I have always wanted to know if pet snakes are able to eat wild mice. Curious as I am, I did some research and here is what I found out.
So, can pet snakes eat wild mice? While pet snakes are able to eat wild mice it is not a good idea to use them as a food source. Wild mice carry bacteria that may be harmful to your pet. They may also bite your snake if you attempt a live feeding.
Wild mice are dangerous to pet snakes. They could get your snake sick or injured if they are placed in a cage together. Let’s go over some reasons why it is a bad idea to use wild mice to feed your snake.
Why Feeding Your Pet Snake Wild Mice is a Bad Idea
I will admit that there is a lot of appeal to feeding your snake a wild mouse. After all, it does seem more “natural”. A mouse captured in the wild may supposedly be better for your pet’s health than a mouse raised in a lab.
There is also a financial appeal. There is a seemingly infinite supply of wild mice out there, and unlike store-bought mice (which could cost $5.00 a pound) nobody is charging you for a wild mouse. So why would it be a bad thing to use them for feeding?
Well, for one thing, wild mice carry foreign bacteria that your snake probably hasn’t encountered before. Your pet snake doesn’t get out of his cage a lot, and that’s fine, but it also means he isn’t very accustomed to new diseases.
Your snake is liable to get sick just as often as we do, but it is way harder to tell if your snake is feeling under the weather. He won’t let you know by whimpering like a dog and his physical appearance won’t change much so it can be hard to tell.
If you let your diseased snake go too long without being treated, he may be seriously hurt or even die. That means bringing a lot of risk to your pet just to give him a “natural” meal.
Speaking of natural, a lot of people feel that it may be better to use live wild mice because that’s how snakes feed in the wild. We should try to recreate the natural conditions of a snake’s habitat as closely as possible right? Well, not exactly. In fact, I just recently wrote an article about whether or not pet snakes could even survive in the wild. In the article, I talk about what the wild even means, and why it’s harmful to give our pet snakes those experiences. Find it here.
In the wild, snakes often are attacked, maimed, and killed, but I don’t want to subject my pet to that. Remember, if you put a live wild mouse in your snake’s tank, the mouse won’t go quietly.
It will struggle to survive and your snake could be scratched or bitten, which would leave him vulnerable to infection.
Even if you kill the wild mouse before hand, it could still be laced with harmful bacteria. And if you really want to go through all the trouble of finding, killing, and sanitizing a wild mouse for your snake to eat, you might as well just let your pet go.
Why would you go through all that effort for a meal that isn’t any healthier for your snake? At this point, if you still feel strongly about feeding your pet snake wild mice, then be my guest.
If you are still determined to expand your pet snake’s diet, then here are some better alternatives to wild mice.
Healthier Alternatives to Wild Mice
In the wild, snakes eat a wide assortment of different things. From rodents to eggs, there’s a plethora of options. It is good to give your snake some different options every once in a while, so here are some better options than wild mice.
Insects. A lot of smaller snakes like corn snakes or garter snakes enjoy crunching on tasty insects from time to time. Insects are much smaller than snakes, and won’t be able to bite or hurt your snake like a wild rodent would.
Some great insects to feed to your pet are crickets, cockroaches, and insect larva. In the wild, snakes will eat a lot of these and help keep the pest population down.
Before placing an insect in your snake’s cage, make sure you thoroughly wash your hands. Any unfamiliar scent on the insect will ruin your snakes appetite and he won’t likely try to eat it.
Birds. That’s right. In the wild snakes are actually capable of killing and eating small birds. Of course if the snake is smaller than the bird, it will be in serious danger.
In the wild, snakes will slither up into a tree and find a bird’s nest. If the snake is bigger than the bird, it will kill it and eat it and continue to feed upon the bird’s eggs.
Be careful if you choose to feed your pet snake birds. Never feed your snake a live bird. Their beaks are powerful and they could seriously injure your scaly buddy. A snake is more likely to feed on a bird that has been freshly killed.
Eggs. Snakes are notorious egg eaters and are forever frustrating chickens. Snakes are so sly that in the wild, they will sneak into a nest and eat the eggs right under the beak of the mother bird.
Feeding an egg to a snake is very easy. Wash it and place it into your snake’s tank. If your snake isn’t accustomed to eating eggs then it may take him some time to catch on, but most snakes will eat them eventually.
Eggs are a great source of protein to reptiles and are it’s highly recommended you give your snake one as a treat every now and then.
Water snakes are also known to feed on fish eggs. So you may want to try those as well. I recently wrote an article all about whether or not snakes could eat eggs. In this article, I outline what kinds of snakes can’t eat eggs, and what kinds of eggs to use. Find it here.
Other Snakes. Oh yes, snakes are not shy about cannibalism. In the wild, king snakes and other species will eat any other reptile they feel is encroaching on their territory. The California king snake will even eat the mighty rattlesnake if he feels like his territory is getting too crowded.
Feeding another snake to your pet snake is very dangerous. The only way I would recommend that is if the other snake is already dead.
Making Sure Your Pet Snake Eats Well
What you feed your snake is only half of the equation when it comes to their health. When and where they eat can be just as important.
We have already established that wild mice are not a good idea when it comes to feeding your pet, and we have also discussed some healthy foods other than rodents, but what else should you know about feeding your snake?
Let’s briefly discuss what you need to know.
- Use a separate feeding enclosure. Using a different tank for feeding can help keep your snake’s living area more sanitary. It also makes sure your snake doesn’t accidentally consume any harmful substrate.
- Learn your snake’s feeding schedule. A snake should be fed when he is the most active. For example, ball pythons eat mainly at dusk or early in the morning.
- Research your snake’s dietary needs. Larger snakes can eat larger mammals that smaller ones won’t be able to handle. Water snakes are able to eat fish and fish eggs. Figure out the best options for your snake.
Feeding your snake is not easy, and finding out what’s best for your snake will take research and experimentation. Take time to find out the best things for your little friend and he is sure to live a great life.
How often do snakes feed in the wild? This all depends on the size and age of the snake. Younger snakes will generally eat more often than older ones, about twice a week.
Older snakes only need to eat once a week to once every few weeks. Female snakes will up their feeding as breeding season approaches.
What do baby snakes eat? Snakes don’t eat till after the first couple of weeks of life. A baby snake will continue to survive on the energy acquired from its egg. After a couple of weeks, a snake will shed and then begin to feed.
A baby snake will usually eat small rodents and insects. When it reaches maturity, it will feed on larger prey.