Ringneck snakes are popular pet snakes because they are small, only getting to be about twenty inches long.
In the wild, they eat a wide variety of foods, including small frogs, small toads, salamanders, small lizards, and newly born or hatched snakes.
However, pet snakes mostly eat insects like earthworms, mealworms, slugs, and crickets. They need access to fresh, clean water at all times.
What Do Ringneck Snakes Eat?
Pet ringneck snakes usually eat earthworms, slugs, mealworms, and sometimes crickets. They eat every few days. They also need a bowl of water daily. In the wild, ringneck snakes have a more varied diet with salamanders, small frogs and toads, small lizards, and baby snakes of species other than ringneck snakes. Occasionally, ringneck snakes will eat small fish.
Feeding Earthworms to Ringneck Snakes
There are many species of ringneck snakes, but all have more or less the same diet.
In the wild, they hunt small reptiles and amphibians like frogs, toads, lizards, and even baby snakes of species other than ringneck snakes.
Trying to feed this diet to pet ringnecks would be incredibly expensive. Earthworms are a more economical and practical choice.
The worm basically needs to be smaller than the snake. Either dig up worms from your backyard or buy them from a bait store. Sometimes pet stores will sell them.
Keep a small container or tank for keeping the earthworms alive if you cannot get to a store frequently. Sometimes, adult snakes will eat nightcrawlers, but these are often too large to eat unless cut up.
Worms need to be dusted with calcium or multivitamin powder since they lack the calcium that snakes need. Snakes eating insects do not eat the bones of other prey like salamanders that they could get in the wild.
If they do not get enough vitamin D or calcium, they are prone to metabolic bone disease. Snakes not only need proper food, but they also need proper lighting to help their bodies make enough Vitamin D.
Serve on a shallow dish or even a plastic food container lid.
Keep That Snake Hydrated
Ringnecks live near water in the wild, so are used to slithering about moist soil most of their lives. Keeping moist soil in pet ringneck tanks or enclosures is usually impractical and could be dangerous.
There could be things dangerous to snakes in soil taken from the backyard. Using a dry substrate like aspen shavings is a safer choice.
However, this means that snakes won’t be able to hydrate themselves with enough water. Small, thin snakes like ringnecks have a faster dehydration rate than larger ones.
Keep a humidity hide in the enclosure. Humidity hides are small containers filled with a semi-moist substrate like moss or vermiculite.
You can make one or buy a ready-made option. Keep it in the middle of the enclosure.
Your snake still needs to have a small bowl of water in the enclosure to drink whenever he or she wants to. Snakes cannot use water bottles like many other pets can.
Although you might not see your snake drink, they do. They also like to curl up in their water bowls just before shedding.
The water will get dirty very quickly this way and needs to be changed more often. Water is especially important for baby ringneck snakes.
Feeding Baby Snakes
After hatching, baby snakes can often go up to two weeks before having their first meal because they are still living off of the yolk.
Since baby ringnecks are so tiny, often less than five inches long, and very thin, food needs to be cut extra small for them. Using scissors meant to cut up herbs is a quick way to cut earthworms up.
Baby snakes need to eat more often than adult snakes, hence, the need to offer them food every other day.
If babies are kept together, often one baby gets the lion’s share of the food. It’s best to feed babies separately to make sure each one is getting enough food.
Place the baby in a small container with the food. Supervise to make sure the baby snake not only eats but does not crawl out of the container.
Baby snakes are even more prone to dying of dehydration than adults. Make sure to set aside plenty of water for them.
Tanks or enclosures either need to use semi-moist substrate or the use of a humidity hide. Misting water on the sides of the glass tank walls helps to keep the humidity up.
Sometimes, snakes seem to prefer drinking off of the walls than from their water bowls.
Getting an Anorexic Snake to Eat
When a snake goes off its food, it’s said to be anorexic. This is not a good sign.
Although ringnecks can go weeks without eating when hibernating, pet snakes do not need to hibernate since their temperature is usually warm.
When a snake is not eating, first check to see that the tank is warm enough at about 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
If the snake is housed with others, feed the snake separately, since the other snakes get the food first. Use tweezers to touch the food to the snake’s mouth.
This sometimes causes the snake to strike and then eat. If the snake keeps backing away from the tweezers, then it is too scared to eat.
Try using another kind of food. If using earthworms, try mealworms. Some ringneck snakes will eat tiny pieces of raw chicken or tilapia.
Pieces should be no larger than three-quarters of the snake’s head to make it easy to swallow. Snakes that have not eaten in three weeks should see a veterinarian.
Frequently Asked Questions About What Ringneck Snakes Eat
Are Mice Part of A Ringneck Snake’s Diet?
Ringneck snakes do not eat mice, since mice are too large for such small snakes. Pet ringnecks prefer earthworms and slugs. In the wild, they also eat newts, salamanders, small frogs, small lizards, and even baby snakes, although they usually do not eat baby ringneck snakes.
Do Ringneck Snakes Eat Each Other?
Although ringneck snakes have been known to eat baby snakes of other species, they do not eat their own kind. In the wild, they hibernate in colonies of up to 100 snakes. They can be safely kept together.
How Long Can Ringneck Snakes Go Without Eating Food?
Ringneck snakes in captivity usually feed every few days. They often will not eat when they shed. In the wild, ringnecks will hibernate and not eat at this time. If the snake has not eaten in three weeks, call a vet.
The Least You Need to Know
No matter the species, ringneck snakes eat a wide variety of critters in the wild, including newts, salamanders, small frogs, small toads, small lizards, and baby snakes. They sometimes eat fish.
Pet ringneck snakes usually just eat insects like earthworms. All food should be dusted with vitamin or calcium powder. Make sure clean water’s available always.