Your Reptile and Amphibian Resource and Information Site

Back to Bull-Pine-Gopher Snakes Forum   Forums   Home   Members Area  

Bull-Pine-Gopher Snakes Forum

Just Curious~   Just Curious~   MacGoddess   Greatballzofire   Just Curious~   Just Curious~   Just Curious~   Greatballzofire   Just Curious~   Greatballzofire   Just Curious~   Greatballzofire   Cphill58   Just Curious~   Just Curious~   Gopherdude   Just Curious~   Cphill58   Pepper48  
 Member  Message


Just Curious~
View Profile

 Male pacific gopher not eating? He spat out his rat! Advice?

So about three months ago I purchased an 07’ pacific gopher pair. Great in every way, except one - I haven’t been able to get the male to eat. The old owner sold them to me as "aggressive feeders that never refuse anything" but this one doesn’t even act interested. Just one time, he froze with his nose near the rat and I thought he was going to strike...Then he turned and slithered the other way. He was in blue when I first got him so I thought maybe that’d be it, but it’s been months since then and nothing. He had a poop when I first got him, so I know he was eating before. (hasn’t had one since)

I know that some males go off food during breeding season, but I’m not breeding him this year and I haven’t altered the temps in any way to make him think it was spring. (His old owner never cooled him or anything either)

They both have their own (seperate) 4’x2’x2’ vivs with the same temps, humidity, set-up and everything. The female is a good eater, so I don’t think it’s enviroment.
I feed in a seperate tank every Wednesday and use tongs to dangle/dance the rat around first. I’ve also tried to leave it in there with him and check back in an hour, but he just focuses on getting out of the feeding tank. (His old owner fed in tank and used cage-liners, I use aspen shavings so i don’t want them to ingest them)

Two weeks ago I tried a variation of the cupping method and put him in a solid styrofoam box that’s smaller than his feeding tank (Hoping that there’d be less to focus on) and when I checked on him two hours later, the rat was still there but the front half of it was covered in saliva and the head had noticable bite marks.
I’m not sure what happened there, but he stopped halfway....

I feed small f/t rats which is what the old owner said he fed them I don’t think the rat was too large because the female is just a couple of inches longer, not much fatter, and they barely leave a lump in her. I was thinking about upgrading her to the next size once my current supply runs out.
Do you think I should try a smaller item with him next time? Like a mouse?

Then I thought that maybe the box was too small and he didn’t have room to manuever. I’m guessing that the box is 2’x1’ and he’s a 4’ long snake. So I used a 3’x1’ box instead, tried the same thing, and this time he never even touched it...

So then I thought maybe it was too cold for him to leave him in that box for two hours outside his heat source so this week I put the box & him inside his enclosure (getting desperate here) checked on him two hours and got nothing but a very crabby tail rattle so I left him overnight in the box, checked on him in the morning only to find that he’d escaped from the box into his enclosure and hide-box, the rat was still untouched....*sigh*

I haven’t noticed any real weight loss on him yet, but I will say he doesn’t seem as healthy as the female. He’s not out and about as often and he does seem thinner. I’m not sure what’s up with him really, I try every week. Is this just a male going off food in spring?
How long should I let this go until I have to see a vet or something? I don’t want him to lose health over this.
Anyone got any suggestions? Thank you.

04/21/11  10:29pm


Just Curious~
View Profile

  Message To: Just Curious~   In reference to Message Id: 2215470

 Male pacific gopher not eating? He spat out his rat! Advice?

and today I tried again....
First I tried dangling it in the feeding tank for a while then after I got nothing I tried in front of his face, but he only focused on trying to escape the feeding tank. I left the rat in there with him, checked in 15 minutes and nothing so I put him in the box with the rat again for two hours (Sounds like some sick punishment, poor guy) but got nothing. (Although since I didn’t weigh down the lid he mangaged knock it off and escape I don’t know how far in. He went from his feeding box into the box right next to it. Gee.)

