A common complaint among snake owners is that their snake isn’t feeding as it should be.
Firstly, unless it is some months since your snake last ate this is unlikely to be a major cause of concern – many will miss one or two feeds then start eating again the next time.
So the first tip for you if your snake isn’t eating is to continue giving food on a regular basis. Keep to your “normal” feeding time and schedule as you might just be pleasantly surprised.
Also bear in mind that some snake species are far more likely to stop feeding than others. Corn snakes, for example, tend to be very good feeders and rarely if ever go off their food. On the other hand, Ball Pythons are far more likely to fast for extended periods of time.
In addition, wild-caught specimens are far more likely to stop feeding than captive-bred specimens so try to find out whether your snake is one of the species that tends to stop feeding from time to time and also take note of whether it is captive-bred or not.
It’s also well worth keeping a diary or snake feeding record (as come with many snakes when you buy them from a professional) so you can have accurate records about what you fed and when. These records help highlight anything you may have forgotten about such as changing the type or size of food items given recently, or the frequency or regularity of feeding. It will also enable you to be 100% when your snake last fed.
Here are some other reasons your snake may go off his food, and how to deal with the situation…
One of the most common causes of all is stress and this is frequently seen in freshly imported snakes. However even long term captive snakes or captive-bred snakes can still suffer from stress so consider if there’s anything that could have set this off.
Does your snake have somewhere safe and cosy to hide in his cage? Has the cage been subject to bright sunlight recently or extremely high or low temperatures. Is it in the direct line of sight of another snake or animal that may be worrying him? Have you recently changed the food to a new type? Have there been children, cats etc. bothering him by tapping on the glass? Have you been handling him more than usual or been letting strangers handle him?
Finally some snakes find it stressful to be watched when they are eating, so do not put prey and watch until it has eaten. Put it the prey then leave the room nice and quiet. Let your snake get on with the business.
Any of these (or all!) can set off stress in a captive snake and could result in not feeding. However luckily once noticed most of these causes of stress are easy to remedy.
Moulting is a very uncomfortable experience for snakes and they will often fast for several weeks before and after a moult. Typically the larger the snake, the longer it will fast for.
Keep an eye on tell-tale signs such as eyes clouding over or your snake not coming out of his hide for days if not weeks on end. You may be able to see sloughed bits of skin around the cage indicating a recent moult.
Generally within a week or two after a moult your snake will commence feeding again.
There are more fussy snakes that will for no obvious reason stop feeding simply because they’re getting bored with what you are feeding. So try “mixing it up” a little. Feeding mice? Try gerbils or hamsters. Try a different time of day, or size of the prey item.
4) Not Stimulating
Sometimes a prey item you give simply won’t “do it” for your snake. It won’t elicit the feeding response. It may be that the prey item isn’t warm enough (many snakes, such as Ball Pythons have heat sensors which will tell them how warm a prey item is) and a warm prey item will also give off a stronger smell attracting the interest of your snake.
You’ve no doubt seen the response in the past when you feed your snake and he or she comes out of it’s hide, waving around it’s head, perfectly aware there’s something to eat around but not being totally sure exactly where it is yet.
So try warming up the food before giving it. I place the food into a clear plastic food bag and sit it in warm water for 20-30 minutes to warm it through thoroughly then give it to the snake.
Sprays are also available to increase the “mouse-like” smell of prey items and so increase the attractive smells given off which encourage your snake to feed.
Keep an eye on all these factors and most snakes will keenly begin feeding again with no nasty end results.
Article Credits: Ideacopy
Author Credits: Richard Adams
Image Credits: Pixabay