Skip to Content

Snake Feeding

Some Tips On Feeding Snakes

The best way to go about feeding snakes is one of the more common questions that new or inexperienced snake owners have. Besides feeding snakes carefully, always a good idea to avoid being bitten, one should know what a given species of snake prefers in the way of food.

Many of the small snakes we see around the garden or yard are insect eaters, and if the snake in question is a garter snake, insects would be the obvious food of choice. Larger snakes typically eat larger things, with rodents being the food of choice for most. In fact, when in doubt, feeding baby mice, sometimes referred to as pinky mice, to a young snake or even an older one, may be just the thing.

As snakes grow larger they tend to go after larger prey. While feeding snakes, mice may work just fine for many snakes as long as they live, snakes that grow to be quite large will usually require larger food times such as rats, or even rabbits.

Fortunately, feeding snakes on a daily business is rarely a requirement unless one has a large number of snakes in captivity. Most pet snake owners are more than satisfied with having a single snake, and feeding can vary from several times a week to once every several weeks. When feeding snakes, the frequency an amount of feeding can sometimes vary appreciably. A snake which eats on a regular basis may sometimes stop eating for what appears to be an excessively long time, yet as long as the snake appears to be healthy there is usually nothing wrong. It’s the way of the snake.

Three Things Worth Knowing – There are three things that are very important to know when feeding snakes. One is, the food does not necessarily have to be fresh. To make life a little easier, many pet snake owners purchase frozen snake food, usually frozen rats or mice, thawing one of the little critters out before giving it to the snake. Some snake experts are even convinced that snakes appear to prefer food that has been frozen and thawed over fresh or even live food. Only the snake knows why this is true. The second thing worth knowing is that snakes greatly prefer whole food, which is to say an entire mouse or rat as opposed to chunks of meat. When feeding snakes chunks of meet rather than whole food, the health of the snakes can become imperiled over time. As far as the size of the food is concerned, the rule of thumb is to not feed the snake anything larger than the width of its body at the widest point. The final point is that all snakes are carnivores. You can try to feed a snake a vegetable, but the snake won’t eat it, and if you try to force feed a snake a vegetable you’ll only succeed in creating a very sick snake. Snakes and vegetables don’t mix.

Force Feeding And Environmental Changes – Sometimes feeding snakes can be done on a regular basis, at other times they eat when they feel like it, which may not be at regular intervals at all. Snake owners naturally get nervous when their pet won’t eat. The rule of thumb here is if the snake looks and acts healthy it probably is, and its lack of food intake is likely not a problem. If a snake appears sickly or to be losing weight rapidly, force feeding may be necessary. Force feeding a healthy snake is not a good idea as it can stress the snake, making it ill. Also, the snake’s environment often has a great deal to do with its eating habits. Changes in the environment may cause a snake to stop eating for a time, even a change in seasons.

Fat Snakes – Finally, most issues regarding feeding snakes center around the snake not eating, or not eating enough. It should be mentioned that a pet owner can be a little too good to a snake that eats well, with the result that the snake may become obese, with skin appearing between the scales a good sign this is happening. An obese snake can eventually become an unhealthy snake.

Related Resources: