Feeding Pythons

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sherlock

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Looking over some questions/discussions about snake feeding, I thought I’d share how I successfully handled my pythons feeding problems. And increase activity in this forum.

First of all, to understand how to feed them, these are the things I found I needed to know about pythons, to successfully feed my pythons.

1: Pythons, in general, have very poor vision, people with that level of sight would be considered legally blind. From what I could find on the internet, pythons can see B/W blurs and not clear images (?), but they are particularly sensitive to movement.

2: all snakes, as we all know, have an incredible sense of taste/smell, but is not very directional.

3: pythons can sense heat via pits in their lower jaw. This heat sense I think is very directional. These pits are easily seen in my carpet python and I think my BHP has them too, but I can’t see his.

4: I noticed one day after a feed, my carpet python putting his bulging stomach, up against the heat source. I assume it helps them digest their food. And I also read somewhere that a snakes stomach can shrink in size down to a quarter of their body length, when not feeding, to about half (?) their body length when feeding. So I assume the extra heat helps them digest and also helps with to increase the size of their stomachs. So I always put the thermostat up higher to help them with this.

So, keeping all the above in mind, I put their frozen food in the bathroom sink with very hot water from the tap, to defrost -- thoroughly. I could not imagine a greater torture than eating food that is still frozen on the inside. I personally have experienced this, having to eat food not fully heated heated in a microwaveh – not pleasant, at all. And I could imagine that it would be very painful for the snake.

Before a feed, I increase the enclosures temps to above 30 degrees. I’m guessing here, but my fellows seem to be happy with this temp.

Once defrosted -- thoroughly -- I put fresh hot water from the tap into the sink to ensure the food gets to the pythons while still quite warm.

Take one out, and keeping the rat (quail in my case) as close to body temp, as possible. I present it to my snake -- with tongs. Wriggling the food a bit to catch their attention. The tongs are important, I think, because your hand would stand out to them as possible food, as your hand would be sensed by their heat pits, and stand out as possible prey, especially if the rat has cooled down a bit.

Feeding time is the only time my snakes scare me a bit, their temperament when they sense food, goes from a very slow, laid back, almost sleepy “what’s happening, Bro?”, to – FOOD!!! NOTHING HAD BETTER GET IN MY WAY!!!!! There is NO hesitation on their part to taking the food.

They squeeze the rat, to kill it – well the food did move in front of them. Then they relax and seem to be study their food and taste it, for a little while. I assume they are allowing time for their stomach to expand. I still find it amazing, that they can eat food about three times their body circumference. Please note: if the food is on the larger size, you can sometimes see, a little it of blood appear from the skin tearing to take in the food. But according to a David Attenborough doco on snakes, this is normal and it very quickly heals – this is what I have observed as well. Though caution might be advisable here – comments invited on this point, in fact any comments welcome.​
 

sherlock

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Don’t they have access to temps above 30degrees all the time (except night time)?
yes and no.

When I first got snakes I checked normal, min and max temps in their natural environment. Northern WA and Darwin. In winter it can down to 4 degrees in winter and and highs of 40's. Since then I never worried about their temp apart from gradients they can move up and down to.

Also in winter my snakes want to come out and look around, temp's below 20 and they still come out. To me they are very cold. Yet they still come out and explore.

though checking my Darwins enclosure right now, he is sitting high up where it's reading 44 degree. Down on floor below 30.
 

Sdaji

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yes and no.

When I first got snakes I checked normal, min and max temps in their natural environment. Northern WA and Darwin. In winter it can down to 4 degrees in winter and and highs of 40's. Since then I never worried about their temp apart from gradients they can move up and down to.

That temperature range isn't something you should view as safe. On a 45 degree day, they can easily sit in the low 20s if they want to. Any snake will die below 0 degrees but many snakes live in areas where the air temperature goes below 0 in winter. The snakes aren't hanging from trees, swinging in the air when that happens. 45 will kill many snakes. Barely below zero wipl kill all snakes. The range of temperatures snakes *can* access is far greater than the range of temperatures they can be alive in, let alone be healthy in. When temperatures become extreme, wild snakes go to microclimates with safe temperatures, and work hard maintain favourable body temperatures which are very different from the air temperature for most of the time of most days. A snake forced to sit at air temperature in most environments would die within weeks, sometimes days, hours or even minutes.
 

sherlock

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That temperature range isn't something you should view as safe. On a 45 degree day, they can easily sit in the low 20s if they want to. Any snake will die below 0 degrees but many snakes live in areas where the air temperature goes below 0 in winter. The snakes aren't hanging from trees, swinging in the air when that happens. 45 will kill many snakes. Barely below zero wipl kill all snakes. The range of temperatures snakes *can* access is far greater than the range of temperatures they can be alive in, let alone be healthy in. When temperatures become extreme, wild snakes go to microclimates with safe temperatures, and work hard maintain favourable body temperatures which are very different from the air temperature for most of the time of most days. A snake forced to sit at air temperature in most environments would die within weeks, sometimes days, hours or even minutes.
You may be right, but he climbed into that heat range of his own, presumably for the extra heat for help in digesting his food. He climbed down later and enjoyed a bath.
It was a very hot day that day, roughly 40 degrees here in Melbourne.
 

Dom93

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Hi, i am thinking of feeding my snakes only quails, just wondering if thats a bad idea or it doesnt matter? Thanks heaps
 

sherlock

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Hi, i am thinking of feeding my snakes only quails, just wondering if thats a bad idea or it doesnt matter? Thanks heaps
Quite frankly, I have no idea. Birds would conceivably be a part of any snakes diet. My fellows enjoy quails and rats. I feed them both, as I tend to like variety, but that's just me. My snakes attack whatever I present to them, whether they be quail or rat - or my hand if I stupidly leave it within their reach.
 

Sdaji

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You may be right, but he climbed into that heat range of his own, presumably for the extra heat for help in digesting his food. He climbed down later and enjoyed a bath.
It was a very hot day that day, roughly 40 degrees here in Melbourne.

Humans sometimes choose to sit in a sauna for relaxation and arguably health benefits. If you lock humans at random in a sauna the first will be dead within minutes and most will be dead after a few hours.

Similarly, some humans will choose to take a cold shower or swim in a cold river etc, but if you force people into those temperatures some will die very quickly and most will die within minutes/hours, including most of the ones who choose to do it for periods of time comfortable to them.

In either scenario, even though we're all the same species, some humans will die within minutes and some may be able to survive days or even indefinitely at the same temperatures. Animals vary between individuals too, and commonly, reptiles will choose to bask right at the upper end of their own temperature limit, which will be different from the limit of other members of their same species.

It's also different for the same individuals at different times. If I tried to sleep naked in temperatures a little below 0, I would die rather than wake up, but if I was running, I wouldn't find that temperature unpleasant. Reptiles have radical changes in their metabolic rates at different times, far beyond the level of difference humans experience.

There's a huge difference between having access to something and sometimes using it by choice, and that situation being safe to force all individuals of a species into.

Absolutely, snakes will sometimes choose to bask in temperatures in excess of 40 degrees, but you can also kill snakes of the same species under 40 degrees in fairly short periods of time. You need to be very careful when interpreting the thermal needs and tolerances of animals, particularly reptiles, particularly snakes.
 

sherlock

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Humans sometimes choose to sit in a sauna for relaxation and arguably health benefits. If you lock humans at random in a sauna the first will be dead within minutes and most will be dead after a few hours.

Similarly, some humans will choose to take a cold shower or swim in a cold river etc, but if you force people into those temperatures some will die very quickly and most will die within minutes/hours, including most of the ones who choose to do it for periods of time comfortable to them.

In either scenario, even though we're all the same species, some humans will die within minutes and some may be able to survive days or even indefinitely at the same temperatures. Animals vary between individuals too, and commonly, reptiles will choose to bask right at the upper end of their own temperature limit, which will be different from the limit of other members of their same species.

It's also different for the same individuals at different times. If I tried to sleep naked in temperatures a little below 0, I would die rather than wake up, but if I was running, I wouldn't find that temperature unpleasant. Reptiles have radical changes in their metabolic rates at different times, far beyond the level of difference humans experience.

There's a huge difference between having access to something and sometimes using it by choice, and that situation being safe to force all individuals of a species into.

Absolutely, snakes will sometimes choose to bask in temperatures in excess of 40 degrees, but you can also kill snakes of the same species under 40 degrees in fairly short periods of time. You need to be very careful when interpreting the thermal needs and tolerances of animals, particularly reptiles, particularly snakes.
What are you implying -- Sdaji?
 

Sdaji

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What are you implying -- Sdaji?
The fact that some individuals will choose to utilise certain temperatures doesn't make them 'safe', because those same temperatures can be deadly even within a short time, even for the same individual which in another circumstance chose it. Not really implying it, I'm directly stating it.
 

sherlock

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The fact that some individuals will choose to utilise certain temperatures doesn't make them 'safe', because those same temperatures can be deadly even within a short time, even for the same individual which in another circumstance chose it. Not really implying it, I'm directly stating it.
I see! You haven't read my posts very thoroughly, did you? You were "shooting at the hip" with very little thought.

The ambient temp in Melbourne was around 40 degrees, for quite a few days. That feeding day was another, very hot day. The enclosure thermostat was not on, obviously as they don't go that high. That temperatures I mentioned was the temperature -- all -- Melbourne was experiencing. That temp was at the top of the enclosure he -- chose -- to crawl into. My snake does not have a death wish, as you impy. Once again I will mention that my snake climbed into that temp -- roughly 44 degrees -- just after his meal, totally on his own volition, no heating was set that high. And he had a wide range of temperatures he was free and able to crawl into, at his personal whim -- plus a bath he could fully submerge in.

Your implication was offensive and very shorsighted. My advice to you is to read the comments more thoroughly, so you can critisize them more accurately.
 

Sdaji

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I see! You haven't read my posts very thoroughly, did you? You were "shooting at the hip" with very little thought.

