I own a ball python and I've had him for about 6 years now (he's around 7 years old). He has always been a picky eater

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Customer: Hi. I own a ball python and I've had him for about 6 years now (he's around 7 years old). He has always been a picky eater and does not eat in the winter. Is this normal behavior? I am worried that he might be starving. The last time he ate was mid October (so around 3 months ago). I tried to feed him a live rat (he has always eaten live rats) a week ago and he refused it. He is not in the middle of a shed and, to my knowledge, there is nothing stressing him out. In the summer he eats fine, usually three times a month.
Answered by Anna in 16 mins 6 years ago
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Anna
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17,046 satisfied customers

Specialities include: Reptile Veterinary, Herp Veterinary, Exotic Animal Medicine, Amphibian Veterinary

Hello and welcome. My name is ***** ***** I'm a biologist with a special interest in reptiles. I would like to help with your question today. Ball pythons are well known for going months without eating. If your temperatures are correct, there's not much you can do about this behavior. It's not likely that he will starve. There are two concerns. One is dehydration. You can prevent that by giving him a long soak in shallow water two or three times a week. Keep him in the water for about twenty minutes each time. The other concern is that he may actually be sick. But since your Python has exhibited this behavior every year, that is a minor concern for him. Watch for lethargy, any swelling, or breathing difficulties. If any of those develop, you will need to see a reptile vet. Otherwise, keep him hydrated and control nude to offer food. If you have more questions, let me know in a REPLY. This does sound like normal ball python behavior, which merits being watched, but not to worry about it. Anna

Customer
Thank you very much for your help and reassurance. I make sure his tank his at a proper humidity and he his water bowl is always full and clean, so I doubt dehydration is the cause. He is not exhibiting unnatural signs that could indicate illness, however he does seem to be quite a bit more active than usual. I've looked at numerous websites and they all say he may be too hot, however his hot side of the tank is only around 85 degrees Fahrenheit. He has an under the tank heating pad that I do not know the temperature of, however he has had this since I've had him and it has never bothered him before. Do you have any insight on why he is so active? Especially for the winter and daytime. I did recently move his favorite hiding log a little to the front of the tank, so is this just his way of getting used to the adjustment? Also, at night I used a red colored 75 watt bulb and during the day I use a white colored 150 watt bulb. I used to just use the red 75 watt all the time but thought he was getting too cold so got the 150 watt to use during the day. Thanks again and sorry for the lengthy message. I'll attach a picture of the tank.

It looks like you have a very nice set up, and maintain proper conditions. It looks like I wasn't clear on what I meant about dehydration. I didn't think dehydration caused the appetite loss, but rather, the failure to eat could cause dehydration. If your snake soaks on his own, that would be good enough to maintain hydration. Wrinkled skin on the neck area is an early sign of dehydration, so you could just watch for that. All reptiles are very sensitive to changes in their environments. The extra activity could very well be related to that. Being over active isn't a sign of any illness, so you don't need to worry about that.

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