So I put him back, put the female in the feeding tank with the same rat and she gulped it down like a garbage disposal...

I really don’t know what’s up with that male. Advice please?

04/22/11  07:47pm


View Profile

  Message To: Just Curious~   In reference to Message Id: 2215557

 Male pacific gopher not eating? He spat out his rat! Advice?

I think that for some snakes, being moved from their enclosure to a feeding tank and then back again is just too stressful. My gopher also would spend far too much time checking out the feeding container and looking for ways out, so feeding that way started to be a problem. I now feed her by putting a shallow plastic container with the mice into her regular enclosure. The container helps keep her from ingesting any substrate.

I am sure others here can better advise on your male snake not eating, but I would try smaller prey for sure. Also, if you haven’t already, try braining the mice/rats, i.e., using a needle to poke a hole in the brain of the prey to entice the snake to eat based on scent. It is gross, but it works much of the time.

04/23/11  02:29am


View Profile

  Message To: Just Curious~   In reference to Message Id: 2215557

 Male pacific gopher not eating? He spat out his rat! Advice?

I have two male Pacific gopher ( 09 and 08) snakes and one male 09 bull snake. All were brumated this last winter, then brought out in February. They all ate until early March, then quit. Their respective mates have been eating like there is no tomorrow.

The little 09 Pacific went into a long shed cycle and came out a few days ago very hungry, so he is on track with the eating again.

The bull snake and the 08 Pacific still have not eaten, but I expect they will start up in mid to late May. It is curious that their mates have been eating like they plan to breed and produce eggs, while the males have not. It is common for males to go off feed during the mating season, which is in the spring. You can’t fool the males into thinking it is not spring; they are hardwired from millions of years of evolution to know the seasons. Be patient; this summer he will likely start up eating again, after the mating season is over.

My 08 Pacifics: Zumbida on the left and Lorenzo on the right. He looks fine even though he has not eaten since March 5.

04/24/11  10:27am


Just Curious~
View Profile

  Message To: MacGoddess   In reference to Message Id: 2215618

 Male pacific gopher not eating? He spat out his rat! Advice?

@MacGoddess: Hmm...I tried to feed in his enclosure once, but again he wouldn’t touch it. Perhaps I’ll try that again next time.
I tried braining this week, I poked some holes in it’s head (Ewww) and tried dangling it. That didn’t work so I left it in the box with him for two hours and still got nothing but a grumpy snake. *sigh*

Thanks though, I’m not giving up~

04/27/11  05:40pm


Just Curious~
View Profile

  Message To: Greatballzofire   In reference to Message Id: 2215725

 Male pacific gopher not eating? He spat out his rat! Advice?

@Greatballzofire: Alright, I sure hope so!
Cool snakes by the way! Love the color! <3

04/27/11  05:42pm


Just Curious~
View Profile

  Message To: Just Curious~   In reference to Message Id: 2215470

 So today....

Nothing’s been working, not even a f/t mouse so today I finally broke down and got a live mouse from my friend who breeds his own. I don’t like doing it, but that worked!
I’m hoping that since he finally got started again, he’ll get started on f/t now. I’m going to try a f/t next feeding.

Since it’s been a while and that was such a small meal (I picked a small mouse as to avoid a fight/injury, it didn’t even leave a lump) should I feed sooner than usual, the usual week, wait later, wait until he defecates or what? Right now I’ve got the temps up a little higher than normal to help him digest. I’m looking at about a week for the next feeding, which is my usual schedule.


05/09/11  10:55pm


View Profile

  Message To: Just Curious~   In reference to Message Id: 2218262

 So today....

Glad he is eating again. My 08 Pacific Lorenzo finally ate three large hoppers yesterday after not eating since early March. My 09 bull Alfonzo ate several hoppers yesterday , too. So now all my male pits are eating again. The spring breeding season is waning, and now it is time to eat again. Like I said, you can’t trick them into thinking it is a different season than it really is.

Feed him again in about a week or ten days.
I feed live or fresh killed, so don’t know what they would do with a frozen thawed mouse.

