Snakes are long and limbless reptiles of the carnivorous species that are covered in scales, many snake species have several more joints in their skulls as compared to their lizard predecessors, which enables them to swallow prey that is actually much larger than their heads.
Differences between the diets of most popular baby pet snakes:
Corn snakes are one of the most popular breeds of snakes to be kept as domesticated pets. Their ease of care and relatively docile dispositions, along with beautiful bright colors on their skin makes them extremely liked.
In addition, their size is accurate with them not being too small or large which makes them easy to handle by an adult and also not too big that a child is scared of them.
The staple food of a corn snake is a regular-sized rodent. Baby corn snakes also sometimes consume lizards and frogs, while adult corn snakes are also known to eat birds and their eggs. Some people also offer crickets to them, but unfortunately, corn snakes do not recognize them as food.
They eat their prey by striking on it and subsequently squeezing it. Using feeding forceps to feed the snake is a good idea since they may snap at their prey at the time, which may injure you.
Corn snakes also relish quail eggs, but they should only be fed to the snake once every few weeks.
Corn snakes who are just born only are able to eat newborn mice, but as they grow up, they do need a big and fat mouse as their meal.
Baby snakes are supposed to be fed once in every five to seven days whilst adult ones are to be fed once every seven to ten days.
For drinking purposes, one must make sure that their corn snake has access to fresh water at all times. Remember to put a small water bowl at the corner of the cage so that the snake can easily locate it when it cruises the periphery of the cage during night time.
California kingsnakes are a very common breed of ‘keep at home’ snakes and can be purchased from pet shops, reptile stores, etc.
When in the wilderness, this kind of snakes will have anything or everything which is small enough to be swallowed whole, even rattlesnakes.
On the other hand, when these snakes are domesticated and kept at home, they should be fed mice and rodents which are readily available in the vicinity.
Since alive adult mice can injure a California kingsnake, it is always advisable to kill the mouse and give it fresh to the snake. Even the mice that are frozen and thawed for later use, are a good option for these as prey.
Like the corn snakes, they constrict (suffocate or squeeze) their prey before eating it. Their diet also includes venomous rattlesnakes, which they are naturally resistant towards.
Still, it is advisable that if a rattlesnake is fed to them, the portion is small since, even though there is resistance to venom, complete immunity is not present.
When a mouse or rodent is fed to the snake, there is a visible lump in the snake’s throat, which is a sign that the food is being swallowed and digested.
If the snake is not familiar with you, do not try to poke it until the lump is fully swallowed and digested.
You will be able to make this out once the lump has reduced to the diameter of the snake’s stomach. For feeds, it is advisable to feed the snake once, every week, which will keep the snake healthy.
If you choose to feed the snake twice or more times a week (only if it eats readily), it could get much bigger in very less time.
Once the kingsnake is of full size, i.e. an adult, make sure to have proper gaps between feeds to avoid obesity and major health risks.
Reducing the quantity and the gap period between feeds is recommended as the snake grows up more.
A clean bowl is a must for this breed of snakes. Hence, you must not keep pouring fresh water in the same used bowl.
Clean the bowl every couple of days to maintain hygiene for the snake.
The bowl should be deep enough and should be filled half with water so that the snake can soak itself in it, when required and also so that the water does not overflow during the soak.
If the weather is humid and moist, and it can be seen inside the cage in the form of perspiration, remove the water bowl from the cage and only keep it inside for a few hours every day.
A size which can be easily managed, a disposition that is docile and easy to handle are all character traits of the Rosy Boa. With the correct type and quantity of food supplies, it is very easy to keep a Rosy Boa is optimal health and wellness.
These are the reasons why this breed of snake thrives as a domesticated pet and very easy to take care of and handle.
Rosy boas are attractive snakes that consist of various colors and unique skin patterns, making them aesthetic to the viewer’s eye. According to the food the snake gets, it can range from 10 inches to approximately 4 feet, as they mature.
As most reptilians do, the Rosy Boa also survives in similar foods like mice, rodents and sometimes, rattlesnakes. This is the staple diet for them and consume these for all of their lives.
A newborn rosy boa generally starts feeding on little mice. This is when the snake is seven days old or less.
On the other hand, adult rosy boas feast on small-sized adult mice. Remember not to lift or handle the rosy boa right after it has eaten otherwise, it may vomit its meal.
It is recommended to feed your rosy boa two to maximum four times a month during summer, spring and autumn.
