Snake Food

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Snake Food 

Snakes have to eat—it’s a fact of life. While cats and dogs can happily chow down on kibble and canned food, snakes require a more particular diet—usually, various rodents and insects that need to be prepared and served. Pet parenting a snake can be so rewarding that many people are willing to put aside their squeamishness about the snake food chain, but plenty of questions arise from procuring and preparing snake food.  

FAQs About Snake Food 

Snakes and people digest their food very differently. While we use our teeth for heavy-duty chewing, snake teeth are for killing and gripping only. Snake food is swallowed whole and digested slowly.  

First, a snake’s prey becomes coated in saliva in the esophagus. Next, the food is moved down the digestive tract to their stomach as the snake’s muscles help to squeeze, crush and move the food along. Digestive enzymes in the stomach finish breaking down snake food. It can take days or even weeks for a prey animal to be fully digested by a snake.  

Mice and frozen rats for snakes need to be correctly defrosted at room temperature before being served to your pet—they should be completely soft before your snake’s mealtime. If your snake prefers warm food, you can heat a thawed mouse in a bag soaked in warm water—but avoid hot water as it can spoil snake food quickly.  

Use tongs to dangle the defrosted mouse in front of your snake or simply place it into their habitat. Clean all utensils used to defrost and serve frozen rodents thoroughly, as you would with any raw meat utensils. And if your snake likes to work for their food from time to time, you can supplement thawed rodents with live flies and live worms. 

The quickest and most humane way to kill a mouse for snake food is to break its neck, but many pet parents feel uncomfortable with this task. It’s perfectly okay to purchase frozen reptile food as long as it’s properly defrosted and served. The most important thing is to make sure that the only food your snake eats live is insects such as live crickets and roaches. Wild snakes eat live rodent prey, but any rodents you give your pet snake should already be dead—for your snake’s safety and the ethical treatment of prey animals.