Stubborn Feeder

We only sell snakes that are eating good for us on frozen / thawed rodents (unless otherwise specified). However, the stress of relocation, different feeding technique or unfavorable housing conditions can occasionally cause them to temporarily stop eating.
There are numerous things you can try to get them back on track with feeding. It is best not to feed your new snake right away. Let it settle in for a few days and avoid handling during the first few days before attempting to feed it. You don't want it to be stressed, because that could result in food refusal or regurgitation. When you do feed your snake for the first time, it is best to give it a fairly small meal. Keep in mind that pet store pinkies are often larger than the day-old extra small frozen/ thawed pinkies we start our hatchlings feeding on. If your pinkie is more than one and one half times the girth of the snake, then it is probably too big. If that is the only size you have, you can just remove the head and feed your snake only that or maybe two heads.
Your snake will probably eat best if it is fed in the manner that it was used to feeding with us previously. We always feeding hatchlings in the evening, when they are most awake. We feed each baby snake alone in a tiny lidded plastic container, eight ounces or smaller. The deli cup your snake came in is an eight-ounce container and should work fine for feeding (with the aspen shavings removed) in most cases. However, if your snake has refused food in that, we highly suggest finding a much smaller container.   Use tweezers or tongs to keep your scent off of the pinkie.  We warm up a small frozen pinkie mouse in hot (but not boiling) water for a few minutes, until it is soft and warm, but not cooked. Then we routinely "brain" the pinkie.
This involves poking the pinkie's head with the tip of a sharp knife and squeezing out a little bit of brain to release aroma. Yes, it sounds kind of gross, but the pinkie is dead and your snake will probably prefer it that way. Then we put both the snake and the pinkie into the feeding container in a place that is quiet and private.  It normally just takes a few minutes for a snake to finish its meal, but you can leave the snake and its meal together overnight if it is not eaten right away, in the snakes cage. 

If your snake has failed to eat in this manner, wait at least three or four more days before attempting to feed it again. Attempting to feed too frequently will stress out both you and the snake unnecessarily. Remember that a snake can easily live without food for several weeks without any adverse effects as long as it always has fresh water available. 


Consider purchasing your frozen pinkies from a different source..... in case the ones you have are too old or spoiled and don't smell good to your snake. 


Remember smaller food items work better to entice a snake that is acting picky.


Feeding live pinkie mice is another option. If your snake is a young hatchling, then you will need a day-old pinkie mouse. Otherwise it would likely be too big. Pinkie mice easily stay alive without their mother for a full day. Since they are tiny babies and cannot harm your snake, it is safe to leave them alone overnight with your snake in a small container if not eaten right away. If the live pinkie is not consumed, it is considered humane to euthanize it in the freezer, since it takes under a minute for it to die. Then you can save it for a later frozen / thawed meal.


Alternately you might put the snake and live pinky together in a small paper bag, close it up and leave them together that way overnight inside the snake's cage. From our experience, baby corns who accept only live in the beginning will easily convert to frozen / thawed within a few weeks. 


If nothing else is working, also look at your husbandry and consider whether there might be some stressors that can be eliminated from the snake's environment. A baby snake may be stressed if it is placed in a large enclosure with lots of open space, and perhaps moving to a smaller enclosure would help it to feel more relaxed and resume feeding. Placing a dark cloth over its cage (temporarily) might also help to make the baby feel more secure. Perhaps moving the enclosure to a darker, quieter area of your home would also help to minimize stress if the cage is in a high-traffic area. A snake needs proper hides, so that it will feel secure. Open hides, like half-logs, do not tend to make them feel secure. Cave-like hides with only one entrance seem to make them feel more safe. They especially need one on the warm side of their cage to aid digestion. The temperature on the warm side hot spot should be ideally about 83-85 degrees Fahenheit.  If the baby snake that is not feeding is being housed with another snake, you should separate it and allow it to have its own cage to minimize stress. Also minimize handling your snake until its feeding is back on track. Consider whether your snake might be about to shed. This will make many snakes lose their appetite temporarily. If you have recently noticed the snake's color is looking dull or its eyes are looking cloudy, then it is probably about to shed. The whole process can take over a week, and most likely the snake will resume better feeding after it has shed its skin. It's really safest not to feed your snake at all while it is in shed, as it does raise the risk of regurgitation if if does eat. If you feel you must feed it, stick with tiny hairless meals that are easy to digest. 


Also consider the time of year. It is not uncommon for young snakes to lose their appetite in the winter and to fast for weeks at a time or eat sporadically through the winter. While we won't sell any babies that are doing this seasonal fasting, it is possible that one you bought when it was warmer will start acting fussy when the weather starts getting cold, no matter how warm you keep its tank. If your baby snake was eating well previously, and it seems to have lost its appetite when it started getting cold, you probably have nothing to worry about. It is temporary and should resolve when the weather gets warmer. Just continue to offer the kind of meals it ate previously every five to seven days, and it should resume eating regularly when it is ready. As long as its body weight continues to look healthy, you really shouldn't need any special feeding tricks, but you can try them if it makes you feel better.


Scenting is the last trick.  This consists of rubbing the warmed up pinky on an anole, tree frog, or toad.  We always keep one of each in the freezer just in case.

Click to see previous snakes sold