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Old 12-21-17, 09:24 AM   #1 (permalink)
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More food less often or less foor more often?

Short version:
Is it better to feed larger meals less often or smaller meals more often? Does it really matter which approach one takes?

Long version:
My 1.5 year old Brooks kingsnake has been eating hoppers for a while. I was feeding him once a week, but for the last month I've fed him every 5 days. He is now about 30-32 inches long and appears to be ready for a move up in prey size. Current size mice leave only a barely discernible bulge. At feeding time he scarfs them down in under a minute and continues searching his tank for more. Later he goes into his warm hide to digest but is back out later that day. He used to stay in his hide for 36-48 hours after a meal.

This week I put out two hoppers for him, in two different places. He found the first one, scarfed it down, then quickly found and consumed the second. He did keep hunting for a little while, but then went into his warm hide and stayed there for about 36 hours. That seemed to put him back to his normal behavior. It's been 4 days and he's started prowling his enclosure again.

His "prowling" behavior is quite different from his former normal activity. In the past, his normal behavior was just moving from hide to hide, going for a soak in his bowl once or twice a day, hanging out on one of his plants, etc. Basically, his only moved around when he seemed to have a destination in mind. When he's in hunger mode he explores every inch of his enclosure repeatedly for 15 minutes or so before going back in a hide. Then he reemerges later that hour and repeats the hunt.
We still have a supply of hoppers left & I'd rather use those up before switching to the larger size. Thus the question of whether to feed more food less often or smaller meals more often. My preference would be to feed two mice per meal so he feels full & won't be prowling his cage just 24 hours later. While I love seeing him out and about, I don't like the idea of him constantly feeling hungry.
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Old 12-21-17, 09:59 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: More food less often or less foor more often?

I vary the meal sizes and feeding frequencies for all my snakes. If they get a large meal they wait a little longer to eat again. If they have a small meal they eat again sooner. For a 1.5 y/o king I'd recommend feeding him every 7-10 days. I stop feeding them every 5 days after they turn one. A lot of snakes will be active a few days after a meal and will gladly eat if you feed them. This can lead to overfeeding. I prefer to establish a feeding guideline and stick to it. I do give my snakes small snacks between meals sometimes though just because I like to see them eat.
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Old 12-21-17, 10:01 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: More food less often or less foor more often?

Generally a single larger meal less often is better then more often. It's better their body isn't always in food mode. If the meals are too small you could offer 2 at a time.
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Old 12-21-17, 11:48 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: More food less often or less foor more often?

For a adult king snake, which has a high metabolism, it would be better to feed one appropriate sized prey item once a week. Smaller prey items more often would result in you needing to feed your king snake every 3 days or so, which is troublesome for you and the snake.
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Old 12-22-17, 09:15 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: More food less often or less foor more often?

Thank for your replies. Larger meals less often it will be.

He really wasn't pleased when I'd switched to feeding 7-10 days. Had thought it just that he needed larger meals but wasn't certain, thus the switch back to every 5 days. After he devoured two hoppers and came back for more, it seems larger meals would be his preference.

So will he keep his higher metabolism through his adult life or will it slow down in the coming year?

Have to confess, a Brooks wasn't one of the species on my shortlist. Various other colubrids were much higher on the list. He just turned out to be what followed me home from the expo. He seemed the most "chill" of the snakes I handled. In hindsight it's clear he probably was quite literally the most chilled. In my warm, cozy home he revved up into a wriggly, highly active guy. Thankfully, he's calmed down considerably since then.
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Old 12-22-17, 10:21 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: More food less often or less foor more often?

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Originally Posted by kudzu View Post
So will he keep his higher metabolism through his adult life or will it slow down in the coming year?
It will be slower then what it was for a yearling, but they still need to be fed much more often then an adult ball python. One appropriately sized rodent every week is good for a king snake. While ball pythons can be fed an appropriately sized rodent as low as every 2-4 weeks.
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Old 12-22-17, 10:58 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: More food less often or less foor more often?

Thanks, DJC. Once a week is what I expected. Have received an order of small adult mice. Will switch him over when the hoppers are gone. I think my lack of experience with snakes made me slow to realize when he needed a size increase.

Until now I've only had mammals as pets. Things are much different with a reptile. (Which I, of course, had expected.) One thing isn't so different. My snake can beg for food just as well as the dogs & horse. In fact, he might be the biggest beggar of the bunch.
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Old 12-22-17, 11:58 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: More food less often or less foor more often?

Snakes are programmed to usually take food whenever they can get it. They do this because they want to stuff themselves with as much nutrition as possible, because they don't know when they will get a decent meal next. In captivity this can be troublesome, but it's up to the keeper to know how much a snake needs, and how much a snake wants. You'll get there like the rest of us!
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