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Question
Until recently Lacy has been a healthy fat snake. She has always eaten frozen rodents and I feed in a separate feeding tank. In the last year she graduated from mice to small rats. She is eleven years old. My problem is that she has stopped eating. Over the past several weeks we have offered several rats and mice in the usual  procedure. She seems interested initially, but hasn't eaten at all. She is losing a great deal of her weight and I'm so worried. What could be wrong?  I don't know lifespan but she is very special and I'm sick with worry. Any advice will mean so much. By the way,  I was a sixth grade teacher, and Lacy was our class pet. The students loved her and cared for her. They always washed hands before and after handling her. I retired last June and now Lacy lives at home with me. Please give your advice ASAP. I'm fearful of Lacy's well being.
Thank you.

Answer
If it is a ball python, she could be just getting old. Some snakes cal live well close to 20 years old, but generally those are snakes kept by herp breeders. Most pet snakes live between 10-15 years, those being the really old ages. Like humans, they will diminish until they pass.

Snakes, especially ball pythons, will go off food for what seems like no reason. Something as small as 1 degree change in their heat can throw them off. Just continue to offer food weekly until she eats it. I have snakes that have gone off food for 6 months or more, they always eat when they are hungry again.

Now if she begins eating again and still continues to lose weight then there is a problem, normally the cause of this is a internal parasite. But without possibly wasting 2-400$ at the vet, you wont be able to tell if a parasite is the issue until you have fed 4 or more times.

Also I would not take her out into another container until she eats again, I have had hundreds of snakes and have never fed in another container and have never been mistaken for food (unless I have a mouse or a rat in my hand).

Moving the snake before feeding does nothing but stress them and can keep them from eating even longer. Check the snake over also, you will need to firmly hold the snakes head and lift its lips to make sure there is no mouth sores or mouth rot. Also watch for any bubbles from the nose, excessive mucous or wheezing. Any of these signs and she will need to be taken to the vet ASAP.

Let me know if you have anymore questions!

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Amber Barrett

Expertise

I can answer any and all questions about snakes, whether its how to pick the right snake for your needs and wants, eating and temperature issues, health problems ( I can not give a diagnosis or make up for vetrinary treatment but can give options on what to do). I can also answer any questions on breeding snakes, what it entitles, what you can expect, I know quite a bit about any products for snakes and their husbandry.

Experience

I currently keep over 150 snakes, I keep everything from ball pyhtons, to retics to green tree pythons. I have been around them my whole life due to a family interest in breeding them. I have researched, purchased, and delt with just about every snake, product and issue you can run into.

Education/Credentials
Although I do not have a degree in herpatology, I have been around snakes my whole life and through books, research and life I know alot about them.

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