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Pet Snakes provides easy to understand, practical information and facts to help the new snake owner take care of their animals. At Pet Snakes we want to provide information that will help you enjoy your reptile more than ever.

Feeding your pet snake


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, pre-killed, or frozen/thawed?
There are three options when it comes to feeding a pet snake. The following section discusses each one of those.

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.

Frozen/Thawed
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

How much to feed
I’ve made a separate guide that will help you determine how much to feed and what size food to feed

How often should you feed a snake?
This goes hand in hand with “how much”, but it is better addressed separately. The average snake, being a young adult, is usually fed once every 1 to 1.5 weeks. I know that’s a blanket statement, but that seems to be the average. As you learn your snake’s body langauge you’ll start to learn how often it should be fed.
  • ARA ROSELLE

    WHAT SNAKES EAT

  • brian

    I thawed my pinky (baby mouse) and it has white spots all over it is it okay to give it to the snake?

  • PetSnakes

    Brian,

    I’d toss it out. Sounds like freezer burn.

  • Mellony OBrien

    It would seem that my son’s baby ball python has it’s meal stuck in it’s throat and may be regurgitating it. I am not sure what to do with him. Should I just leave him alone or does this need medical intervention? We have fed him before and for some reason he went after this one tail first and not head first. If he is regurgitating the meal, how long does this process usually take?

  • edward trutt

    what if a snake is bitten by another snake?

  • PetSnakes

    @Edward Trutt – Can you give more detail about a snake being bitten by another snake? Did it happen at feeding time? Is one snake trying to prey on another (king snake eating a rattlesnake for example).

  • Jessica Wells

    How do you know when your snake is ready for bigger food?

  • http://pet-snakes.com Pet Snakes
  • Carol

    my boyfriend has a tiger python, 7 feet long, it ate a rabbit last April 2010, and the snake still hasn’t digested its meal. Boyfriend has put it in a large tank of warm water, and let it stretch out for awhile out of its tank. Still the bulge remains in the snakes body, we are concerned and I ask for any suggestions any one can give me please.
    cheers

    Carol

    from
    Melbourne, Australia

  • Eric bow

    what kind of food do snakes eat.                       

  • Ericbowie

    how often do snakes need to eat 

  • Ericbowie

    how often do snakes need to eat 

  • Tomjohn

    feed it once every1 to 1.5 weeks
     

  • Tomjohn

    feed it once every1 to 1.5 weeks
     

  • http://pet-snakes.com Pet Snakes

     Depends on the snake. Some need to eat every week or two and others can go a lot longer. If it’s not eating but maintaining weight things should be fine. If it’s losing weight something is wrong. Just be sure to offer food every week or two

  • http://pet-snakes.com Pet Snakes

     All popular pet snakes eat meat in the form of whole animals (rodents, chicken, guinea pigs, rabbits, etc)

  • Amber

    what do you do if when you feed your snake it befriends the meal and won’t let you take it out of the tank even if its dead ? it happens a lot even if the meal is dead! he won’t eat anything and he won’t let me take it out and when i try to he try’s to bite me. is this a bad thing?and if you had any suggestions on what to do it would be a big help.

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  • Sommersamuels

    hello how would i know when my snake is easy

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