Join Date: Aug-2003
I am an avid member of many yahoo ball pythons groups, I enjoy them very much, and I just love to log in and see 5+ messages, it's something I enjoy. But recently a person in group fed live, and I gave that person a nice little talking to. The snake was placed in un-needed harm, and the mistake was foolish. I just wanted to show you all, opinions would be great. I fell victim to personal attacks, about my husbandry and such, and people lost sight of the real problem at hand. These e-mails are all in the order I received them, thanks for looking. By the way, I'm Peter. It'd be great if you could help me out in my battle to abolish live feeding by joining up and telling these idiots live is wrong. I have maybe 2 others who aren't total idiots, they others all insist upon feeding live. I'm doing my best, but i'm one person telling a whole group of like 300+ members that feeding live is stupid. I just need a couple people behind me on this, I'm about ready to up and loave, but then where would they be without someone who actually knows their crap? Here are the e-mails so far.
----Original e-mail, sent by firstname.lastname@example.org:
today i fed al and he got bit by the rat . al is a ball python .
what should i do ? it does not appear to be deep and he finished the
rat off ,good for al revenge is sweet , it there something i can put
on it or not ?
Yeah, sell it to someone who cares about their snakes. That's what happens when you feed live. If it were mice, I probly wouldn't be coming down on you so hard, but rats??? What were you even thinking? I can't think of a single caresheet that doesn't give warning about this type of stuff. And rats especially will cause damage. So either you haven't done you research, or it was plain ignorance. Let this be a serious lesson to you. Would it be so hard to slam it's head off a table? Don't give me some crap about how it won't take dead, I have friends who have gotten parasie ridden WC bp's onto f/t rats. It's not that hard. Get it to a vet if it might need stitches, then either learn your crap or sell it. This bite was un-necessary, and caused by pure stupidity.
Let this also be a lesson to those of you out there who think feeding live is ok.
Ball Python Kingdom- http://ball.geckoisland.com
----Reply from email@example.com:
You, who feed your snake in the cage and recommend everyone else do the same, contrary to everything written are going to tell someone else to get rid of their snake? Get off your high horse bud..if you watch your snake with the rat, and never leave it alone with it, things are fine. Maybe you should read before you send? *hops off soap box*
Feeding live is typically for idiots, regardless of what you say. It's too risky. Find any evidence that states feeding in the cage is in any way harmful. I only give it to him in the cage, and remove him when he has it. Now is not the time to pass judgements upon my husbandry, because it is pretty flawless. You certainly have proved yourself to be a true novice. Feeding live is simply stupid, under any circumstance. Even if you're keeping a close eye on it, I'm pretty sure a rat could tear out a sizeable part of your snake before you can so much as blink. It's idiotic to put your snake under such circumstances. Why do it is there is other, easily accessible options? If feeding live is the only option left, after you've exhausted all other options, mice would be the safest way to go. But feeding live rats?? Come on!
I never advised anyone else to feed inside the cage. And it's usually a practice done by owners of big boids. When you have a 10+ boid that poses a serious threat to your life you'd probly take every precaution to be sure you'll never be mistaken for food. I feel your personal attack was lost and rendered void when you said feeding live is ok. I'm sure many others in this group have just lost respect for you, as have I.
What happened to this bp was tragic, but very preventable. If someone had known the very basics of their husbandry, they'd have known feeding live is risky bussiness.
I'm sure the majority of you will agree with me, thank you.
Point of my soap box was...
when someone writes in asking advice and particuarly when they feel bad already, do not berate them and sink to name calling. It isn't particularly helpful to anyone but your ego.
----firstname.lastname@example.org, he decided to chime in:
"Find any evidence that states feeding in the cage is in any way harmful."
Now that is funny I think every place you look in every book and on every
web site on the net they tell you never feed your snake in his/her cage,
because they will be conditioned to think of open cage feed and you can get
bit .So you lost it there guy.
But I do agree if you can when you get to the stage that the snake is big
enough to feed rats you need to definitely try to not feed live ... Just
for the safety or your snake. And Just for your knowledge at all the same
sites and books it does say "if you have to feed live" never leave your
snake alone with the live food .