05/10/11  11:09pm


Just Curious~
View Profile

  Message To: Greatballzofire   In reference to Message Id: 2218411


It’s good to hear that yours are eating too!
Yeah I’m not 100% sure if mine’s really eating again yet since that was a live one and not what I was after but.....I take what I can get. I’m still thrilled that he ate, no matter what it was~

I don’t really like feeding live because of the injury risk, more than that though with frozen I can just go to the store once every three months to stock up and they stay in my freezer just fine without making more mouths to feed/tanks to clean. Personally I only have 3 snakes so there’s not really enough demand for me to want to breed my own, also the only good herp store I know is a good hour and a half drive from me so I wouldn’t want to have to go there every week for live/pk. (The friend I got the mouse off of doesn’t produce rats for my two other snakes...) However if he doesn’t convert then I guess I don’t really have a choice, it’s not that big of a deal just not what I consider "ideal". Oh well, as long as he’s eating I’m happy~
I wasn’t expecting him to be such a problem feeder since I was told from the previous owner that they had both been fed f/t their whole life. He sent me home with a large supply of frozen rats which the female has been devouring like mad.

Huh. Well whatever the reason may be I’m glad there’s a solution and I’m hoping he’s going to take to next week’s feeding! I’ve decided to stick to my schedule of once a week feeding, no reason to change~

Thanks again!

05/11/11  06:29pm


View Profile

  Message To: Just Curious~   In reference to Message Id: 2218517


He will probably do fine with f/t.

I have a freezer full of f/t but it is just easier to feed live or fresh killed (am lazy person! LOL!). If it has teeth I kill it so it wont hurt the snake. One of my male Arizona mountain kings was slow to start eating this year after brumation so I got him started with a lizard, followed by a couple of fuzzies during the same feeding, and now he is eating on a regular basis. Sometimes they seem to need a jump start with something they will really like. Next time your male needs to be coaxed maybe try a live chick.

I have 21 snakes, not counting the ringnecks and sharp tails who eat bugs and worms, so raising my own mice works out for me.

05/11/11  07:02pm


Just Curious~
View Profile

  Message To: Greatballzofire   In reference to Message Id: 2218521


Wow! You have a lot of snakes! Must be fun~
Glad to hear your king’s eating!

So my guy’s still being a pain, I think I’m going to have to start looking for a chick somewhere....

Even though he ate that one live one a while ago, he refused a f/t and then started turning his nose at the live ones! *shakes fist*
He was interested at first, but whenever he got close (Not a real aggressive feeder, he likes to push his nose against it first then open his mouth and chomp) the mouse would bite him hard and he gave up after about three tries. I quick-killed it and tried with that, but he didn’t want anything to do with it. I also tried the cupping method again and braining, but no dice. Now he runs away from live mice when I put them in his enclosure. As tough as it is for me to admit, my snake is afraid of little mice. DX
Actually those were adult mice, maybe I should try smaller ones next?

and chicks too.
Wonder where I can find those, I know the herp stores near me don’t carry them. I suppose I can buy them frozen online, but shipping’s killer and I’m not sure if he’ll strike f/t anymore. =(
Well time to break out the yellowpages and start looking for local poultry farms I guess. Would a quail work? I seem to recall seeing live ones for sale in Chinatown once....

So just stick a live on in his enclosure and hope for the best? If not then I just know the female will enjoy it, she’s getting fed double from eating everything he turns down. That’s my lovely lil’ garbage disposal for you~
If by chance the chicks do work but not the mice again, how long can eat go on eating chicks? Kinda getting ahead of myself, but they aren’t as healthy as rodents right? Would it be bad to feed him just those while I try to get him on something better?

