What Do Snakes Eat? Their 6 Favorite Foods

What do snakes eat and what to feed your pet snake? Read our article to know the answer.
Phyllis McMahon
Phyllis McMahon
Research Writer
Phyllis teaches English Literature at a local college and loves writing in her free time. She’s also a great cook – her British beef Wellington is something the best res read more
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Chas Kempf
Chas Kempf
Expert Consultant
Chas works in a professional pest control company and knows all the nuances of this job. Also, he’s a fantastic tennis player and loves to organize BBQ parties for his fam read more
Last updated: September 11, 2023
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If you’ve ever seen snakes on television, you might think that they spend most of their time looking for mice to eat. Although some snakes eat mice, that isn’t all you can find in their diet. With that in mind, the question now is “what do snakes eat?”

You’ll need to learn the diet and habits of a snake if you want to keep one as a pet. Or, you might be noticing snakes like garter snakes coming into your backyard, and you can get rid of them by cutting off food sources.

Our guide will cover what snakes like to eat to help you in caring for your pet or keeping wild snakes away!

Snake Habits and Biology

Snakes are probably one of the most misunderstood animals by people. This doesn’t mean that they are not dangerous; it just means they are also fascinating, intelligent, and diverse.

There are over 4,000 unique species of snakes, and new ones are discovered at any time.

Snakes are carnivores, so when wondering, “What do snakes eat?” You know it’s going to be other animals. They use many methods to capture and eat their prey, from swallowing them whole to constricting them with their venom. Despite having no legs, snakes are impressive hunters.

In the wild, snakes eat anything they can catch by wrapping their bodies around the prey to kill it or swallowing it at once. These animals have a mind-blowing ability to open their mouths up to 150 degrees Trusted Source What's The Biggest Animal That a Snake Can Swallow? | Live Science A complex network of skull bones, ligaments and muscles allows a snake to swallow prey with bodies much larger than the sinuous predator’s own head. www.livescience.com and can fit food larger than their bodies, although this also means it’ll take some time to digest.

Small snakes mostly eat worms and insects, but larger snakes need even bigger prey.

Some large snakes can even eat deer and other larger animals.

However, they will prefer to eat squirrels, rats, and rabbits. If you’re raising a pet snake, it’s always best to get commercially purchased captive-bred mice, insects, and rats like those in the MiceDirect.

Many snakes are great for pets; others will help control the pest population, especially mice and rats. And if you are wondering how to get rid of snakes in your yard, the Victor VP364B Repellent can be an excellent choice. With that in mind, let’s answer the question of what snakes eat.

6 Foods in Snake Diet

All species of snakes are completely carnivorous, and none of them will eat leaves or vegetables. Their bodies have short digestive tracts, and the fact that they swallow their prey without chewing makes them more suitable for eating small prey animals. Most snakes eat once every few weeks since their meals break down slowly. Here are the main foods that snakes eat.

  1. Insects

If you’re wondering, what corn snakes eat, insects will be at the top of the list. Small species of snakes like garter snakes and milk snakes will also eat insects, while larger snakes like boa constrictors require larger foods with more protein. While insects can reduce the hunger of your snake, they shouldn’t be their primary food source.

Some of the insects that snakes eat include spiders, moths, caterpillars, crickets, and beetle larvae. You can also go for mealworms, cockroaches, and grasshoppers.

As a result, insects are a great supplement to the snake diet.

  1. Small rodents

Small rodents are also the main part of the snake diet. If you’re analyzing what garter snakes eat, you’ll see that you can feed the adult snake mice once a week, and it will be healthy. At the same time, mice are also ideal for pythons. They also eat rats, hamsters, and gerbils as pets or in the wild.

The rodents you feed your snake can be live and freshly caught, although it’s better to go for frozen mice that are commercially sold for pet snakes like the Strive Frozen Mice. Mice and other small rodents are not only inexpensive but are also nutritious, making them ideal for snakes.

  1. Snakes and Lizards

Another part of the snake’s diet is lizards, which can be digested easily. The more difficult a lizard is to digest, the fewer chances it has of being eaten by a snake. Also, if a snake sees a warm-blooded animal, it will prefer it over the lizard. Since only two lizards are poisonous Trusted Source Poisonous Lizards myhealth.alberta.ca out of the 3,000 species, these are usually safe for snakes.

Also, lizards are small animals and are easy to kill. There are usually a lot of lizards since they breed in large numbers. When looking at “what do garden snakes eat”, you’ll find that lizards are one of them since they are usually found in the yard.

  1. Eggs

Many snakes will eat eggs if they have the chance, the same way they eat lizards, rodents, and birds.

Remember that eggs can harm some types of snakes, so check before feeding your pet snake eggs.

At the same time, some snakes only depend on eggs in their diet. Some examples are rattlesnakes, corn snakes, rough earth snakes, and other snakes with ‘egg-eaters’ in their name. They usually opt for the eggs of reptiles and birds.

  1. Birds and fish

Snakes eat birds, although, in the wild, this is mostly an opportunistic kill. If they can capture the bird, they will eat it. Snakes also eat small mammals like frogs, fish, and toads. When thinking of “what do corn snakes eat”, know that these animals are common bird predators.

Snakes will eat birds that they find in nests or might go for those that don’t fly. Most snakes eat fish, too, not only sea snakes, as there are snakes in every classification that will enjoy eating fish.

  1. Larger mammals

If you have a larger snake, you can be sure they eat larger mammals. The bigger the snake is, the bigger its prey, as the reticulated python and green anaconda have been recorded to eat pigs and deer. With larger snakes as your pet, you can feed them reptiles, rabbits, squirrels, and smaller snakes. Since large snakes take a while to digest food and are slow-moving, some are suitable as pets with no problem with snake bites Trusted Source Snake Bites: Types, Symptoms, and Treatments A bite from a venomous snake should always be treated as a medical emergency. Even a bite from a harmless snake can lead to an allergic reaction or infection. www.healthline.com . However, bites from wild snakes can be fatal, so it is a good idea to protect yourself with the best snake gaiters.

What to Feed a Snake

What Do Snakes Eat? Their 6 Favorite Foods
What a snake eats usually depends on its size, age and specie, so you should carry out specific research for the snake you have.

When looking at “what do baby snakes eat?”, they eat the same as their parents, but you’ll have to consider the size of their mouths. Baby snakes usually eat tiny insects and small creatures.

You also have to consider the specie because if you ask “what do milk snakes eat”, you will see that they mostly go for small mice, birds and their eggs, and slugs. On the other hand, some snakes might be harmed when they eat eggs. Another example is when you ask, “What do hognose snakes eat?” Hognose snakes mostly go for mice, frogs, lizards, birds, and reptile eggs.


What do king snakes eat?

King snakes mostly eat other kinds of snakes, including rattlesnakes! They will also consume mice, rats, turtles, frogs, birds, turtle eggs, bird eggs, and rodents.

What do ringneck snakes eat?

Ringneck snakes go for smaller animals like salamanders, slugs, and earthworms. They can also eat small lizards, frogs, and juvenile snakes.

What do black snakes eat?

Black snakes will eat rodents, frogs, birds, and bird eggs. They can climb vertical surfaces to get their meal and will constrict their prey.

Final Thoughts

Now you know the answer to the question, “what do snakes eat?” You know how to care for your new pet and what food wild snakes can find attractive in your yard. Consider different factors and research the species of snake you are dealing with so that they don’t fall sick. Snakes usually eat every five to fourteen days, depending on what they are fed and their species.


A complex network of skull bones, ligaments and muscles allows a snake to swallow prey with bodies much larger than the sinuous predator’s own head.
Poisonous Lizards
Snake Bites: Types, Symptoms, and Treatments
A bite from a venomous snake should always be treated as a medical emergency. Even a bite from a harmless snake can lead to an allergic reaction or infection.
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