If you happen to own a pet snake, you may be curious as to how often you should feed it.
New snake owners may mistakenly provide their pet snake with daily food, using the same feeding schedule as they would with their dog or cat.
Additionally, people who would never dream of owning a pet snake may also be interested in learning about feeding habits, solely out of morbid curiosity.
Fortunately, you don’t need to watch a disturbingly realistic TV program that depicts snakes swallowing cute little rabbits to learn about how often snakes eat.
There is a relatively simple answer to this question that may provide some level of reassurance and comfort.
How Often Do Snakes Eat?
Surprisingly, snakes that are smaller and younger need to eat more often, usually a couple of times per week. Snakes that are very active in their hunting practice will also need to eat more frequently. However, large snakes that ambush their prey can go as long as two years between meals. Wild snakes will usually refrain from eating during hibernation.
Smaller and Younger Snakes Eat Twice a Week
Younger snakes need to eat more often to gain enough fuel to grow into strong adult snakes.
Just as human parents often tell their children to eat their vegetables and drink their milk, so that they can grow tall and strong, the same is true of baby snakes. Well, with the exception that snakes feed on mice to gain strength instead of drinking milk.
Even so, your pet baby snake doesn’t need a bowl of food put out daily. Simply drop a small mouse in the cage a couple of times a week, and they’ll be just fine. Smaller breeds of adult snakes will also need to eat more often than larger snakes.
Why? Because snakes swallow their prey whole, so smaller snakes don’t have the capacity to eat large meals.
This means that instead of swallowing an entire rabbit and slowly digesting it over the course of weeks or months as larger snakes are inclined to do, a small snake may only be able to swallow one tiny mouse at a time.
If you’ll think about it, this concept makes perfect sense. While a large meal is satisfying, smaller meals or snacking will cause you to become hungry again later. Snakes are the same way.
Since smaller snakes can only swallow smaller prey, they tend to get hungry more often than larger snakes do.
Active Snakes Eat Frequent Meals
OK, this one may have you wondering why the docile snake in your living room aquarium needs to eat twice a week when they do absolutely nothing all day and their food is provided for them.
While that point is well-taken, the reference to active snakes concerns larger snake breeds.
Smaller and younger snakes need to eat twice a week regardless of their level of activity, but with regards to larger snakes, the frequency of meals depends largely upon their hunting habits.
It takes a lot of energy for a snake to actively hunt and stalk its prey, which is why active species of snakes need to eat frequently to obtain a sufficient amount of fuel.
Some Large Snakes Can Go Years between Meals
While it is advised to feed a larger adult pet snake once every week or so, many large snakes in the wild have been known to go months or even years in between meals.
Although this is partially dependent upon the species of snake, once again, this is strongly based on hunting habits and meal sizes.
Large breeds of snakes may wait for small animals to walk past them before ambushing their latest prey, rather than actively stalk prey. This method of hunting requires much less energy, thus the snake needs less food to fuel its body.
Additionally, large snakes in the wild can prey upon a variety of small animals, and the bigger the meal, the longer they can go without food.
Sure, you may own a huge python, but it is doubtful that you are bringing home rabbits and kittens to feed them.
Since large pet snakes are still often being fed a diet of mice only, you will still need to feed your adult snake every week or two.
Seasons Play a Role in How Often Snakes Eat
Technically speaking, snake hibernation is called brumation, and yes, snakes brumate during the winter months, after having stored up enough energy and body fat from feeding throughout the warmer portions of the year.
When snakes are in the wild, they refrain from eating while brumating.
Now, if you have a pet snake, they may not necessarily brumate while in captivity, but if you are interested in breeding your pet snakes, brumation still plays an important role.
Snakes breed with one another in the spring, right when they emerge from brumation.
Snakes also eat more frequently during the breeding season in the spring, especially female snakes.
Although snakes often eat, once a female has become impregnated, she will fast until the eggs are laid or the babies are born. Snakes also fast before shedding skin.
Frequently Asked Questions about How Often Snakes Eat
What Can’t Snakes Eat?
You shouldn’t feed your snakes eggs or fish. Although snakes will eat insects if they are desperate, this is ill-advised. While many snake owners offer their pets live rodents, some experts don’t recommend doing this as the rodent could harm the snake.
How Can You Tell If Your Pet Snake’s Hungry?
A hungry snake will flick its tongue, become increasingly active, and display a regular schedule of prowling and hunting behaviors. Although the frequency of snakes eating varies depending upon several factors, there is still a basic rule of thumb in place as to how often you should feed a pet snake: Younger and smaller snakes should eat twice a week, while large adult snakes should eat once every week or so. However, you shouldn’t be surprised if your snake declines food when the temperature drops or becomes hungrier when spring approaches. While snakes don’t eat very often, they do have seasonal patterns in their eating behaviors.
Fortunately, snake owners don’t need to invest much time or money into feeding their snakes, and if you happen to encounter a large wild snake, there’s a good chance that it may ignore you simply because it’s still enjoying last year’s good meal.
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Tuesday 24th of August 2021
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