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Q: My ball python won't eat and appears to be somewhat unhealthy; what do I do with an uneaten live pinkie rat?
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Two weeks ago, I acquired a male normal ball python (about six months old) from a friend. He had been fed on live pinkie mice every seven days. I attempted to buy him a pinkie mouse, but the only store around here for miles was out. They had pinkie rats (not sure if pinkie applies to mice, rats, or both). I bought him the rat, and he ate just fine. Yesterday, the store was out of mice again, so I bought him another rat. He won't eat it. 

He came to me in less than an ideal condition. He had just had a shed, but it looks to be incomplete. He still has some bits of skin around his head, and his neck looks wrinkly, and one eye looks to be cloudy. I guess that is an eye cap? Will an incomplete shed prevent him from having an appetite? 

The humidity in his tank was at 35%. I changed substrates (from Aspen to Eco Earth coconut fiber), and put a humidifier in the room. The ambient air temp seems to be okay (85*). Will dehydration or low humidity reduce his appetite?

What do I do with an uneaten pinkie rat? He was rolling around all night in the substrate and covered with it. I took him out this morning, but now what are my options for him? I bought a book on ball pythons, and the book has made me think that maybe the pinkie is undersized for the snake. The pinkie is about 2 inches long, and its girth looks to be less than the widest part of the snake. Could this be why my snake won't eat it?

Any suggestions would be very much appreciated.

Points: 150
Topics: Skin , Feeding
Tags: Ballpython, Feeding
Species: Pythons > Pythons > Python regius
Administrative: Show/Hide

Assisted Answer 12/23/2016 9:14:43 PM

Sonja K. Reptiles

Does he still have the retained shed on his head as he does in his profile picture?

Assisted Answer 12/23/2016 9:15:50 PM

Sonja K. Reptiles

Also describe the set up he's being housed in - include the heat source, temps on the cool side and that of the hot spot, etc.

Author Comment 12/24/2016 12:11:39 AM


Sonja, thank you so much for your reply.  I soaked him for a half hour in a bit of warm water with a hand towel folded at the bottom.  He crawled around quite a bit.  He seemed more alert when I took him out.  I dried out the container and put him back in with paper toweling and the feeder rat.  Now, he is rolled around the rat pinkie (pup?) but he is lying on his side at this weird angle.  He is breathing; I can see that for sure, but his eyes are not open, and he almost looks dead.  Is this normal?  Is this that he tried to strike to kill, but could not, so went for constriction?  About his setup, for now, it is not ideal.  He came to me in a tall tank, so I can't really make hot/cool sides.  He only has one red bulb for heat.  From what I read, they should have belly heat, not overhead heat.  Is that correct?  In the tank are a foam backing piece, wetted Eco Earth coconut substrate, and a dowel for climbing.  I just ordered a spray bottle to mist the tank.  I was able to boost the humidity to 50% by changing substrate and putting a cool mist vaporizer in the room.  I just ordered a warm mist ultrasonic humidifier and will add that to the room too.  I know he needs a different tank, but what other changes can I make? 

Author Comment 12/24/2016 12:39:54 AM


I am so happy.  He is okay.  He just finished the rat pup/pinkie. 

Accepted Answer 12/24/2016 1:03:01 AM

Sonja K. Reptiles

That's great news!

I'll get back to you with a few suggestions when I'm not on my phone.

Author Comment 12/24/2016 1:28:52 AM


Thank you, Sonja.  I look forward to that! 

Member Comment 1/9/2017 11:08:28 AM

Sonja K. Reptiles

With that tall of tank, you're going to be constantly fighting low humidity. I would definitely provide a moss-filled box / hide for him.

Author Comment 1/15/2017 10:32:29 AM


Sonja K., thank you once again. I have now purchased a hide for him, and I am keeping it filled with moist moss. He just had a successful shed, and he has grown! He looks so much better than he did when I first got him. No more loose bits of skin around his neck and it no longer looks crinkly. I think he was malnourished and that is why he was not shedding properly. 

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