best to choose prey that is 1 - 1.25 times the diameter of the mid-area of your ball python.

Chart showing Ball python prey size and name with age and weight of ball pythons

A chart is provided below that shows the weight and type of prey that a ball python eats in accordance with its age and weight.

Age and weight of ball pythonPrey name and size
Hatching (50-120g) 1 Cricket or hopper mouse (10-14g)
3-5 months (120-180g) 1 Small rat (14-20g)
6-11 months (180-300g) 1 Big mouse or rat (20-30g)
1-2 years (500-1000g) 2-5 adult mice or rats (30- 150g)
3-4 years (1000- 1500g) 3-6 adult mice and 1 rat (80- 150g)
5 years and above (1500-2500) 4-7 adult mice and 3 small rats (100-150g)

Choose between live or frozen prey

The ball python is a species of reptile that normally eats live prey, such as rats, rabbits, etc., in the wild. However, in captivity, ball pythons prefer to eat frozen food.

You will find below that we provide you with a difference between feeding your ball python live food as well as frozen food. This will help you to find out easily which is the most appropriate food for your ball python.

Frozen PreyLive Prey
In captivity, frozen-thawed is one of the favorite foods of ball python In the wild, ball pythons like eating live prey.
Frozen-thawed food is safe for your ball python Live prey can give injuries to your ball python
It doesn't feel natural for a ball python to consume frozen prey Live prey feel them natural
Ball pythons accept frozen prey fastly They take a long time to accept feeding live prey.
Easily available in pet stores It is hard to find them.

Second, Prepare the prey/food you select for ball pythons

After you have selected suitable prey or food for your ball Python, you will need to prepare that food according to its specific requirements when preparing that food.

In the following section, you will learn how to prepare live food and prey for your ball python, as well as frozen food as indicated below.

Live prey/food

When you are feeding live prey to your ball python, preparation is not difficult. You should read the instructions below to learn how to prepare it.

  • You should first purchase live prey for your ball python from your pet store such as a rat, a mouse, etc in order to feed it.
  • In order to prevent stomach problems in your Python, you should clean the prey as you would clean prey fur.

Frozen Food

In the case that you decide to feed frozen rodents to your ball python, you will need to follow the below procedure to prepare the frozen food for your ball python.

  • The first thing that you need to do is buy rodents for your ball python from a pet store.
  • After that, you should thaw the ball python rodent that you selected. Through thawing, solids become liquids or soft when heated.
  • If you want to thaw the rodents in another way, place the rodents on newspaper sheets in a warm room.
  • Place the rodent in lukewarm water to expedite the thawing process.

Lastly, feed the prey to your ball python

In the above paragraph, you learned how to prepare food for your ball python. In this paragraph, you learn how to feed prey to your ball python.

We have provided you with a feeding process both for live food and for frozen food below.

For Live Food

When you decide to feed your ball python live foods, you should take precautions while feeding them.

To ensure your ball Python is fed safely, follow the steps below.

  • Once you have prepared their live food, you should use soft tongs to lift the live prey by the tail and gently place it inside their enclosure.
  • Once you have put your Python and live prey together, be sure to monitor and make sure your Python is consuming them properly.
  • In case your Python does not eat live prey, you should try feeding them frozen thawed food.

For Frozen-thawed food

If you choose to feed a ball python thawed frozen rodents, you should make sure there is plenty of space for the python to feed the thawed rodents.

In order to safely feed your Python a frozen-thawed rodent, you must follow the steps below.

  • Once your rodents have been fully prepared, you should use a pair of tongs to place them gently in front of your Python Face.
  • In the case that your Python hasn't performed any actions, you should wiggle the thawed food so Python can think that it is alive.
  • As soon as your Python starts biting their thawed rodents, close the enclosure and keep an eye on them.
  • If your python does not eat thawed rodents within 12 hours, remove them from their enclosure and feed them live food instead.

Is it safe to handle a Ball Python immediately after feeding it?

A ball python cannot be handled immediately after feeding, you will need to wait at least one to two days for them to be able to be handled after feeding.

It can cause health problems for your ball python if you handle them immediately after they have been fed.

Providing them with a warm temperature at the end of their feeding will help them digest their meals in the right way.

Do ball pythons need to be fed during the day or at night?

They like to feed at dusk/sunset and do not need light to feed while they do so. Pythons are nocturnal snakes, meaning they do activities at night. They do not eat during the day and do not like to eat during daylight hours.

Precautions for feeding ball pythons safely

In order to make feeding your ball python an enjoyable experience, here are some tips and precautions you need to keep in mind while feeding them.

  • To prevent overfeeding of ball Pythons, you need to keep track of their feeding frequency.
  • When feeding them, you should use a pair of tongs to prevent their bites.
  • When you feed them live prey, it will be necessary to clean the fur of the live prey in order to prevent any health issues that may arise as a result.
  • It is recommended that you feed your ball python frozen, thawed rodents instead of live prey because there is a possibility of your snake being injured if it eats live prey.
  • To prevent digestive issues in your ball python after feeding, you need to make sure that a warm basking area is created in the habitat.
  • Keep a Ball Python habitat clean to encourage the Python to feed regularly.
  • To prevent biting from your ball python, it is important to maintain a distance from it when feeding so that you do not get bitten.