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Old 10-10-17, 05:17 PM   #1 (permalink)
Mrr
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Hatchling won't eat

Hey all..

So I'd been in the market for either a female BEL or high white pied ball python for some time now. Just before a recent local reptile expo, I'd gotten in touch with a breeder who had just hatched the most gorgeous high white female and was bringing her to that exact expo. I jumped on my chance and put a deposit down on her. When the expo came, I met at the guy's booth and paid the remaining amount on her. As I left he mentioned that he has yet to get her to eat... Crap. (I'm aware of the general rule to not sell until they've had 3 meals at least, so this was unexpected to hear)

I brought her straight to the woman who would be boarding her for me - as I can't move into my snake friendly place for another month or so. She was pretty frustrated that I was sold a snake that had turned out to be only 3 weeks old and hadnt eaten (as was I), but she was positive she could get her to eat something.

Fast forward 2.5 weeks later and she still hasn't eaten a thing. Should I be concerned? I know ball pythons are notoriously picky eaters, but she's going on 5-6 weeks without a meal. Apparently she pooped out her yolk just a couple days ago, so hopefully that should help encourage her to eat. At what point do I really need to be concerned? The woman she's staying with works for a feeder company and is still trying different things so see if she can encourage her, but as a last resort she did say they may need to force feed. At this point I'm okay with anything as long as she just eats!

Has anyone else experienced this? Should I be super worried here? This little thing is stressing me right out!
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Old 10-10-17, 08:44 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Hatchling won't eat

If she just used up her yolk, she won't be due to eat for awhile longer as the yolk was keeping her sustained this whole time. I know people are generally worried about growth rates when babies don't eat, but I really wouldn't worry unless she started rapidly losing weight or lost more than 20% of her weight empty (maybe 15% for a hatchling who hasn't eaten). Anything less than that won't result in a noticeable body tone difference. Any reduction in baby growth rates will be caught up eventually, just not as quickly as one that was eating heartily. As long as snakes are not underweight, I don't bother worrying about slowed growth rates.

In the meantime, make sure your husbandry is correct, do not handle until she's eating, and reduce as many stressors as possible (no lights at night, low foot traffic, plenty of hides and cover, etc.). Offer every 7 days at most, and you may have to try live for the first feeding or two.
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Old 10-11-17, 08:19 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Hatchling won't eat

THIS ^^^^^^^^^^^^. Also, try to get tighter fitting hides for the little girl. Toilet paper cardboard ends. Usually it's paper towel cardboard ends but seeing as this animal is very small i would go with the toilet paper ends. Make sure to stuff toilet paper into one end so there is only one way in and out. What type of enclosure are you working with and how are you heating the enclosure? Anything larger than 6qts for a hatchling will be problematic. And therefore will have to be tweaked especially in this case.
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Old 10-11-17, 06:38 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Hatchling won't eat

As far as I know, she's in a 6qt tub in a rack set up. The girl who's taking care of her is much more knowledgeable than I am (I've only owned one ball python and a few corns in the past).. So I'm trusting that her husbandry is correct. From what I was told (by the woman boarding her) when I got her, she's skinny - her spine protruded slightly.. but apparently she seems happy and healthy otherwise.

She's said that she's tried live already, and even live ASF pinkies, but no luck. If you guys aren't concerned however, then I won't be either. She pooped out her yolk only this past weekend, so I'm hoping that means she'll be ready to eat by this coming weekend. I know they're considering force feeding her, but only as a last resort. It's so strange only hearing updates from others. It'll be nice when I can bring her home finally.. although to be honest, I'm grateful that they have her, as they're more knowledgeable and will have more ideas to get her to eat than I would have.

All that being said.. I'm curious.. how long do most hatchlings go before eating? Ive never had a ball python thats so young before. My last one was already a few years old and a great eater when I'd gotten him so this is all new to me.
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Old 10-11-17, 07:08 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Hatchling won't eat

I would leave her alone with no handling whatsoever. Include the paper towel roll or toilet paper roll ends as a hide. Only spot clean and change the water. Maintain the correct temps and humidity. After 7 to 10 days max offer a live hopper mouse. No need to force feed this animal at all. There is good muscle tone and the animal looks healthy.
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Old 10-11-17, 10:11 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Hatchling won't eat

Babies can last a LOOONG time with no food. I wouldn't worry. I'd wait a week or two before offering food and just see what happens.
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Old 10-11-17, 10:20 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Hatchling won't eat

Man, she sure is beautiful, though! Doesn't look too skinny. I hope she eats for you soon!
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Old 10-12-17, 01:21 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Hatchling won't eat

Ball pythons have a spinal ridge, it's quite common in snakes. That bp doesn't look underweight in the slightest. Even a baby should easily be able to go 4-6 months without food before they start losing weight, as long as they had at least a few meals. A baby that just absorbed it's yolk should still be able to go another 2-3 months or more before they start losing weight, and not having an actual meal may not even affect the amount of time without food. After all, they still had food in their yolk.
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0.0.1 ball python Bud - 3.3 BI Cloud, sunglow Nymeria, ghost Tirel, anery motley Crona, ghost Howl, jungle Dominika - 2.0 garter snake eastern Demigod, checkered Draco - 0.1 retic Riverrun - 1.1 BRB Sanji, hypo Homura - RIP Guin and Morzan, 1.1 Picasso stripe BRB
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Old 10-14-17, 11:54 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Hatchling won't eat

Thank you guys! I've been stressing about this for the past few weeks, so it's nice to know that there's nothing worth worrying about. I'm just new to owning a hatchling, so I'm not sure what to expect in terms of a first meal.. but I feel like it's pretty unlikely that she'll starve herself to death, that just goes against survival instinct.

I'll tell the girl not to bother with the force feeding then and try her again in another week ish
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