What Pet Snake Breeds Eat Fish?

Surprisingly, some snake breeds eat fish instead of mice. I thought all snakes eat mice, but I was wrong. I decided to do some research into which breeds eat fish.

What pet snake breeds eat fish? All snakes can eat fish, but they cannot all digest them correctly. Fish should be a very rare diet option. There are a few snake breeds which have a more fish/water dweller focused diet. These snakes are natural water dwellers themselves. The three most common are the Garter snake, Watersnake, and Ribbon snake. They eat all kinds of aquatic creatures as well as fish.

Snakes are curious creatures, and their diet is quite unusual. There are many different types of snakes, but all three of the aforementioned snakes have very similar diets, with the exception of some that prefer larger prey. These snakes enjoy and sometimes prefer, a more challenging and adventurous meal. Read on to discover more about snakes and their eating habits.

What Aquatic Creatures Do These Snakes Eat?

Water SnakeInsects, Worms, Small Fish, rodents, and
sometimes the occasional Frog.
Garter   SnakeWorms, small fish, and rodents are part of their diet.
Depending on the garter, some refuse to eat insects, but it is safe to give them insects.
Ribbon SnakeCrickets, earthworms, nightcrawlers, silverside, guppies, tadpoles, and of course, rodents. 

(It is important to know that these snakes will not tolerate goldfish, and its sister fishes, such as Rosy Reds, Tuffies, and Flathead Minnows.)

These fish contain that enzyme which blocks a snakes thiamine absorption. You don’t want a dead snake, and you don’t want an unhealthy snake.

Thiamine is a poison for snakes.

If you feed this to your snake regularly, you are literally killing your pet. Be cautious in your purchases at your local pet/fish store and make sure you don’t purchase goldfish species. Sometimes if you go to the store and ask for guppies, you’ll receive goldfish- they are not the same! 

It’s important that your snake has a well-rounded diet. Feeding your pet only one type of food is not well rounded. Do you like to eat the same thing every day? Absolutely not! Well, snakes don’t like to eat one type of food either. You like to eat all sorts of different foods, and so do snakes. 

Remember, these snakes can eat rodents as well as aquatic creatures. You can be creative in their diet and feed them all different prey but be sure to know the prey you are feeding them is safe.

Snake catches a fish in the water

Should You Feed Your Pet Snake Fish?

You want to be careful what types of aquatic creatures you choose because there are a few species containing an enzyme that can harm your snake.

This compound blocks their Thiamine (vitamin B1) absorption. This can cause many snakes to become sick and develop a nervous system disorder which kills them due to Thiamine deficiency.

Which Type of Fish is Better to Feed Your snake? Alive? Or Dead?

You can feed your snake dead fish or alive fish. If you wish to feed your snake alive fish it’s going to take a lot more work. You have to go to the store and buy the fish and then you have to keep that fish fed and alive until you are ready to feed your snake.

This may cost you a bit more money than if you were to feed your snake a dead fish. Dead fish are easy to come by, they are low maintenance (more like no maintenance), and they are easier for your pet to swallow.

However, live fish are more enjoyable for your reptile, and you might find that your reptile is happier. It is healthy for snakes to catch their prey just as they do in the wild. It is more natural for them and it provides them with a little bit more action than they are used to if you are planning on keeping them in an enclosed space.

I Can’t Get My Aquatic Snake to eat Fish, What Do I Do?

If you’ve discovered that your snake is an aquatic snake but will not eat fish, don’t freak out. Snakes have personalities just like humans do. They also have likes and dislikes. There is a possibility your pet just doesn’t like what you are feeding it. Try something different.

The table above gives you some ideas of other options you can use to feed your snake.

Go digging in the dirt for some earthworms, or find some insects for them to eat like crickets or grasshoppers. It is a common misconception that there is only one type of fish that your snake can eat. In the table above it says ‘small fish’, many assume this is Guppies. Some snakes don’t like Guppy.

If your snake doesn’t like Guppy, try some other small fishes such as brook trout, sunfish, smallmouth bass, minnows, bullhead catfish, etc. There isn’t just one kind of fish it can have. There are also some great websites like the following which have extensive diet options you can look into for your pet.  Care Sheets for garter, ribbon, and water snakes. 

Some people blend up the fish for their pet, some give vitamins and supplements in place of fish so that their pet can get the proper nutrients that are found in their regular diet. There are also recipes online that you can look up and find using fish fillets, gelatin, and vitamin/calcium supplements.

Don’t stress out, do some research. There are many alternatives from fish and creatures you can give your aquatic snakes in case they won’t eat fish.

And, if all else fails, take your animal to the vet. Vets are experienced and well-read on many types of animal species. They are your best reference for what your pet can and cannot eat.

Are These Snakes Aggressive?

A couple of these snakes start out aggressive, but with time they even out in their temperament and become more docile. The water snake is generally aggressive. This snake, just like the others, generally becomes more docile with time, but it is not a guarantee they will become docile.

Some watersnakes never calm down and are aggressive for the rest of their lives. I guess you could say they are like domesticated people in this way- some calm down after domestication, while others resent their perceived ‘captivity’ and remain grumpy and aggressive for the rest of their lives. I wrote an article specifically about whether or not pet snakes bite, what to do if you get bitten, and how to avoid getting bitten. Find it here.

Related Questions

Are Garter Snakes dangerous to have with children? Garter Snakes used to be considered nonvenomous but were later discovered to be mildly venomous. Their venom is not lethal. They can be aggressive but are not dangerous.

Will a snake die if it eats a goldfish just once?  Most likely your snake won’t die, but sometimes it can take them a long time to recover. Some take months to years to recover from eating goldfish, so just be cautious. It is better that you do not risk the snake’s health at all and just avoid it altogether.

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