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Feeding Royal Pythons

April 12th, 2010

Feeding pythonsLike most snakes, royal pythons are carnivorous animals; meaning they eat meat. Royal pythons eat mice and some larger royal pythons can eat rats. There are mixed opinions over whether to feed your snake pre-killed mice or live mice. Some argue that using live mice allows your snake to get exercise and enriches their lives, while others say that live mice can potentially harm a snake. The decision is yours, however if you do use live prey, don’t leave your snake unattended until it has eaten the mouse or rat.

The size of prey you feed your snake is important. The mouse or rat you use should be no bigger than widest part of your snakes body. Smaller, younger snakes should be fed one mouse once a week, and as they grow older the size of the mouse they eat should increase, and their feedings should be spaced to two weeks apart. When using pre-killed mice, you’ll need a long pair of long forceps to dangle the mouse in front of your snake in order to entice eating. Again, let me emphasize the word LONG forceps. You do not want your snake mistaking your hand for the mouse.

Royal pythons are notorious for being finicky eaters. This can be caused by several things. If your snake is under too much stress it will not eat. This problem can be corrected by adding more places for your snake to hide and making sure that you’re maintaining correct temperatures and humidity. If you’re attempting to use pre-killed food and your python seems uninterested, you may have to switch to live mice. Royal pythons that were not bred in captivity are prone to not eat well, so it is highly recommended to research the source of your royal python before purchasing one.

During winter months, your snake may stop eating. This is perfectly normal and does not indicate a health problem. Snakes such as the royal python naturally go through a sort of fasting phase during colder times. You should continue to offer food, but do not be alarmed if your snake won’t take it. Within a few months it will start eating again. With that being said, if your snake doesn’t stop eating during winter months this is okay as well. Sometimes when a snake is kept in captivity their instincts to fast go by the wayside and they continue eating: this won’t harm your snake.

It is nearly impossible to starve a royal python, but it is extremely easy to overfeed one. While it may seem odd that royal pythons eat so infrequently, consider this: a royal python can go six months without eating with no problems at all because none of the energy from their food goes to maintaining body temperature. It may be tempting to feed your snake more than once a week, but don’t. Obese snakes have significantly lower life spans and it will do your snake a major disservice.