In this article, we will find out if there are any omnivorous snakes. We’ll explore what snakes typically eat in the wild, and why snakes are mandatory carnivores. Then we will see some species of snakes that feed on fish, insects and eggs to survive.
Are there any omnivorous snakes?
No, there aren’t omnivorous snakes that we know about. By definition, no snake is herbivorous or omnivorous. Unlike other reptiles, such as turtles and iguanas, all snakes are “mandatory carnivores.” This means that they must consume animal matter to survive. Although there are thousands of different species of snakes, they all have this trait in common.
Most owners of snakes feed their pets with mice and rats as they are readily available and have good nutritional value. But some people find feeding the snakes quite unpleasant and want to know if such a thing as vegetarian snakes exists or if there are any omnivorous snakes. Feeding the snakes vegetables would be much easier.
Snakes are mandatory carnivores, which means they eat rodents. Some, like green snakes, are insectivorous. Water snakes and garter snakes prefer to eat fish. Egg-eating snakes are close to a vegetarian snake. They are a good pet choice if you want to avoid feeding the gnawing snakes altogether.
Most snakes typically eat mammals as a substantial part of their diet. In captivity, snake owners usually choose to feed their snakes frozen and thawed rats and mice. In the wild, a snake can feast on voles, chipmunks, chipmunks, chipmunks, or even bats, for example.
However, it is rare for a snake to feed exclusively on mammals. Wild snakes often have diverse diets and eat a wide variety of animals.
These may include the following:
- Insects (such as termites, cockroaches, and worms)
- Other snakes
- Amphibians (such as frogs, toads, and tadpoles)
- Some snakes also eat eggs, including bird eggs, fish eggs, reptile eggs, and even insect eggs. Although most snakes eat eggs in addition to other foods, some feed exclusively on eggs.
So it depends on what you consider “vegetarian” or “vegan.” If you consider that eggs are suitable for a vegetarian or vegan diet, then there are, strictly speaking, some vegetarian snakes.
Why are snakes mandatory carnivores?
To begin, let’s look at the three main types of diet that animals can have.
Herbivores (such as horses and turtles) strictly eat plants and plant materials. Their diets can include grass, tree bark, fruits, vegetables, and foliage. Their digestive systems are designed to digest plants and extract nutrients from them.
Omnivores (such as humans and bears) can digest both plant and animal matter. Some species are primarily herbivorous, only eating small amounts of animal matter from time to time. Others are the other way around.
Carnivores (such as dolphins, lions, and snakes) consume purely animal meat and other animal materials (such as eggs). Mandatory or “true” carnivores feed exclusively on animals and cannot digest any plant matter. Facultative carnivores (like dogs) thrive on meat but can survive on plants.
Snakes are mandatory carnivores. They can only digest animal matter and do not have the physiological capacity to process plants. Because of this, snakes will only see animals and animal products (such as eggs) as food. If you offered a carrot to a snake, it would not recognize it as food and would ignore it.
If a snake ate plant matter, it wouldn’t be very successful. Snakes swallow their prey whole and do not have teeth capable of chewing. For this reason, they cannot grind or decompose plant matter.
We must also consider the digestive system of snakes. Plants take a long time to decompose within the gut, so herbivores have very long intestinal tracts. Snakes’ intestines are short and unable to digest plants.
For that reason, feeding your snake vegetables or fruits could kill it. You wouldn’t be able to extract any nutrients from your food, and you would eventually starve.
What type of snake doesn’t eat rodents?
So now we know that the answer to the questions “are there any omnivorous snakes” and “can you buy vegetarian snake food?” it is a firm “no.”
Snakes are carnivorous and can only eat animal matter. If you are vegetarian or vegan and this does not suit you, you may want to choose a different type of pet.
As you know, most snake owners usually choose to feed their gnawing snakes.
This is for two main reasons:
Nutrition. Rodents are the staple diet of most snakes that are commonly kept as pets. This includes rat snakes, mole snakes, boa constrictors, and ball pythons, to name a few. For these popular pets, rodents provide all the nutrition they will need. They will gladly accept a frozen and thawed rodent, and there is no need to supplement their diet with anything else.
Availability. Because rats and mice reproduce quickly and are easy to care for, they are widely available. There are many sites online that sell pre-killed frozen rats and mice, ready to be shipped to your doorstep.
However, not all snakes have to be fed rats and mice to thrive in captivity. If you see rodents as friends and you can’t bear the thought of feeding them to your pet snake, there are some alternatives. Certain species of snakes can subsist on diets of fish, insects, and eggs.
Snakes that eat fish
Some species of snakes live near bodies of water and naturally hunt for food there. These species naturally feed on fish and fish eggs as part of their diet in the wild.
Not all of them are suitable as pets, but some make great companions.
Examples of snakes that eat fish include the following:
1) Cottonmouths (Water moccasins)
If you live in the United States, you have probably heard of cottonmouths (also known as water moccasins). They are certainly not suitable as pets, because they are very poisonous.
