There are around 2,500 distinct snake species in existence. Some of these species, like king snakes, rat snakes, garter snakes, corn snakes, various types of pythons, and various boa constrictors are commonly chosen as pets.
The majority of snakes available for purchase as pets are manageable and generally display non-aggressive behaviour. While certain snake species might possess an inherent aggressive demeanour, however, these types are infrequently found in the general pet trade and are therefore not commonly found in pet stores.
What Are Snakes Dietary Preferences?
Snakes exhibit carnivorous behaviour, with their eating habits varying according to their species.
Certain snakes consume warm-blooded creatures such as rodents, rabbits, and birds, while others opt for insects, amphibians, fellow reptiles, fish, earthworms, or slugs. These creatures are ingested whole by snakes.
Popular pet snakes are commonly fed on prey like mice, rats, gerbils, and hamsters, with larger ones even consuming entire rabbits. Check out our shop to view our reptile range!
The Importance of Nutrition for Snakes
Given the practice of consuming whole prey, snake owners have the advantage of providing nutritionally complete diets, which helps prevent the occurrence of many diet-related illnesses that can affect other reptiles.
A balanced diet for a snake comprises whole prey like mice and rats. However, some individuals might have reservations about providing whole prey to reptiles.
If the idea of feeding rodents to your snake makes you uncomfortable, despite the availability of commercially prepared, pre-killed, and frozen options, owning a snake might not be suitable for you.
Avoiding Live Prey for Snakes
Feeding live prey to snakes is discouraged due to the negative impacts it can have. Live prey animals experience stress while being pursued by the snake, and they might also pose a danger to the snake by biting it before being consumed.
Even a small mouse can inflict a severe and potentially life-threatening infection through its bite. It is advisable to transition snakes to consuming dead prey, as this is both more humane for the prey and safer for the snake.
Snakes can be offered to thawed frozen prey or freshly killed prey. There is no need to personally dispatch the prey, as pet stores typically provide freshly killed or frozen rodents for feeding.
How Frequently Should Snakes Be Fed?
The feeding schedule for your snake depends on factors like its age, size, and activity level.
Young or small snakes usually eat twice a week, while larger and more mature ones typically eat once a week or every two weeks. Female snakes nearing their breeding season might require more frequent feeding.
Your snake’s appetite will guide you in determining the appropriate frequency. If it consumes the offered food, it is hungry and in need of nourishment. If it doesn’t eat immediately, it likely wasn’t hungry and didn’t require feeding at that time.
Addressing Appetite Issues
There are various reasons why a pet snake might refuse to eat.
These range from mild causes like stress due to a new environment, noise, lack of privacy, inappropriate temperature, shedding, or breeding season-related anorexia, to more serious factors such as illness, cancer, kidney problems, or parasites.
A thorough examination by a veterinarian, including relevant laboratory tests, can help identify the underlying cause of decreased appetite in your snake.
Vitamins and Hydration
In general, providing vitamins to snakes isn’t necessary.
However, since a snake’s health is influenced by its diet, it’s important to ensure that the prey it consumes is healthy and well-nourished.
Some snake owners, particularly collectors, choose to raise their own rodents to ensure the quality of the food they provide.
Hydration is crucial for snakes.
Offer a sizeable, sturdy water dish filled with clean water at all times. This not only allows the snake to drink but also helps maintain the required humidity levels for proper shedding. Some snakes may also soak in the water dish occasionally, so it should be spacious enough to accommodate that behaviour.
As snakes might eliminate waste in their water bowl, it’s essential to change the water frequently, and clean and disinfect the dish daily.