Dealing with Ball Python Feeding Problems
No, it is not all right for them to go a year without eating...
©1994 Melissa Kaplan
Compound this with the fact that the animals are stressed and heavily parasitized and dehydrated, and you have an animal that may well die unless it gets into the hands of someone who knows what is going on.
When the snake is ready to be force fed, mix and dilute with Pedialyte (or other electrolyte solution) or 50:50 sport's drink/water Hill's a/d for dogs and cats. Put into a syringe with a steel feeding tube and gavage, ideally 2% of body weight q 24-48 hours.
If you try to force feed whole prey, you will stress the animal out and it will burn more calories fighting the feeding than it could possibly hope to net, so the gavaged slurry is preferred.
Provide a dark hidebox for it - an inverted flower pot with a hole in it, a cardboard box, half log, hollow log section, ceramic cave - whatever works. It is okay if the snake's body touches all the sides when it is inside - they feel more secure this way. Dangle killed prey (use forceps) in front of it.
Feed at night, not during the day. These are nocturnal snakes and may be uncomfortable feeding during the day.
If it takes the prey but won't eat, or won't take it, drop the mouse inside, and swathe the enclosure with towels to block the snake from seeing anybody or anything and leave it alone for 24 hours.
If gerbils are legal in your state, try feeding stunned, then killed gerbils. If it takes them, start rubbing killed mice on gerbils to scent them, and offer the mice (a killed gerbil can be used repeatedly if kept frozen and defrosted when needed for scenting). Try hamsters if you can't get gerbils.
Try multicolored or colored mice. There are no albino mice in the wild - at least, not enough for any animal to imprint on them. The prey wild balls eat are various shades of brown, so select brown or multicolored mice for feeding.
From Bill Arrington: "At night, I removed the snake from the enclosure, kept him out for about half an hour or so. While he was out, I placed a freshly killed mouse in the enclosure then introduced the snake back into the enclosure. Within 5 minutes he had ate it. I told the pet store I deal with about this method and it worked for them too."
Dip the prekilled mouse in warmed chicken broth.
If you can't get fecesl for testing, a cloacal wash can be done by a vet.
snake feeds but regurgitates the prey later...