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How do You Switch a Pet Ball Python from Live Rodents to Frozen Rodents?
Even though pre-killed mice and rats are way easier to store, cheaper to buy, and safer to use to a creature driven by instinct, the idea of already-dead prey can take some getting used to.
While most snake owners are well aware of the virtues of using frozen rodents over live ones, some snakes aren’t as enthusiastic—at least at first. Here are a few tips on how to get your pet ball python, or any pet snake for that matter, to make the switch.
Tips for Transitioning a Ball Python From Live Rodents to Frozen Rodents
Ball pythons have strong hunting instincts, making it challenging to get them to accept frozen and pre-killed mice or rats. Additionally, they’re not particularly aggressive feeders, making them a bit more discerning about what they eat. As such, the trick to getting a ball python to accept a frozen rodent can require a combination of approaches.
Start with life, follow with frozen.
To establish the connection that frozen rodents are indeed food, try using live prey first and then following with a pre-killed one. A picky snake will be a lot less discerning once its hunger instincts have kicked in. Just make sure to use smaller prey than usual to account for your snake getting two rodents for its dinner.
Warm the frozen rodent properly
Defrosting isn’t enough to make a dead mouse or rat enticing. You’ll need to warm the rodent to imitate the experience of eating live prey effectively. Place it in a plastic bag and then in warm—not hot—water (you don’t want it to cook). Use a hairdryer to mimic the rodent’s heat for even better results. This blast of heat will make it much easier for your ball to lock onto the prey and better mimic the heat signature of a living creature.
Dip it in chicken broth
Scent and appetite go hand-in-hand. You’re going to have a hard time convincing your ball python to eat something that lacks an appealing aroma. Try dipping a thawed and warmed rodent in chicken broth to remedy this. While it might not offer the most authentic rodent experience, it’s an easy way to pique your ball’s interest in frozen food.
Use feeding forceps to imitate the movement
Ball pythons are like food that puts up a bit of a fight. Imitate this experience by using feeding forceps or tongs to wiggle, shimmy, and move the mouse as it might if it were alive. Don’t just stop once you’ve gotten your pet snake to strike, though! Continue pulling, shaking, and giving a bit of resistance to sell the act. Releasing the dead rodent too soon risks undoing all your previous effort.
If you have a picky serpent on your hands, you’re certainly not the first. Before you, many snake owners were successful in getting their pet ball python to switch from live rodents to frozen. It might take some time but know that your patience will be rewarded with a healthy and happy snake.