In this article, we answer the following question: Can I feed my ball python 2 days in a row? We speak about a snake’s digestive system and give you extra tips on how to feed them, handle them and treat a constipated snake at home.
Can I feed my ball python 2 days in a row?
It is not advisable to feed your ball python 2 days in a row. Snakes do not feel hunger as we humans do. Nor is their digestive system similar to ours.
It takes a snake 4 days to fully digest a meal. A larger prey, such as a deer, would take 10 days. Snakes only need to feed on their prey once or twice a week, depending on their size. Snakes prefer to digest their food alone in a dark and safe place, away from predators.
The biology of a snake’s digestive process is very complex. We will explain how a snake manages to break down food in its stomach with gastric juices and digestive enzymes. Handling pet snakes should be avoided during the digestive process as it causes stress and anxiety.
Understanding the snake’s digestion process
Snakes swallow their prey whole. This is achieved thanks to the distinctive jaw of the snake. The lower jaw splits in two, and an additional jaw allows the mouth to open wide.
Once the prey is within range, the snake crawls and forces the food into the oesophagus. This is why we often see a snake’s food clearly inside its body.
A snake does not chew an animal into smaller pieces before swallowing it. The prey remains whole until it reaches the stomach. This is where it begins to dissolve into digestible mush.
Once the prey reaches the snake’s stomach, many juices and enzymes break down the food. Once it is small enough, the food will enter the small intestine. Eventually, the debris is removed from a fin on the snake’s tail. This is called the cloaca, and it is where a snake releases urine and excrement.
How do snakes digest bones?
All of this is part of the same digestive process. Enzymes and acids released by a snake’s stomach can turn animal bones into pulp.
The only things a snake’s stomach cannot process are animal claws and skins. If a snake eats a vertebrate, it should not experience any discomfort.
How long does it take for a snake to digest a mouse?
There are many different mitigating factors here. It depends on the size of the snake, the size of the mouse, and the snake’s environment.
A healthy, happy snake, however, should digest a frozen mouse in about four days. This is the reason why snakes typically only need to be fed once a week.
They will hardly have had time to finish digesting one meal before receiving the next. Snakes function on a party or famine basis. They’ll eat their fill – or more – while they can, and then avoid food for a while.
However, a snake must have an adequately warm terrarium to enjoy quality digestion. Since snakes are cold-blooded, they cannot generate their heat from within. This means that if a snake is too cold, their bodies will not function accordingly.
If your snake is warm enough, it will probably hide while it digests. This will typically involve slipping into its stash box and rolling into a ball.
This will be particularly prevalent during the first 24 hours after feeding. Leave the snake alone during this period. Even the most docile reptile can bite if disturbed immediately after eating.
One sign of a happy, healthy snake is shedding after it has eaten. However, try to make sure your snake has removed debris from one meal before feeding another. Some snakes may voluntarily overheat, which can cause big problems with their digestion.
How long does it take for a snake to digest a large prey?
“Big prey” is subjective, but snakes are capable of eating animals much larger than themselves. Find out what the Burmese python likes to eat in this in-depth article.
A typical snake can digest a whole rabbit in about five days in hot weather. However, it can take a week or so when it is colder. If a particularly daring snake ate a deer, it would take ten days to digest it. This would take care of a snake’s caloric needs for several months.
Very few snakes are capable of eating a human. It is not a concern with most pet snakes. A wild anaconda, however, could digest a human in about two weeks.
Can I handle a snake while it digests its food?
You should avoid handling your snake for at least two to three days after it has eaten. After all, reptiles hide while digesting their food for a reason.
Your snake’s internal organs, including its liver, will be under pressure as they digest. This means that being picked up will put additional pressure on these organs. This, in turn, will put stress on your snake.
How long do snakes take to eliminate their excretions?
A normal, healthy snake excretes about once a week. This should be around five days after eating. A debris release by feeding is standard for a snake. They should not be re-fed before they have properly digested their previous meal.
