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Ball pythons (Python regius) are nonvenomous snakes that often are kept as exotic pets. Their common moniker comes from their tendency to coil their bodies into compact balls, as protective stances. Ball pythons also frequently are called "royal pythons." Although some snakes do readily eat crickets, ball pythons aren't fans of those insects.
Basic Diet in the Wild
These African natives are carnivores through and through, and flesh is what they like to eat, particularly that of rodents. Free-roaming ball pythons do not eat much other than rodents. Rats are favorites of the species, such as black rats, African giant rats and shaggy rats. They also occasionally dine on grass mice, jerboas and gerbils. In their natural habitats, ball pythons often are considered to be useful for controlling populations of rodents. Occasionally, they eat other types of meat too, such as birds, fellow reptiles, amphibians and fish.
No Feeding Ball Pythons Crickets
If you have one of these sturdy and somewhat meek snakes as a pet, do not attempt to feed him crickets. Ball pythons' bodies are adapted to rodent consumption, and they won't feed on crickets, plain and simple. Feeding on rodents comes naturally to ball pythons, and their diets call for that nourishment, no two ways around it.
Feeding Pet Ball Pythons
Crickets are out of the question for ball pythons, but they do thrive on regular meals of mice. One mouse per week works well for most ball pythons. If a ball python is especially big, he might want to eat a little more frequently -- say up to three mice weekly. Tiny rats also often work well for bigger ball pythons.
Frozen and Live Rodents
You can feed your pet ball python frozen rodents, as long as you thaw them beforehand. Room temperature rodents are beneficial for feeding purposes. Take extreme caution when it comes to live prey. Giving ball pythons live animals without close monitoring sometimes can be hazardous, even in cases of small and seemingly innocuous rodents. Live prey occasionally can even be life-threatening to pythons, so take the matter seriously. Biting always is a risk with live prey, whether mice or rats. Rats also can scratch ball pythons. Never allow your pet to be around live rodents without strict supervision.
When you feed your ball python rodents, it's important to offer specifically animals that are the right size. Test this out by observing the thickest circumference of your snake. If an animal exceeds that circumference, then it simply is too large for the ball python to eat.
- Long Island Herpetological Society: Ball Pythons
- Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park: Ball Pythons
- IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals: Python regius
- ReptileChannel.com: Feeding Ball Pythons
- ReptileChannel.com: Ball Python Diet and Feeding
- University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web: Python regius
- ReptileChannel.com: Ball Python Care Sheet
- ReptileChannel.com: Ball Python Species Profile
- Woodland Park Zoo: Ball Python
- Australia Reptile Park: Ball Python
- NA/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images