Ball Python Not Eating? 10 Reasons + Prevention Tips

Ball pythons are known for their picky eating behavior. Many pet owners are left confused as to why their pet is not eating and pass it off as normal behavior. But unlike other reptiles, they leave plenty of clues as to why they are facing a loss in appetite.

There are several reasons why ball pythons won’t eat, but the most common cause is illnesses. Ball pythons can catch several diseases, such as respiratory infections, infectious stomatitis, impaction, scale rot, and metabolic bone disease, which can lead to a sudden loss of appetite.

10 Reasons Why Your Ball Python Is Not Eating

Improper Temperature/HumidityEnsure the enclosure is at the right temperature and humidity
Illness or InjuryConsult with a Veterinarian
StressProvide a quiet and safe environment
SheddingProvide a humid environment and avoid handling during the shedding process
Incorrect Prey SizeEnsure the prey is appropriate for your snake’s size
New EnvironmentGive your ball python time to adjust to the new environment
Seasonal ChangesProvide a consistent environment inside the enclosure
Improper HandlingHandle your ball python with care and maintain boundaries
AgeAdjust the feeding schedule according to your ball pythons age
Feeding ScheduleDevelop a consistent feeding schedule based on the size and age of your ball python

Ball pythons are generally known for their docile nature and are easy to care for. However, there might be times when they face a loss in appetite. You should be aware of the several factors that cause a ball python to not eat. Here are ten reasons why your ball python is not eating

Reason #1 Temperature And Humidity Levels

ball python enclosure with thermometer

Ball pythons are responsive to changes in temperature and humidity levels. If the temperature and humidity levels are not at the optimal range your ball python might refuse to eat. Ensure the temperature gradient remains between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit on the cool side and 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit on the warm side of the tank. You should also make sure there is 50-60 percent humidity inside the tank.


Use a digital thermometer and a hygrometer inside the enclosure to maintain temperature and humidity levels inside the tank. If the temperature and humidity levels are not at the optimal levels make changes accordingly. You can use a heating pad or thermal lamps to ensure the temperature remains constant inside the enclosure. A misting substrate can also be used to maintain the humidity levels inside the tank.

Reason # 2 Shedding

ball python shedding

Ball pythons can also face a loss in appetite during the shedding process. This is because their digestive system slows down during this time. Common signs of shedding are clouding in the eye and lethargic behavior.


Check if your ball python has started the shedding process by examining their skin for a flaky texture and dull appearance. You should also avoid handling your ball python during the shedding process, as it can cause stress in your ball python. Provide a humid environment and mist the enclosure a few times. You should also provide them access to clean drinking water to help them throughout the shedding process.

Reason #3 Illness

sick ball python with bump on mouth

Illness can be another reason why a ball python refuses to eat. Ball pythons can catch several illnesses, such as respiratory infections, infectious stomatitis, impaction, and metabolic bone disease. Check for any signs of abnormal behavior, lethargy, and parasitic infections.


The best thing that you can do when your ball python gets ill is to take them to a vet immediately. A veterinarian will help detect the underlying issue that is causing the illness and treat it immediately. As soon as your ball python gets well, it will regain its appetite.

Reason #4 Stress

stressed ball python being held by owner

Stress is another common reason for a loss in appetite in ball pythons. Your ball python can get stressed due to several reasons, such as a new environment, improper handling, and loud noises.


Provide your ball python with a calm and peaceful environment. Decrease any loud noises and avoid any unnecessary handling. You should respect your ball python’s boundaries and handle them with care. Ensure that you give your ball python enough time to trust you and not perceive you as a predator. Giving your ball python time to adapt to the new enclosure and providing enough hiding spaces will help resort the issue.

Reason #5 Overfeeding

ball python and its food mouse

Ball pythons are known for their large appetite, but this does not imply you can overfeed them. Overfeeding can lead to several health problems, such as impactions, digestive issues, and obesity. This can affect your ball python’s appetite and cause them to refuse food.


Ensure that you feed your ball python’s prey that is appropriate to their size and age. Adult ball pythons only require a little food as they have a slower metabolism. Young ball pythons, on the other hand, require frequent feedings as they are still growing.

Editor’s Note
The size of the prey should be propionate to the size of your ball python. By a general rule of thumb, the prey should not be larger than the widest part of the ball python’s body.

Reason # 6 Change in Diet

A sudden change in diet can also cause your ball python to refuse food. This is especially true if your ball python is used to specific prey for food. Ball pythons love a consistent food source and can get used to their diet. You should avoid changing your ball python’s diet suddenly.


You should gradually introduce new food if you are trying to implement a change in diet. You should also ensure the new prey is of the appropriate size and easy to digest for your ball python. Provide your ball python with the new food along with the regular prey and give them time to adjust to the new diet. Your ball python might refuse the new food several times before it comes to terms with it.

Reason # 7 Seasonal Change

Seasonal change can affect your ball python’s appetite immensely. Ball pythons might refuse to eat food during certain months of the year. This generally occurs during the breeding season or around the winter months. During the winter months, their digestive system slows down, which causes a sudden loss of appetite. It is a primitive instinct that they have acquired over the years to survive during the colder months when food is scarce.


