What do very young snakes eat in the WILD? 🐍

This is something I’ve been wondering about for a long time… I’ve never really seen it discussed, outside of questions on what to feed micro-mini-snakes like newborn garters or egg eaters. :sweat_smile:

So… what would hatchlings of larger species (by which I mean heavy-bodied, constrictor types—bp sized and up) be eating in their first year of life, out in the wild? In captivity, the universal answer seems to be a graduating scale of pinkies, fuzzies, hoppers, etc., but how would something like a month-old bp survive a trip into a mouse/rat nest, where a defensive mother and her brood would be waiting for it? There might be an occasional bird pushed from the nest, or even a rejected rat pup, but how could there be enough to sustain a growing python? Would they be eating bugs, like a lot of young colubrids do? If so, why isn’t that common practice in captivity? (I’d think the relatively huge intake of fat from rodents would be unnatural, to something predisposed to taking insect protein.)

If anyone could clear this up for me, I’d appreciate it so much! :sweat_smile:

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I think that juvenile BPs are supposed to feed mostly on small birds in the wild. How they get to them, I have no idea. Given that they’re nocturnal, they may eat small birds like finches as they roost in low-lying vegetation at night.

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for baby garters, small feeder fish like young guppies or worms like red wrigglers can be an option.

Weirdly… I would very much not want insects to be something to be recommended as a starter food. At least outside of breeders selling their own animals.
Can you imagine the influx of people trying to only keep their snakes on crickets? We have enough problems with people who only want to feed beardies veggies because they hate bugs. Or people wanting to feed obligate carnivores like cats a vegan diet. I’ve seen this kind of thing working big box pet stores, a small pet store for a bit and working as a vet tech.

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Lol! So @adra as far as bug eating snakes, think of it like a Vegas visit…. What happens in the wild stays in the wild! :sunglasses::face_with_open_eyes_and_hand_over_mouth:

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Oh, interesting… Why aren’t birds (like quail) a more common option for younger bps, then? Because it would be harder to transition them to rodents later? Or would there be long-term nutritional issues?

I couldn’t work in a pet store. I just couldn’t. The first time someone asked me where to find “vegan cat food”, I would lose it. That’s like… one of my biggest triggers. :roll_eyes: Straight up animal abuse, and should be illegal to even attempt to feed a cat that way, imho. :woman_facepalming: I’m a very chill person in general… until someone tries converting an obligate carnivore to veganism to appease their own sense of morality. I’m a vegetarian myself, and just barely outside the lines of vegan… but to try to force another species to adhere to a diet plan completely inappropriate for them, out of some warped sense of moral superiority… is completely abhorrent to me. :woman_facepalming: I had no idea people did that to beardies, too! Poor little guys! :cry: Why don’t they just get an actual herbivore, like an uromastyx (or for mammals, a rabbit or similar)? :confused:

Anyhoo… I can definitely see your concern, there. The thought didn’t really occur to me, since feeding bugs seems more “ick” to me than feeding f/t prey (if all things were equal, and it was down to just preference). Plus, I imagine it would take SO MANY bugs to make enough calories, past the very earliest stages of the snake’s life…

:rofl:

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I have always wondered this as well! the other day I witnessed a baby wild black rat snake take down and eat a lizard.

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I’ve heard baby corns in the wild feed heavily on lizards (skinks and anoles). Not surprised to hear this behavior in a black rat. I always envisioned them raiding mice and rat nests while mama is away foraging.

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Hmm… I kind of wondered about the rat nest thing, too. Would an entire litter of rat pups have enough teeth and claws between them to seriously injure even a big rat snake? By getting at the eyes, maybe? Since the snake would be going in headfirst, potentially into a tight, narrow space where it was difficult to back up or evade attack, wouldn’t the snake’s eyes be in terrible danger? Also, since rats seem to be socially inclined to the extreme… how far away is another rat, at any given time? Could another hear a cry from a pup, head toward it, and enter the fray? I’m not a rat expert at all, so forgive me if these are silly or obvious questions. :sweat_smile:

Most of the snakes I meet in the wild are at least partial amphibivores. That was something that came as a shock to me about the keeping of snakes as pets—that there aren’t really any good options for f/t feeder frogs. The only commercially available, amphibian-based food I’ve found for reptiles has been Reptilinks, and the ones made of frog just use the legs (there’s also a 50/50 blend with frog legs/whole prey quail, but still…). I was told by Reptilinks customer service that the reason was the difficulty in sourcing reliably safe, disease/parasite-free, whole frogs (whereas the legs came from human-grade restaurant suppliers). Why would no one have started a cottage industry breeding them in-house, freezing them, and selling them the way f/t mice are typically sold? Do they not hold up to the freezing process well?

On that note, a bit tangential… but I read somewhere that the freezing process could destroy B vitamins in canned dog/cat food… If this is true, are pet snakes potentially getting a deficiency of B vitamins? Is there a way to supplement it? I’ve been switching between fresh-out-of-the-can food and f/t food for my blue tongued skink just to be safe (mixed and rotated with other food sources), but is there a reptile-appropriate way to supplement additional B1, outside of a multivitamin? I don’t want to give her too much of everything else, but I’d love to make sure none of her meals are lacking in anything, nutritionally.

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I’d also love to see a commercial source of frozen anoles. Would make keeping vine snakes much easier.

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Especially since a single tiny anole is like $10 bucks. It really makes me want to setup a huge (like 4x2x6) for like 50 or so anoles so I can have an awesome enclosure and be able to provide cheap, affordable anoles. Too bad that is 5+ years away

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@logar 5 years will fly by before you can blink your eyes! :joy:

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