Stimsons Python Grabbing but not eating food

CarlosTheSnake

Active Member
Joined
May 9, 2021
Messages
102
Reaction score
44
Location
Orange, NSW
Hi all,
I have a 7 month old stimsons python whose name is Carlos. Carlos never seems interested in food unless it is a live pinky or a freshly killed, frozen and warmed pinky. I have had to force feed him a couple of mouse tails and a mouse foot to make sure he is eating something. Since he is never interested, i tried tease feeding (I make it seem like the mouse is alive and nudging him. This makes him strike at it and wrap around it, but from there on all he does is sit there, wrapped around while holding onto it for 10ish minutes. He then will unclamp his jaws but stay wrapped around his prey and he surveys the area. 10ish minutes later he will slither off and forget the mouse ever existed. I'm trying to feed him fuzzy mice. He is 30ish cm long at the moment and his skin looks a bit loose.
Any help, ideas or suggestions greatly appreciated. Thankyou
[automerge]1627426919[/automerge]
He hasn't eaten a full mouse in 10ish weeks either :/
 

Susannah

Not so new Member
Joined
Mar 23, 2020
Messages
66
Reaction score
54
Hello again - this little guy was having feeding issues before, wasn't he?

Firstly, I'm no expert, but I'm surprised you're offering live food. But aside from that - I'm also surprised you've been force feeding him portions of mice, like tail and feet. They really need to be eating a whole mouse, and at his age, he should easily be able to eat a pinkie. I'm not sure exactly how big he is, but if it's as thick as his tummy is, he'll be fine to eat it. During winter, he may decide to eat less. That is normal.

Did you fix up the humidity and temps in his cage? If you think his skin is looking loose, I'd probably suggest you get him checked out.

Feeding tips
- feed at night
- feed in a warm, dark, quiet room
- warm the food, stab the brain to make it bleed a little, then hold it, wiggling slightly in front of his nose until he strikes at it.

Once they have a hold of it, he should eat it. If you're offering live food and he's not hungry, he may just try to kill it so it doesn't harm him! And remember that snakes don't starve themselves on purpose.
 

CarlosTheSnake

Active Member
Joined
May 9, 2021
Messages
102
Reaction score
44
Location
Orange, NSW
Hello again - this little guy was having feeding issues before, wasn't he?

Firstly, I'm no expert, but I'm surprised you're offering live food. But aside from that - I'm also surprised you've been force feeding him portions of mice, like tail and feet. They really need to be eating a whole mouse, and at his age, he should easily be able to eat a pinkie. I'm not sure exactly how big he is, but if it's as thick as his tummy is, he'll be fine to eat it. During winter, he may decide to eat less. That is normal.

Did you fix up the humidity and temps in his cage? If you think his skin is looking loose, I'd probably suggest you get him checked out.

Feeding tips
- feed at night
- feed in a warm, dark, quiet room
- warm the food, stab the brain to make it bleed a little, then hold it, wiggling slightly in front of his nose until he strikes at it.

Once they have a hold of it, he should eat it. If you're offering live food and he's not hungry, he may just try to kill it so it doesn't harm him! And remember that snakes don't starve themselves on purpose.
Thankyou - he is fully capable of eating one and being able to fit one in the mouth - I fed him a live pinky once, took it like a champ, then he still wasn't eating so 6ish weeks later i think i got him a live mouse inbetween a pinky and fuzzy, look it like a champ. (the mice are coming from the person who i purchased my snake off - he owns DoLittle farm and breeds reptile food) He brought an extra live pinky-fuzzy so i froze it, warmed it up a week later and carlos took it. The mice don't have their eyes open yet and barely move their legs. When I try to tease feed him, the mouse is dead. The only reason i force feed him is so he has some sustenance. He is about 30cm long, maybe 8mm - 10mm at the thickest part of his body - ill measure when i get home. Humidity and temps are fixed up now. I have tried braining the mouse once but he still wasn't interested. When he strikes it after i tease him, im thinking it might just be a defencive mechanism? not to sure. He has taken all live food I've offered him (2 mice) and 1 freshly killed. I think he has eated those 3 + 1 frozen mouse while i have had him in my possession. I think i got him february/march. He is probably pretty malnourished by the size of him if he is 8 months old. He loves to be handled, and i always wait at least 2 days before and after offering food when i handle him. I warm his food in a ziplock bag in hot tap water for about 5-6 minutes, until i feel that it is quite warm. I offer the food with feeding tongs.

