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Reptiles/Feeding my ball python a fancy mouse

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Hi,I have had my ball python for 4 weeks now. It is still kind of young. I went to pet smart and purchased it. The ppl at pet smart said that it had been giving an antibiotic and a steroid and that they didn't  know if it could  hurt my ball python or make it sick if I feed it to my snake. Well after several attempts to feed it frozen mice, it refused them every time. So I tried the  fancy mouse. My snake Charlie took right to the mouse and eat the mouse. But I would like to know if pet smart just told me that or were they being honest? I don't want my snake to get sick. But he had not eaten in a month so I felt I had to try this. Thanks so much

Answer
Hi Sandra

It wouldn't surprise me to know that the mice had been given some type of antibiotic to counter the potential infections caused by stress and overcrowding. I suspect the employees were being honest. It would serve them no purpose to make something like that up.

I highly doubt the level of antibiotic still present in the mouse could have any ill affect on your snake, which is a much bigger animal. I don't have any knowledge about steroids in reptiles but again the dosage would be small for a rodent and a one time feeding is very unlikely to cause problems with your snake.

That said, I would try to find a source for un-medicated feeder rodents for the near future.

There are some tricks for getting snakes onto frozen rodents that may help. Converting him now will be easier then later. He will eventually need medium rats which can cause serious injury when fed live.

First I would suggest trying a frozen rat fuzzy which is about adult mouse size. Some Balls respond better to the scent of rats over mice. Their feeding instinct is triggered by heat and scent primarily and to a less extent, movement. Warm the rat well but keep it dry which keeps the scent intact. Use tongs to gently dangle the warmed rodent in front of your snake. Balls often feed better at night when they would naturally be active. Sometimes just leaving the warmed rodent inside a hide will work.

Converting him to frozen may take several attempts but is something that really should be done. Injuries from live rodents are the main reasons snakes are taken to the vet and the docile Ball pythons are often the victims. Your snake is in more danger from live prey then from any medication given to the that prey. Good luck.  

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Expertise

I can answer questions on the proper husbandry and diet of Iguanas, bearded dragons, geckoes, skinks, chameleons, tortoises, box turtles, treefrogs, non-venomous snakes and tarantulas. Also the breeding of some species of feeder insects. I have no experience with venonmous snakes and only limited experience with aquatic turtles.

Experience

I have been keeping and breeding reptiles for over 30 years. In addition to my regular job in the medical field I also worked for several years in a pet store that specialized only in exotics. The job entailed both caring for and answering questions on innumerable species. It required constant, extensive research into a wide range of reptiles. I have been called to appear on televised national media (CBC, CTV and Life Channel) as well as CBC radio to discuss the proper care of reptiles and other exotics in captivity. I currently own one or more species of those listed under my expertise with the exception of chameleons. I owned chameleons for years but keep none currently. I keep over 20 snakes comprising 5 species, both Colubridae and Boidae. I bred corn snakes for several years. I have a particular interest in treefrogs and currently have 5 different species. I've raised redfoot tortoises for 10 years and have two iguanas, one for 12 years.

Publications
A small and now defunct local magazine called "Pet Vue"

Education/Credentials
Diagnostic medical microbiology with some parasitology experience.

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