The ambient temp in Melbourne was around 40 degrees, for quite a few days. That feeding day was another, very hot day. The enclosure thermostat was not on, obviously as they don't go that high. That temperatures I mentioned was the temperature -- all -- Melbourne was experiencing. That temp was at the top of the enclosure he -- chose -- to crawl into. My snake does not have a death wish, as you impy. Once again I will mention that my snake climbed into that temp -- roughly 44 degrees -- just after his meal, totally on his own volition, no heating was set that high. And he had a wide range of temperatures he was free and able to crawl into, at his personal whim -- plus a bath he could fully submerge in.

Your implication was offensive and very shorsighted. My advice to you is to read the comments more thoroughly, so you can critisize them more accurately.

...I suggest you take your own advice and read more carefully.

I never said or implied your snake had a death wish.

Some snakes will die of heat stress in the 40 40s. If you keep a room full of Darwin Carpets at 40⁰ for a few days I guarantee some will still be fine, some will be dead and most of the survivors will have suffered various amounts of heat stress. If you give a room full of Darwin Carpets the option to sit anywhere from 20 to 45⁰, most will spend most of their time somewhere in the vicinity of 30ish, and some will sometimes use the extremes (somewhat similar to the human example of saunas and ice baths I gave for people to relate to), but if you force them to sit around 40⁰ some are going to be harmed/die.

To suggest that 40⁰C is not dangerous for snakes is dangerous advice. If it's part of a temperature gradient that's almost always fine and sometimes beneficial. If they can't escape such high temperatures it's outright dangerous.

Ask any reptile keeper or herpetologist what is going to happen if you raise the ambient temperature of a reptile room holding a collection of pythons to 40⁰ for a day and they will all tell you that you're going to be harming some of them and will likely have deaths.

*All* of Melbourne never gets to 40⁰. On a 45⁰ day the temperature just below ground level is still very cool, and it is still easy for most reptiles to get below 20⁰ if they want to, and the overwhelming majority can stay below 30⁰ at all times if they want to. Even in the hottest parts parts of Australia it is very rare for reptiles to be unable to access temperatures below 30⁰

It's a similar situation for cold temperatures. In many parts of Australia the ambient temperature drops below 0⁰, but this doesn't make it safe. In Central Australia the temperature drops below 0⁰, but that doesn't mean Womas, Stimson's and bredli can survive that. Generally speaking, if you put a python below 0⁰ for any notable length of time you won't like the result, even though this is a common ambient temperature in their natural environment.
 

Skitzmix

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I'm having issues with my stimy feeding, had him 4 1/2 weeks, pooped twice and shed a perfect skin, has no interest in pinkies, I warm them up much as you do and have even resorted to braining it to try and get interest. Has a sniff and then goes away, have left in enclosure over night and still nothing.

Husbandry is on point, temps are spot on 34/26 using a heat pad, enclosure is 30x30x20.

(Spot the snake in first picture ;))

Any tips?
 

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sherlock

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I'm having issues with my stimy feeding, had him 4 1/2 weeks, pooped twice and shed a perfect skin, has no interest in pinkies, I warm them up much as you do and have even resorted to braining it to try and get interest. Has a sniff and then goes away, have left in enclosure over night and still nothing.

Husbandry is on point, temps are spot on 34/26 using a heat pad, enclosure is 30x30x20.

(Spot the snake in first picture ;))

Any tips?
Sometimes snakes are not hungry. Sadly you can't refreeze a defrosted rat, I believe. And if a snake does not want to eat, it can be quite a while before he does want to. I found that my snakes get restless when they are hungry and want to explore. Maybe that might be an indicator for you. My main point is that if he doesn't want to eat, be patient, wait a while and try again. From reading various post on this website it seems the general consensus is if he's healthy and shedding, it obviously means, he is healthy and growing.

The one time my carpet python didn't want to eat, the worst thing was to have to throw the rat away. Adult rats are not all that cheap.

All I know is that snakes can go for a long time without eating. How long do you wait before he needs to go to vet, I don't know. Maybe someone more knowledgable might know, I don't. I never had that problem. The only "problem" I ever had with my snakes was mites.

Nice little set up you got there.
 

Dustproof

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OK, just a couple of items. Snakes can see quite well, mine watch me when I am around their enclosures or feeding my cats, so I would say that is Myth. Stimmies don't always eat when you want to feed them, if they haven't eaten for a while, I will leave the food in an obvious place and they take it whilst I am not looking. They are also a bit sensitive to the size of the food item, if they seem hungry but won't eat, I get a smaller food item and Bingo they eat. When defrosting frozen food, never use very hot water, they don't like Broiled food and like to smell the food which hot water will wash off. I use warm water to thaw food to a point where they are the same temp as my hand, I find the Python will be more likely to eat. Heat sources should be 32c, personally I will adjust the temps to between 32c and 34c. I give heat 24x7, if I feel cold so will they, even my Lizards get UV and heat when they are Brumating. Some will argue that thawed Food items can be refrozen, that Snakes don't have the same issues as humans, Personally I won't do it, I believe fresh is best. If I have left over food, I have a Jungle who is always hungry so he might get an extra Rat every once in a while.
 

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