i've also tried scenting the mouse with egg whites, which normally does the job but he still wasn't interested. should i try feeding him pinky rats or baby quail? I measured him last night as well - 29cm long and 9mm thick at the widest part of his body
 
Last edited:

Bluetongue1

Well-Known Member
APS Veteran
Joined
Aug 10, 2015
Messages
853
Reaction score
1,017
Location
Perth
I know this reply comes late and your snake is now smashing its food (which is great to know!). If it only helps explain some of what has happened then it is worth posting.

It is difficult to know what the problem is, or was, but it was likely made more complicated by some of the things done. So lets start from the basics of what should be done and why.

Firstly, your method of thawing frozen rodents is not recommended. The safest way to do it is to put gthe frozen carcass in the fridge the day before and to ensure it 100% limp when you pull it out to use it. If you absolutely need them to thaw them the same day, then put them on a benchtop with a tea towel lightly covering them. This can take one to several hours, depending on the prevailing room temperature and air movement. Irrespective, the check that body is totally limp. Then use the zlp-lock bag technique to warm the carcass. Leave it 10 to 20 minutes, depending on size, to ensure it warmed completely through. If you start with water at 40oC that should allow it to cool down a few degrees to the normal body temperature of rodents = 36.5 to 38.5oC i.e. ~ 37oC. Note that some keepers do not use a plastic bag and either dry the rodents off or feed them wet.

Snakes primarily recognise their food items by smell. If a snake has a bad experience with a particular food item, such as it still being partially frozen in the middle, it very quickly learns to associate that with the smell of the item and will avoid future items with the same or similar scent. We can make use of this to do the opposite. Let’s say you want a python to change from mice to rats but it will not accept rats as food. By sowing a a small rat to the end of mouse with a cotton thread, one can get the snake to eat the mouse and then the rat. Two or three meals like this is usually enough to convert it to eating rats on their own. This is known as ‘daisy chaining’.

Pythons in the Antaresia group are renown for stopping feeding during the cooler months of the year, even when heating is maintain at the same level year round. However, first year young are not normally like this. Irrespective, It is something to be aware of for the future, and if it was the problem here then you snake should be getting back to feeding at this current time of year.

Reputable breeders do sell young snakes they have bred until they are established feeders. Do you know what had your snake eaten and how often, prior to you purchasing it. That is what it should ave been offered by you. Given most hatchies are fed roughly weekly, it does no harm to let them skip meal while settling into their new home. However, if they are refusing to eat after a couple of weeks, then it is likely there is something wrong in their environment that is keeping them stressed and not allowing them to settle into natural behaviour. That’s when you start checking environmental parameters of your enclosure versus what they they were in and what is recommended. Once these are corrected, then feeding should resume within a few weeks, unless some other factor has intervened in the meantime.

Live feeding should not be necessary. It indicates thatsomething was done that should not have been. Tease feeding, where you gently rub the rodent along the side of the snake’s face should only be needed a couple of times or so. Wiggling the rodent in front of the snake is all that should then be needed. You nshould only need to continue that for any length of time for highly reluctant feeders. Otherwise people who bred pythons would need to spend an inordinate amount of time just bfeeding their animals. I assume you are not holding fod items with your fingers. That is a definite NO NO. Forceps or long tweezers are suitable. What I have found works really well is the long pick-up /retrieving tool they sell in automotive shops that is used grabbing things like dropped nuts or bolts from car engines. The long and flexible nature of them allows a clutched rodent to wabble naturally with almost no effort from you.
 