During the period of its hibernation, in winter, do not feed it. It happens sometimes that the rosy boa does not like to eat and does not accept the feed readily, for which it is advisable to warm the snake and feed it.
Rosy Boas do not require a constant supply of water and if they are being fed regularly, providing them water for a day in a month, is sufficient. Rosy boas tend to puke their meal if given water right after it.
Thus the general protocol that is followed is, to give them water on Day 1, followed by a wait of a day on Day 2 and a feed on Day 3.
This ensures maximum nutrition and zero regurgitation.
For newborn rosy boa snakes, a plastic cup of 30 ml can be placed inside the cage so that there is no spill of water and there is enough water for nutritional purposes.
For newborn rosy boas, it is more than sufficient if there is water available to them for one day, every three weeks.
Gopher snakes are very agile and that is one reason why their dietary needs are different and not restricted to only one kind of species.
They are adept at climbing and swimming and thus, consume their prey from the trees they climb or from the waters they swim in.
Some of the common preys for gopher snakes are birds, mammals (small ones in size) like rabbits, kangaroos and ground squirrels, smaller snakes like rattlesnakes, lizards, etc. They can also eat the eggs of some birds and lizards by constricting them.
If the gophers are around moist areas or wetlands, they can also eat frogs and tadpoles.
With such a wide array of diet, they usually have a lot of variety to eat and huge availability, but despite that, they are very much capable of going on without food for a long period of time and this does not slow them down in any way.
Pacific gopher snakes are usually not domesticated and are only found in the wilderness. You will see them hunt for their prey in the daytime, during most months of the year, except for the hot summer months.
During the summer months, they are found to be more active during and post dusk time. Mostly, gophers will be found where their food is available on the ground or under the ground or bushes and trees.
Only if there is unavailability of food in these areas, does the gopher snake switch methods by climbing on trees and devouring on eggs of birds.
As mentioned above, these snakes are constrictors, but nonvenomous ones, which means that they either squeeze or suffocate the prey or they press the prey to the walls of the burrow, underground, where they are found.
A weekly meal is more than enough for a ball python and a regular-sized rodent is a lavish meal for this breed of reptiles.
Young ball pythons are easily able to consume rats that are equivalent to the size of the snake’s circumference. Lifting or handling this breed for a minimum of one day after its meal can prove negative since the snake might puke if there is too much contact after a meal.
Ball pythons do not require freshly killed rodents or mice as their meal and are easily adaptable to frozen and thawed rodents.
Make sure not to leave a living rat with a snake unattended as the former can badly injure the latter, sometimes leading in fatality.
Winter is generally a hibernation period for most ball pythons. They do not prefer eating during the winter months.
At this point in time, it is important to recognize those periods as non-feeding time periods and not to force the snake to consume meals which may, in the end, just lead to regurgitation.
Keep in sight the snake and keep note of its body weight and peripheral health condition to make sure that the food prerequisites are being met for the healthy survival of the snake.
This can be of a slight inconvenience to the snake keeper, but there is nothing to worry about.
If the snake seems healthy enough, do not force down prey during the fag end of the hibernation period as it will lead to nothing but resistance and probably a strike at you.
During the relative end of this period, feed the ball python some food, once every 10 to 14 days until the desire to eat more comes in the snake. The snake is bound to regulate its eating habits naturally, after a few weeks.
Feeding younger snakes weekly is a good idea while feeding the adult ones every 1.5 to 2 weeks is required for them to remain active, energetic and agile.
There is nothing to be scared if your snake goes off feeds during the drier and cooler phases of the year.
This is a common feature when this breed of snake is domesticated. When these snakes shed skin, it is common for them to not eat.
Make sure there is fresh clean water in a clean bowl for ball pythons and do check water quantity daily. Since ball pythons do like to soak themselves in water from time to time, it is advisable to have a bowl as big as required for the snake to fit in, with half-filled water.
Snakes also usually defecate in their water bowls, so remember to clean them daily and make sure that an alternate one is available at all times.
Best and Worst Foods
Different breeds of snakes will inevitably eat different things and there is no such food or prey that has a ‘one size fits all’ kind of mantra to it.
Since snakes have different habitats and different shapes and sizes, the size and type of prey also differs accordingly.
Some snakes eat only the eggs of birds and squirrels and they are able to survive on this (only) because of a special kind of mutation in their vertebrae, allowing them to break the egg inside their digestive systems after swallowing it as a whole.
These kinds of snakes finally spit out the eggshell.