I learned this lesson myself the hard way I had a large Boa a few years ago
that I used to feed in its cage and one day I went in to pick her up and
got a very very nasty bite that I had to go to the emergency room for
stitches . I didn't want to hurt the snake so I had to push my hand deeper
into his mouth to remove my arm (I think I cased more of the damage to my
hand and arm then the snake really did getting it out of his mouth. ) But
needless to say I never fed in the main cage again.
----WeeRuairi@kc.rr.com decides to join the convo:
Oh get off it Peter talk about a lot of crap to put down on someone. You feed your snake what it will eat. What makes you so perfect that you know everything. You have no right to be so sacaromonius in your attitude. This person asked for advice and you gave nothing but criticism on a topic that has been well disputed on this very list. I have done my research and understand that it is better to feed pre killed two out of three of my snakes do that. However, my ball will not and I for one don't plan to let it starve to death. It can be that difficult to get them switched over. I am not the only one that understands that fact.
As to you One... if it doesn't appear to need stitches there is no need for a trip right away to the vet. Clean the wound out good and apply Neosporin to it. You can try a Band-Aid over it, but it won't stay there very long. Hopefully, it will long enough to give the medicine time to sink in. Good luck with your snake and just watch really closely the next time you feed it. My Ball is missing at this time, he actually got out after I was trying to feed him pre killed in his cage. I don't know how it didn't get locked right. I do know that it was the last thing I did, before I left that day. I took out the mouse that he had refused to eat over night. He was probably hungry for the food he wanted and pushed his way out somehow. Guess I better sell all my snakes cause I;m sure Peter will think I am a terrible pet owner. Like that's going to happen though. I love my snakes.
----My response to WeeRuairi@kc.rr.com:
A snake was bitten and needs medical attention because of this person's ignorance. There is no excuse for why this snake is even needing such attention. Sheer idiocy has caused this! And you all pass it off like nothing. He needed the stern talking to I gave him, because odds are he'd continue feeding live. I gave him my help after he'd been set straight.
Here's some good help, take it or leave it. If it needs stitches, bring it to a vet. If not run neosporin on it and wrap gauze around the wound. Use a thick tape like duct tape to hold it there. Change the bandage every 3 days and it'll be fine.
As for attacks on MY care. They are unfounded and full of crap. I feed where ever I want. Either on a tabel, on the floor, in the cage. NEVER have I had problems with it, and if it is a flaw in my care, it is certainly one that poses no threat to my snake. But the ignorance shown by this person is amazing. Regardless of all the warnings, everywhere, he fed live. It was like playing russian roullette, this was bound to happen. This isn't some mere glitch in temps that can be passed off as though nothing. This was a major mistake that should not have happened! But the majority of you sit there and pass it off as thought its no big deal. His bp has been harmed by his lax husbandry, and there is no need for it! Geez, I understand we have a lot of newbies here, I expect that. And with that I expect a lot of newbie questions and people needing help with minor husbandry flaws. But when you blatently disregard all the warning everywhere on the net, it's just not acceptable. He either doesn't know his stuff, and thus shouldn't be owning the snake until he is better prepared. Or he simply could care less, and still shouldn't own it. If there is a good excuse for it, like he had tried for 6 months with no success, and the snake was getting thin, I'd understand. But by dancing a dead rodent around with tongs, the bp won't know the difference between live and dead. This is disgusting. I hope the snake is right. I don't do this cause I get pleasure off chewing out newbies, because if you've read my other posts you'd know thats not me, but I am doing this from conscern for the snake.
----Finally someone with me, email@example.com:
I firmly agree with peter this was no minor flaw, but i know my ball
pythons and that was not a smart move. Whoever asked the question in the
first place if you have to buy live rats then simply kill them
yourself. All you have to do it put on a glove and swing them to where
they hit hard on a hard surface and it should kill them. If it doesnt
swing them again. Also, what i recommend is using rodentpro.com to but
frozen mice if your snake will take them. Other wise follow what I said
above. If anyone does it a better way let me know .