CarlosTheSnake

Active Member
Joined
May 9, 2021
Messages
102
Reaction score
44
Location
Orange, NSW
I know this reply comes late and your snake is now smashing its food (which is great to know!). If it only helps explain some of what has happened then it is worth posting.

It is difficult to know what the problem is, or was, but it was likely made more complicated by some of the things done. So lets start from the basics of what should be done and why.

Firstly, your method of thawing frozen rodents is not recommended. The safest way to do it is to put gthe frozen carcass in the fridge the day before and to ensure it 100% limp when you pull it out to use it. If you absolutely need them to thaw them the same day, then put them on a benchtop with a tea towel lightly covering them. This can take one to several hours, depending on the prevailing room temperature and air movement. Irrespective, the check that body is totally limp. Then use the zlp-lock bag technique to warm the carcass. Leave it 10 to 20 minutes, depending on size, to ensure it warmed completely through. If you start with water at 40oC that should allow it to cool down a few degrees to the normal body temperature of rodents = 36.5 to 38.5oC i.e. ~ 37oC. Note that some keepers do not use a plastic bag and either dry the rodents off or feed them wet.

Snakes primarily recognise their food items by smell. If a snake has a bad experience with a particular food item, such as it still being partially frozen in the middle, it very quickly learns to associate that with the smell of the item and will avoid future items with the same or similar scent. We can make use of this to do the opposite. Let’s say you want a python to change from mice to rats but it will not accept rats as food. By sowing a a small rat to the end of mouse with a cotton thread, one can get the snake to eat the mouse and then the rat. Two or three meals like this is usually enough to convert it to eating rats on their own. This is known as ‘daisy chaining’.

Pythons in the Antaresia group are renown for stopping feeding during the cooler months of the year, even when heating is maintain at the same level year round. However, first year young are not normally like this. Irrespective, It is something to be aware of for the future, and if it was the problem here then you snake should be getting back to feeding at this current time of year.

Reputable breeders do sell young snakes they have bred until they are established feeders. Do you know what had your snake eaten and how often, prior to you purchasing it. That is what it should ave been offered by you. Given most hatchies are fed roughly weekly, it does no harm to let them skip meal while settling into their new home. However, if they are refusing to eat after a couple of weeks, then it is likely there is something wrong in their environment that is keeping them stressed and not allowing them to settle into natural behaviour. That’s when you start checking environmental parameters of your enclosure versus what they they were in and what is recommended. Once these are corrected, then feeding should resume within a few weeks, unless some other factor has intervened in the meantime.

Live feeding should not be necessary. It indicates thatsomething was done that should not have been. Tease feeding, where you gently rub the rodent along the side of the snake’s face should only be needed a couple of times or so. Wiggling the rodent in front of the snake is all that should then be needed. You nshould only need to continue that for any length of time for highly reluctant feeders. Otherwise people who bred pythons would need to spend an inordinate amount of time just bfeeding their animals. I assume you are not holding fod items with your fingers. That is a definite NO NO. Forceps or long tweezers are suitable. What I have found works really well is the long pick-up /retrieving tool they sell in automotive shops that is used grabbing things like dropped nuts or bolts from car engines. The long and flexible nature of them allows a clutched rodent to wabble naturally with almost no effort from you.
Noted :)
I also fed him yesterday but i didnt see this so i warmed the food how i normally do. Carlos nipped its head and constricted it so i left him and came back a while later but he had left it. I warmed it back up and offered it again and he ate it.
I was quite satisfied though because i normally have to brain them for him to strike at them. This was a fresh pack of pinkies though. Thanks for all your help.
(i believe i bought carlos off a reputable breeder, and i have history of his feeding before I bought him if you would like to see. I only recently started recording his feeds ad sheds though.
 

Bluetongue1

Well-Known Member
APS Veteran
Joined
Aug 10, 2015
Messages
853
Reaction score
1,017
Location
Perth
Good to hear you are keeping records. Weight and length are two other things might want to include once every few months. It is also worth noting down any obvious changes on behaviour when and if they happen.

