Snakes are carnivores and eat only meat -- and they will eat almost anything that is smaller or even slightly bigger than them. Feeding your pet snake a variety of mice, rat pups, frogs, lizards, fish, day old chicks, and even worms would sufficiently sustain their healthy diet. Whatever dietary needs they have for plants are met from their prey’s digestive tracts. Snakes in the wild eat a variety of animals found in the perimeter of their habitat, but in captivity, pet owners must furnish them a healthy and varied diet.
Live prey is by far the easiest and no-nonsense way of feeding pet snakes. You can use animals caught in the backyard or those readily available at local pet stores. The most popular menu items for pet snakes are insects, rodents, and chicks.
Follow these tips for feeding pet snakes live prey:
• Remove the prey if the snake hasn’t killed and consumed them within 30 minutes. There are cases where rats have eaten snakes alive or caused them injury if left in the cage.
• Never leave a pet snake and their prey unattended – be alert and check to see if your pet has been bitten by their prey.
• Snakes know by instinct when it is time to feed. Be prepared, in case your pet snake does not kill and eat their prey, to give the “food” a home - even until the next feeding.
Pre-killed food is another option – kill the animal before feeding it to your pet snake. This eliminates the concerns mentioned above and keeps the pet safe. Kill the animal as fast and humanely as possible. If they do not eat the pre-killed food when offered, just wrap it and freeze it for later consumption.
Frozen food is the most convenient way of feeding pet snakes. Buy frozen food at local pet stores and keep it until the next feeding time. Always thaw the food, by letting it sit, preferably in the same location where your pet snake is kept, to pre-scent it. Food can also be placed in a plastic food storage bag, and dipped in warm water to hasten the thawing process. Never defrost the food in the microwave or by any method that would cook it, even slightly. Offer it to your pet with tongs or just throw it in the tank.
Roughly estimate the size of the snake at its broadest part, which is found midway along the body, and the size of their food across the hips. The rule of thumb is to feed them something with the same width or smaller. This is not to say they won’t eat a much larger prey, as the jaw of a snake is an interesting and complex structure; they have a flexible lower jaw, which is not firmly attached to their upper jaw, allowing them to open their mouths wide.
However, to be safe, keep to all foods closer to the snake’s size. An average young adult snake should be fed once every week. This is the general guide, but to each snake his own. After a while, you know by your pet's body language when it is time to feed them again.
Feeding your pet snake is easy when you know what you are doing. Choose a varied diet to keep them happy and interested. The kind of food you feed your pet snake depends on its availability and convenience. Nevertheless, always be vigilant about sanitation to prevent illnesses and other complications with your slithering mates. For more information about feeding pet snakes, please read "What to Do When Your Pet Snake Refuses to Eat."
This is not medical advice and is not meant to treat, diagnose, prescribe or cure any ailment. Check with your veterinarian first before following any advice you have read on BrightHub.com. Consult your veterinarian before you start, stop or change anything that has been previously prescribed to your pet.