However, they are a good example of a fish-eating snake. Their species name, piscivorous, literally means “fish-eater.” Because they live in and near water, fish and frogs make up the majority of their diet. That said, they also eat mammals and birds opportunistically.
2) Water snakes
Water snakes are commonly mistaken for cottonmouths in the wild, according to the University of Florida. However, they are much more docile and not poisonous.
Again, like cottonmouths, a water snake’s diet consists primarily of fish. In captivity, water snakes live on guppies, silversides, and even pieces of larger fish like trout. Water snakes are not especially common as pets, but you can find them from specialized breeders.
3) Garter snakes
Snakes are one of the most common wild snakes in the United States, according to Pennsylvania State University. They are small in size, usually not exceeding 3 feet in length when they are adults.
Snakes make great pets and enjoy a varied diet, including fish. A league of pets can live off guppies, earthworms, and larger chunks of fish. However, it is good practice to also feed garter snakes with the occasional little finger (mouse). If you don’t, you should supplement your diet with calcium and vitamin powder (which you can use to cover your food).
Snakes that eat insects
If you don’t feel like feeding your snake fish, maybe the insects would be better for you. Some snakes are insectivorous by nature, and they happily eat insects in their natural diet.
Again, not all insectivorous snakes make excellent pets, but some of them can be kept in captivity.
1) Green snakes
These adorable little snakes make great pets and can easily feed on an insect diet. There are two varieties. The smooth green snake grows to about 2 feet long, and the rough green snake is larger (3 feet). Both feed mainly on wild insects.
You can feed them crickets, with occasional supplements of earthworms, moths, and spiders. You should also sprinkle your food with calcium occasionally.
2) Brown snakes
Brown snakes are also known as De Kay’s snakes. Like green snakes, brown snakes are quite small and mainly feed on insects.
In the wild, they fed on invertebrates such as slugs, snails, caterpillars, and earthworms. If you can get your hands on a constant source of these insects, brown snakes make good pets.
Both green and brown snakes, however, are quite shy and prefer not to be handled.
3) Brahminy Blind Snakes
Brahminy blind snakes are rarely kept as pets, but they may be suitable for people who want a small snake that is kept small.
Native to Africa and Asia, these little snakes are as large as earthworms, 2 to 4 inches long. They are blind and feed exclusively on insect larvae, pupae, and eggs.
Snakes that eat eggs
Finally, some snakes consume eggs as a natural part of their diet. However, most snakes cannot live on eggs alone. Corn snakes, hognose snakes, bull snakes, and garter snakes eat eggs in the wild.
But the eggs alone don’t provide enough nutritional value for these snakes. Even if you had them as pets, you would have to feed them meat from time to time.
There are only two types of snakes in the world that eat eggs alone. They are the African egg-eating snake (Dasypeltis sp.) and the Indian egg-eating snake (Elachistodon westermanni). If you consider eggs to be vegetarian friendly, then these are the only vegetarian snakes in the world.
Indian egg-eating snakes are quite rare and are not kept as pets. However, African egg-eating snakes are occasionally sold as pets and are relatively easy to care for.
African egg-eating snakes – As the name implies, African egg-eating snakes feed exclusively on bird eggs. They do not have teeth and instead have bony spikes on the inside of their spines.
The eggs are swallowed whole, then pounded and the shells regurgitated. African egg-eating snakes are found in several species, but they are all very similar. Its colour varies from yellow-tan to brown, to black. Most species do not exceed 3 feet in length.
Unlike any other snake in the world, bird eggs provide egg-eating snakes with all their nutritional needs. If you can find them for sale, they are an ideal option for those who wish to have a snake without having to feed it dead animals.
The only problem may come from the source of the food. The chicken eggs are too large, so you will have to find a source of quail eggs or smaller ones.
In this article, we found out that there aren’t any omnivorous snakes. We explored what snakes typically eat in the wild, and why snakes are mandatory carnivores. Then we described some species of snakes that feed on fish, insects and eggs to survive.
You have to remember that there aren’t any vegetarian or omnivorous snakes. Unlike other reptiles, such as turtles and iguanas, all snakes are “mandatory carnivores.” This means that they must consume animal matter to survive. Although there are thousands of different species of snakes, they all have this trait in common.
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FAQ on Are there any omnivorous snakes?
Are some snakes omnivores?
No, there are no omnivore snakes. All snakes are mandatory carnivorous. They would not survive eating plants.
Do snakes eat plants?
No, snakes cannot eat plants. They can only digest animal matter and do not have the physiological capacity to process plants. Because of this, snakes will only see animals and animal products (such as eggs) as food.
Does a snake eat fruit?
No, snakes cannot eat fruit and you should not try to feed them with fruits or vegetables. Snakes cannot grind or decompose plant matter. Plants take a long time to decompose within the gut, and a snakes’ intestines are short and unable to digest plants.
What pet snake eats eggs?
There are only two types of snakes in the world that eat eggs alone. They are the African egg-eating snake and the Indian egg-eating snake.
PetMD – What Do Snakes Eat?
Animal Corner – Snake Characteristics
MSD Manual – Nutrition in snakes