Tips to help get non eating snakes eating.Please note: Some methods will be a shocking experience to some people!!!
Firstly the snakes are not for playing with or handling much!!!
Everyone who breeds snakes knows that sometimes young animals are not easy to start eating independently.
I want to give here some explanations, tips and tricks what can help problem feeders, so that they will start to eat normally on their own.
A good beginning is half the work, and animals which eat well then look to better and are healthier.
My first and perhaps most important tip is:
Don’t be too quick to panic if an animal doesn’t want to eat!
Snakes absorb before they born (or crawl out the egg) 'egg-yolk' by means of their umbilical cord. The egg-yolk is full with feeding substances and have been made for giving energy for the first time for young animal.
They cannot last forever on this natural energy source, but a number of months is certainly no problem.
Another tip is just to be patience and not become too much and fast to hurry!
After birth snakes shed after approximately 7 up to 14 days. The majority will not eat until after this first shed, because they start the shedding process almost immediately after hatching from the egg. The first time I offer food is therefore always just after the first shed.
Personally I am an advocate of dead prey. Also my experience that is many snakes easily recognise dead prey.
The first prey that I offer is a defrosted (in warm water 30 degrees) one day old mouse (pinky), which I afterwards dry so that no substrate can stick to it. If you feed them separately in a small box, then you must ensure that the snake ‘smells’ the mouse.
A disadvantage to this is that you must pick them up, therefore for stress sensitive animals this is disadvantageous.
I lay the thawed out pinky simply in the box so that the snake can find out what that ‘strange’ thing is, and leave him certainly an hour with rest.
Some snakes react more to movements. In that case you can with tweezers move the pinky for the snake this way bit to provoke a strike.
Many snake are crepuscular (most active at dawn and dusk) or nocturnal (night active). It can be advantageous to lay out the prey before the lamps to go out so that they encounter the prey automatically if they crawl around in the night, which eliminates any need to disturb the snake.
If the snake doesn’t take the prey after a few hours, take it away then and try again after 5 - 7 days. If you try to offer food each day, then as a result the snake will experience more stress, and he will not start eating as quickly.
The above is possible to apply to all following tips. The order in what you try is slightly random.
A freshly killed prey is the next option. The advantage over a thawed out pinky is that these frequently smell better to the snake and still have the correct body temperature.
Many snake types can observe the smallest differences in temperature.[IMPORTANT: In certain countries/states it is illegal to kill (prey) animals yourself, unless you are a veterinary surgeon or test animal attendant. Please check the relevant laws for your country or state.
A next step to try is a live prey. These have the advantage that they also smell nicely to your snake, and that they have the correct temperature. A another additional advantage is that the movement of the mouse can a stimulant the snake. There is however also a reasonable disadvantage to living prey! Young snakes are not always very good at constricting their prey, the result being that the mouse can bite the snake. You must ALWAYS pay attention and constantly observe when feeding live preys! Don’t leave a live mouse in with your snake for a long time, and also NEVER leave your snake with live prey. Each year cases have been reported of mice that have inflicted severe bites, which can lead to the death of your snake.
If these haven’t succeeded, then you can try to give a cooked mouse. To do this you take a dead mouse and dip into boiled water for a short time. For pinkys between 15 and 30 seconds is sufficient. For larger prey a maximum 60 seconds is enough. Pay attention that the mouse has cooled down before you feed it to the snake. The smell from the cooked mouse must seem nice to the snake, because I have had good results with this method.
There is a disadvantage with this method, that with cooking the mouse a lot of nutrients are lost and the snake will not become strong as quickly. If you give cooked prey for a length of time to your snake, a vitamin preparation for reptiles can be added to the prey so that your snake gets all the necessary nutrients.
A method where I myself have had less good experiences, is so-called ' braining' of mice. This involves taking thawed out pinky and making a small **** in the skull, with for example a needle or small tweezers. The result of this is some of the brain fluid comes out of the mouse, and that smell can give a positive reaction from the snake.
If all those tips don’t work for your snake, then it is certainly worth a try to offer other food animals. Many mice and rats are commercially bred, and are easily and cheaply available. All rodents smell (and tastes) different, therefore it can be good to offer another type of mouse, a rat, a dwarf hamster, a gold hamster or gerbil besides a mouse.
Snakes in the wild are not always rodent eaters, but they eat animals of other types. Nowadays you can also easily obtain frozen one day old baby chicks and several types of frozen fish (for example key ring).
Perhaps you have a snake that’s a bird eater, but the snake much is too small to feed on one day old chicks. What you then can do is take the chick and rub that on the mouse. This way the snake smells a bird, but eats a mouse. You could put some feathers into the mouse which should give the same effect. After doing this a few times try to feed a mouse again.
You can do the same with fish (rubbing a mouse on a fish), or use dirty rat bedding, so the mouse takes on the scent of the rats.
The very last step that I myself would undertake is to feed with force with a small prey animal. Often this is done with small tweezers keep the mouth of the snake open and put the prey into the mouth. It’s not easy and the snakes don’t like it at all!!! Then you have to massage the mouse slowly to his stomach, do it far enough otherwise the mouse can start to rot and swell up and the snake can die if it doesn’t go into the stomach!!!
You can do this a few times so that the snake becomes a little stronger, but I’s very stressful for the snake and you.
You can also buy some liquid food that you give the snake.
Let a person that you trust (and have those experience) do this, you can hurt the snake if you do it wrong!!!!
Lastly I want to mention that you must ensure of course a good environment for your animals. Your snakes will not do well if their basic needs are not provided for such as temperature, humidity and light cycle. Also sicknesses can play a role. If you have any doubt whatsoever about a reptiles health, you must always seek advice from a specialised reptile veterinary surgeon.