When I got my first pet snake, I had a momentary worry when my local pet store ran out of baby mice to feed it. What was I going to feed Mr. Rattles?
I discovered that while all snakes are carnivores, and they do need to eat meat, they eat a range of tasty creatures other than mice.
If you’ve ever wondered what your pet snake eats, then read on; you are bound to be surprised.
What Do Snakes Eat?
Snakes eat anything that is meat or animal-based, depending on their species. Yet, other snake species may happily gorge on their own kind. Some snakes prefer birds, while others prefer rodents and small antelopes. What you feed your snake in captivity may also be somewhat different from what they would eat in nature.
Just What Do Snakes Eat
There is a range of animals and biological materials that snakes eat. Depending on their breed, your snake will have been uniquely adapted to eat a particular type of animal or eggs or fish or insects.
An egg-eating snake has been adapted by evolution to eat in a specific manner to allow them to swallow the egg, crush it by using the vertebrae in their neck and then spit out the crushed shells.
This is unique to that particular breed, and such a snake won’t eat a fish or a mouse, even if hungry, as this is not what they have been programmed to eat.
A snake’s diet is made up of whole food packages, meaning that most snakes will swallow and digest their prey. Their food is digested in their stomachs, and once they have no more need for the remains, these are regurgitated and spit out.
So depending on the breed of your pet snake, you may have to provide mealworms, crickets, mice, birds, or eggs to feed them. Luckily, most pet stores sell prey that have been specially raised, killed, and frozen for your convenience.
I was greatly relieved when I got my first snake and realized I didn’t have to kill a mouse or watch my snake slaughter a mouse for their meal.
This is also better for the snake as a snake can be seriously injured by a live cornered mouse that chooses to fight back. Much kinder is to provide the frozen and thawed mice your snake can snack on.
Snake Meals Per Breed or Size
Snakes can be roughly divided by the size of the snake and what they eat given their size. Small snakes are quite easily adapted to eating crickets, moths, worms, and larvae like mealworms.
For many snakes, small mice or even baby mice are the go-to sustenance to consume. If you need to, you can also feed other forms of rodents like rats and hamsters.
Some snake owners breed their own mice to feed to their snake, which ensures that a healthy and sustained population of mice are around.
Larger size snakes will happily eat rabbits, hares, birds, eggs, fish, baby chickens, and even larger chickens too.
Lizards and geckos are also fun meals for a snake, and your pet snake will happily consume lizards and other small mammals like bats and birds. Even snails and toads are fair game for some smaller to medium-sized snakes.
Much larger snakes will eat larger size prey like piglets, rabbits, gerbils, and hamsters. Rat, corn and fox snakes will predate a bird’s nest in the wild, so they happily eat chicks and eggs.
If you are keeping a pet snake of this breed, then you can easily feed them hatchlings that you can order online or through your local farming co-op.
Some more exotic snake species like the anaconda and constrictors will eat prey like fish, frogs, and larger mammals like pigs and larger chickens.
These snakes usually require a license to keep, and you would have to register your pet snake as well as inform the neighbors to keep their dogs and cats away from your snake tank as your snake will easily make a meal of them.
What Not to Feed Snakes
When you get a pet snake, find out what breed it is, and research what that breed eats. Forcing your pet snake to eat something that it isn’t suited to will possibly kill it.
Not all snakes eat mice, and not all will chomp up an egg. So, find it out, or you will soon have a sick or dead pet snake.
Other crazy things I’ve seen people feed snakes include milk and vegetables.
Your pet snake isn’t going to lap up a glass of milk and eat some mashed veggies with you, and even if your snake is curious and tries some; you are being irresponsible by offering things their digestion can’t handle.
Snakes are carnivores. They need to eat raw meat that has not been cooked or in any way altered.
At best, you can buy rodents that have been killed and frozen. Be sure to thaw these before serving though.
Frequently Asked Questions about What Snakes Eat
What do snakes eat naturally?
By nature, snakes are carnivores. They eat other animals and rely on different kinds of meat to survive. Whether that meat is from insects, rats, fish, or eggs is dependent on the snake’s particular species. Each kind of snake has evolved to eat a particular type of meat.
Do snakes eat their babies?
Most snakes aren’t designed to hunt and eat their own kind. Since the majority of snake breeds lay eggs, they won’t have the opportunity to interact with their own young, and they wouldn’t eat them. However, if you keep a snake in an enclosure with their own young, and they aren’t fed enough, they may resort to cannibalism.
The Last Meal
To know without a doubt that you are feeding your pet snake the right kind of meal, you should first find out exactly what kind of snake it is, and then research what that particular snake eats in nature.
Your research will also help you discover how often to feed your snake so you know when something is wrong and your snake is not eating.