To ensure the health of your snake you will need to feed it the right food at the right time. In the wild their diet can vary greatly depending on what is available for them to eat. In captivity they are dependent on you for food and thier diet will only be as varied as you allow it to be. In this article we will explore several areas related to feeding snakes including:
- Type of food that snakes eat
- Where to get food
- Live vs Frozen/Thawed vs Pre-killed
- How much to feed
- How often to feed
- What do snakes eat?
- Snakes are obligated carnivores (like ferrets, and cats for example) and have to eat meat. Dietary needs for plant matter are met from the digestive tracks of their prey.
- Getting food for snakes
- Pet stores have feeder animals for a few dollars each. Several online retailers also specialize in frozen rodents for snakes, just look for them with your favorite search engine.
While ordering online is convient it might not always be the most practical. Sometimes finding a local source will suit your needs much better. If you buy locally or online keep the following in mind -
- Have a backup plan in case you need an alternate source
- Cleanliness and reliablity is important
- Cost of the food will vary
- Live food
- When using this method you “toss” the living animal in with the snake and let the snake do its thing. Live feeding is the easiest way to get a snake to eat.
Here’s a few safety tips when you feed live.
- Remove the prey
- Rats have been known to eat snakes alive if left alone with a snake. If the snake hasn’t killed and eaten the prey item within about 30 minutes remove it.
- Never leave it unattended
- You want to be aware if the prey has bitten the snake so don’t leave them alone even for a moment.
- Give it a home
- Be prepared to give the rodent a home if the snake doesn’t eat it. At least until the next feeding. You could also kill and freeze it in order to feed it later and in a bit we’ll talk about feeding frozen/thawed.
- Pre-kill the food
- Another method of feeding is to kill the animal just prior to feeding it to your snake. This eliminates the safety concerns mentioned above in regards to feeding live prey.
For a smaller animal like a mouse or rat pin its neck at the base of the skull using a spoon or something similar. Then lift sharply up on its back legs. This will break the animals neck. Because it is so fresh this is often a good way to switch your snake from live to frozen/thawed. If the snake won’t take it just wrap it up and freeze it. You can always use it later.
- First thaw the food. I prefer to let it sit in the snake room pre-scent it. Some people like to put it in warm water in a ziplock bag to speed up the process. Never use a microwave or any other method that could cook it.
When the food has thawed you can either present it to the snake using tongs or throw it into the snakes tank and leave it be. You might need to experiment with what works for you. My snakes take it either way but sometimes I don’t have the time to sit there with the tongs for 30 minutes while one of them decideds if she wants to eat or not.
Finally you can make your own Co2 chamber. These chambers are fairly simple to build as you can see by these plans I found on ball-pythons.net