How To Feed Your Snake
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Feeding Your Snake
Frequently Asked Questions about Feeding a Pet Snake
One question that keeps coming up over and over again deals with feeding
your snake. How often should I feed it? What should I feed it? What if
it wonít eat? Can I feed it live prey?
So letís get started with the answering the questions.
First of all, snakes are carnivores Ė they eat meat and only meat. This
may seem obvious, but Iíve been asked about how to make a snake a
vegetarian before, and Iím sorry, but it canít be done Ė youíll starve
the poor thing if you try.
As far as size goes, you shouldnít feed your snake anything bigger than
the widest point of your snake. For example, a ball python isnít big
enough to eat a large rat. A full grown red tailed boa, however,
certainly is. Most snakes kept as pets will fall into the range of
eating mice or rats (pinky mice when young). Only the largest snakes
(Burmese pythons, anacondas, etc.) will need to be fed anything bigger
When it comes time to feeding your snake, hereís the procedure I
recommend. First, put together a cardboard box large enough for the
snake. Take your snake out of its enclosure and put the snake in the
box. The purpose of the cardboard box is to provide your snake with a
different hunting environment than its living habitat. This helps keep
the snake from striking at your hand when you put it in the cage. If
your snake typically hunts at night, darken the room. Now place the prey
in the box and wait until the snake is done eating. When the snake has
finished eating, remove it from the box and put it back in its habitat.
Try to handle the snake minimally when moving them back to their cage.
Too much handling of a snake that has just eaten can lead to
If you use live prey, make sure you donít leave the snake and prey
unattended. If the snake isnít eating, then you may need to remove the
prey so it doesnít injure the snake. Rats, for example, have a tendency
to start nibbling on the snake if left alive for too long by the snake.
Also, when using live prey, this is where you want to make sure your
snake is an effective hunter. The rat (or appropriate sized prey) may
start clawing and biting the snake if the animalís head and feed arenít
under control of the snake. Most people who raise snakes do recommend
feeding pre-killed prey since there is always a risk of injury to the
snake when feeding live prey. If you have a snake that will eat the
pre-killed prey, then Iíd recommend you do the same.
Once in a while you may encounter a snake that just wonít eat. There are
a variety of reasons for this, and not all of them are bad, so Iíll
cover them just in case it happens to you. Most of the time, however,
your snake will always want to eat.
The typical feeding schedule for a snake tends to fall between once a
week to three weeks with the most common being from 10-14 days. Feeding
your snake too frequently can lead to obesity in snakes, so make sure
you learn about your specific snake and find out how often it should be
One reason a snake might refuse to eat is that it might be about ready
to shed. Snakes typically donít eat during this time. Even if itís time
for your snake to be fed, wait until the snake has shed until you feed
it. (Also, you should not handle you snake during its preparation to
Another reason is that its current environment might not be appropriate
for your snake. The most common environment problem is humidity. It
happens with a lot of snakes from tropical regions that snake owners
donít provide adequate humidity levels for their snakes. Also, you snake
could be too cold. Snakes are cold blooded and depend on their
environment for heat, so again, make sure you know what the temperature
range for your snake should be and keep itís habitat in that range.
Also, know what time of day your snake prefers to eat. Many snakes are
nocturnal, so theyíll be most likely to eat at night. If youíre feeding
your snake in the middle of the day, and itís refusing to eat, then try
feeding the snake later in the evening.
Finally, if you just canít get your snake to eat, and youíve made sure
itís environment is appropriate, and that youíre feeding at an
appropriate time, then you may need to take your snake to the vet.