Just speculating here, I’ll try and update in a week or so. Hopefully with good news again!
*crosses fingers*

05/20/11  09:22pm


View Profile

  Message To: Just Curious~   In reference to Message Id: 2220169


Since you describe him as a gentle feeder, try feeding him plump fuzzies for awhile instead of live adults. A handful of plump fuzzies should do. Never feed them live adults as the mouse can bite the snake in the eye and blind him, or other such bad damage. Never leave a live weaned or adult mouse in with the snake unattended as the mouse may decide to gnaw on the snake. Have you ever been bitten by a mouse? They can draw blood! You can leave the live fuzzies in with him, though, as they are harmless.
My rule of thumb on mice and teeth is if I can hold the mouse in my hand tightly and it can’t bite me because it’s teeth are too small, it is safe to feed to the snakes live. One quickly learns what size is safe! LOL!

Check out feed stores in your area for live chicks. Chicks tend to make the snake’s poop more smelly, but as a treat are good. Quail would work fine.

Yesterday I had some leftover live fuzzie/hoppers that one of my bulls was not ready to eat, so I put them in my Pacifics Lorenzo and Zumbida’s cage, even though they had both already eaten. Lorenzo was on them in a heartbeat, banging them against the glass wall of the tank like an Easter Indigo! Quite a show! LOL!

05/22/11  10:29am


View Profile

  Message To: Greatballzofire   In reference to Message Id: 2220360


Don’t ya just love spring and breeding instincts and all the non feeding issues that plague us this time of year...

Having a blast with 2 gophers and 2 bull snakes...they love rats...
Mice are coming along now too ...thanks GBF


05/24/11  12:49am


Just Curious~
View Profile

  Message To: Greatballzofire   In reference to Message Id: 2220360


Fuzzies are a good idea, I think I’m going to go buy some next time if he won’t take a f/t adult. Also thanks for that "test" on if a mouse can bite or not!
I’ve checked a few local feed stores for chicks and turned up nothing. Of course there’s always live quail in Chinatown and I think Koreatown might have some too, but I haven’t checked yet....

On a completely random note - a friend who has got a bit of a farm going on in her backyard (no chicks) offered me an old spare rooster as a feeder. An adult rooster. I don’t know what breed it was, but this huge beast was bigger than my dog! No joke, this monster was the size of the pillows on my couch! I think my friend might be confusing "gopher snake" with "green anaconda".
I told her she could keep her "feeder", now I think he’s going to become some human’s dinner instead. Poor guy, I kinda liked him. He was surprisingly chill for a chicken, he didn’t mind being held and he didn’t attack me when I messed with his head-comb.... thingamajig. Now I’ll never look at KFC the same. D8

Anyways, back to the subject - Phoenix did eat this week. TWO mice at once, so I’m happy!
Both were stunned weanlings. I tried f/t first and he kinda acted interested....then he wouldn’t. Then he’d see it again and freeze.....then he’d move away. After about half an hour of this I whacked a small mouse. (A little harder than I intended, I think this might have been pk) and gave that to him. After I noticed he was still out and about instead of hiding to digest, so I tried another and got the same! Yay!

I’m optimistic! At least he has a few meals in him now!

Of course Carmen’s still pounding f/t rats, she inhaled this week’s. She’s also getting a bonus mouse each time Phoenix refuses. Lil’ porker, she’s VERY content.

05/30/11  09:33pm


Just Curious~
View Profile

  Message To: Just Curious~   In reference to Message Id: 2221841


Well, he’s refused more live/stunned mice since then. Hasn’t eaten a one. =(

I did manage to find a place selling chicks and he ate that pretty quickly, but since then he’s refused another mouse. D8
It’s so frustrating!

On another note - Carmen ate a live mouse straight from my hands. ^^ It was actually an accident, I put her on the floor while I cleaned her enclosure then after she seemed content hiding in an easily reachable place, I decided to leave her be there while I tried to feed Phoenix his live mouse. It didn’t work and about twenty minutes later I gave up so I put the mouse in a spare bin I had laying around (like a laundry basket) as a temporary storage while I put everything back. Then as I picked up Carmen and was carring her to her enclosure, she saw the mouse scuttling around and just struck!

Boy did that make me jump!