Once a snake has had a move, it must be cleaned immediately. A snake that lives on its waste could get sick, especially if it eats it again.
Some snakes don’t empty their cloaca for weeks, especially pythons. This is not always a problem, but it is something you will have to watch out for. If your snake acts strangely in addition to not shedding, consider seeing a vet.
Can snakes get constipated?
Snakes can become constipated. This will be uncomfortable for the snake and potentially harmful to its health.
You can usually tell if a snake is constipated because its tail begins to swell. This is a visible obstruction, with the accumulation of faeces within the snake’s body.
A constipated snake sometimes refuses to eat or drink. However, some reptiles continue to eat until their intestines literally cannot take any more pressure.
This is dangerous and can result in your snake requiring surgery. If your snake is docile and tolerates good handling, check its health regularly.
Some of the potential causes of constipation in snakes include:
- The snake is eating frozen prey that has been thawed. This removes much of the water from the food, resulting in hard, solid stools. These can be difficult, or even impossible, for the snake to pass.
- The snake’s terrarium is too cold. Since snakes are cold-blooded, they cannot moderate their body temperature from the inside. At lower temperatures, snakes retain heat towards the bottom of their body as a survival mechanism. This means that they could “heat” any food inside your stomach. This, once again, leads to the stool being hard and difficult to pass.
- The snake’s terrarium lacks moisture. Again, this will harden the stool inside a snake’s gut. As in the previous case, this will leave your snake struggling to pass its waste. If your snake’s terrarium regularly lacks moisture, consider changing its substrate.
- Your snake is eating too much. It is very easy to overfeed your snake. It may seem cruel to feel only once every seven days, but it is appropriate. Remember, it takes your snake most of this time to digest its last meal. You don’t want an overweight snake.
Constipation is a serious problem for snakes and must be treated accordingly. The good news is that you may not need a vet right away.
How to treat a constipated snake at home
A bath in warm water for fifteen minutes can be a very effective solution for snake constipation. This will relax the snake and soften the hard faeces on its body. The result should be simple shedding and a much happier, healthier snake.
You should also check the temperature and humidity levels of your snake’s terrarium. If you are unsure whether they are optimal for your reptile’s health, consult an expert.
If these simple techniques don’t work, the problem may be more serious. You should see a vet in such a case, as your snake may need surgery. A veterinarian will initially attempt to alleviate symptoms with an oral laxative.
If this still doesn’t work, they will need to open the snake’s belly and remove the blocked faeces manually. Most snakes will recover from this procedure, although they will need to be monitored.
Snake digestion may not be a pleasant sight, or even an idea, for humans. However, snakes need to eat too. It takes a long time, but it happens. With this in mind, leave your snake alone once it has eaten.
Avoid handling a snake while digesting it. Also, make sure one meal has been processed before feeding the next. If you follow these instructions, your snake will remain comfortable throughout each feeding cycle.
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FAQ on Can I feed my ball python 2 days in a row?
How many times a week should I feed my ball python?
You should feed a healthy ball python every one or two weeks. Snakes do not need to eat too often, as overfeeding may cause several health issues.
How long can a snake go without eating?
A snake can go without eating for about six months. In the wild, they are used to going weeks without food. They slow down their metabolism and preserve energy.
Will a snake starve itself?
Snakes will not starve themselves to death unless they are neglected or ill. Some of the reasons why a snake may starve itself is overfeeding is their breeding season or they are stressed. The stress comes from living in poor conditions or because of being neglected.
What happens if you overfeed your snake?
If you overfeed your snake you are going to make it sick. Snakes who are overfed usually become obese and cannot digest their food properly; they can suffer from constipation or regurgitation.
Can a snake die from overeating?
Overeating can cause long-term problems in snakes that eventually yes, can kill them. You should be careful with the amount and the size of food you are feeding your snake with.
PetMD – What Do Snakes Eat?
Animal Corner – Snake Characteristics
MSD Manual – Nutrition in snakes