Is There Such a Thing as a Vegetarian Snake?

I’ve often wondered if some snakes are vegetarian. It would be good news to those like myself who avoid meat and don’t want to purchase dead mice every other week. Unfortunately, for all those vehement veggie eaters out there, I have some disappointing news.

Is there such a thing as a vegetarian snake? There is no such thing as a vegetarian snake. Snakes are “obligate carnivores,” meaning that they survive strictly on meat.

Vegetarian Snake Pinterest

Many snake owners, plagued by a limited budget or a squeamish disposition, consider the vegetarian diet for their pet in the interest of sheer convenience. Unfortunately, however, if you’ve acquired any species of snake and plan to keep it alive, you’ll have to adhere to some pretty strict dietary rules.

What Meats Do Snakes Eat?

I’ll counter this query with a question of my own: What kind of snake do you have?

The types of meat a snake prefers can vary, depending on its species; for instance, some snakes eat solely warm-blooded prey, such as rabbits and birds. Other snakes favor fellow reptiles, amphibians, and eggs. No snake, however, can live within the bounds of vegetarianism.

Some snakes, can consume the following:

  • Mice
  • Fish
  • Tadpoles
  • Lizards
  • Insects
  • Worms
  • Crickets

These are great pets if you have a weak stomach and don’t wish to toss an innocent mouse to its death every couple of days. (It’s actually recommended to feed your snake only pre-killed prey, as live animals can bite or scratch as a means of protecting themselves. Still, it can be difficult for animal enthusiasts to dispose of anything even remotely adorable, dead or alive. Trust me, I understand.)

If you’re the proud owner of a boa constrictor or a ball python, you’ll have to hold your breath and drop a few mice into its terrarium. These snakes, along with green tree pythons, corn snakes, and other large serpents, eat constantly in the wild, and they simply won’t thrive on anything less than a rat or a hamster.

I once knew a girl with a boa constrictor whose mother refused to allow dead animals in the house. Not only did the snake die of malnourishment, but the girl’s mother was accused of animal negligence. Needless to say, it’s extremely important to feed your snake exactly what it needs, no matter the principle behind your personal habits.

Small exotic snake eating a mouse

Rodent Alternatives

Maybe you don’t have frequent access to mice or rabbits to give to your snake. Of course, the most logical preemptive solution is to find a snake that doesn’t feed on rodents or other mammals, like a ribbon snake or a water snake. That said, if you’ve already purchased that killer California kingsnake, don’t worry; you still have some options.

Chicks

These may not be an ideal alternative for everyone (I, for one, think they’re even cuter than mice), and they can quickly outgrow the safe dimensions of typical snake food. But if you can easily obtain some freshly-hatched chicks, they contain plenty of the vital nutrients required to sustain your snake. However, snakes can’t survive on fowl alone, so if you choose this option, you’ll need to add a few more items from this list to your pet’s meal plan.

Quail Eggs

Most snakes eat quail eggs often in the wild, as they’re close to the ground and easy to reach. They’re a great alternative to rodents for your snake.

Geckos

Snakes love geckos. Geckos and other lizards are incredibly meaty, and they’re diverse enough in size that you can always find the perfect serving for your snake, no matter the species.

Smaller Snakes (And snake eggs)

This might seem a little strange, but most snakes will happily eat others of their own kind. You have to be careful, though, when determining just what snakes to buy as food. Some snakes contain poisons and other elements that can seriously harm or even kill your pet. 

Listen, I get it. I wish I could save all those sweet little mice from dying a horrible death as much as the next self-imposed herbivore. But, the fact is, snakes don’t concern themselves too greatly with ethics and abstinence. They eat to survive, and oven-roasted broccoli just isn’t going to cut it.

Eating a vegetarian diet isn’t just contrary to the nature of your snake. It’s simply not possible for an obligate carnivore to live on anything but meat. If you can’t bear the thought of sending any living thing to its death, then you might want to avoid getting a pet snake altogether.

Why Can’t Snakes Be Vegetarian?

A snake’s predatory lifestyle is largely due to its unique digestive system, which basically consists of a long tube filled with powerful stomach acid, used to dissolve solid foods—specifically shells and bones—whole. This acid does not contain any of the necessary bacteria, nor is the stomach spacious enough, to digest vegetable matter.

Being vegetarian is in direct contrast from the way snakes live their lives on the food chain. It’s just not in their biology. If you do not see yourself being able to handle that, there are lizards that you can get that are vegetarian.

Snakes have to break down their food. Their protein diet can be broken down in their stomachs and it gives them all the nutrients that they need. 

Related Questions

How often do snakes eat meat? Snakes are periodical eaters. Old or large snakes might eat once each week, or even twice every month. Younger or smaller eat more frequently (usually once or twice a week), but they eat relatively small quantities of food. Female snakes tend to eat much more food than usual when approaching the mating season.

Where can I buy meat snake food?Odds are, your local animal supply store sells a wide array of snacks for your pet snake. If you can’t seem to locate anything in your area fit for your snake, you can always purchase online. Perfect Prey sells food for pretty much every reptile imaginable. 

Is snake food expensive? If you want to keep your snake in prime condition, it’s key to seek out quality (and, yes, sometimes expensive) meals. Perfect Prey sells tons of reasonably-priced snake food. If you’re not feeling too excited about paying for shipping or for super cool, exotic crickets, you can always visit a nearby Petco.

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