Wondering how often you need to feed your snake?
Have you noticed your snake’s eating and drinking habits have changed?
All of these questions are important to answer for snake owners, and it’s critical to know ahead of getting one.
You must know how often snakes eat and drink.
Snakes don’t require feedings very often. While younger snakes may need to eat twice a week, adult snakes only need to be fed every one to two weeks. Fresh, clean water should always be available for your snake.
If you’d like to learn more about your snake’s eating habits, continue reading the rest of this article.
Table of Contents
How Often Do Snakes Eat?
The frequency with which snakes eat depends on several factors: their age, their size, and their activity level.
Younger snakes require more frequent feedings because their bodies are actively growing and consuming energy at a high rate, so feed them about twice a week.
On the other hand, older snakes can get away with more infrequent feedings.
They typically need to be fed once every one to two weeks.
Similarly, smaller snakes require food more frequently than larger ones.
This is because larger snakes can store fat and energy in more places of their body, while smaller snakes do not have the same storage capacity.
They burn their stored calories much faster, meaning they require more food to gain back energy.
As an example, young ball pythons eat at least once or twice per week.
An adult python usually does not require food until 10 to 14 days after its last meal.
You should adjust the frequency of feedings based on a few factors.
If you are offering your snake food and it refuses to eat, it probably means you need to space out the feedings.
Of course, you should make sure no other causes contribute to your snake’s refusal of food.
Another reason to wait longer between meals is if your snake shows signs of obesity, as this is unhealthy and will lead to many long-term consequences.
What Do Snakes Eat?
Snakes, by nature, are carnivorous creatures.
This means they almost exclusively eat other animals or insects.
Feeding habits will vary from snake to snake, with some requiring rodents like rats or mice and others preferring insects, amongst various dietary choices.
Snakes are unable to chew, so they instead swallow their entire prey whole.
As a general rule, you should never feed your snake a meal, which is larger than the diameter of its head, as this can lead to difficulty with swallowing and ingestion.
Never feed your snake live prey, as this can potentially endanger your pet.
Although it doesn’t seem likely for a mouse to injure a snake, prey animals can bite and claw at your reptile.
Even if the wound itself does not hurt them significantly, your snake could develop a deadly infection.
Most pet stores provide frozen prey, stored for a few months and thawed for subsequent feedings, so don’t worry about killing any prey yourself.
To give you a better idea of what more individualized dietary plans are like, we’ll explore the eating habits of ball python snakes.
These are very popular pet options, as they are easy to manage for beginners.
Expert snake handlers also love these beautiful creatures.
Let’s start with young ball pythons.
Since their mouths aren’t large, younger ball pythons will generally begin with large crickets.
As they begin to grow a bit larger, they can move on to “pinkies” (small mice). Adult ball pythons will progress to eating large mice and rats.
Make sure these larger preys are not wider than the widest part of your snake, as this could result in issues, as mentioned previously.
This rule is how you should determine when to advance the size of your snake’s food.
As the snake grows larger, you should monitor for changes in the snake’s thickness at its widest area.
Any time they progress in size, you should advance their diet.
What If My Snake Isn’t Eating?
Snakes generally have a good idea of when they require food.
Unlike humans, snakes only eat for energy when it is necessary, rather than for pleasure.
If you are offering your snake food and they won’t accept it, they may be just not hungry yet.
He could also be in the middle of shedding; snakes generally do not eat until they finish their shedding cycle.
Signs of shedding include a hazy appearance to the skin and eyes with a glazed look.
In addition, snakes are picky when there are changes made to their diet.
If you’ve recently switched the type of prey, this could be a reason your snake won’t eat.
If you haven’t made any changes but have had your prey in the freezer for a while, it may be time to purchase new meat as the prey can turn “stale” over time in the freezer.
However, if you have some concerns something may be wrong, there are many other more concerning reasons your snake may not be eating.
First, we can talk about some of the fixable issues for you as a pet owner.
Sometimes a snake will refuse to eat when stressed out, such as when there are environmental changes.
Maybe you recently added a new plant to the enclosure, or the temperature has dropped a few degrees too low.
If there were no recent changes you intentionally made, check the cage’s temperature and humidity to ensure no changes occurred without you realizing.
Adjusting these back to the normal range will generally get your snake back to its usual self.
The time of year is an important consideration as well.
Snakes hibernate during certain seasons, so consider this if you notice your snake has been acting lazier.
A lack of energy could also be indicative of more serious concerns, though.
Sometimes, a lack of eating could mean the snake has some disease, such as cancer, kidney impairments, constipation, parasites, infections, or other issues with the stomach or bowels.
If you fear any of these things, you need to take your snake to the vet immediately for evaluation.
Your vet will run some tests to determine if your snake is not eating due to benign causes or something else going on, which needs to be corrected.
We recommend screening your snake’s feces annually for possible pinworms or other intestinal parasites which may require treatment.
How Can I Encourage My Snake To Eat?
Sometimes your snake needs a bit of TLC to start eating again.
There are a few things you should check for optimal feeding.
First, it’s a good idea to place your snake in a feeding container separate from its regular environment when it’s time for a meal.
You should also limit distractions, which could potentially cause your snake to lose interest and focus on something else instead.
If your snake is feeding within its enclosure, make sure there are adequate hiding spots.
Snakes like to eat in private, so they may not feel comfortable eating if the space is too open.
If you’re thawing prey from the freezer, make sure the prey is warm before feeding it to the snake.
When you don’t have the time to wait, an option is to soak it in some hot water for a couple of minutes to give it the chance to thaw completely.
If your snake still doesn’t eat, you may need to cut open the prey a bit so the fresh blood and exposure will attract attention.
Sometimes, you need to play with the prey to entice your snake, such as moving it around the enclosure to pretend it’s alive.
If you’ve tried a few different interventions and your snake still isn’t eating, please take it to the vet.
How Often Do Snakes Drink?
Although snakes can go more extended periods without eating a new meal, they should always have a freshwater source.
Make sure your cage has a water bowl inside made of a heavy material which isn’t easy to knock over or flip.
Many snakes are particular with their water preferences and won’t drink water if it’s not freshened daily.
Especially in these cases, you should ensure you change the water frequently and keep it fresh for your little friend.
An additional benefit of the water bowl is its contribution to your enclosure’s humidity levels, especially if the bowl is located near a source of heat.
Researching how often snake’s eat and drink is usually one of the first things to learn when understanding how to take care of your pet.
Utilizing this article’s basics with your understanding of your snake’s unique needs will set you up for success.