Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Assist Feeding

Sorry, I was out for the day yesterday.. Weekend trip!! YAY!

This one is a tough one, as I have to admit that I am not the best at it. I have lost animals even after assist feeding for months, just because the animals just aren't responsive.

Start out knowing that assisting feeding means that this little one has special needs. And those with special needs can be just because of a failure to thrive.

Assist feeding is putting the food item down the throat far enough to stimulate the response to swallow. Usually this means the food item up until its shoulders into the throat, if not a bit farther. The animal does have a regurgitation response, and it will attempt to throw it back up if not done correctly, or if the animal is just not interested. This can be tough, and can cause a lot of stress for the animal and yourself. It requires finesse and a bit of tough love. If you can't handle that, DON'T DO IT.

If you have already done the work and gotten the animal to eat, give it plenty of time to adjust to having food. I would say for a baby, a good 5-7 days. It is imperative that you don't over-feed.

If you have successfully managed to get the animal to eat several times ASSIST feeding (not force feeding), after the third time, just put the food item in its mouth (without pushing the item in too far) and see what happens.

If it requires more effort and time, then the animal isn't ready, and you need to give it more time.

If putting food in the mouth works, slowly move towards leaving a prey item in the tub. It will take time, and if it doesn't work, take a step back and just put food in the mouth.

As you can see, this requires an infinite amount of patience.

You can do it!

But again, remember...

SMALL items, every 5-7 days. Don't push it, or you may cause problems.

Good luck, and know I'm rooting for you. This is one of the stressors of being a Ball Python breeder. You can do it!


Jackie said...

At any point do you start offering live prey again? Or unassisted f/t?

I was surprised he took it, actually. I've tried assist feeding in the past, and had them spit it out. I had an animal that wasn't quite as urgent that I also tried who spat it right out. But I came back and the het pied was sitting there with a bulge in his tummy. Well, okay then.

Jackie said...

ps: And thanks!

Anonymous said...

thanks heather! i really appreciate the tips/information. I've tried over the years to start hahtchings on live and frozen prey. some take rat pups, some take ft rodents others only like live . any preference? i prefer mine on ft rat pups and i usally keep those babies for myself since it can be hard to switch them from mice over to rats later in life. any tips/advice?