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Old 04-19-17, 06:03 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Feeding questions

I don't have a snake yet but am doing lots of research and hope to get a MBK within the year. I breed show type mice and have for over 6 years and me and my s/o always talked about having a snake since we basically have "free" food around. But only recently have I been looking into reptiles and after going through a few more higher maintenance species, which I still hope to have in the future, landed on snakes. Now the questions...

I understand the width of snake to food stuff to figure out the best size but what about when they go from eating say one pinkie to two? Do they just let you know and seek out more food? The mice we breed are far bigger than any feeder mice usually between 55-65 grams for both sexes and some big boys get 70+. So obviously for a full grown snake but would they still need a "small rat" every once in a while? I still plan to feed variety like eggs, chicks and feeder lizards. So about those...how big are chicks? Are they usually for adults? And feeder lizards look small from what I've seen online are they better suited for a younger snake or fed in larger quantities or just different species? Do you live feed the lizards or...how do you not do that? I don't plan to feed any of the mice or any other food items live but if there's no way around the lizards I'd be ok with it once in a while to be beneficial to the snake.

Thanks in advance
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Old 04-20-17, 10:21 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Feeding questions

Welcome to sSNAKESs!

I just got my first three snakes, and I know a "little", but I'll let the old farts, those with more experience, chime in.
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Old 04-20-17, 10:41 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Feeding questions

-Generally 10-15% of body weight or up to 1.5 times the thickest part of the snake are rules of thumb for people who don't know how to figure out proper food sizes. Never go by size of the head...some people have and it's not reliable of course. Also, snakes can eat themselves to illness or death so it's best to follow this rule of thumb so that doesn't happen. Single prey items offered at once is usually regarded as the best way to go.

-A lot of MBK do fine on an adult mouse or small rat for food items. What you offer will depend on the adult size and weight of your individual animal as adult sizes vary.

-Feeder lizards often have internal parasites that can be detrimental to your snake so it's something I would advise to stay away from. Variety is not necessarily a bad thing, but rodent eating snakes do very well on a diet consisting of whole rodents without the need for variety. Chicks, quail, as well as quail eggs are all acceptable alternatives. Chicks would be appropriately sized for adults.

I'm sure others will chime in with their own opinions as well and they may differ a bit from mine, so take the opinions and combine it with a bit of your own personal research to find out what will work best for you.
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Old 04-20-17, 12:48 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Feeding questions

MBK (and almost all kingsnakes) are trashcans when it comes to food. 10-15% of body weight per feeding with prey item(s) around or slightly bigger than their mid body works out just fine. Up to 1 year you can feed them every 5 days, in year 2; 5-7 days, in year 3; 7 days. Feeding frequency (digestion as a whole) depends on temperature, so make sure you have the right temperature setup, which I am sure you know.

No need to feed lizards, eggs, and other stuff. Mice and a young rat pup every 3 months or so will do just fine. If you plan to use mainly your overflow of pinkies or young mice, your kingsnake will outgrow those sizes quite rapidly and likely feeds on young adults (~17 grams) within 2 years and adults (~25+ grams) by the end of year 3. Now you have different species of mice, not sure about their growth rate and such, but you will see..
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Old 04-20-17, 05:55 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Feeding questions

Thank you for the replies! So weight of the snake is also a guide, good to know. I think I'll stay away from lizards! Other stuff here and there should be a good mix. I just wasn't sure how to tell to go from just one food item to two, if I should go by the snakes behavior or weight?
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Old 04-20-17, 06:37 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Feeding questions

You will get to see if you're under of over feeding. Even a kingsnake can get fat or look 'skinny'... (f.e. you get to see a very clear change from body to tail section, or clearly see the spinal cord, which is abnormal for a kingsnake) slender, but round, and muscular, with an even looking body from nose to tail, is how he/she should be. Just like humans there are differences in metabolic rates between snakes, there's not a set in stone guide, just guidelines and best practices. Much depends on the snake and its environment.

F.e. my MBK and Nelsoni would eat every day if they got the chance, until they burst - my MBK literally gobbles down 2 mice in a row and sits in front of the window hoping for a 3rd. My Cali King on the other hand, even when very young, will not take more than 1 meal per week. My KSBs generally take a mouse every 14 to 21 days and will simply not eat more given the chance. My Eryx Miliaris and E. Conicus (same species as the KSB) on the other hand nearly jump out of their terrarium as soon as the door opens and easily take a mouse a week given the chance, but sometimes don't eat for a month.

Best is to observe how your snake is doing, and use the feeding schedules as a guideline only. With this I mean that if the guideline is around 7 days and your snake just fed... he/she will be resting to digest the meal for some days. After that he starts to be active again, hunting the terrarium. It does not mean that he should get food straight away, but if that happens after 5 days, then the 7 day schedule is likely fine, if that happens already after 3 days, then likely he needs a bit more or larger prey, or the same at a higher frequency. Also this will change once the snake matures. Watch their body structure, it's not too hard to see if your snake is under or overfed. Their appetite changes throughout the seasons (winter, spring, breeding seasons, etc) and throughout their lifetime as well (ie- growing fast between 0 and 3 years, then much slower - so less food required), observation is key and that will come after you have your snake and you get to know his behaviors - because also that is different per snake.

I wouldn't worry too much with a Kingsnake, they are very straight forward to keep and tend to have a good temperament as well in most cases.

Last edited by TRD; 04-20-17 at 06:53 PM..
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Old 04-21-17, 06:42 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Feeding questions

Thank you so much for all the information, I really want to do things right as this is my first reptile. I have heard they're good eaters so hardest part will probably to make it fat! Also love what I hear about their temperament too, I saw an unboxing video of a baby and it was super chill. However a tiny snake bite sounds more cute than scary
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Old 04-21-17, 07:12 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Feeding questions

I feed my cali king a rotation of day old chicks, asfs (mouse sized), wean rats and week old quail which are similar to day old chicks. She is an adult 40"ish approx 450g last weigh in which was awhile ago.

Adult mice are fine if that's what you have. My other snakes are growing or on small rats so I find it easier to buy more wean rats and asfs and feed multiple snakes. My boa will outgrow the weans eventually but I have 2 others growing so that's what works for me.
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