After feeding your snake the same frozen mouse corpses day after day, you may begin to wonder if your scaly friend ever gets sick of his monotonous diet. What if you gave him a little helping of your own food instead? Be careful about assuming that your snake looks at food the same way you do though.
Most human foods are not appropriate for snake consumption and can make them very sick. However, snakes can eat eggs, raw meat, and sometimes even fish. These foods should not be cooked or processed in order to mimic the condition under which snakes might encounter them in the wild.
Keep reading to see what human foods snakes can eat and how to prepare them properly. Additionally, pay close attention to the human foods you shouldn’t feed snakes to avoid making your pet very ill.
Food #1: Eggs
Eggs are commonly on the menu for many snakes in the wild, but also those raised as pets can gain a lot of nutritional benefits from adding eggs to their diet. Egg-eating snakes, corn snakes, spackled king snakes, fox snakes, and rat snakes are all examples of snake species that are large enough to swallow and digest eggs.
After watching this egg-eating snake consume a couple of chicken eggs, you’ll see why smaller eggs are more suited to your snake’s diet:
If you are going to feed your snake eggs, quail eggs are most highly recommended for pet snake consumption based on their size and the thickness of their shells. Quail eggs are about five times smaller than a chicken egg making it easier for a smaller snake to consume the egg whole. Likewise, the quail egg’s shell is more easily broken down by the snake and subsequently regurgitated since it cannot be fully digested.
Chicken or duck eggs can also be fed to pet snakes, but only to larger species that have a reputation for being able to handle them.
Food #2: Poultry
Just like humans, snakes will gladly eat poultry of any kind, especially chicken, if it is a manageable size to consume. However, unlike the chicken that we buy at the store prepackaged and cut into pieces to cook up, snakes should never be fed store-bought chicken – even raw.
Processed and packaged chicken has a high likelihood of containing harmful bacteria that could make your snake very ill. Cooking the chicken will not help either since snakes will not consume cooked meat.
If you want to feed your snake chicken, the best option is to give it freshly killed chicks. This way it can consume the entire bird – feathers and all – as it would if it were hunting in the wild. If you opt to feed your snake a whole chick, clip the feet and beak first so that there is little chance of your snake sustaining internal injuries from these sharp parts.
A lot of large snakes such as boa constrictors, various pythons including ball pythons, green tree pythons, and Burmese pythons, as well as corn snakes and rat snakes will happily consume any raw poultry you present to them.
Food #3: Pork & Beef
Just like poultry, snakes will not turn down a meal of raw meat whether it is pork or beef. Frozen or thawed is the best way to serve beef or pork to your snake. The fresher the kill, the more likely your snake is to eat the meat.
Never cook any pork or beef you intend to feed your snake. Not only will it deprive the food of necessary nutrients, but also the snake may refuse to eat, not recognizing it as a valid form of sustenance.
The trickiest part about feeding your snake pork or beef is making sure to include all of the parts of the animal. You should not rely on only feeding your snake certain cuts of beef or pork. If you want to use either of these meats as your snake’s staple diet, you need to obtain the entire animal and grind all parts together including eyes, organs, hooves, etc. so your snake can benefit from all the nutrients the animal has to give.
Most often, larger snakes like cobras, anacondas, ball pythons, and rat snakes will be the ones to readily accept a red meat meal since they are natural predators of similar animals.
Do Snakes Eat Fruits and Vegetables?
Although snakes may eat some human foods like eggs and meat, they will not eat products such as fruits and vegetables. Snakes are carnivores and depend solely on meat to survive. If presented with vegetables or fruits of any kind, they will not eat them because they do not need them.
If a snake consumes any plant matter, it is usually by accident when eating its only source of food – meat. If you put a fruit or vegetable in your pet snake’s tank and it bites the food, don’t mistake that for eating. Your snake may instead be defending itself believing that this unknown foreign object poses some kind of threat.
While fruits and vegetables are not necessarily harmful to snakes, a snake’s digestive system is not built to handle the consumption of plant material. Most animals that eat plants have teeth equipped to chew the plant matter and begin to break it down before entering the gut.
Snakes are carnivores and their teeth are meant for biting, grasping, and sometimes injecting venom. They swallow their prey whole and meat is more easily broken down in the digestive system. Ultimately, a snake that is fed fruits and vegetables – even if it was confused enough to consume them – would not receive all the nutrition it needed and eventually become very sick.
You may think that given the choice between plant-based food and nothing, snakes would choose food over starvation. However, snakes have been known to refuse to eat rather than consume fruits and vegetables. Not even the threat of dehydration will move most snakes to eat such products.