For a regular snake, a healthy diet may be, rodents, mice, eggs, rabbits, frogs, other rattlesnakes, etc.
Some snakes also relish the taste of fish, worms, termites, bats, etc. These are mostly those snakes that are able to eat anything which is either small in size and is comfortably able to be it in their mouths.
It is important to remember that plant materials are never a good idea to be fed to snakes since their teeth are not designed in a way that will consume plant material. Feeding plant-based foods can lead to the ill health of the snake and constant regurgitation.
If your snake goes without eating for more than a month, it is critical to consult a veterinarian.
How much to feed them?
Snakes are never vegetarian, but diet can be different pertaining to the species it is.
Some snakes will only consume prey that is warm-blooded like rodents, birds, and rabbits, while others eat eggs, other reptiles, insects, frogs, etc.
Since a regular-sized prey may have different definitions for different snakes, the most generalized way of feeding is giving your snake one moderately sized rat as a meal. This is a complete meal in itself and provides holistic nutritional value to the snake.
Younger snakes are usually supposed to be fed newborn mice or small rattlesnakes since they are the appropriate size for a small snake. Growing the size of the prey along with the size of your snake is the adopted method to keep your snake healthy.
As for the water consumption of a snake, you need to realize that it will not be often that the snake drinks water.
Regularly, snakes only drink water once a week and that too goes down during the periods of hibernation. But notwithstanding that fact, it is important to clean the bowls of the snakes daily since they will not drink dirty from or from a dirty bowl.
How to feed snakes?
Feeding a snake is a process that can prove tedious for first-timers. There are various steps that need to be followed chronologically in order to feed your pet snake, effectively. These steps are as follows:
- Make sure that the prey is warm. If it is freshly killed, warmth will not be an issue, but if the prey is frozen and thawed, make sure that it has warmed up to room temperature before you give it to your snake. Warming the prey also enhances the scent of the prey which seems more delicious to the snake.
- Use feeding forceps to feed the snake for minimum inconvenience. Sometimes, the snake may strike you or snap at you, which can cause injury. Thus, it is advisable to use feeding forceps so that the snake can attack the prey at its own pace without hurting you.
- An unusual color of prey will always be something the snake is attracted to. You are lucky if you found a prey with a unique color, otherwise, it is not a bad idea to use some food coloring.
- Cutting open the prey before presenting to the snake is a great way of making sure complete digestion and the option to eat how much ever the snake wants to.
- Use an enclosure to feed the snake. Put the prey inside the cage of the reptile to let it eat at its own speed.
How to tell if a Snake is Overfed?
If your snake is overfed, it is but natural that regurgitation of previous food will occur without consuming anything new.
You may notice that the snake has kept its mouth open and its tail is twitching in case it has been overfed since the two mentioned symptoms are that of the inability to breathe.
The trick here is to understand the feeding requirements of your breed of snakes and not assume when it must hungry and give it another prey for the mere sake of it. Sometimes, giving a big rodent to the prey also may lead to overfeeding, thus cutting the prey into pieces is best.
How to tell if a Snake is Underfed?
Generally, a snake is considered underfed when you can see its backbone very distinctly.
Also, when the scales of the snake dry up and are rough to touch, the nutritional level of the snake is considered to have dramatically gone down.
If you feed your snake with the irregular size of meals, malnutrition can occur since there is no uniformity in the meals.
Dry and thin feces is another pointer at an underfed snake, especially if it is not relative to the meals it has been having.
When to start feeding snakes adult food?
There is no secret to feed your snake adult food and mostly it all just depends on its growth and breed of the snake.
Generally, when you give your baby snake a small rat or a rattlesnake as a feed, you will notice it growing in size. When there is a slight but noticeable difference in the length of the snake, that is the correct time, to increase the portion size of the prey or giving a supplementary item.
It is only dependent on the size of the snake, that the size and quantity of the prey should be decided. Except for this sure shot method of knowing, there is no way of knowing that at this point, the snake requires adult food or not, in a nutshell, all the dietary requirements for snakes are largely dependent upon the size and the habitat of the snake.
When the snake is on an off-feed season during hibernation, its size obviously remains the same, but the quantity of feed is either reduced or completely stopped, but this doesn’t mean that the snake will not come back to its regular feeding habits.
Hence, whenever you are feeding your snake and contemplating about the quantity of the prey, you must know that it depends on your breed of the snake itself.
Want to know more about snakes? Check out our further guides here.