Most people know that snakes eat mice. Yes, it's true, snakes do eat mice, but not a lot of people know all the other things they eat, too. And the fact that all snakes are meat-eaters.
So what do snakes eat? Here are some things you should know.
What do Snakes Eat?
Snakes are meat-eaters. All snakes are carnivorous so there's no such thing as a vegetarian snake. They eat a variety of mice, rodents, chicken, birds. eggs. insects. and big snakes can even eat a human being. Oh, and yeah, they eat other snakes, too.
The kind of food snakes eat depends on a number of factors. One of these is the size of the snake, so the smaller the snake the smaller the food that it eats; and the larger the snake the larger the food that it eats.
A snake's habitat is also a major factor in determining its food consumption since they eat what's available in their surroundings.
Another factor is the snake's anatomy. Take for example the egg-eating snakes that feed only on eggs. These snakes have special spines lined down their digestive system that break the egg shells after they've swallowed them whole, then digest what's inside the eggs, and spit out the eggshells.
Different Snakes and the Food They Eat
There are over 3000 species of snakes and the food they eat vary from each other. Here are the more common snakes and what they eat:
1. The Garter Snake
The garter snakes are some of the most common in the United States. They're non venomous and they're usually found in forests, marshlands, meadows, and even in people's yards. Their typical diet consists of earthworms, toads, salamanders, and even mice. And since they like to live near water, they occasionally eat fish and frogs, as well.
2. Easter Indigo Snake
The Easter Indigo Snake has a generalist diet. It eats whatever it can find, whether it's a mouse, bird, frogs, and even rattlesnakes. It can basically eat anything as long as it fits in its mouth.
3. Corn Snakes
The Corn Snake is called such because it's mostly found in cornfields. It's also known as chicken snake as it can eat an entire chicken whole. They're nocturnal, which means they hunt at night, and can be found in the southern parts of the United States. Its unusual skill, which is uncommon among snakes found in the US, is that it has the ability to climb trees.
The corn snake can grow between 3 to 6 feet and eats its prey by constricting and coiling around its catch before swallowing. Corn snakes eat small birds, rodents, and chicken.
4. The Thread Snake
The Thread Snake is the smallest snake on earth, which measures about only 10cm. Its diet mostly consists of centipedes. pupae, and ants.
5. Pythons and Anacondas
How do Snakes Eat?
There are two ways a snake kills their prey. One is the use of a deadly venom, while the other is by constricting and coiling their prey.
Of over 3000 species of snakes, about 600 are venomous. These snakes have fangs and when they bite their prey, the venom is released through their hollow teeth. The venom contains hemotoxins that paralyzes the victim's nervous system, which causes heart and lung failure, or internal bleeding. Such snakes kill their prey before swallowing.
It can be mind-boggling as to how a snake can swallow a mammal as big as a deer when its mouth is small. Unlike most animals, the snake can unhinge its lower jaw to stretch its mouth, which is how it can swallow whole pigs or large mammals.
Many snakes have teeth but they don't use it to chew their food. Snakes' teeth are not made for chewing and are only used to hold down their prey.
What Can You Feed Your Pet Snake?
Snakes hunt for their prey and if they're left in the wild, they can easily feed themselves by what they can find around them.
But a lot of people do own pet snakes and if you're contemplating of having one, then you need to know the right food to feed them.
The best thing to do is do your research when it comes to what to feed your snake since as mentioned, different types of snakes eat different types of food.
If you have a pet snake, pre-killed prey is the most ideal food to feed your pet. These can easily be bought at pet stores. They're usually frozen and you'd have to thaw and warm them before feeding your pet snake.
One of the reasons why pre-killed prey is ideal for pet snakes in captivity is to prevent prey bites. Prey, such as mice and other rodents fight back and bite your snake, or they can even have parasites such as ticks and fleas that can harm your pet.
Also, some snakes, when born in captivity will not develop the skills to hunt, so they won't be able to eat if you feed them live prey. On the other hand, some snakes also prefer food that's moving, so knowing what to feed your pet snake depends on your research, as well as some little trial and error.
How Much Do Snakes Eat?
Typically, most snakes eat between 5 to 14 days. Larger snakes, on the other hand, can go without feeding for an entire month if they've fed on a large animal. Their digestion and metabolism are slow, so a large animal can give them the energy they need for longer periods of time. For example, a snake eats a deer: it's a large animal that contains bones. It would take the snake weeks or even a month to fully digest its meat and spit out the bones. Therefore, one feeding per month is enough for larger snakes. Sometimes, if the swallowed animal is too big, the snake will usually spit it out and hunt for another prey.
Compared to a mammal, a snake will only need 10% of what a mammal its size usually eats. Snakes do drink water but again, not as much as a mammal.