While snakes are usually very opportunistic eaters, sometimes they will go weeks or even months without eating.
Snakes can be completely healthy and just refuse to eat their food. This can be incredibly stressful for the owner, as some snakes have starved themselves to death.
While some environmental issues can affect their appetite, assuming nothing has changed in their habitat, there are three easy tricks you can to do get your snake to eat during a hunger strike.
Common Reasons Why Snakes Go on Hunger Strike
Snakes can stop eating for several reasons, including:
- Habitat issues: Snakes are very sensitive to their environments. Temperature issues, too much or too little humidity and loud noises can disrupt your snake's routine. Adjusting temperatures, humidity levels and limiting noise can bring back his appetite.
- Too full: Many new snake owners overfeed their snakes, feeding them multiple times a week or even daily. Depending on the snake, his age, and weight, he may need to go as much as 10 to 20 days in between feedings.
- Wrong prey: Snakes can be picky about their prey. If the animal offered is too small or too large, your snake may refuse it. Similarly, some snakes will only consume other snakes, rather than rodents, so make sure you understand the snake's nutritional needs to ensure you're offering the right food.
How to Get Your Snake to Eat
If you have accounted for the factors and your snake is otherwise healthy, you can use these tricks to convince him to eat:
- Paper bag trick: If your snake is not eating, put a thawed mouse of the appropriate size in a brown paper bag, then put the snake in with it. Close the bag and put the whole thing in the cage and lock it as your normally would; check back in a few hours. With fewer distractions, the enclosed bag helps intensify the mouse's scent, encouraging the snake to eat. Once he's eaten, release him from the bag.
- Moisten prey: If your snake still refuses to eat, spraying both the snake and the mouse with a spray bottle with room-temperature water can stimulate the snake. The misting encourages him to be more active, and the wet mouse has a stronger smell. This trick can be enough to get your snake to eat.
- Fried chicken: One weird technique that works on even the most stubborn of snakes is the fried chicken trick, specifically Kentucky Fried Chicken. Get a few pieces of chicken or a bucket, but take out the chicken. Put the mouse in the bucket or bag, and shake it, so it is thoroughly coated in the grease or spices. Then, using tongs, dangle the mouse near the snake's mouth. For some reason that experts have not been able to explain, the KFC scent entices even obstinate snakes into eating.
If your snake is refusing his food, don't panic. Make sure he has the right habitat and living conditions, but then use these tricks to help stimulate his appetite. These techniques can finally get your snake to eat.