Your both still ignoring the point that all snakes will not eat pre killed food. I don't know if he has tried to switch this snake over or not, but it has to eat. Even after a 7 month fast, my Ball would not eat pre killed food. He still won't and I have been trying for over a year to get him to do so. So I guess what your saying its better to let him starve than feed live. That makes a whole lot of sense. It's not easy to feed live, you have to watch closely. I would imagine this person will watch even more closely the next time.
Also, for the replies that came no one even bothered to address how to treat him other than rush him to the vet even though it was stated the bite was minor. That would not be what I call advice at all. I wouldn't even rush my child to the doctor for a minor bite by a sibling or pet, basic first aid should be able to handle most injuries.
----firstname.lastname@example.org gives us an update:
al is ok i have checked him out and i am applying
neosperene to his bite . i have read books on balls
and i have read the stuff on the net . most of what i
have found is if u start to feed live then u should
stick with it . i have even read posts on here about
this . it is conflicting though . i think it is a
judgement call on the owner what he or she does . i do
take responseibility for what happened today . i do
not have the knowledge as most of u might have but i
do not consider myself to be ignorant though . i have
read and made myself knowledgeable to the best of my
ability . if i was ignorant i would have just let the
lady i got him off of set him loose in the woods in pa
. also i would have just thrown him in a gage with no
light or heat or nothing that i have read about . that
would be ignorance . i made a judgement call on how to
feed my ball and i may have made a bad one but i made
it on what i have read on the net on here and the
books i have read . i have learned a lesson today i
will try fresh prekilled rats . however if al does not
eat i will go back to live but smaller rats . now u
can call me stupid or whatever u may wish. i believe
that i am a responsible ball owner to the best of my
ability and i care for al and his well being . i
believe that al is happy with how i care for him and
feed him . i agree i needed a stern talking to but
the name calling is a little childish especially when
u dont know me or even know how i have cared for al
sence i got him . i have had al for about 2 years . i
was feeding him three live mice a week and decided
from what i have read and got advice off of this group
that it was time to switch him to rats . the person
said to wait about two weeks and try it . the person
also said about the live rats and if i fed him live to
watch him and the rat and thats what i did . he did
say to pre kill but i said about feeding him live and
he said to watch him and the rat . again i made the
judgement call from what i have read . about two weeks
ago i did that and it worked fine . the lady that i
got him off of was going to turn him loose in the
woods behind where i work . she has a 2 yr old son at
the time and she was afraid that it would hurt her
son . she got it not by choice her stepsons mother got
it for a birthday gift and gave it to him . the mother
asked her not to get it but got it for him anyway . so
i saved als life . i want to thank u for ur advice and
This group has failed you, as well as those caresheets, if you some how thought they condoned feeding live. But I'm very happy to hear you say you'll attempt feeding pre-killed. It's pretty easy to switch over, most snakes are willing. Good luck, it's good to see you've learned from the mistake and are now on the right track.
----email@example.com, this idiot starts it up again:
I'm sorry folks, but I couldn't resist this bit of sarcasm so here goes...
Gee, I wonder what wild snakes eat?
Dead rats dangling from a tree by their tails.
It's not meant to offend anyone, only provide perspective.
Let's also remember that feeding pre-killed is not natural.
It is primarily convenient to humans for various reasons that spans from
not having to handle a live animal to not wanting to provide a safer
setup for a the snake to eat to simply being convenient to grab one out
of the freezer (gross!!--my opinion)
If you can get your snake to eat pre-killed then I guess that is 100%
safe for sure for your snake. What are the trade-offs?
I think feeding live makes my snake better able to tolerate captive life
and provides the snake with the ability to exercise his natural hunting
Here are some questions
Do pre-killed frozen rats stink? are they wet? How do you feed it to the
snake? do you just throw it in the feed box and walk away? With frozen
pre-killed, have you ever accidentally fed it to the snake still cool?
If you dangle, is there greater risk of being bitten by your snake?
I feed live, even it others think it is insane.
