What Do Snakes Eat In The Desert? (List Of Prey)

How do snakes find enough food to eat in harsh habitats?

You may have heard snakes eat frogs, but do frogs even live in the desert? 

Great owners learn about their pets’ natural habitats and diets to give them the healthiest diet in their new homes. 

For desert-based snakes, you may wonder:

What do snakes eat in the desert?

Snakes eat whatever animals they find in their habitats. These animals include rodents, lizards, birds, smaller snakes, and frogs in deserts. Snakes only eat meat, sometimes also eating the eggs of the animals they prey upon.

what do snakes eat in the desert

Snakes Are Obligate Carnivores

All snakes are obligate carnivores, which means they only eat meat. 

Like most predators, there are no vegetarian snakes. 

Whatever plant matter they ingest is just remnants from the stomachs of their prey.

What type of prey snakes eat depends on what kind of prey is available in their surrounding environment. 

Some snakes eat primarily cold-blooded prey, like other snakes, lizards, and amphibians. 

Others mainly eat warm-blooded prey, like birds and rodents.


Many common rodents live in the desert, including mice, rats, and rabbits. 

Even gerbils and hamsters live wild in some deserts. 

Snakes prey on all these types and species. 

Generally, the size of a snake determines what size of prey it will attack and hunt. 

Rodents are varied and widespread, and plentiful across snakes’ habitats, making them easily accessible as prey. 

In the desert, rodents usually live and reproduce in burrows, meaning a snake does not have to climb or exert too much to eat rodents.

Less known rodents in the desert include Australian hopping mice and American kangaroo rats, making nutritious meals for snakes in the surrounding areas.

The jerboa is one fascinating rodent native to deserts in Arabia, North Africa, and Asia. 

Jerboa has long legs for jumping, like a kangaroo. 

Some have huge ears. 

They are usually small, more the size of a mouse. 

They are also nocturnal and live in caves, easy to reach for snakes.


Many snakes are opportunistic hunters, which means they will hunt and eat whatever prey is available. 

Sometimes, this includes bird eggs and smaller birds. 

Snakes in North America are often drawn to birds’ nests and birdhouses in the suburbs, easily raiding by climbing trees and posts. 

Rat snakes are well known for this kind of behavior.

Many birds nest in burrows in the ground or among low-growing plant life in deserts. 

The small burrowing owl, found in deserts in the United States and Mexico, is well known for this behavior. 

The nesting habits of desert birds make it very easy for snakes to hunt and eat them from the ground.

Desert kingsnakes are well known for eating birds. 

They live in desert areas of Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. 

They are nonvenomous, with yellow and black stripes.

Frogs and Amphibians

The idea of a frog, salamander, or toad living in a desert may seem far-fetched. 

However, quite a few frog species live in arid or semiarid areas of the world. 

These desert frogs usually wait for rare rainfall events to reproduce, burrowing underground for most of their lives. 

These species include the desert tree frog, desert rain frog, Sonoran Desert toad, and the black rain frog.

Amphibious life provides a vital food source for snakes in many different habitats, including deserts. 

These snakes usually get an opportunity to eat when male snakes call for mates. 

The frogs will not just attract female frogs with their calls; they will potentially also make themselves vulnerable to attacks from nearby predators. 

Unfortunately, the recent decline in frogs’ wild populations means fewer snakes, which primarily hunt and eat frogs.

The desert night snake, well known for eating frogs and salamanders, lives spread across southern British Columbia to the Western United States and Mexico. 

In the United States, it is found primarily in Idaho and Texas. 

The desert night snake is smaller, often confused for rattlesnakes. 

However, it does not have a rattle, and its venom is not dangerous to humans. 

These snakes are grey with brown blotches along their bodies, with a flat, triangular head.

While it may seem like a good idea to feed your pet snake a frog, the truth is most feeder frogs available on the market are wild-caught. 

There is no way to guarantee a frozen feeder frog or amphibian is free of parasites, which might harm your pet.


Many species of lizards live in desert environments. 

A small selection includes desert horned lizards, Gila monsters, Chuckwallas, collared lizards, and armadillo girdled lizards.

Like frogs and birds, Lizards will make their homes in burrows in deserts, making it easy for snakes to access them and their nests. 

The orange-naped snake, also called moon snake, is a specialized hunter of lizards and skinks native to Australian deserts. 

They are venomous but not generally thought to be dangerous to humans. 

They are named orange-naped because of a bright orange patch underneath their chins.

Smaller Snakes

The behavior of eating snakes is known as ophiophagy. 

Many snakes engage in ophiophagy, mainly hunting and eating smaller snakes. 

Kingsnakes are well known for this behavior, with many subspecies living in the Americas’ desert areas. 

The desert kingsnake, mentioned above, eats birds and smaller rattlesnakes. 

If a snake eats other snakes, it’s usually immune to the venom of its prey.

We have an interesting post on what types of snakes eat other snakes if you want to learn more about them.


We hope you have enjoyed learning about what snakes eat in the desert.

Snakes find rodents, birds, eggs, lizards, frogs, other amphibians, and smaller snakes to hunt and eat in the desert. 

Desert snakes rely on their prey being easily accessible, smaller than them, and plentiful. 

While some snakes prey mainly on cold-blooded animals, others prey almost exclusively on warm-blooded animals.

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