Ball pythons are carnivorous and have mobile lower and upper jaws. They use chemical and visual cues to hunt for their prey. Ball pythons sit and wait to ambush prey. As heavy-bodied snakes, they are less active and instead choose good ambush sites. The feeding strategy is to retract the head and neck and strike rapidly. After the rapid strike, they swallow prey alive or immobilize by constriction. They feed almost exclusively on rodents and eat infrequently. Infrequent feeders have adapted by having the capacity to widely regulate gastrointestinal functioning with feeding and fasting. Ball pythons prey on rodents and are vital to controlling these pests, especially in rural communities. Rodent prey includes African giant rats (Cricetomys gambianus), black rats (Rattus rattus), rufous-nosed rats (Oenomys species), shaggy rats (Dasymys species), and grass mice (Lemniscomys species).
Animal Foods: mammals
Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates)
- Ott, B., S. Secor. 2007. Adaptive regulation of digestive performance in the genus Python. Journal of Experimental Biology, 210: 340-356.