----My reply to her:
I have a picture that explians it all. Fedding live is stupid if you haven't gone to the extremes to get it on pre killed. Just buy a live one and hit it off the floor, and trust me, it'll take it. No need for frozen rodents, just buy them alive and healthy, kill it, and feed it a fresh rat/mouse.
Your statement is kind of ridiculous though. You but them in danger so it can be more natural??? How would the snake know the difference if you danced a pre killed one around so it felt like it was eating live? Just when it bites down grab a leg and shake it so the bp thinks the rodent is putting up a fight. It's so simple. And if you want to go the extra mile to be more natural stop feeding mice and rats, because that certainly isn't what they eat in the wild. Switch to gerbils, because it appears you're very conscerned about making captivity tolerable. And give it parasites too, only natural, right? Ticks and mites will only make it feel at home.
Now on to your questions. Pre killed rodents do not stink, they aren't wet unless you make them so, to feed it to the snake either drop it in or make a show by waving it in its face. You could get bit, and if it's freshly killed it isn't too cold. And by the way, never heat them in the microwave.
Stop the rationalizing, switch to pre killed. Finally, the pic.
Pretend there is a gruesome pic here
when left alone with this bp. So imagine what a rat can do. After seeing this, anyone who feeds live is an idiot.
I know it seems like I'm being a real jerk, by cutting these people down a lot for feeding live. But you must understand I do it out of conscern for the snake. I see these people feeding live, and one gets hurt. It was bound to happen. Then I see others still feeding live, with all the warnings out there! It just makes no sense! You are putting your snake in un-needed danger, and you know this. Stop making BS excuses about how its so they feel at home, cause you know it's dumb. It's just stupid....What more can I say? Try and cut me down, as I'm sure you will. But if anyone out there isn't a newb, they will probly vouch for me. Thank you, Peter
Thank you Carol, I needed that laugh! I agree 100%. BTW, Peter, Gerbils are illegal in California or I would happily switch. I raise my own rats, happen to like them. Personally I cannot kill a rat, call it a glitch, call me chicken , whatever..I just have trouble with it. I have a 13 yr old BP who is 63" long and 7" around...she is faster and stronger than any rat I put her in with. Once she killed a rat, and then wanted nothing to do with it afterwards. I tired the dangling it with tongs for almost an hour. The only results that got me was that the tongs were not long enough and she struck at my hand. Makes sense when you think of the way they see heat. She eventually ate it after dragging it around for another half hour, but I have to say, her striking at me was a bit scary. I love my baby to pieces, but I also respect the fact that if she wanted to, she could really hurt me. Anyway, I am glad Al is ok and that he was rescued from the scary woods. Have a great day everyone!
----firstname.lastname@example.org proves herself to be a total newbie:
I've seen that SAME picture so many times, that it's not even shocking
My point regarding 'MY CHOICE' to feed live is twofold:
1) Ball Pythons hunt when they eat, instinctively. They don't need to be
told what to do. There is nothing wrong with a regulated feeding of a
The picture you attached is an extreme consequence of neglect. A healthy
snake would not even let that happen. A healthy owner (versus some sick
demented animal cruelty poster boy/girl) would not let that happen.
In the proper scenario, a healthy snake will kill multiple rodents prior
to consuming them if it feels that it may get bitten during the
swallowing process. Snakes do THINK.
They also use logic when they strike. It is not random, they very
carefully plan their strike and will wait a very long time if they have
2) When I discuss making captivity more tolerable, I am referring to my
own dedication to minimizing the stress on the animal by allowing it to
do some of the things that it would do instinctively like crawl and hunt.
But that is my choice, I think it is ludicrist to suggest that feeding
anything but pre-killed is only for the stupid or idiotic.
I simply think that the possiblity of getting bitten is an unrealistic
justification for a forced captive compromise (also I think that people
misunderstand how a live feeding should be conducted).
My opinion is that feeding pre-killed is an option. Whereas you
adamantly believe that it is the only alternative.
My statement regarding it being natural to the snake was simply
suggesting that your logic which demands that it be pre-killed goes
against nature. It is exactly opposite of what they do in the wild.