So then I was holding her lower 2/3 while the upper part of her squeezed the mouse. I didn’t know what to do, so I just stood there holding her as she ate it. It only took her a minute because it was just barely a snack for her.
I’m surprised that she did that with me holding her though, talk about confidence! She was rattling her tail a lot against my arm so she wasn’t completely comfortable, but still.....what a pig! XD

I wish some of that would rub off onto her mate... *sigh*

06/11/11  06:30pm


View Profile

  Message To: Just Curious~   In reference to Message Id: 2224236


Male snakes are just wired for prolonged periods of fasting. Females on the other hand, are much more predictable and regular feeders. Be patient with him during these fasting periods. I see a lot of concerned keepers here and elsewhere posting about their male snake’s refusal to feed. Pretty normal from what I’ve experienced as a keeper of mostly male Pituophis. Some may even go over a year without taking food. A little frustrating when it goes prolonged like that unless you have other snakes that can accommodate the uneaten meal.

I have a male Sonoran that I raised up from a wild caught neonate that routinely goes off feed for several hundred days (late summer until early spring) and then again during "cruise" or breeding season. This time of year, he feeds like there is no tomorrow and puts on his greatest annual growth and associated weight gain.

Spends the rest of the year living on stored reserves. He still sheds some during the off feed period as he is still growing some. ALL of the wild male Sonoran’s that I encounter in the field nearly always appear thinner than I think they should be. Healthy, mind you, but thin. My male never draws down that far as he is not exposed to the elements, nor does he burn energy at the same rate that wild snakes do.

Hope this helps...

06/11/11  07:32pm


Just Curious~
View Profile

  Message To: Gopherdude   In reference to Message Id: 2224242


Thanks, it does help. =)

It’s frustrating, but I guess I just need to be more patient....I’ll work on it, promise.

I think a big reason I worry is because I’m not sure if that’s normal for him specifically since he was advertised as "never refuses anything" and I know he was eating before I got him. Once he went into my care, he just stopped and that’s what has me worried that I’m doing something wrong.

I think I’ll message the guy I got them from and ask if he’s known to do this in the Spring. It’d be a relief to know it’s not just me he does it with you know?

Thanks again!
I know I’m a bit of a worrywart, I just want to make sure I’m doing the best I can be for them~

06/12/11  07:12am


View Profile

  Message To: Just Curious~   In reference to Message Id: 2224294


Mister Curious,
You will find in time that these snakes and all serpents can and will go off feed for disturbing amounts of time. My snow bull used to eat medium rats with ease and now only nuzzles up to stunned / pre killed rat weanlings...feigning back from anything that is alive. In the height of the season (summer)one of my king snakes will refuse to eat for 3 months... The corns in early spring are all thinking about mating as well as a couple of large Brooksi (Florida king)males I have and couldn’t be bothered with food. Most of the time I wait them out doing exactly what you are doing ...feeding someone else instead.

The longest duration I had to endure was 6 months with my 10 ft reticulated python...

As you are doing now I posted all the details and my experience. I was always assured that the snake should and would get back on track long as it doesn’t become listless and loose weight in drastic amounts all will be well. They will even grow and shed during the time off food items.

I like the story of the hand feeding ...tail rattling "pig" My kinda snake !!
I have my first albino and he/ she is a hissing / rattling monster with no teeth( all bark no bite) Daing don’t try to touch her when she has a mouthful.


06/12/11  01:11pm


View Profile

  Message To: Just Curious~   In reference to Message Id: 2215470

 Male pacific gopher not eating? He spat out his rat! Advice?

I must be lucky with mine; I have had my pacific gopher for about three years, female,; and she is always ready for a meal, f/t mouse or rat pup; all years round; she is about 3 1/2 foot; she is in a 20 gallon long; room temperature 73 degrees; keep trying with your gopher; live mice first, then switch to thawed; my best...............

09/23/11  10:02am

Back to Bull-Pine-Gopher Snakes Forum   Forums   Home   Members Area