So it’s the holidays for us humans. Turkey, chicken, ham fish ect is on our menu… But it got me thinking (and thanks to YT) I was wondering if there are safe sources of human grade protein that is good for snakes as a treat or more even as some kind of semi regular food?
I suppose it ultimately depends on the snake you’re trying to feed. We always cook a duck for holidays, and we picked up our first baby dwarf caiman (P. Trigonatus) a week or two ago. I was excited to enrich his diet with the duck heart, liver, and gizzards that we did not cook. I sliced the heart down yesterday and he was content with 3 pieces. Not wanting to waste the other two pieces left, I offered it to one of my more ravenous corn snake babies, a red factor reverse okeetee. Sure enough, she gobbled it down with gusto.
Truth be told, a lot of colubrids eat birds in their natural habitats. No reason we shouldn’t be able to offer variety.
I feel like I shouldn’t have to say this, but I will anyway. Practice safe handling techniques for food. Wash your hands, keep raw foods chilled, etc. And come feeding time, warm the food up like you would any other frozen/thawed prey item.
I don’t recommend it, but many snakes will readily accept raw meat.
I feel attacked that someone would get a meal like duck then waste the heart and gizzard!!!
Right? The giblets are the best part!
That said, raw meat should only be given as an occasional treat unless you want to put supplement powder on it for the snake. A protein only diet will lead to vitamin deficiency and could lead to death. There are things like reptilinks that you could feed them that are a complete diet. Get some iguana meat ones for snakes that eat a lot of lizards in the wild, and bird meat ones for snakes that eat primarily birds in the wild. You can also feed baby chicks if you can source some.
For an example, here is what happens if you feed only fish to garter snakes;
I feed all kinds of things to my animals, all year long.
I use a wide variety of ReptiLinks for everything other than my Dasypeltis, rubber boas, Calabars, and balls. I am sure I could get a fair number of my balls on them if I really tried, I am just too lazy. The rubbers and Calabars will not take them because of their predation behaviour (they are nest raiders).
I give fish (tilapia, flounder, salmon) and chicken/quail chicks to the bredli, GBKs, blackhead, Rhamphiophis, Oligodon, hognose and kukri.
My chondro gets chicks
The blackhead and Rhamphiophis get chicken necks and hearts now and again.
I have fed off kinked/stillborn/defect animals to the blackhead
The Dasypeltis gets eggs (obviously) as do the kukri
I would have no issue feeding lizards to a species if it were necessary. I have also seriously considered getting in to snail eating snakes, if only I had the room for another arboreal cage.
It is not the feeding of a protein only diet of fish to garters that is the problem, it is the type of fish being used. Most of the ones used are the ones commonly available in pet stores like goldfish and rosy reds, fish that are very high in an enzyme called thiaminase. That enzyme systemically strips the B vitamins from the animal thereby leading to a deficiency. If you feed fish that do not have the enzyme, there is no need to be concerned about this issue
Here is another video on feeding only tilapia to a snake:
The problem with only feeding things like bits of fish and other meats is that you don’t get any of the vitamins of the bones or anything else. If you feed it with other things that will give them said vitamins they will be fine, but only feeding them meat will likely lead to issues down the road.