Let’s begin by saying that you should not be force feeding your snake under normal circumstances.
If you think that your snake isn’t eating much then you should just wait it out and try feeding later. But sometimes force-feeding could become necessary.
In this article, we’re going to look at when you should be force feeding your pet snake and how to do it.
When should you feed your pet snake?
Some snakes just don’t eat that much. For example, ball pythons can go on without eating for 6 months.
Also, the climate can play a big role in your snake’s dietary habits. Usually, in winter their metabolism slows down. This can lead to decreased appetite which is completely natural.
If your snake is on a hunger strike for a long time and loses over 10% of its body weight then the first thing to do would be to visit a vet.
A wide variety of diseases can cause your snake to not eat properly. For example, fungal infections, bacterial infections, metabolic diseases, etc.
Your vet will check for any health issue that your snake could be suffering from and provide you with proper instructions.
On the off chance that your vet deems it necessary to force-feed your snake is the only time, you should be doing it.
How to force-feed your snake?
The first thing you have to keep in mind is that you need to do this gently and quickly. Cause your snake is not going to like being force-fed and it will stress them out.
Also, you should not force feed unless you have been shown how to by a qualified veterinarian. So, proceed with caution.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s move on to the feeding process.
You can use solid food when force-feeding small snakes. They are easier to handle compared to medium or large snakes and you can assist with swallowing to prevent regurgitation. To force-feed your snake, you are going to need the following things –
- A tweezer
- A small frozen rat
- A second person
After you’ve gathered them all, you can start feeding your snake. Here, are the steps to force-feeding solid food –
Step 1: Choose the right rat
When force-feeding you should choose a frozen rat that is a bit on the smaller side. A smaller rat will be easier to feed and make the process a lot smoother.
Step 2: Defrost the rat
Start with defrosting the rat. Put the rat in a zip lock bag. Now, dunk it in a bowl of warm water. Wait until the rat is soft and warm. Pat the rat down with a tissue paper in case water leaks in and gets the rat wet.
Step 3: Position the snake
Grab on to the back of the snake’s head using your thumb and index finger. Use the other fingers to hold the top portion of the snake’s body right behind the head in a straight line. This is to avoid curling which can make swallowing the food difficult.
Step 4: Open mouth and feed
After you’ve positioned your snake, use your other hand to gently open its mouth. A second person should grab the food with a tweezer and put it inside the snake’s mouth. Make sure the glottis is not blocked while feeding. Snakes use it to breathe while swallowing food.
If the snake doesn’t voluntarily take the food then push it down. Squeeze the food with the tweezer to make the process easier. Push the food down 1 inch deep into the snake’s throat.
Step 5: Massage the food down
Wait for the snake to swallow the food. But if it doesn’t then you can massage the food down. Close its mouth by pressing the jaws together. Make sure you don’t block the nostrils.
Turn the snake upside down exposing the underside. Place your thumb right in front of the bulge formed by the food and pull the skin forward. Then push backwards to push the food down. Repeat this process until the food is well inside the body of the snake.
Step 6: Keep an eye on the snake
There is still a chance for your snake to spit the food out. So, observe the snake for a couple of hours.
You can watch this video of Emily from the Youtube channel Snake Discovery demonstrating how you can force feed solid food to your snake.
It is best to use liquid food when force-feeding large-sized snakes. You can’t really massage down the food for large snakes. Using a feeding tube you can deliver the food right to the stomach.
What you’re going to need –
- A syringe (4 – 5 ml)
- A feeding-tube
- Blended cat food or beaten eggs
- A friend or a number of friends (Depending on the size of your snake)
Have them ready and then follow these steps to force-feed liquid food to your snake –
Step 1: Fill the syringe with the food
First, take the syringe and fill it up with the liquid food. You can blend wet cat food and use that as feed. Using beaten eggs is also acceptable.
Step 2: Assemble the feeding tool
Stick the feeding-tube on to the syringe. Make sure the tube is properly installed on the syringe so that it doesn’t come off while feeding.
Step 3: Position the snake
Call in some friends to help you with the force-feeding. Your friend or friends should hold the snake as straight as possible.
Step 4: Insert the tube into the stomach
Now, you can begin inserting the tube until it reaches the stomach. Make sure you do this gently to avoid any sort of damage.
Step 5: Push the syringe
After the tube has reached the stomach, press the syringe to deliver the food. Steadily push the food into your snake’s stomach. But don’t be too slow or not your snake might get stressed.
Step 6: Gently pull the tube out
After you are done feeding the snake gently pull the tube out. Sometimes the tube might snag on the teeth which can break the teeth. So, keep a lookout for that.
Step 7: Observe the snake
Finally, put it back into its enclosure. Keep an eye on the snake in case it vomits.
Now that you know how to force-feed your snake, we would like to inform you that you should not force-feed without any sort of professional supervision. In most cases, snakes don’t eat for long periods of time just because they don’t need to.
They can also have health issues that need to be looked at by a veterinarian. So, be responsible and get your snake checked out if you think that it’s not eating properly.