Can Snakes Eat Fish?
While snakes may not be able to process vegetation in their guts, if they are carnivores, they should be able to eat fish, right?
Some snakes can eat fish, and, in fact, there are species in the wild whose diet consists primarily of fish. However, not all snakes are capable of adding fish to their dinner options because their digestive systems are not designed to handle fish and the consumption of a pescatarian diet could make them very ill.
Most snakes that are able to eat fish are those that naturally reside near water sources and have the ability to swim. Garter snakes, ribbon snakes, grass snakes, and water snakes such as cottonmouths all include fish in their diets. Ball pythons and boa constrictors can also eat fish but need other sources of meat for a well balanced diet.
The smaller species like garter snakes and grass snakes mainly stick to tiny fish like minnows and guppies. The larger species can handle other fish such as bass, trout, flounder, salmon, and various groundfish species like cod, halibut, and hake.
However, take caution – just because a snake can eat fish doesn’t mean that all fish species are safe to eat. Some types of fish like goldfish and their close relatives are considered toxic to snakes if consumed in large quantities because they produce enzymes that block the absorption of thiamine, a vital nutrient for snakes.
Other fish that also produce this harmful enzyme and should avoid being fed to snakes are mackerel, anchovies, herring, tuna, and any crustaceous or bivalved shellfish like lobster, clams, or scallops.
Just like other meats, fish fed to snakes should be freshly dead not only to make the food more appealing but also to prevent thiamine absorption blockers from accumulating since these enzymes begin to produce when fish start to decay.
What Are the Best Treats for Snakes?
If you want to give your pet snake a break from its regular meal by giving it a treat, there are a few good human food choices you can pick from depending on the type of snake you have.
Freshly killed fish always makes a great treat for snakes that are able to digest them such as water snakes, grass snakes, and garter snakes. Fish make a better treat than a dietary staple since they don’t have all the nutrients snakes need to keep them healthy.
Likewise, select cuts of raw red meat such as certain steaks, shanks, and shoulder cuts make great treats for snakes. Make sure the meat is raw and not processed so that your snake doesn’t get sick. These prime choices of meat are better as treats because they don’t contain all parts of the animal which is needed for the everyday diet of your snake.
What Human Foods Should Snakes Not Eat?
If you’re looking to change up your snake’s diet of rodents to something you might already have in your fridge, you may want to be aware that your snake can’t eat everything that you can. In fact, most human foods are not for snake consumption and can make snakes extremely sick.
Never feed your snake any food, even meat, that has been processed, cooked, fried, or dipped in sauces. Snakes will most likely not eat them because they will not recognize them as viable food options, but if they do, it could hurt their digestive systems.
Likewise, anything that has spices and herbs on it is dangerous for snakes since their bodies are not built to break them down.
The entire list of human foods that are inappropriate for snake consumption is far too long to lay out here. However, a good rule of thumb to follow is if it is not in your snake’s natural diet, you probably shouldn’t feed it to your reptilian friend. Keep in mind that not all snake species share the same diet either, so what is safe for one type of snake may not be for another.
Is A Human Food Diet Better for My Snake?
Even if you stick to the appropriate human foods for your snake, a human food diet may not be the best choice for your snake. There are various reasons for not feeding your snake the typical frozen rodent meals, but you need to make sure that what you do feed your snake will keep it healthy.
When choosing the right diet for your snake, research your pet’s species to see what food they eat in the wild. Sticking as closely as possible to your snake’s natural diet will give your pet the optimal set of nutrients it needs for healthy growth and illness prevention.
If you have a larger snake such as a boa constrictor that is used to bigger prey, then relying on small rodents may not cut it. In this case, feeding your snake large portions of ground-up beef or pork may be more suitable for your snake.
Alternatively, your snake may fare best on a hybrid diet of rodents and raw eggs or fish if it is a water-dwelling snake. Most likely a purely human food diet is not going to be superior to rats and mice, but you know your snake best and should take your cues from your pet on what is optimal.
The solitary snake is not known to get bored with eating the same meal day in and day out. However, if you feel the need to switch up the routine, make sure that the new food you introduce will not harm your snake.
There are very few human foods that snakes can eat – raw meat, eggs, fish – and not all snakes can consume these. Do you research ahead of time to see what your snake species typically eat in the wild to give you clues as to whether or not you should present some of these options.
And if you’re looking to avoid reptiles that need live prey by going for human foods, we have a list to get you started.
When all else fails, you will know if your menu change is a success based on if your snake eats the new food or not. Snakes will not eat anything they do not perceive as food, so if your human food trial doesn’t go over well, just stick to rodents.