It is time to transition him to eating older mice. Pinkies are OK to start off with, but they don’t really provide sufficient roughage. In addition, if memory serves me correctly, the potassium to calcium ratio is not as good as it is in older mice. Given past experience, I’d recommend daisy chaining a fuzzy to a pinkie for his next feed, rather than trying a fuzzy on its own. Ensure both are thoroughly thawed out (24hrs in the fridge) and get your tap water to around 36- 37oC for warming them. [You’ll quickly get a feel for the right temperature and it becomes less critical once the snake is in the habit of feeding well.] If he takes them no worries, then do likewise for the next two feeds, before offering a fuzzy on its own. You might want to stretch the time interval between feeds a little, just while he is having both at once, but you can play that one by ear.
 
Last edited:

Timmah

Not so new Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2021
Messages
31
Reaction score
21
Interesting that your snake is still on pinkies, I got mine after you and he's already moved on to to weeners. Not saying you're wrong, just interesting the difference in the two of the same species when mine is younger but eating larger food o_O
 

CarlosTheSnake

Active Member
Joined
May 9, 2021
Messages
102
Reaction score
44
Location
Orange, NSW
Interesting that your snake is still on pinkies, I got mine after you and he's already moved on to to weeners. Not saying you're wrong, just interesting the difference in the two of the same species when mine is younger but eating larger food o_O
Yeah he went on strike for about 2-3 months at least when winter hit. Started braining the pinkies and he has been good ever since! I can still see a bulge when he eats pinkies tho..
 

Dustproof

Active Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2015
Messages
109
Reaction score
37
TheStimson Pythons can be sensitive to temp of their food, if they sense cold anywhere, they will drop the food. I would place the food in warm water and heat it until it is 32c. I use an Infra Red Thermometer so I can check the temp of anything quickly. I also find that if your feeding large food, you need to leave them longer between feeds.
 

GBWhite

Well-Known Member
APS Veteran
Joined
Oct 21, 2013
Messages
964
Reaction score
1,390
Hi again.

I remember you were having trouble with feeding this little guy back around May when you posted asking for help.

Hopefully now that it's taken a feed on it's own that your problem is solved but just in case it doesn't and/or remains hesitant, can I refresh the advice I offered previously.

If I recall correctly, I informed that if a a snake can thermoregulate and feel secure withing its environment then there should be no problems in regard to it eating. I believe I advised to address your enclosure temperatures, cage furnishings, your condensation problem and decrease handling.

Have you still got it in a click clack or moved it into a different type of enclosure? If so, this in itself could relate to a feeding problem, especially living in Orange and being able to maintain a constant suitable temperature during the colder months. Even more so if it is being house in a glass enclosure. I lived in Orange for a couple of years and recall that it can experience cold snaps even through summer. In fact if I remember correctly it snowed on Mount Canobolas a couple of days before Christmas one year.

As I mentioned back then most if not all feeding problems with young snakes are directly associated with heating where the young snake is unable to reach and maintain its optimal body temperature and then need for it to feel secure within its environment. So if these issues were addressed properly back then there should have been no further feeding issues, with the snake content to eat food items presented on a regular routine basis. Therefore, can I suggest that you revisit your housing setup and husbandry practices just to make sure it's conducive to your snake's requirements.

I recall you saying that it enjoys being handled, but they don't. They tolerate it and get used to it but handling snakes is purely for the enjoyment of the keeper. Over handling, albeit disturbing a young snake on a regular basis, will stress it out by making it feel vulnerable. This, if done continually can and will lead to problems associated with feeding.

In addition, pinkies are pretty much useless when it comes to feeding on a regular basis over a long period. They are ok to start a young Stimmy but because they provide little nutrition it's best to up to a small fuzzy asap. There's hardly any difference in size between a large pinky and a small fuzzy and if the snake does not have any trouble consuming a large pinky its quite capable of transitioning to a small fuzzy. Once the snake is taking pinkies on a regular basis and comfortably moved on to fuzzies you can gradually increase the size of the food item as the snake grows. I liken pinkies to protein bars as they provide a quick energy snack but are not conducive to a proper meal. By all accounts your young snake should at least be eating small weaner mice at this age.

