How Often Do Snakes Eat? Understanding Snake's Snacking Habits

Ritwik Bhuyan
Dec 02, 2022 By Ritwik Bhuyan
Originally Published on Oct 13, 2021
Edited by Jade Scott
Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi
Blue viper venomous and poisonous snake.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.9 Min

Snakes as pets have always been fascinating regardless of which species you get for your home.

Before revealing how frequently snakes eat, we need to first know what your pet snakes actually consume in their diet. In the wild, snakes have been known to eat anything from alligators to sheep, however, owners can relax as pet snakes will settle for just mice and rats.

On the topic of what do pet snakes eat, some species might also typically eat guinea pigs, chicks, or rabbits when hungry. Some snakes may even add insects, smaller animals, frogs, earthworms, and birds to their diet.

However, as owners, it is imperative to feed your pet snake a pre-killed meal. Sometimes live prey is not killed right away by the snakes and it might bite the snake and injure it.

To eliminate this problem, go for frozen rats and mice which are easily available in most pet stores. Feeding quantity depends on the age, energy, and size of the snake species.

Owners should probably consult a vet to know the exact quantity of rodents to give their pet snake. A meal should be less than half of the diameter of the snake as this will help in the digestion of the food.

The reptiles also drink water, but not often. However, keeping a bowl of water in the enclosure or tank is generally a good idea as your pet can soak in it, and it will also help with controlling the humidity of the enclosure.

Snakes are usually known for eating food once a week and sometimes once every two weeks. Some snakes are known for not eating even for a longer period.

Younger snakes are known for feeding twice a week.

To know if your pet snake is hungry, you can look for signs such as climbing the sides of the enclosure or being more active than usual. You can also think about providing them with feedings after a fresh poop.

If you enjoyed this article, why not also find out the answers to when do snakes hibernate and why do snakes eat themselves here on Kidadl?

How often do snakes eat in the wild?

Whether it is a captive species or a species in the wild, all snakes have natural hunting instincts while feeding and owners need to maintain that while feeding a reptile.

To feed your snake in their tank is not that hard and snakes can easily do with frozen food such as a mouse, other rodents, or many other animals. These pet snakes wait for their feeding time while snakes in the wild know that they have to find their own prey and take whatever they can.

The time they can go without food is similar to pets as that is how their hunger is contained.

However, wild snakes mostly eat live prey that is brown in color. At first, your pet might reject the food you are providing if it's not brown.

The best thing you can do is start by feeding brown rodents. Ball pythons are similar in their behavior as ball pythons will eat insects, a mouse, and rats.

Wild snakes hunt by sensing the body heat or temperature of the prey, along with the movement. They don't do it every day, but only typically once in several weeks. To feed your snake frozen-thawed food after bringing it from captivity is going to take a lot of effort.

Snakes do not feed on anything before they shed as they practically become blind during the process. Adult and younger snakes alike all are known to live without feedings for a few days before their shedding time.

How often do snakes try to eat themselves?

Sometimes you will notice healthy snakes feeding on their own tail. This is not normal for them to eat themselves.

We know snakes are cold-blooded and are unable to maintain their body temperatures. This is the reason for the presence of a light source in their tank and the sun in the open.

However, if the temperature becomes too hot, the reptiles need some hiding spots to cool themselves as they can't sweat through their skin. Due to the warm temperatures, the body of the snake might get too hot which makes them disoriented.

This might make the snake try to consume itself. A snake might also frequently attack its own tail when shedding as it cannot see clearly to differentiate between prey and the body.

In this situation, try reducing the heat by pouring cold water or adjusting the intensity of the light. This might relieve the pressure from the stressed-out snake.

Boiga a yellow ringed snake.

Why do snakes not have to eat very often?

There can be various reasons for a snake not wanting to feed. The snake's mood, health, age (young or adult), shedding time, breeding season, and the quality of food can contributing factors if your pet is not interested in the prey.

Although young snakes should be eating twice a week to help their growth, older adult snakes can stay without being fed for longer periods of time. All snake species are cold-blooded and have a slow digestive prowess.

While eating, the snake's heat is not enough to heat the animal being eaten. Snakes need less food to stay alive than other animals anyway, and this is the reason a snake's diet can go longer periods without being fed any prey.

There can be other reasons for your snake not eating. The stress of being in an unknown location, lack of privacy, extra noise, higher or lower temperature, shedding period, breeding time, or pregnancy can be reasons why your snake does not want to be fed.

It can also be more serious reasons like cancer, parasites, and deadlier illnesses. It can also be simpler reasons like the wrong animal as prey or a dislike for thawed food.

How often should small snakes eat?

A smaller snake would eat twice a week and can be given its usual hunting prey like insects, slugs, mollusks, and worms.

Let us take the example of ball python snakes as pets. A ball python can be a great snake pet as it is small and needs less maintenance.

As an owner, you don't need to feed this snake every day. Having a diet of rats and mice, ball pythons eat their prey twice every week.

Some bigger ones can be fed once a week. However, as they grow in age, you can feed them more of their prey at one time and forget about feedings for two weeks at a stretch.

Do all snakes need to eat the same amount?

The feeding cycle and quantity depend on the size and species of the snake.

A smaller snake would need small-sized food frequently and bigger-sized ones need larger prey with a longer period of time in between feeds. Females snakes approaching breeding can be fed frequently to help their health during this time. If you find any problem with your snake's feeding system, visit a vet for further help.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for how often do snakes eat then why not take a look at why do snakes shed or Four Lined Snake Facts.

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Written by Ritwik Bhuyan

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English

Ritwik Bhuyan picture

Ritwik BhuyanBachelor of Arts specializing in English

A skilled content writer, Ritwik holds a Bachelor's degree in English from Delhi University. He has refined his writing abilities through his past experience at PenVelope and his current role at Kidadl. In addition to his proficiency in writing, Ritwik has pursued his passion for flying by achieving CPL training and becoming a licensed commercial pilot. This diverse skill set highlights his commitment to exploring multiple fields. Ritwik's experience in the aviation industry has provided him with a unique perspective and attention to detail, which he brings to his writing.

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Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi

Postgraduate Diploma in Management

Sakshi Raturi picture

Sakshi RaturiPostgraduate Diploma in Management

Sakshi has experience in marketing strategy, social media planning, and recruiting industry experts for capstone projects, she has displayed a commitment to enhancing their skills and knowledge. She has won multiple awards, including a Certificate of Appreciation for Creative Writing and a Certificate of Merit for Immaculate Turut, and is always seeking new opportunities to grow and develop.

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