In their natural habitat, they feed mainly on warm-blooded prey such as nesting birds, waterfowl, deer, pigs, rodents and other mammals. They are also opportunistic eaters that will devour recently deceased animals although this doesn’t fill a major part of their diet.
Frequent feedings of 1 - 2 times weekly will result in quick growth and a healthy animal. This should be reduced as the snake grows depending on the size of food offered. A healthy adult is recommended to be fed an appropriate meal every 2-4 weeks when in a normal routine.
A baby retic can begin feeding on mice or small rats.
Starting a retic feeding on a combination of mice and rats is preferable as it can eliminate problems later on when changing prey items as the snake progresses in size. As the snake reaches adulthood, you will have to change the prey to something more suitable such as rabbits and guineapigs. If you have a large retic then they can also progress onto pigs, lambs and goats. I suggest that you try not to constantly feed only one prey item to your snakes as this will result in a swift and easy change over of primary food items when the snake is ready. I currently use quail, chickens and squirrels as an addition to the normal items. You will find that feeding poultry will result in a very runny and smelly defecation. However, while this isn’t pleasant for the keeper I do feel that it is good to feed such items every now and again in order to provide a complete diet plan.
Generally retics are voracious feeders with a healthy appetite that can be highly aggressive. As a result of this food items usually only need to be placed in the vivarium or feeding container (depending on your choice) for the animal to feed. Feeding containers separate from the normal housing of a snake is often recommended, however this is rarely ideal or safe where a large retic is concerned. Moving a large, hunting snake is never a good idea and can result in injuries to yourself that could easily have been avoided.
It is said that snakes learn to associate opening of vivarium doors with food and will strike at anything entering, however if you handle your snake regularly then this association should not be a problem. Should this occur however, there are several methods you can adopt to change this. A popular method is to tap the snake lightly on the head with a hook each time you enter the viv with the intention of handling, often referred to as “tap training”, which although not an actual form of training or operant conditioning does provide distance between a recently awoken snake and the keeper.
Avoid handling after a meal, it is stressful and may cause regurgitation. If this does happen, don't panic. no long term damage has been done. However, leave the snake in peace for at least a week before feeding again, as it will need time to rebuild up digestive fluids. Never handle any item that the snake may think of as a prey item and then handle a snake, you may be mistaken as food. This is a common way to become another statistic of those people seriously injured through bad handling practices of large constrictors.
To this day many still feed their snakes live prey items, this situation is highly inappropriate. There is no need at all to put the snake under risk from injury from a prey animal simply because it has been done for some time. Frozen items are always accepted (even if it does take some work for the keeper) and most keepers in the UK use this method with no problems at all, including hatchlings. While I have my own opinions on this I understand that live feeding is the way which many people carry out the task so I ask only that you follow these guidelines. If you do choose to use live food, never leave a prey item in the snakes cage for lengthy periods and NEVER unattended, a prey item can cause serious damage to your pet!