And that is where you an I differ. You think that it is an absolute
that they must be fed pre-killed. I don't think it is absolute.
So, I will agree to disagree.
Another note. I love my snakes.
My male is very gentle and very healthy and I feed him live.
They are adept at stalking and killing their prey prior to eating.
And I enjoy watching it, too. I learn a lot from them. I take pleasure
in observing even the most minute things that they do. I like learning
thngs about them as opposed to assuming that I am the mighty human who
must know everything there is to know about them or that what I do is
best for them because
Thanks for the responses regarding feeding pre-killed. I really was
curious about how it was done.
Last questions wrt feeding prekilled--how does the snake know when to
stop squeezing? Does feeding pre-killed give the snake a sort of sensory
What would be the long term evolutionary effect? It seems like
constrictors only constrict to kill and eat versus using it as a defense
I wonder would that change?
Okay, I was just pondering and probably went off the deep end with that
But here is the last tidbit. There is a method to feeding live.
You don't simply feed live by placing a snake and a rat together in a
box. THAT IS NOT THE WAY TO FEED LIVE.
There is a tremendous risk of the snake getting seriously bitten when it
is fed in that manner.
I came across what I think is the snake's natural feeding position by
accident. My first BP was a baby and would not eat. I had vet
administered force feedings up until it ate on it's own.
Durin the course of trying to get it to eat, I tried all the methods that
were mentioned in the books,on websites and forums, you know--things like
put it in a bag or box with a pinkie or prekilled, dangle, etc., dangling
a pre-killed at their heads, etc. My snake wasn't interested one bit.
However, I just so happened to purchase a cage that these tiered corkbark
pieces glued to the back of it. My snake used to crawl up on the 2nd
tier and curl his head ina sort of strike manner(pointed toward the floor
of the tank). I always wondered why he would do that. He would stay
like that for an hour or so sometimes longer.
Anyway. I had reached a point of giving up. I had bought some live
fuzzies--just barely hopper mice and I also bought this little wood hide
with an opening near the top of it. It looked like a little burrow box. I
put the hide in his cage (it happened to be just below the 2nd tier).
Anyway... I placed the 3 mice in the hide, temporarily. I was going to
prepare a separate little holding cage for them. So I dumped them into
the little hide. My snake went and perched on the tier in that stalking
manner. One of the mice was attempting to crawl out. As soon as it
crawled about halfway out of the top. My snake grabbed it.
I assumed that BP's hunted from above (you know like in trees) and stalk
I asked about this on another forum and I was told it was ridiculous and
that BP's don't hunt that way at all.
Right now, I have encountered several(in reality only 2) people who have
snakes that are not eating. Each time they had a piece of the log or
wood in the tank for the snake to crawl on.
When they were told to place the snake up above the live food and drive
the gerbil/mouse toward the spot where the snake is perched, the snake
would snag it and eat it.
Also, when they are perched above there is much less risk of being
But, this is one e-mail that is turning into a novelette so I an ending
it right now.
You're a total idiot. Sorry, but I feel you are being flat out stupid. You probly only feed live because you think its "cool" to watch it hunt and kill a rodent. Wake up. It might not have been hurt yet, but do you really think your streak of good luck will last for much longeR? Sooner or later a mouse will have enough head room to sink it's teeth into your snake. and if it's a rat, I hope your snake doesn't mind stitches. It could be a tiny cut, or a giant piece of flesh being ripped off, but how can you be sure? Is it really worth puting your snake into such a situation? It's just idiotic. You're a complete newbie and it shows, go find a good caresheet and learn your stuff. I highly doubt it knows its dead when you move it in front of it. And I highly doubt you're minimizing stress in any way shape or form by feeding live, you're just being ignorant. If you really love your snakes you'd do anything to keeep them safe, and not put them in danger. So stop being an idiot and switch to stunned or pre killed. Or am I the only one who practices proper husbandry for my animals? This is just sick.
Hmmmm, was this injuring necessary? Back me up, join the group and help teach these newbs. Here's the link:
Last edited by Ballkingdom; 08-26-03 at 01:41 PM..