Ensure your ball python gets a consistent environment throughout the year. Provide them with consistent temperature and humidity levels inside the tank and make sure they have access to clean drinking water. If you live in a colder environment, buy additional equipment, such as heating lamps and thermal pads, to simulate warm weather inside the enclosure.

Reason #8 Improper Handling

owner holding ball python

If you handled your ball python recently and they stopped eating afterward, it is because of improper handling. Newly adopted ball pythons might refuse to eat after recent handling. This is due to the stress caused during the handling, which causes them to not eat for a few days after the encounter.


Handle your ball python with care and maintain boundaries to avoid loss of appetite. You should give your ball python to adjust to the new environment before handling it, as this can cause them to stress out. 

Reason #9 Age

Adult ball pythons have a slower metabolism and might refuse to eat. As your ball python gets old, they require less food and might not eat as much as it did when they were younger. This is accompanied by sedentary behavior and is all part of a natural process.


You should adjust your ball python feeding schedule according to their age. Feeding too much or too less food can cause a loss in appetite.

Editor’s Note
Younger ball pythons have a larger appetite as they are still growing and have a faster metabolism. They will also be more active as compared to adult ball pythons.

Reason #10 Feeding Schedule

If a ball python is not eating consistently, you should examine its feeding schedule. An improper feeding schedule can lead to a loss of appetite in ball pythons. You should always avoid frequent or infrequent feeding schedules, as this can cause them to refuse food.


You should always have a consistent feeding schedule tailored to the size and age of your ball python. Younger ball pythons might require more frequent feedings as compared to adults. Ensure the size of the prey is also appropriate and given based on a specific feeding schedule.

How Long Can Ball Pythons Survive Without Eating?

ball python not eating

Now that you know about the reasons why your ball python can stop eating, you should be aware of how long it can survive without food. Extended periods without food can cause them to develop health issues and illnesses. The period your ball python can go without food depends on several factors, such as health, age, and size. 

Young ball pythons require more frequent feedings as compared to adults due to their growing bodies and faster metabolism. You should feed a young python after every 5-7 days, while adult ball pythons can survive for up to 4-6 weeks. Although it is not recommended to starve your ball python for six months even though they are adults, as it can lead to several medical issues.

Another factor to consider is the health of your ball python. A healthy ball python can survive for extended periods without food as compared to an ill or malnourished pet. If your ball python has stopped eating, it is important to consult a vet immediately. They will help detect the problem and solve the underlying issue.

You should also note that extended periods without food can lead to problems such as organ failure, malnourishment, weight loss, and even death. If your ball python is left without food, it makes them more susceptible to illnesses and diseases.

5 Tips to Make Your Ball Python Eat

Extended periods of starvation can lead to several health concerns for your ball python. Here are five tips to make your ball python eat if they are facing a loss in appetite.

Tip#1 Feeding in a Different Location

ball python eating

In some cases, ball pythons might get fixated on their environment and refuse to eat at a certain spot of the enclosure. You should try feeding your ball python at a different location and see if it solves the issue. Provide your ball python with a feeding container or feed them outside the tank, this can help stimulate appetite and encourage them to eat.

Tip #2 Changing Their Diet

Ball pythons are carnivorous and have a versatile diet including birds, insects, and rodents. If your ball python is refusing to eat their food, try to switch up their diet with new prey. Provide them with food such as chicks or quails and see if promotes appetite in your ball python.

Tip #3 Offering Live Prey

ball python hanging upside down with live rat in mouth

Ball pythons are picky eaters and might enjoy live prey. It is not recommended to feed live prey to ball pythons as it might hurt your ball python. Although, if your ball python is not eating, offer them live prey and see how they react to it. 

Tip #4 Use Scent Simulation

Ball pythons are known for their keen sense of smell and might get stimulated to eat because of it. Use a strong scent, such as chicken broth or tuna juice, and rub it on the prey before feeding it to your ball python. Doing so might promote appetite in your ball python and solve the problem.

Tip #5 Reduce Handling Before Feeding Sessions

your ball python can get stressed due to handling, causing it to face a loss in appetite. Reduce handling your ball python just before the feeding session and see if that makes a difference. Respect your ball python’s boundaries and give it enough time to get used to the new environment.


Should you be worried if your ball python won’t eat?

If your ball python refuses to eat a few meals, there is no need to worry. Extended periods of starvation should be a cause of concern, as it can indicate your ball python is stressed or has acquired an illness.

What does a ball python enjoy eating?

Ball pythons can be fed mice and rats in captivity. Although, they do not prefer to eat these in the wild. In a natural habitat ball python’s diet consists of birds, frogs, lizards, and other snakes. It is easy to acquire prey such as small rodents and store them, thus making them their staple diet in captivity.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know all the possible reasons why your ball python is not eating, it is a matter of noticing the signs and resolving the issue. Remember most of the time, ball pythons will resume eating after a small period and is not a cause of concern.  If your ball python has stopped eating and you detect an underlying health issue, you should visit a vet immediately.

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