Every owner of a pet snake has to deal with their animal refusing food at one point or another. It is simply something that we all deal with. In this article I'm going to explain a few time tested methods of getting snake's to eat. I don't claim to have come up with them (they are well known by breeders and hobbyist alike), but I can vouch for their effectiveness.
Before we get into the details it is important to realize that snake's aren't mammals. They are reptiles and this means that they have a completely different metabolism at work. A snake is able to go a long time without food. Several months isn't entirely unheard of for a healthy pet snake. Certain species of snakes are more prone to going on a fast (ball pythons) for example which are infamous for going "off feed" during the fall and winter months. It is important to keep an eye on a snake that isn't eating to make sure they maintain their weight and are generally healthy. If you find that your snake is losing a significant amount of weight it is important to get it eating again.
New snakes that won't eat
A new snake home needs time to settle down. A common practice is to put it in a cage and leave it alone for 5 to 7 days. At the end of that time offer the snake some food; if it eats leave it alone for about three days before you begin to handle it. If it doesn't eat leave it alone for another 5 to 7 days and then try again.
Most people don't know this and wouldn't do it if they did. For most people the best approach is to minimize the trauma the snake experiences. Being picked up and draped around someone's neck is a traumatic experience for a snake. Not to mention the people wanting to poke and prod at it.
A great way I've found to ensure a new snake will eat is to not offer it any food for 2 weeks. This gives them time to settle in, get used to me and others and get over the trauma of being moved to a new place. I've never had this method fail with a normal healthy snake that is kept in the right conditions.
An established snake that won't eat
If you have a snake that has been eating regularly but suddenly stopped you'll want to take some steps to help determine why.
There are other more drastic measures that you can use to get a snake to eat. For example there's something called "assist feeding" where you get the snake started and let nature take over. There is also force feeding which is when you make the snake swallow the food all the way. Methods like those while effective are also extremely traumatic for your snake. It is best to leave those to experts instead of trying to do it yourself.
Ultimately as a good steward of your pet you need to determine if the snake needs medical attention because it isn't eating. Thanks for reading and I hope you found this article educational and useful. If you have any questions please stop by my website and fill out a form. Your question will be answered as soon as we can!
Brook Durant is a long time snake "connoisseur" who has owned and interacted with them for most of his life. You can find more information (or get in touch with us) at https://pet-snakes.com
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