As I mentioned previously the temperature of the food item is of little concern because snake's use their other senses to recognize and locate prey. Provided that the food item is fully thawed there should be no problem with the snake recognizing the item presented as food and react accordingly. If all husbandry requirement are met correctly there should be no need to "brain" the food item either.

Lets hope all goes well for you and more so for your snake in the future.

All the best,

George.
 

CarlosTheSnake

Active Member
Joined
May 9, 2021
Messages
102
Reaction score
44
Location
Orange, NSW
Hi again.

I remember you were having trouble with feeding this little guy back around May when you posted asking for help.

Hopefully now that it's taken a feed on it's own that your problem is solved but just in case it doesn't and/or remains hesitant, can I refresh the advice I offered previously.

If I recall correctly, I informed that if a a snake can thermoregulate and feel secure withing its environment then there should be no problems in regard to it eating. I believe I advised to address your enclosure temperatures, cage furnishings, your condensation problem and decrease handling.

Have you still got it in a click clack or moved it into a different type of enclosure? If so, this in itself could relate to a feeding problem, especially living in Orange and being able to maintain a constant suitable temperature during the colder months. Even more so if it is being house in a glass enclosure. I lived in Orange for a couple of years and recall that it can experience cold snaps even through summer. In fact if I remember correctly it snowed on Mount Canobolas a couple of days before Christmas one year.

As I mentioned back then most if not all feeding problems with young snakes are directly associated with heating where the young snake is unable to reach and maintain its optimal body temperature and then need for it to feel secure within its environment. So if these issues were addressed properly back then there should have been no further feeding issues, with the snake content to eat food items presented on a regular routine basis. Therefore, can I suggest that you revisit your housing setup and husbandry practices just to make sure it's conducive to your snake's requirements.

I recall you saying that it enjoys being handled, but they don't. They tolerate it and get used to it but handling snakes is purely for the enjoyment of the keeper. Over handling, albeit disturbing a young snake on a regular basis, will stress it out by making it feel vulnerable. This, if done continually can and will lead to problems associated with feeding.

In addition, pinkies are pretty much useless when it comes to feeding on a regular basis over a long period. They are ok to start a young Stimmy but because they provide little nutrition it's best to up to a small fuzzy asap. There's hardly any difference in size between a large pinky and a small fuzzy and if the snake does not have any trouble consuming a large pinky its quite capable of transitioning to a small fuzzy. Once the snake is taking pinkies on a regular basis and comfortably moved on to fuzzies you can gradually increase the size of the food item as the snake grows. I liken pinkies to protein bars as they provide a quick energy snack but are not conducive to a proper meal. By all accounts your young snake should at least be eating small weaner mice at this age.

As I mentioned previously the temperature of the food item is of little concern because snake's use their other senses to recognize and locate prey. Provided that the food item is fully thawed there should be no problem with the snake recognizing the item presented as food and react accordingly. If all husbandry requirement are met correctly there should be no need to "brain" the food item either.

Lets hope all goes well for you and more so for your snake in the future.

All the best,

George.
spot on with that information about orange! He is now in a reptile one T2 mini enclosure. 30x20x16 i think. I cover it with a hand towel so it’s dark. I fed him 24 hours ago (a pinky) and he took it without me braining it. I’ll try to chain feed him on sunday. That’s a photo 24 hours after he was fed a pinky mouse. He’s about 33cm and weighs 15 grams. sorry for late reply. Thankyou!

 

CF Constrictor

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 31, 2019
Messages
422
Reaction score
355
Just out of curiosity, what kind of substrate is that your using ? If its pine chip by any chance, i would get rid of it. I used to use course critter crumble.
 
Top